Sounds of Life: The Role of Music
Music is one of the most influential aspects of life in society. I am yet to come across an individual who does not like music at all. Different people listen to different genres of music; a scenario that shows how different we are (Diserens 1939, pp.6).
The types of music people listen to differ not only from person to person but also from age to age. The type of music that is preferred by old people is not the same type of music that young people listen to (Janero & Altshuler 1996, pp.5-7).
In this music survey paper, a reflection on childhood music will be given and how the music made me feel. Also, there will be a discussion of adolescent music and its role as well as music I associate with comfort and happiness.
To start with childhood, the music that made an impression on me was what the family played during major events, most notably, Christmas. The gifts that accompanied Christmas and the excitement that was evident amongst my childhood friends made me love life.
The fact that this music was associated with a moment of happiness may have played a role in my liking for it. I ended up singing jingle bells even beyond Christmas. The other genre of music that I loved as a child was what cartoon characters such as Tom and Jerry hummed as they did their antics. It is amazing how this music faded from my memories immediately I became a teenager.
The experiences I had as a child have a huge bearing on these two genres of music. For the Christmas hymns, the celebrations and general excitement that I witnessed made me associate the music with good things. It was music that was utilized when people were happy and thus singing it would bring happiness.
The gifts that my parents gave me were closely connected to beats of the hymns and the visit by Santa. How can one forget that kind of music? On the Tom and Jerry beats, the playfulness of these two characters mirrored my own behavior as a child. Therefore liking this music came as a natural inclination.
Leaving childhood music and experiences aside, adolescence is another crucial stage when it comes to music. Adolescents love music perhaps more than any other group. Is adolescent music different from the music listened to by other groups? Adolescents have a unique behavior that none of the other groups have.
This may be responsible for the preferences they have as far as music is concerned. At this stage, the people in this age bracket have a tendency to think that they are an authority unto themselves. They have the feeling that they know what they are supposed to do in life and therefore resent any form of advice from either their parents or guardians.
They have a conviction that their choices are the best and all that other people are telling them is geared towards chaining them into everlasting captivity where they have no power to make their own choices. This is in spite of the fact that someone these adolescents know has already behaved like them and ended up regretting for the unwillingness to listen to authority.
Is there a certain type of music that matches with this type of attitude in our current society? Rap music, hip hop as well as rock are all in the category of music that has a degree of rebelliousness that adolescents have. It is therefore not surprising to find many adolescents listening to these genres of music. Why is this so?
As it has already been pointed out, the adolescents are out to send a message to authority especially parental authority that they are old enough to make their own choices.
Thus this is not music that is meant to make them cooperate with authority. It is not making them fit into the existing or conventional social order. Instead it is meant to encourage them to stand up to authority and question any guidelines they are given and sometimes reject these guidelines.
Far from adolescent music and its rebellious element, gospel music is the genre that is associated with comfort. The disappointment and stress that come with the loss of a loved one, the destruction of personal property or betrayal by a close friend or lover is best soothed by gospel music.
The religious message in gospel music resonates well with the need for assurance that with all the suffering, there is a higher power that cares and is ready to give not just a second chance, but a third or even a tenth chance. This message of unconditional love by the higher power is responsible for the healing that people experience after listening to gospel music.
Besides comfort, happiness is another feeling that is well captured in music. Blues, soul and jazz are the genres that convey happiness. These three genres have a common trend in that they cut across the age lines in terms of people who listen to them.
Techno and dancehall are two genres that are also closely associated with happiness but these ones are popular with young people. The dancing and jubilation that characterizes these two genres may not resonate with adult taste. Why are these genres associated with happiness? The thematic composition of these genres and the way the music is presented communicates nothing other than joyfulness and celebration.
In conclusion, music is vital in life. Each stage of development comes with its own preferences as does each mood and state. Childhood music preferences are far much different from adolescent preferences. On the same note the music we listen to when happy is different from the music we listen to when in search of comfort.
Diserens, C. (1939). A Psychology of Music: The Influence of Music on Behavior (1st ed.).New York: Authors for the College of Music.
Janero, R & Altshuler, T. (1996). The Art of Being Human: The Humanities as a Technique for Living (5th ed.).New York: Longman Pub Group.
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