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Music is good for the soul.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,616 times Debate No: 12441
Debate Rounds (2)
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Music is good for the soul. No arguments over whether a soul actually exists or not, or any other semantics. Essentially, the argument is that music is "good" for the human being.


An interesting debate, though my personal opinions may not have the chance to be reflected in my arguments. I thank my opponent for this debate. I am assuming, since there are only two rounds, that I am to simply dive straight in, so I shall. If not, I do apologise and shall not post any new arguments in the second round if my opponent so wishes. However, I would like to remind my opponent that burden of proof lies with him, but I shall post an argument this round anyway, bearing in mind the brevity of this debate.

My main point shall be that music in fact destroys the souls of artists, driving them to brink, then tipping them over. I shall provide several examples of the way music ruins people, if not always the listeners.

1. Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain was lead singer of the band Nirvana. Nirvana were massively popular, and the attention they received was phenomenal. I realise that my opponent will no doubt put forward this popularity, and the pressure from the press and mainstream media etc, as that which actually led to his suicide. However, I resolve that said popularity and the music that led to it are one and the same. If music was not released to the public in general, it would have to be fairly private and this debate would have to be about the playing of music. However, it is about "music" as a whole. So I conclude everything resulting from an artist's music is to be considered one and the same as music for the purposes of this debate at least.
Cobain, although having a troubled adolescence, began to go seriously off the rails as Nirvana became more and more successful. In the early 1990s, he began using heroin, a major step towards the addiction and mental state that led to his eventual death a few years later [1]. Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991, a huge success for the band. In Utero was released in late 1993, also very successful. Cobain attempted suicide in early 1994, leaving a suicide note before overdosing. A month later, he shot himself in the mouth. The link cannot be denied. His music hastened, if it didn't directly cause, his death.

2. Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley was an even more monumental success than Cobain. Equally, his fall from grace was even more horrifying. From a lively, spectacular, colossal figure, one of massive influence and near universal popularity to a shadow, a ghost: "far from that of the vigorous and full of energy boy that conquered the world. He was overweight and started to have problems memorizing the lyrics of the songs." [2]
Again, drugs are generally accepted to be to blame [3]. It seems that many prominent artists seem to have this in common.

3. Suicidal Composers
Clearly this is not a trend restricted to the modern age. Many composers have committed suicide. If we go back less than a century, we find a composer that is cited as having great talent and potential [4]. He committed suicide, for unknown reasons. Carlo Pedrotti committed suicide after claiming ill health [5]. Jeremiah Clarke committed suicide because he was in love with a woman of higher class than himself [6]. Eric Fogg leapt under a train [7]. Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz committed suicide after his wife left him for his student [8]. Although many of these have a reason to commit suicide, the sheer number of composers and artists that end their own lives has some weight.

In conclusion, these tragic figures were harmed by music. It eroded their souls and left them less able to cope with the pressures of life, which drove them to their deaths, often suicide.

Debate Round No. 1


Music is good and healthy for the "soul." In fact, music is the language of the soul.
Music is the universal language that every human being can speak to each other with and feel regardless of nationality and differences. It's the ultimate form of communication. It breaks down barriers and brings people together. It captures emotions like even the most precious words cannot. Music makes you feel; music is a healthy way of conveying every form of emotion from sadness to happiness, from anger to peace, from depression to elation. There is not a better to way in the world to capture and express your feelings than through music. As the common anonymous saying goes, "music is what feelings sound like".

People who understand and appreciate music live the most satisfying, fulfilling lives.
- Statistics show that people with experience in music performance/appreciation outperform those without it on the SAT. [1]
- Studies show that older people who involve themselves with music show reduced levels of anxiety.
- Studies show that younger people who involve themselves with music are less likely to use drugs and get into trouble. [2]
- Throughout history, music has been used to heal sickness. [3]
- Music has the ability to ease the perception of chronic pain. In fact, according to a paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, music can reduce chronic pain by up to 21% [12] (excuse the source number for being out of order...)
- Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. [13] (and this one...)
- Religion, often thought of as the epitome of spirituality and soulfulness, often uses music as a way to evoke "the soul." [4]
- Conversely, the Taliban, often thought of as soulless, banned music in Afghanistan during their rule. [5]

- "Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body." - Oliver Wendell Holmes[6]
- "Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul." - Plato [7]
- "My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary." - Martin Luther King Jr. [8]
- "Without music life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Nietzsche [9]
- "Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without." - Confucius [10]
- "Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows." - Napoleon Bonaparte [11]

The problem with your examples is that the same can be said of nearly anything. I can pick any profession I want to and give you examples of how it caused depression, induced suicide, etc. Those specific cases do not undermine the general benefits of the subject in question. It is not reasonable to look at the suicide of Vincent Van Gogh and conclude that art isn't healthy, or even that its "cons" outweigh its "pros." In addition to the fact that this example would be far too near sighted to draw any actual conclusions about the subject of art, like Cobain, it is not even certain that art was the leading influence of the suicide in his personal case alone. For instance, Van Gogh's art made him feel worthless because during his lifetime he was an unknown artist and he only sold one painting during his lifetime. While this might have added to his depression, it is clear looking back now that there were other factors. Like my opponent stated, Cobain had a troubled adolescence and exhibited signs of depression before Nirvana ever became popular.
He was a sickly for most of his childhood. His parents divorced at 7 and by his own accounts he never felt loved afterward. This led to him becoming withdrawn and anti-social, and it began to take its toll on him long before music or his band's popularity were ever factors. [14] [15]

The same goes for Elvis. One person's story does nothing to disprove music's goodness, and even if it could, it is not even clear that music was the cause of his downfall.

Importantly, let it be noted that popularity resulting from involvement with the music industry is very different from "music" itself.

On the subject of suicidal composes - the same argument applies. Though I am unfamiliar with most of the musicians you listed... Jeremiah Clarke committed suicide - because in love with a woman of higher class them himself. Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz committed suicide - after his wife left him for his student. And like Elvis and more so like Kurt, in addition to the fact that how much the music portion of his life was influential in his actual depression/death is extremely debatable, because you can name specific examples does nothing to discredit the goodness of music. White male physicians have a high suicide rate. [16] Due to the fact that physicians are generally not as famous as artists I cannot name famous examples, but there are more documented suicides from physicians than there are for musicians. One cannot say that this threatens the goodness/benefits of being a physician, and regardless, one cannot say so for musicians because it hasn't been proven that they have a higher suicide rate, and the only reason you can name specific examples is because musicians are more known than people of other professions.

It can still be said that "music" is overall "good" and has clear benefits for the human being.



Music doesn't always bring people together. Like all things, it often drives them apart. For example, many of older generations do not approve of rap or rock, and argue with younger people over their tastes. Perhaps a clich´┐Ż, but one based on truth all the same.

"- Studies show that older people who involve themselves with music show reduced levels of anxiety."
Studies have shown the same with gardening, model building, reading, writing etc. Generally, it is accepted that a hobby helps reduce anxiety, and simply because music falls into this category does not mean it has any especial merit.

"- Studies show that younger people who involve themselves with music are less likely to use drugs and get into trouble. [2]"
Rap music often glorifies drug use, as well as gun crime etc. This cannot be denied. Whether or not it actually causes people to take drugs/commit crimes is arguable, but the positive references to drugs are there, as is the glorification of crime. There are studies that show links between rap and crime. [1] [2] [3]

"- Throughout history, music has been used to heal sickness. [3]"
So has prayer, dance and the practice of drilling holes in the skull. Just because something has been used for a long time does not mean it works. You will no doubt be aware of the placebo effect. Essentially, a person believes that something will make them better, and because of this they do get better. This, again, does not give music any especial merit.

"- Religion, often thought of as the epitome of spirituality and soulfulness, often uses music as a way to evoke "the soul." [4]"
Religion has also hindered science in many ways, and science is a massive part of who we are as human beings. Organised religion often fights against this, in the case of the "Creationism vs Evolution in Public Schools" debate, and other cases. The Church denied evolution, and denied Galileo. Perhaps one of humanity's greatest assets is our insatiable curiosity, our thirst for knowledge, our wish to know everything there is to know. Religion has stifled this on many an occasion, and as such should not be considered the "epitome of soulfulness". Also, religion suffers from the same fault as your healing argument. Just because some consider religion essential to the well-being of the soul does not mean that it is. Indeed, the rigid rules and commandments are counter-productive, preventing true self expression in many cases.

"- Conversely, the Taliban, often thought of as soulless, banned music in Afghanistan during their rule. [5]"
I have never heard the Taliban referred to as "soulless". Indeed, I think you misunderstand the word. You could apply many words from evil to immoral but soulless doesn't work. Many Taliban crimes were crimes of anger, rage or cruelty. These are all generally considered, as emotions, to be aspects of the soul. Soulless suggests to me a ruthless efficiency and detachment.

A series of quotes prove very little, if I'm honest. To say that several intelligent/successful people like music does not prove that music is good for the soul.

Van Gogh is completely different. "At an early age an extremely sensitive Van Gogh, who was prone to frequent bouts of depression," [4]. Van Gogh had mental health problems from the very beginning, which were not notably exacerbated by his art. However, the disappointment probably did harm him.

Cobain's case is very different. Although he was a troubled soul, his music's popularity clearly pushed him. "Nirvana was considered the "flagship band of Generation X", and frontman Cobain found himself reluctantly anointed by the media as the generation's "spokesman." Cobain's uncomfortableness with the media attention received..." [5]. As I already noted, he moved on to steadily worse drugs as the band gained popularity, beginning heroin abuse not long after the band's entry into the mainstream.

Elvis began using drugs to meet the demands of his career [6]. If it wasn't for his music career, it could be argued that he wouldn't have felt he needed them, as he didn't while he was in the army.

I see no reason that the "popularity resulting from involvement in the music industry" should be separated from "music". Otherwise, this debate would have to be about the private playing of music, which would negate the majority of arguments from both sides. Considering that a crucial part of my opponent's argument speaks of how music breaks down barriers, and music's universality, I think it would hypocritical to decide that the consequences of sharing music should be ignored.

My opponent's point about physicians merely supports my own argument. Some occupations either expose people to high levels of stress/upset, or lessen their ability to deal with the same. Jobs in both the medical and musical professions are clearly two of these. Not only this, but the suicide of a musician can result in "copy cat suicides" [7] [8]. So music, and what results from it, can harm not only the artist, but the listener too.

After my evidence and examples, it can only be concluded that music is bad for the soul, and increasingly so as one becomes more involved, from listener to performer.


As a side note, I will not and cannot vote on this debate, as I am in the UK. I have seen that my opponent voted for himself to win every point on all his previous debates, and I ask him not to do so on this debate, in the interests of good conduct, fair play and an accurate result.
Debate Round No. 2
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by iholland95 6 years ago
Nice debate guys
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by iholland95 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: I voted because I like both sides of this argument