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How Music in Various Genres Is Understood and their Societal Impact Essay Example

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. , scores of people hold the view that listening to rock music, particularly rap and heavy metal leads to antisocial behaviour. The legislators as well as the media have concentrated on the antisocial lyrics, mainly from the rap and heavy metal genres, due to their seeming harmful impacts on vulnerable listeners such as the youths.  Undeniably, people listen to music daily mainly because there is a song for nearly all emotions. Therefore, music is perceived as a mechanism for healing. For years, music has existed in different forms, and each has different sounds, beats and arouses different feelings. In view of this, the power of music materializes in various genres. In this essay, the focus will be on how music in various genres is understood and modes of listeningPreiss (2007, p.274). Lately, rock music critics have argued that a number of lyrics and music are promoting antisocial behaviour amongst the youths. Consequently, in the United States, a system for music labelling was developed with the intention of warning music listeners of lyrics that have themes of substance abuse, violence or sex and also those using strong language. According to Ballard et al. (1999, p.477)whose course is administered by certain set of rules that are socially accepted. In the past, distrust has existed on the music, especially those that are oriented towards the youth. Centuries ago, Plato asserted that all innovations in the music are dangerous to the entire state, and must be bannedshared tradition, and or that belongs to a set of conventions is a set of musical pieces Duffett (2013, p.38)A musical genre as defined by


The role of music genre is crucial in the world music since it offers music the sense of purpose, culture and identity for the listeners to understand how types of music differentiate from each other. Nowadays, there are different genres of music acknowledged across the globe, from classical, pop, jazz, rock, reggae, R&B among others. Understanding music regardless of the genre is very important. According to Wolpe (1982, p.4), the phrase ‘to understand’ may be used in the music, only if the music has a meaning. Therefore, understanding any music regardless of its genre needs the listener to grasp its meaning, to comprehend its significance as well as its main value signified by the words used to compose the music as well as the association of such words. Therefore, people who listen to music normally react differently based on the words of the music. Wolpe (1982, p.4) argues that the musician words are always the product of particular emotional as well as intellectual conditions converted into sonorous vibrations; thus, provoking psychological and physiological reactions amongst the listeners. Basically, musicians have a particular objective value, whereby the words they speak are only symbols that must be understood by the listener. In view of this, the language spoken or written has a content that is independent on the reactions it arouses. Some music genres such as heavy metal normally have themes of angst, retribution as well as alienation with some lyrics containing references to violence, drug use, sex, perversity and Satanism.

According to music listeners, music that is guitar-driven and loud makes it hard to understand the lyrics. Besides that, lyrics of heavy metal music are normally representational and easy to understand while rap lyrics are intoned and go along with rhythmic music making it very easy to understand. Rap/Hip Hop has recently become more popular, and it is a music genre having semi-monotonic rhymes accompanied by musical beats and incorporated with different drum beats as well as extra loud bass. Essentially, rap lyrics occasionally uses offensive language, normally focusing on the urban life problems, from time to time includes themes of violence, misogyny, sex or drug use. Akin to heavy metal, Ballard et al. (1999, p.477) posit that rap lyrics normally exhibit themes of hopelessness and alienation amongst youth. Rap has expanded beyond the simple strung lyrics and drum beats to become more eclectic. Currently there are different types of rap; Pop Rap, Dirty South rap, East Coast rap, West Coast rap, Christian Rap, Electro Hip-hop, Conscious Rap as well as Gangster Rap Rabaka (2013, p.286). Pop is another genre of music that is listened widely, and most of its lyrics focus on Satan, drug abuse, sex and violence. Many people listen to pop music as compared to rap and heavy metal music. Popular music according to Gracyk (2008) is aesthetically deficient, since autonomy is sacrificed since its design is steered by demands for dance rhythms as well as for emotional expression. Basically, popularity needs ease of understanding; therefore, pop music has not been able to combine complexity and popularity. Country music is another music genre that put emphasis on lyrics while disregards tonal as well as melody complexity; therefore, country music can be understood easily because they give a clearer story as compared to pop and rock music. Besides that, depressing and antisocial lyrical themes like sexual infidelity, drug and alcohol use, sadness and promiscuity are part of the country music.

Music is existent on all human societies, and a remarkable range of musical capabilities associated with behaviour, responsiveness, perception and memory has developed in every normal person from his/her childhood devoid of making conscious effort. In their study, Morrison et al. (2003, p.378) noted that subjects showed different musical understanding while listening to the music of their choice in comparison to listening to music from unfamiliar culture much. Morrison et al. (2003, p.378) posit that, the way people respond differently to different languages is the same way they respond to different styles of music. Even though understanding music allows for various understandings of the meaning, it is listened within a culture that has shared expectations, gestures and structures, where perception can be mediated resulting in the recalling of the encultured listener. Zangwill (2012, p.379) posits that the standard paradigm of aesthetic appreciation and experience, which is utilised in the modern analytic aesthetics, is idiosyncratic. That is to say, when people understand the music they are listening, it becomes the basis of their aesthetic pleasure. People in the past normally listened to music in groups such as in the sports venue, church or in a club, but these days, solitary listening has become prevalent thanks to technological advancement which has made it possible to listen to music solitary by headphones. According to aestheticians there is something heroic and noble when people listen to music solitary because they are able to encounter with a different world, a spiritual world of striking melody, which is beyond the human life world.

Listening to music as observed by Tuuri et al. (2007, p.13) is an activity that is naturally very multimodal. Basically, listening multimodality connotes that there are a number of different listening strategies, and it is the difference of perceived experiences and listening strategies. Tuuri et al. (2007, p.17) posits that all modes of listening take into account its own information source in the acoustic stimuli. Such music may be listened with distinct forms of attention as well as with diverse outcomes. In spite of their different nature, modes of listening as mentioned by Tuuri et al. (2007, p.13) can function simultaneously influencing and complementing one another. A well-known reduced mode of listening has been proposed by Tuuri et al. (2007, p.13), which deliberately separate the sound phenomena from any function as a signification medium. In this case, Tuuri et al. (2007, p.14) creates an objective mode of listening with the intention of handling as well as managing sounds as fixed objects and abstract and for purposes of composing the tradition of ‘musique concrete’. One mode of listening that has been researched extensively is the reduced listening, whereby the sound together with its qualities is seen as resisting assertions regarding the outer world. Tuuri et al. (2007, p.15) acknowledges the cross-referential nature of various listening modes, and argues that music can be listened everyday through different sound sources. For this reason, music is listened through different modes, and not merely as abstract structures. According to Demers (2010, p.42), reduced listening may be perceived as musical listening when the process of listening focuses on musically established structures and qualities. Other modes of listening associated with music include; empathetic, causal, semantic, and critical mode of listening.

Popular music according to Ballard et al. (1999, p.478) is filled with the antisocial themes, which have coerced a number of adults to be against it, particularly rap and heavy metal. Still, a number of studies as cited by Ballard et al. (1999, p.478) established that, youths normally do not understand or appropriately decipher the rock music message. Many young people listening to rap and rock music cite that the lyrical is not a factor that they consider in liking the music. Therefore, a combination of melody, vocals, rhythm and music genre has an effect on the preference of music, and not the lyrical content. Basically, there is a relationship between antisocial behaviour as well as music preference; for instance, Ballard et al. (1999, p.479) found that rock and rap fans were more likely to engage in sensation-seeking activities that are socially unacceptable. In spite of the shared aims of objectionable language and antisocial lyrical themes in different music genres, the majority of the lyrics that the record industry has labelled as explicit content are recordings from heavy metal as well as rap. Even though, heavy metal and rap lyrics as compared to other music genres are likely to have objectionable words, Ballard et al. (1999, p.479) posit that country and pop lyrics having explicit themes or language are hardly labelled as explicit content. Rap and heavy metal CDs at times have the label of ‘explicit content’ even when the lyrics are not antisocial. For years, both rap and heavy metal music have been depicted negatively by the media, who allege that rap and heavy metal lyrics promote devil worshiping, racism, chauvinism, vehemence, suicide, irresponsible and deviant behaviour, rape, drug use, rape as well as murder. The level of condemnation that rap and heavy metal music genre is exceedingly high than other music genres, in spite of common objectionable language as well as antisocial themes. Furthermore, when antisocial behaviour is displayed by a rap musician (such as Snoop Dog or Lil Wayne), the media often associated such behaviour with rap music.

For the reason that media stories and record labelling appear to associate rap and heavy metal with antisocial behaviour, but not country and pop music, the members of the public can perceive that rap and heavy metal lyrics bring about antisocial behaviours. In view of this, there is a distinction between a person who comprehends the music and the one who does not: a complex relations system is perceived by the former while the latter only perceives isolated sounds. Therefore, the person who understands the isolated sound is perceived as an abstraction because of the fact that the certainty is the system integrating such sounds. For example, humans are not a combination of an upper body, two legs and arms and so forth, but instead , they exist only as an individual whole together with this ‘whole’ functions. Similarly, a slight melody cannot be considered as a combination of the sounds prepared in a particular order based on a particular rhythm, but rather, it is an entity of certain kind, distinctive, unique, offering its indispensible character to all the elements revealed by the analysis. This sonorous tidal wave that disappears immediately after it is born is grasped by the listeners, to the extent that they comprehend it, as a particular definite, stable as well as objective reality. However, the sounds are not transcended by this reality since it is what makes up their intrinsic unity and offers them a specific meaning. According to Kramer (1997, p.22), a number of postmodernism factors such as discontinuities and fragmentations as well as multiple temporalities and meanings are noticeably pertinent to the music time structures as well as its understanding. Therefore, the postmodern musical time will be created by both composers and listeners; thus, differing amounts the listeners and remain nonlinear, discontinuous and fragmented. Besides that, the diversity notion of the musical time, whereby listeners are enabled by music to simultaneously experience distinct time-based narratives, senses of directionality and motion rates is certainly postmodern.

Undeniably, a number of crucial social domain functions such as coordinating group activities are served by music. Music is as well used in creating as well as communicating social identities and presumptions associated with other people musical preferences and being part of a group impact one another in a reciprocal manner. According to Tekman (2009, p.592), people believe that when in a group, the members will like the type of music preference and associate well with other people who like the same music. Akin to arousal modulation, Tekman (2009, p.594) argues that music listeners understand that they can utilize musical preferences for self-presentation within the social contexts. Even though, using music socially makes people to presume that preferences to music rely on the state of affairs, other music preferences’ approaches that are more biologically oriented are related to stable individual attributes. Without doubt, for one to appreciate music, he/she must first understand the music message. While listening to music, the listener according to University of Oxford (2006, p.2) experiences a particular type of perceptual experience. Even though there are a number of factors that determine the level of understanding amongst listeners like them being familiar with certain musical genre, University of Oxford (2006, p.3) argues that understanding how music work needs a perceptual experience. In order to experience music and understand the lyric content, the listeners have to be familiar with different forms of musical relationships, structures and processes.


. The essay has exhibited that both music genre and lyrical message have an effect on the listener’s social behaviour. Essentially, most music listeners in the contemporary society like a particular genre of music even if they do not understand the lyrics content. As indicated in the essay, rap and heavy metal music promote antisocial behaviour amongst the teenagers. These results have a few practical implications. People who listen to rap as well as heavy metal music are inclined to act less prosocially and as consequence, are perceived and treated in a different way by the peers and adults as compared to fans of other music genres such as country music. Besides that, due to the positive favouritism toward pop and country music, people who listen to such music are less monitored as compared to those listening rap and heavy metal. There exists a relationship between the listeners’ personality as well as the perceived attributes of the music genre. Imperatively, unlike the listeners’ personality attributes, their social attributes have been perceived poorly by the scholars. In conclusion, the essay has focused on how music in various genres is understood and their societal impact


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