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Lyrics and the Law Legal Studies 391L

Aaron Lorenz 121 Gordon Hall 545.2647 Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 12-1 and Wed 2-3 lorenz@legal.umass.edu

When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.

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    Plato (428 BC – 348 BC)

Sometimes I can dig instrumental music. But lyrics important. The whole thing complete is the important thing. People who listen to the music and don’t listen to the words soon start listening to the words. As long as ya want to listen, ya hear the words even if ya don’t understand everything.

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    Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)

Spring 2007 Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15 Bartlett 202 www.umass.edu/legal/Lorenz

It (music) is harmless – except, of course, that when lawlessness has established itself there, it flows over little by little into characters and ways of life. Then, greatly increased, it steps out into private contracts, and from private contracts, Socrates, it makes its insolent way into the laws and government, until in the end it overthrows everything, public and private.

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    Adeimantus (450 BC – 385 BC)

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.

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    Charlie Parker (1920 - 1955)

Music can be designed to bring about change in society. Pop music may have a message of joy that allows one to forget about their worries; folk music may be professing a change within the political structure; jazz music can speak without words to the past and present inequities; blues tells the tale of what it is like to struggle; and reggae music attempts to expose the inequalities in society by chanting metaphors of politics and religion. All music changes society and it is these changes that this course wants to explore.

As society changes, so often does the law. The relationship between law and society is one that involves numerous variables, and this course wants to focus on one: music. By studying legal theories, aspects of the U.S. Constitution, and specific legal actors, one will be able to connect the music to everyday aspects of the law. Once the theories are explored, lyrics of specific songs will be used to demonstrate the role that musical artists play as political and legal philosophers.

While this course dissects lyrics, it is not designed to simply draw the connections from lyrics to theories. More importantly, we want to study whether the artists are penetrating society enough with their music and whether the theories behind that music affect change within law and society.

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