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Music: Uniting Nations, Dividing Generations

Posted on February 12, 2020 by Cedric Hantz

Cultures around the world since the beginning of time have appreciated, enjoyed, and incorporated some form of music in their everyday lives. But just as one person's trash is another man's treasure, one man's music can often be another man's noise, and vice versa. Still, certain universal aspects of music can serve as a way of communication between two people who have little else in common.

Some say that the one thing which makes music different from noise is the culture of those listening to it. There's some truth in this; you would not expect a normal American teenager to be found head banging to a CD of African American chanting. In the same way, you would be surprised to discover that African tribe knowing what to make of a boy band ballad. Needless to say, such vastly different cultures may not share musical tastes, many marginally more similar cultures may enjoy a true connection as a direct result of shared musical skills and experiences.

In an effort to appeal to newer markets, music artists have been assessed for their global appeal as global sales can equal or even exceed the national sales figures. This worldly appeal can be effective in developing a shared interest and bond between citizens of greatly different lands: Americans and Chinese, Russians and South Africans. It's thus not surprising that a normal music promotion tour includes various international destinations.

Music artists of yesterday and today have been proven to help cross cultural divides in times of conflict and even war. Their music can attract crowds of people in warring countries to their feet, tapping their toes to the rhythm. News broadcasts are frequently carrying stories of disheartened soldiers abroad smiling again after a trip from familiar pop music artists.

On the other hand, music is also a frequent bone of contention between the generations. Why is the music of different generations more frequently known by its respective decade (i.e.'the sixties','the eighties') rather than by its most popular artists or a specific genre? Grandparents are seldom found enjoying the exact same music as their grandchildren. A whole lot more common, they are often heard complaining that the other's music is too loud, too soft, too fast, or too slow. Even music artists with a broad appeal, such as The Beatles, aren't always appreciated by the two extremes of the generation gap. Even though their music stands a much greater prospect of approval from fresh ears than rap has from a Frank Sinatra audience.

Music hence signifies different things to different individuals often extending into a deeply personal level. Each generations music reflects the aspirations, heartbreaks, achievements of individuals living in that particular period of time. And since they carry different perspectives on many daily social and political issues they get farther divided by changing taste of music. However, the feeling to be human and alive to the world around us, and the desire to express life's experience.