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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 21, 2023

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Music evolves with time, controversial genres become mainstream

For freshman Ryan Struffolino, today’s music lacks a certain humanity.

“Mostly artists nowadays are not seen as normal people,” he said. “Their music is affected by their reputation.”

Struffolino’s opinion mirrors a poll conducted by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair that came out the eighth of this month. One of the questions asked was which decade respondents thought was the worst in terms of popular music.

Overwhelmingly the current decade was the winner with 43 percent.

“By a wide margin, even today’s younger set feels that this decade’s music is the worst,” according to the poll.

Matt Donahue, a professor in the popular culture department with a focus on popular music at the University, said it could be a positive thing that the current generation is getting tired of music being made today.

“Maybe the youth are turning on to the fact much [pop music] is kind of vapid,” Donahue said. “There could be [that] case made for every generation’s music.”

When asked whether jazz or hip-hop is the more important genre, 73 percent of respondents picked jazz. Fifty percent of respondents also picked rap and hip-hop as the genre they feel has reached its peak, more than any other genre offered in the poll.

Hip-hop is one of the most prominent styles of music today, despite the bevy of criticisms it receives. Donahue noted there were parallels between hip-hop and another popular genre.

“The critiques against rap music were very similar to the critiques being pushed against rock and roll music,” he said. “And it’s not just America.”

Donahue is referring to a December 2011 incident in which police in the Indonesian province of Aceh rounded up 65 young punk-rock fans and proceeded to “clean” them, which included changing their clothes, shaving their hair and throwing them “in pools of water for ‘spiritual’ cleansing,” according The Guardian.

“I think that there’s always been this kind of controversy,” Donahue said. “I wouldn’t even necessarily call it controversy, although sometimes it has become controversial.”

Donahue said it’s different ideologies that make the younger and older generation come to blows, but in the end it’s the more challenging music that sticks.

“Usually it’s the mainstream popular music that’s really just ridiculous,” Danahue said. “It’s the underground music or the music that doesn’t reach the mainstream is the more interesting, but that’s also my interest.”

A distaste for newer music isn’t limited to the mainstream. In the world of contemporary music people are proving to be a bit more receptive. Used here, contemporary music refers to modern orchestral and experimental music. Per Broman, associate professor of music theory at the University, said his students show an appreciation for contemporary music.

“They seem to be very open to new music,” he said. “I have graduate students and also sophomores, and the sophomores, they actually study contemporary music with me.”

Broman played from his laptop a video of a group called “Einstürzende Neubauten” that plays contemporary experimental music with everyday objects. To the uninitiated it sounds like a group banging randomly on metal objects with blunt instruments.

“Look how much fun they’re having,” Broman said. “This kind of music is very— it engages different kinds of senses than a piece of classical music.”

As both a listener and a performer, Broman said it’s important for a listener to engage these senses. These sensory excursions, he said, are important.

“It will focus your mind, and I think develop your perceptional skills,” Broman said. “And for a performer, it’s absolutely crucial to play complex music to be extremely perceptive to what the conductor’s doing and to play rhythms and pitches that aren’t expected.”

Broman stressed the importance of the performance aspect of new music and said the issue with most students isn’t a lack of appreciation in listening, but rather a lack of appreciation in playing.

“If you can appreciate as a listener, it may not translate to performing,” Broman said. “You are in the middle of perhaps a scattered, complex and in a way incoherent sound world if you play [experimental music]. You may not understand the entirety of the piece.”

Broman said he believes contemporary music may be revered as musicians today revere Mozart and Bach, going to popular music for parallels.

“Just take punk-rock,” he said. “There’s nothing shocking or absurd about [the Sex Pistols], is there? … It’s kind of a classic. I’m not saying this is the case for everybody, but people will— taste will change in time.”

Taste has certainly changed in the past decade. Struffolino said his favorite decade of music is the 90s, but there’s only one thing the music he listens to needs to have.

“As long as the music’s got a good beat,” he said.

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