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Painful events that shaped music

Aug 03, 2021 | 10 min read

As Albert Einstein said creativity is intelligence having fun”, which is one of the core identities that Soundbrenner strives to keep. We are featuring a few fun pieces on the topic of pop culture and music composition – exploring why music is the way it is.

In this first entry, we will briefly explore music that has been inspired by pain, and how we believe suffering is sometimes a necessary component of music.

Pandemic Blues

Humans have always tried to make sense of confusing and troubling times through the arts, namely, music. It’s what separates us from our animal counterparts, gives us hope and represents shifts in world history – whether it be the emancipation of slavery or a global pandemic.

Pandemic may seem like a buzzed word as of now, however, back in 1918 the Spanish Influenza shook the world, killing between 20-50 million victims worldwide. The song “Influenza 1918” by Essie Jenkins, paints a bleak picture of the effect of “Spanish flu” regardless of class “kill you rich or poor”. It uses blues and an English hymn style of composition for its arrangement.

Yet another virus related example is “Tainted Love” cover by Soft Cell. This song took on a whole new meaning during the AIDS and HIV crisis than from its 1964 original by Gloria Jones. Most recently, although not all that highbrow, in my opinion, was a sample taken from Cardi B saying “CORONAVIRUS!” Which was later remixed by iMarkkeyz into a viral song (yes I understand the irony of this), giving people a well needed – all be it comical relief from whichever lockdown they were experiencing.  

War (What is it good for)

So what about other types of collective trauma? War.

No matter what side you might have been on in any war, you can bet your bottom dollar hundreds of songs would’ve been written to either boost morale and quell homesickness – think  “We’ll meet again” – Vera Lynn written during WW2. Trying to make sense of the horrors they’ve witnessed through music can be cathartic for both the listener and the musician.

Heartbreak, perhaps the most relatable form of pain, has inspired a mass of artists, several artists have even made it their whole brand. I’m not naming names…Adele. An old example would be the 16th century folk song about love and loss – “Greensleeves”, a song supposedly written by the infamous Tudor King, Henry VIII after being repeatedly rejected by Anne Boyln (his second wife but certainly not the last) – she was beheaded in the end but that’s not my point. Being heartbroken alone has influenced some of the most powerful music – so that’s one good thing that comes out of it.

It’s well understood that slavery and then the black rights movement has birthed a multitude of genres that have been fused, mixed and even stolen, to create a rich tapestry of sounds we enjoy so much today. For one of many examples, take “Oh Freedom” (1865), which was an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement and was made popular by human rights activist and singer Odetta. The composer  and writer of the song remains unknown. Despite the lyrical context of this song, it has the ability to communicate its ideas and emotions in a transcendent way. Or one of my personal favorites “A change is gonna come” by Sam Cooke in 1964.

So next time (and unfortunately there will be a next time) there’s an event that shakes the world or even a heartbroken teen from a small unimportant town, you can rest assured that not far behind any of these events, an artist will be brewing a song in the background. A song that captures the sounds and feelings of that moment, a song that they will then give to the world so we feel a little less alone, and a lot more understood.

Check out different artist and musicians that we feature on our Instagram.


At Soundbrenner, we respect and encourage all who strive to make music, no matter their skill level. We want to be part of every kind of musician’s journey, no matter beginner or professional. Soundbrenner is a company dedicated to helping musicians stay focused on what truly matters: their music.

By creating innovative devices like the Soundbrenner Pulse and Core, we hope to assist musicians in achieving their full potential. Click here to find out more.

Got a question about the Soundbrenner wearables? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!

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