Dictator Music

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12233

You can probably figure out why march music is called "march music." Music is carefully chosen to evoke moods and reactions. Music can be used for evil and be just as effective as words! Find out how!


Musical Arts, World

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What do you think would be the best kind of music to get people marching in order? Does music have a physical or psychological effect on people?

Music is a great art form that brings us moments of joy and reflection.

It is also a very useful tool for shaping people’s thoughts, moods, and even actions. Research has shown, for example, that when grocery stores play lower-tempo, or slower-paced, music, customers linger in the aisles for a longer period of time and purchase more. Similarly, when liquor store customers are exposed to classical music, they have been shown to purchase more expensive wines.

Music has also been used in times of war and peace to encourage loyalty to leadership. The dictators of the twentieth century understood the importance of music for mobilizing the masses of people, and so employed or coerced composers and musicians to create the works that praised the government and got people marching in order!

Read more about the ways music has been used to motivate people. As you read The Music of War, from HistoryNet, write down answers to the following questions:

  • What are three or four of the historical military uses of music?
  • What kinds of instruments were most commonly used?
  • What is meant by “signature march,” and how does it relate to national anthems?

Collect your information and ideas, then reflect on the following questions and record your thoughts in a journal entry:

  • Why do you think certain instruments were most useful in motivating soldiers?
  • What could be the use of war-like music in peace time?
  • How do you think music is used to shape people’s thoughts and emotions?

Many dictatorships sprang up over the course of the twentieth century. They often took advantage of frightening and chaotic social and economic situations and promised to bring back security, prosperity, and national greatness.

In the Got It? section, listen to some of the music used by the dictators of the twentieth century to get their people marching in order.

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