Turn a corner in Zuccotti Park and you're likely to run into a drum circle or find someone strumming a guitar.
No defining anthem such as We Shall Overcome or Which Side Are You On has yet emerged for the protesters who have taken on corporate America. But music and musicians are woven into the fabric of the Occupy Wall Street and other protests, much as they were in movements and confrontations of the past.
The lack of an anthem yet is partly due to how a new generation experiences music: through personalized iPod playlists streaming through headphones instead of communal singalongs.
True to a movement that claims to speak for the 99 percent of Americans who aren't superrich, Occupy Wall Street embraces many forms of expression. Musicians across several generations and styles have given their support.
Among the first New York performers, rapper Talib Kweli performed and so did 92-year-old Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, veterans of the labor, peace and civil rights movements. Kanye West and Katy Perry walked through Zuccotti, but didn't perform.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has told protesters at the Occupy Boston encampment that corporations and lobbyists have too much influence on U.S. elections. Simmons, millionaire co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, said he doesn't see a contradiction with his support of the Occupy movement because he's willing to pay more taxes.
An Internet-connected, do-it-yourself culture allows people beyond those at Occupy demonstrations to join in. They can write their own songs and spread them on Twitter or YouTube.
“The movement is not waiting for superstars to grace it with their presence,” said singer Tom Morello, given an MTV online music award for his performance of The Fabled City at Zuccotti Park last month, a clip of which has spread widely online.
“It's not waiting for a Diane Warren-penned anthem featuring Rihanna and Drake,” added Morello — who has sung at Occupy demonstrations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as Nottingham, Newcastle and London in England — and also volunteered to contribute to an album of protest songs that Occupy Wall Street is putting together as a fundraiser this winter.
Photo: Talib Kweli