Music is one of many liberal art forms that shapes our perceptions of a socially constructed world in which we co-exist. Over time, paying particular attention to technological advancement increasing, the industry undertook changes in production, engineering and creation. Charles Ronsen, first a pianist whose concert career spans decades and continents, then a professor of music and social thought at the University of Chicago, stated “understanding music is simply means not being irritated or puzzled by it” (Ronsen. C, 1998:3). I’m sure everyone knows some music that they didn’t actually ‘like’ from the first listen and it has ‘grown’ on them. He empathises this through explaining how his “lack of familiarity with the style meant that everything I expected of the music was frustrated and thwarted”(1998:3)In his book ‘The Frontiers of Meaning, Three Informal Lectures on Music’, understanding of music, he even goes as far as to describe a, later favourite, piece of music as “nauseating”on the first listen, because of how dramatically different and “repulsive” it was compared to other pieces heard before.
I would not goes as far as to say that it is completely impossible to dislike a piece of music because that would be an absurd narrow-minded view of perceptions and opinions. Also may I draw attention to the fact I am human and also have likes and dislikes, such as what is now informally referred to as ‘chart music’ or ‘pop-music’, which rather ironically is in fact originally ‘popular-music’. Originating from when early American music culture was spilt in half, much like it’s population. The R ‘n’ B charts was the voice ‘Black-America’ and ‘Pop charts’ was ‘White-America’. The transition for the term ‘pop’ begun with the desegregation of the two with artist breaking away from these forced stereotypes such as ‘Elvis Presley’. However when speaking about Elvis, although a great singer and entertainer, made his career being a puppet for the sell-out, money-making and newly industrialised show-business monster that founded Elvis’ fortune on Big Mama Thornton’s ‘Ain’t nothing but a Hound-dog’. Sadly, the music industry isn’t built up on hard-work, unique and raw talent and musical ability. This business just seems to be of dolls that a purpose built, that are spat out into society to sell themselves like prostitutes. I know this may seem harsh imagery. Yet, that doesn’t mean I mean it any less. Think about it. In reality, I gaurantee if you were to pick at random any pop song it would consist of: sexually suggestive lyrics with no emotive meaning or depth just pure lustful dross; the vox would have copious auto-tune; the videos are an extortionate waste of production. In my opinion just film a porn video, you’d get more watches and fans with penetration than just dry-humping each other whilst still equally objectifying yourself for money. (I suppose then at least everybody can get something out it!)
We live in a raunch-culture that since the 90’s has normalised ‘lad-ette’ culture with ‘FHM Magazine’. They realised very quickly that by using nude girls for photo-shoots, naturally, the articles about up-and-coming music and fashion also gained a large following. With speaking about this I think it is important to see were I am coming from. I grew up in the 90’s with the influx of ‘girl power’ which, in essence, teaches girls to ’empower’ themselves through sexualising themselves, basically reinforcing the idea that they will be judged on their appearance first and foremost.
My worries are echoed amongst other young female writers, “There’s this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women’s issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren’t there more important things to worry about? Is this really that big of a deal? Aren’t you being overly sensitive? Are you sure you’re being rational about this?”(the things women do men don’t know about). How is anyone meant to actually understand fully when you don’t know all of the answer. That is not to say men don’t have their own separate issues and both also have a lot of the same issues too! But the fundamental fact is they are not separate issues. It is one big underlying issue that if addressed all the other issues can then begin to be socially debated.
Capitalism. Capitalism, where everything is for sale at the right price. All of the previous issues all stem for this. Consumerism figures soar when using sexually suggestive advertisements. That is fact. The music industry falls into this because, like all great product advertisement, ‘sex sells’. Linking back to ‘pop’ video and lyrical content, important businessmen have clearly strategised how they can squeeze more money out of the music-industry. Remember kids, it’s not the product that is important. It is the way which it is sold…I’m sure this is resembles a declaration…oh, wait. Jordan Belford, ‘Wolf of Wall Street‘, 2013. The reality of this is scary. Sharon Osbourne’s father, Don Arden, is just one example. He earned many negative nicknames for his aggressive and sometimes illegal business tactics in the British music industry.
With that said another negative impact capitalism has on society is the increased need to compete for success. This competition encourages us to subconsciously tie success to money. Thus leading to skewed views on values, norms and a hierarchy heavily revolving around materialism. This also introduces an all time hated quote embodying ‘consumerism pacification’ is, “At Least…”. For example “at least we own our own home”, “at least you can vote”, “at least you have more opportunities”. This is justification. Why do we continually justify not quite being fair to all humanity by comparing separate problems to other issues. I firmly believe total equality should be global regardless of any factor. The ignorance of comparing one person’s struggle from a more ‘developed’ country to that of another in a less ‘developed’ country is wrong. They live in totally different world in terms of having things like culture-pluralism and diversity. I also accept I am a luckier individual in some cases. However, does this mean I should accept being regarded as an object to be obtained because I am a woman in England and not having acid thrown in my face? Each country is completely different with a different background of culture, norms and values. I question the transition into the 21st century. How can we be so advanced yet so completely blind to what can be classified as human rights? Am I not human? Is Nadia not human? It would be ridiculous to state there are no an influential woman in power, but in reality we still live in a very much male dominated world. Each separate culture caters to it’s demands, and the worst perpetrators are not necessarily men- it is older women. In English Literature there is usually some form of symbolism to represent this, Angela Carter is renowned for her feminist magic realism. In the ‘Bloody Chamber’ she writes about Little Red Riding Hood defying the stereotypical normal behaviour of a young lady, but also significantly kills off the granny representing killing off older ideologies.
The importance of the hegemony of art forms is that it reflects perceptions of reality. What is important is money. Clearly it more important to sell the product than the quality itself. And what sells? “Sex Sells!” This is then repeated by every-day consumers with things like ‘valentines day’ and ‘christmas’ which not only associates money directly with love, but stretches advertising campaigns way further than just that ‘holiday’. But, lastly it is important to have a dominant culture, because for those of us choose not to participate in the mind-numbing conformation, it encourages rebellion. It encourages independent thought. Each generation has always had a counter-culture. The Mods vs The Rockers. The Hippies vs The Punks. The Grunge kids vs The Ravers. What do we have? Hipsters?
We live in a highly individualistic, interpretive and yet modern society still has flaws.
What are we, subdued? Or simply, are we just not bothered- out if sight, out of mind. Can this ever possibly be explained through consumer pacification? Every day terms such as ‘retail therapy’ or ‘shop-aholic’ etc, suggests this behaviour has in fact been normalised amongst ‘civil society’. The dominant culture represents what is ‘popular’.
Remember, Hitler was popular at one moment in time. Do we just sit back and purchase something to make us temporarily happy or should we strive for a better future.