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Opinion: Listening to music creates timeless vibes

How people listen to music has evolved over time, leaving generations of young people exploring new and old ways of hearing the same songs

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Pascal Albright | The Daily Wildcat A Crosby vinyl record player spins Elton John's 1972 album Honkey Chateau which feature songs like "Honkey Cat," "I Think I'm Gunna Kill Myself," "Salvation and Rocket Man (I Think It's Gunna Be a Long Long Time)." Vinyl records are one of many ways to experience music today.

Music has evolved rapidly in many ways, from its dawn to the present day. I’ve learned about this evolution in an online class on music history, specifically Rock n’ Roll. The class focused on both the consumption of music throughout time as well as how music has changed for certain age groups at different times.

If you look around a college campus or even walk down the streets of a city, you will hear some sort of music, from radio in cars or in stores to coffee shop bands or street musicians to music played on phones or computers. 

A vibrant society cannot deny that music is part of its everyday culture. I have lived my life surrounded by music, from being around live instruments as a kid to listening to music in car trips or always playing it at home on the record, tape and CD player. 

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After finishing this class, I learned several things, but most importantly I learned that our American culture is built upon expression, especially through music.

According to Sarah Wilson and EJ Milne, who completed a study that showed how young people create belonging through music, “young people used music in different ways. Music was sometimes a source of identity, music was also used to create a comfortable, safe place to cheer themselves up, as a source of inspiration and motivation.”

For most young people, living in a busy environment allows for creative freedom and expression, and that can lead to exploration in musical taste that will build personality. I, for one, love music from the late 1970s and 80s, as well as most indie music. Listen to “The First Cut Is the Deepest” by Cat Stevens or “Der Kommissar” by After the Fire or “Lake Michigan” by Rogue Wave. Those are all great examples of music I listen to. 

Now as a young adult in my early 20s, I also listen to music on several platforms. I love digital music just because that sound is so clear and you can get virtually any song at your fingertips. But I also love retro sound and have a complete library of cassette tapes as well as vinyl records. Those are great for listening to any music from the 1960s to the early 90s, before CDs made it big then disappeared. 

One of my favorite records ever is Honkey Château by Elton John, produced in 1972 by Dick James Music Limited and MCA Records, Inc. As you take the vinyl out of its sleeve and set it on your turntable and the needle drops, you start by hearing silence, then the piano strikes along with the boom of the drums and the singing starts. If you listen with headphones, you hear that the track was produced as a double with an overlay of smooth soul mixed with jazz and rock.

It is one of my favorite records because it is not only good music but it also shows you history with the vinyl, the double track overlay, the smell of the old sleeve and the press of the music on the spinning record. 

Vinyl is meant to be listened to as a time-piece, for the feeling of being transported into the times when it was the way to listen. At parties you listened to whole albums — even if they included some weird songs — and you would visit record shops, buy them new and enjoy what they have to offer at home. 

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Cassette’s came along and gave music portability, and with time came CDs and digital music, which also moved the way people listen to music away from buying records. Ironically vinyl was, and still is, produced with higher cost.  

Music is very important in all cultures, especially with young people (no matter the cost, people will pay or find ways to hear it) and however you listen to it shows its importance in everyday life. 

According to Viviane Freitas, a popular blogger from Brazil, “even if the person doesn’t know anything about music theory or play an instrument, there will always be some lyrics or melody that will stick in their head enough to make them hum the tune.”

She explained the importance of music culture to young adults and went on to state that young people have plenty of access to it through popular culture, communities, parties, radio and the internet. Because of this, they view growing up from the perspective of musical influence. 

“We can see that everyone likes music and it can make a big difference in our everyday lives,” Freitas wrote. “It can provide great moments with friends, in a romance, or in a moment of great emotion.”

I think that being aware of music is a great thing. Having musical abilities and access to music and a variety of ways of listening to it can spark a more creative atmosphere in a classroom, workspace and in human interactions.

I could continue on about how one should and/or should not listen to music, but all I can say is take time to listen to the words or just “Pump up the Jam.” 

As the Doobie Brothers put it in their second album from 1972, “Oh, we got to let the music play, What the people need is a way to make ‘em smile, It ain’t so hard to do if you know how, Gotta get a message, Get it on through, Oh now mama, don’t you ask me why, Whoa listen to the music … All the time.”


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