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Musical Open Mindedness In An Increasingly More Narrow Minded Society

In the past couple of years and more specifically in 2020 it seems like we are living in an ever more polarizing society. Republicans vs Democrats, masks vs no masks, Popeyes vs Chick-Fil-a. Polarization and narrow mindedness seem to be more rampant now more than ever. However, it seems like the opposite is occurring in the world of music. It feels like society nowadays, is starting to respect a more open-minded musical taste than ever before.

It suddenly feels like listening to multiple genres and artists is a distinguished attribute amongst music listeners and the days of people being confined to their social groups designated by music genres like Hair Metal vs Grunge or East Coast vs West Coast are a thing of the past. There seems to be a greater understanding that just because someone doesn’t like your music taste that it’s ok. Where for example, in the political realm, you are automatically a sworn enemy if someone has a different opinion. Could it be that this shift in musical open mindedness can be seen as a hopeful sign for society as a whole and that we will eventually move to a more open minded and accepting state?

What would be the cause of this shift in musical opinion acceptance? One thing is that greater and easier access to music could be to blame. Streaming has created a vast ocean of music available at the touch of ones finger tips, and with algorithms working to get you to interact with the streaming platforms as much as possible by helping you find songs that suit your tastes, it’s exponentially easier to discover new genres than it has been ever before. Back in the day you would’ve had to gamble a decent amount of cash to experiment with a new type of music. For example a typical CD that cost around $15 in the 90’s would cost closer to $30 today. So not a whole lot of incentive to try out different musical flavors.

It also seems that with the digital revolution music has seen over the past few years, coupled with the advances in computing technology, sampling music to help create new songs has become more feasible than ever. EDM and Rap have really led the way in this area which exposes listeners to not only a multitude of different genres, but also creates a sound that is essentially a melting pot of various genres. So much so that there appears to be an ever-increasing amount of songs that are essentially “genreless”. Even Spotify recognized the trend and dedicated a whole playlist of genreless songs.

Artists also appear to be creating new songs that blend their respective genres with others more than ever before. With Rap, there seems to be what I would call a “sing rap” trend, where artists are starting to utilize autotune to sing and rap at the same time. Creating a more melodic and therefore more memorable song in the process. Most notably by Post Malone but I would consider him more on the sing side of the equation, and Lil Wayne for example more on the rap side of the equation.

Rock has always been trying to figure out a way to blend rap and rock and there have been a few shining examples of it with Linkin Park, Rage Against The Machine, and Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few.

Both of those genres seem to be taking specific elements from EDM as well. They are starting to use a more rapid machine gun style drum beat as well as an EDM style song progression that utilizes a build up in place of a traditional bridge. Similarly, I’ve noticed EDM and Rap use a rock distortion type fuzz synth in their songs.

Lastly, there aren’t really anymore hardcore established music cliques based off of specific genres outside of the KPOP but that’s a whole other story. I like to take this as sign of hope and progress. Where we aren’t so different after all and we are utilizing are differences to contribute and improve something that used to be fraught with division and narrow mindedness. Maybe music truly is telling us that there is an age of agreeableness in our near future or at the very least one where we can all simply agree to disagree.

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