Music Impact On Everyday Life Essay, Research Paper
The Music Made Me Do It
Music has a huge impact on the everyday lives of individuals in America today. It is an important part of the sociological self, which causes a person to feel and act in a certain manner. Sensual guitar playing, a suggestive song, hard rock power chords, or a tune from the past are all highly powerful forces in shaping one’s actions. I have taken a particular interest in the way that different genres of music affect student’s actions at this university. This paper will take into account the effects that particular genres of music have on people. Because we are in a college town such as Austin it is easy to observe the effects that music has on people. Whether it be at parties, clubs, concerts, or in the dorms, I have seen the effects that music has on students. In many situations in today’s world, actions that would normally be deemed inappropriate are viewed as acceptable due to the fact that a certain type of music is playing. Through a few experiences and observances, I have discovered the sociological importance of different music in the lives of many students.
At many heavy metal and rock and roll concerts, there are areas where a large group of people congregate and physically shove each other during the performance. This area is most commonly referred to as a “mosh pit.” At the beginning of this semester, I attended an outdoor concert here in Austin. The headlining band was the Stone Temple Pilots, a band that performs songs that often contain some heavy metal guitar riffs. As the concert progressed, there arose a massive mosh pit engulfing the area from about one hundred yards away from the stage all the way to the front of the stage. Three rows back from the stage I could hardly breathe. I was not standing under my own power, but by the pressure of all the people around me pushing in every direction. There is no doubt that these actions are the direct effect of this particular music. This type of music can lead to a state of mind where these activities are a main focus in a person’s way of life. According to Freud, the id is the part of the person which desires certain things, but is controlled by the ego and superego (Freud, 65-68). When a person enters a stage such as this in their life they are completely controlled by the id. The music is an ally to the id, helping it achieve its desires. To illustrate this point further, a closer look at the actions is necessary. A concert’s purpose is to allow fans to listen to a band perform live. If the rational part of one’s self, the superego, were in control, it is highly unlikely that someone would begin shoving random people to the beat of a song. Though this behavior would not normally be tolerated, it is viewed as acceptable because the participants are at a certain music concert. These actions “toe the line” between expression and violence. For the most part, this aggressive behavior is instigated and carried out by males. By nature the males of the human species are more prone to violence and exhibitions of strength than females. Music is a powerful means by which these people deem it permissible to act in such a manner. There may be other factors involved with this behavior such as male angst and stress, but the driving force is undoubtedly the music. When a typical heavy metal song is played there is an intense beat that penetrates to the soul. The most common rhythm in many of these songs lends itself to sharp, powerful, and rigid movements. In a society where the men are seen as the dominant sex, they need a place to display their masculinity. Those who don’t have any other outlet find their release in their “physical appreciation” of the music. It is logical to deduce that males need a place to release their natural selves, and the music at these concerts provides just such a place.
Music from your one’s also brings with it the memories of the times they have experienced while listening to that music. Whole periods, not just single occurrences, can be relived by hearing an old favorite. Several weeks ago in my wing on the second floor of Jester East, I performed an experiment. The participants were very well suited for the experiment because they mostly listen to rock and roll and heavy metal. Their musical taste is a far cry from the music I used in this experiment. Sometime around one in the morning I placed a compact disc entitled “80’s Dance Party” in my stereo, and turned it up excessively loud. My goal was to see how the male residents in the wing would react. Immediately after the music began doors started to open, and the residents proceeded to pour out into the hall. Though many of them had already been in bed, they all had smiles on their faces. Everyone was dancing around, and talking about times when they remembered having heard a particular song in the past. Dancing around in a dormitory hall during the a.m. hours of a school night may not be perceived as the most rational event to be occurring, yet the participants did not feel strange because of the music that was playing. The feeling that one has when hearing a song is often related to the most memorable moment they experienced while that song was being played. In the case of my experiment, being that all the participants were around 18 years of age, the songs from the 1980’s reminded us of our childhood. Since most of our childhoods’ were happy times, the songs reminded us of happy times. That is not to say that songs only carry joyous feelings, they may also hold unhappy denotations. For example, a song once held by two lovers as “their song” may now be a dreadful sound to the heartbroken singles. No matter if the memories inspired by the familiar tune are happy or sad, the experiences are vicariously relived through the music.
Another situation where the type of music being played greatly affects how your actions are perceived is at a dance club or a party. This past Thursday I studied the actions of many people at a popular dance club in Austin. The next night I observed the actions of others at a party. The actions of most of the people were similar at both places. At both places, the connecting element seemed to be the music. Inside a dance club or at a party, it is not uncommon for perfect strangers to engage in very provocative dancing. Many of the dance moves exhibited in these situations are extremely sexually suggestive. The rhythm of the music is one of the causes for this behavior. Many of the songs played at these places contain repetitive, pulsating tempos that resemble the tempo of sexual intercourse. Thus, the dance moves are concentrated around the hips and torso areas. There is a culture that is associated with much of the music in clubs and at parties. This culture involves, among other things, promiscuous sexual activity. Even if one did not participate in the cultural aspect of the music they may imitate some of the principles of the culture. A second reason for these actions is that the music is so loud that there is no pressure to engage in conversation. With this pressure absent the sexual relationship accelerates much faster. The fact that the music is so loud provides anonymity for those involved in the dancing. No identity is placed on one’s dancing partner, they are merely a temporary fulfillment of one’s natural urges. One could participate in these sorts of activities with a completely random person and never have to see that person again. The music provides an escape for the two strangers. For a small amount of time they are able to move to the beat, and be stimulatingly close to a person that they have no commitment to. If two random people were to begin provocatively dancing in public to any type of music other than dance they would not be well received. However, these same two people are the norm anytime there is dance music being played. Through the music, people are allowed to escape reality and pursue the desires that they truly wish to follow
Music is all around us. It’s in our means of transportation, our living areas, and in many public places. One’s actions are viewed differently according to the genre of music that is being played. If a classic song from the 1950’s began to play, the immediate reaction would not be to throw oneself at another individual. Yet, given the right music this would not seem so out of place in today’s society. Many of the actions normally perceived as blatantly socially unacceptable are considered as typical behaviors when certain music is playing. With the vast differences in today’s music, there is a multitude of possible opinions that could be held about a person according to how they respond to certain music. How we react to certain music is a great factor in the way society judges our actions.
Freud, Sigmund. Freud: Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Ed. Nandor Fodor. New York: The Philosophical Library, Inc., 1950. 65-68.