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Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos Essay


Aristotelian appeals: Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Musicians use persuasions from ethos in order to confirm the truth of something or their characters. In contemporary society, people have moved out their families, and some parents have joined retirement homes.

Consequently, the idea of ethos has shifted from family to individuals’ material possessions, academic achievements among others. However, Aristotle shows that ethos does not emanate from personal appeal, but rather from the use of language. For instance, Thievery Corporation establishes ethos through their song, The Richest Man in Babylon by use of artistic language.

Thievery Corporation show a character of an upright fellow who stands to condemn the indifference of the richest man in Babylon. The song by the Clash, Know your rights, tries to confirm to people about their rights. The musician assertively says that the song is a public announcement. John Lennon condemns the suffering people go through right from birth to adult working life. Every new stage evolves into a new form of suffering.

There is a problem in expression of modern ethos. The outward appearance has virtually consumed the intellect and moral of individuals. The Richest Man in Babylon demonstrates the modern notion of ethos whereby people put much emphasis on their personal wealth and self than character. The material possessions consume the moral and character of an individual.

Aristotle’s tells people elements, which speakers use to inspire confidence in a character. A person of ethos must observe good sense, moral character, and goodwill. People who utter misleading information and advices do not have elements of a good character. The Clash gives people good advice about their rights because he has the three elements of a character. By telling people to know their rights, he is exhibiting goodwill to every person who has experienced discrimination in any form. Further, use of “I” establishes The Clash credibility.

Pathos captures the emotions of the listeners. Musicians establish reception for their ideas into listeners’ minds through the use of artistic language. John Lennon creates a sense of pity for the Working Class Hero. At the same time, he also condemns wrongs the Working Class Hero undergoes.

Aristotle shows how to establish various emotional appeals among the audience. The musician can fluctuate from anger, pain, pleasure to sense of calm. This is what John Lennon does through asserting that “Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all” and “Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules”. The Richest Man in Babylon appeals to listeners’ emotions through sense of virtue and vice, rich and poor.

The song goes as “The wicked stench of exploitation” and “Beneath the praise and admiration” to highlight sense of vice behind wealth. He further appeals to listeners’ deepest emotions by the line “Your beggars sleep outside your doorway” and “Your servants have burned all their songs. Nobody here remembers freedom”. John Lennon balances between emotions as follows “But first you must learn how to smile as you kill”.

However, Aristotle warns musicians against playing with listeners’ emotions. This can ultimately corrupt the judgment of their listeners (Fabiola 20). Fabiola E. Saul is a Spanish writer who has authored books on pedagogical theory of education. This book provides a critical reflection of Aristotelian appeals of pathos, ethos and logos in studying human emotions, truth and credibility. This book is also available in Spanish language.

Musicians appeal to listeners through sense of logos. There is inductive logic, which involves a couple of examples and then generalization. Conversely, deductive logic is whereby the musicians give audience couple of general illustrations and then draw a specific conclusion. This is how musicians establish the new truth. The Clash urges people to know their rights by drawing a couple of example such as “You have the right not to be killed. You have the right to food money” and “You have the right to freeee speech”.

He then concludes that “Know your rights. These are your rights, all 3 of ’em”. Likewise, John Lennon gives a couple of frustrations the Working Class Hero undergoes, and he concludes that “Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all”. Thievery Corporations uses logos appeal to the Richest Man in Babylon through several examples then advices him as follows “Babylon this is your final day. Babylon this is your final call. Read the writing that’s on the wall”.

Musical composition: Lyrics, Tone, Rhythm, and Melody

Musicians base songs on four most vital elements. These elements are crucial in establishing the essence of a musical composition. These four elements appeal to listeners in various ways and collectively make up a song.

In melody, musicians use successive lines of one tone to create unity in length and intensity. Melody contains a unit of meaning. For instance, John Lennon’s unit of meaning exists in “When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years”.

Melody also exists in the final part of the song e.g. “If you want to be a hero well just follow me”. We can also find melody at the climax of the song. For instance, in Thievery Corporation we have melody at “Babylon this is your final day. Babylon this is your final call. Read the writing that’s on the wall”.

Rhythm is the flow in music. Rhythm entails timely flow in a song. For instance, in The Richest Man in Babylon we have rhythm at “There is no guidance in your kingdom” and “There is no wisdom to your freedom”. The Clash utilizes rhythm at “Investigation, humiliation, And if you cross your fingers rehabilitation”.

John Lennon uses it at “There’s room at the top they are telling you still. But first you must learn how to smile as you kill”. Lyrics go with the tone of the music. We know that not every song is slow nor is every song fast. The tones and lyrics of these songs are fast and cheerful to the listeners.

Works Cited

Fabiola, Gavito. Pathos, Ethos and Logos: An Aristotelian Theory On Education. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Print.

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"Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos." IvyPanda, 7 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/music/.

1. IvyPanda. "Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/music/.


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IvyPanda. "Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/music/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/music/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Musical Usage of Ethos, Pathos and Logos'. 7 May.

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