Face the Music

Bryce - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on September 4, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

When asked, “What kind of music do you like?” most people respond with one or two genres. A majority of people usually listen to a limited variety of music, and most people also say that listening to music has no value besides enjoyment. However, I argue that exposure to a wide variety of musical styles is beneficial. Music can expose people to different cultures and teach us about the past. Although most people do not find much tangible value in exposing themselves to music, I believe that listening to a variety of music can be beneficial.

One benefit that music offers to us is that listening to multicultural music can expose us to the customs and practices of these other cultures. I believe that listening to multicultural music would help us to be more accepting of other cultures. Most people in America listen to music that has American or English roots. While exposure to a variety of cultural music probably won’t solve all our problems with prejudices and stereotypes toward aliens, I feel that listening to multicultural music will allow us to easier accept other cultures. Both American music and music from other cultures incorporate the same basic foundations, so listening to music from other cultures might not be as difficult as you might think. Listening to other cultures’ music may allow us Americans to relate to other cultures, or to better understand them.

Another thing that we humans can gain from listening to music is that music from different periods of time offers insight into what was happening in the world at that time. By studying or listening to music from a specific period, we can learn about that time in history. For example, the nationalistic composers in Russia during the latter half of the nineteenth century infused patriotic ideas into their work. In both his 1812 Overture and his Marche Slave, Tchaikovsky incorporates the Russian national anthem into the accompaniment. Another example of music teaching us about a historical period can be found in the American jazz of the 1920’s. The 1920’s in America were known as the “Roaring Twenties,” a period full of optimism about the future. The popular tunes from this period were Broadway show songs, jazz hits, or dance numbers that conveyed an optimistic feeling. Another period of time whose music teaches us about that period is the American Revolution. Songs from this period were usually written for small ensembles. This implies that citizens often formed small musical groups within their communities. All these historical periods are good examples of one way music is beneficial.

In today’s society, we have a limited listening taste. A lot of people listen to only one or two types of music. I argue that exposure to a variety of music can be beneficial. Music can expose us to different cultures and teach us about the past. Both of these are areas in which I think everyone can benefit. Don’t you think it’s about time to face the music?