In today’s society, music has become an integral part of many people’s lives, including how a certain group of people can define identity, music for specific celebrations and how people express themselves. Music is now even more something that acts as a universal language. It is something that people from all different cultures can enjoy and celebrate together. Even with songs, people from different cultures can memorize lyrics in other languages and find their own meaning in the beats, vibes or certain artists they admire (Fitzpatrick). Throughout my life, I have found that music has significantly been able to accentuate my mood or accompany certain events with sounds in the background. I have taken this importance with me well into my teenage years and now I find that music has been able to help me through difficult times and make me feel like I belong.
When I was a lot younger, I can recall countless instances during which my dad would play classical music while my parents were completing everyday tasks around the house. He would also bring me into the basement to listen to his old record collection where he had labels from many famous artists between the 50s and 80s. These many genres were contrasting, allowing me to learn about the many different styles and discover which ones spoke more to me. On holidays, we would listen to appropriate music on the radio. In the car, my parents would also frequently switch stations depending on what was good. These would most often be more popular songs, which exposed me to how music was evolving over time and what the majority would listen to. I found all of these different styles intriguing because it demonstrated how music had evolved over time. Obviously, since I am young, I don’t have significant exposure to a lot of things in the musical world, but it is very interesting to listen to older songs with my parents than it is to listen to contemporary songs with my friends. My parents have a greater understanding of music history and can therefore provide much more knowledge about the meaning of specific genres versus a pop song simply being “catchy”.
I find that in high school, the majority of people listen to pop songs or the most popular artists. This is because it is very easy for trends to be set within a group of students who spend a lot of time with each other and are heavily influenced by social media (Akrofi et al.). These are also the songs that are played most often at events and public places which makes it easy for all of the students to hear the songs wherever they go. Now, music has a significant platform to spread ideas across the world because of the internet—something that didn’t exist around the time of my dad’s old records. There are streaming platforms, websites like YouTube that show music videos and many more. This allows people to find similar artists to their genre of preference. However, I have found this method of exploring songs to be quite narrow. Since the popular songs are the ones that are primarily advertised, these are the only things that people seem to want to listen to.
At the moment, I am still trying to find my identity with music. I do not have a favorite genre, but prefer to keep it that way because it allows me to listen to a variety of different songs and pieces without necessarily having to pick one. Right now, I wish to keep an open mind because I realize that there are a lot of good songs from the past even though the majority might only listen to contemporary songs. I enjoy creating playlists of songs that simply give off the same vibe or create similar memories for me based on things I listened to during my childhood. Here, I am able to have a greater sense of how music evolved over time versus simply following trends.
- Akrofi, E. A., et al. Music and Identity: Transformation and Negotiation. Sun Press, 2007.
- Fitzpatrick, Frank. “WHY Music? Defining Who We Are Through Music.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 8 July 2013, www.huffpost.com/entry/why-music-defining-who-we_b_3543504.