Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

62 Federal Communications Law Journal 665 (2010)


Perhaps the most ubiquitous of art forms, music accompanies daily activities from shopping to jogging. Music permeates modem society, and there is little question it constitutes an integral mode of expression. Despite recognition of music's worth, however, there is little explanation of music in First Amendment jurisprudence. A rationale for First Amendment protection begins with analysis of the particular medium of speech. Through a foray in musical aesthetics and the history of musical censorship, this Note discusses the role of music in political, societal, and individual experience. Music has had an important role in political events, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11. Often a collective experience, music integrates a group of performers with a group of listeners. Yet music is also essentially private; it develops individual experience and identity. Music functions in all these realms in different ways, so no single theory of free speech adequately explains protection for music. Instead, multiple theories are explored to fashion a comprehensive notion of music as a fully protected mode of expression, vital to First Amendment principles.