the chicken (music) or the egg (culture)?

something I have always wondered about was the link between music and cultural trends. what came first? do cultural trends come from music or does music stem from cultural trends?

(the chicken came first)

one particular trend that has interested me is the link historically between drug culture and music. how certain genres of music have popped up around the same time as certain drugs, or how the two just seem to go so nicely – eg. rave culture & ecstasy, the psychedelic era, reggae/ska and marijuana. did the music come first or did the drugs? did people drop acid, start tripping balls and think “hey I’m going to play 5 hours of twangy guitar effects on loop and make lyrics about drowning in the quicksand of my troubled mind” or did they make the music first and discover that the only people who could tolerate the stuff they created were 7 hours into the depths of an acid trip (or pretentious idiots, like me, who actually enjoy psychedelic music regardless). did techno beats arise because somebody out there genuinely thought stripping electronic music down to its most basic form would be a good idea, or because people on a lot of ecstasy just want to bop their heads and dance to a fast tempo? did bob marley write ‘don’t worry be happy’ because he was so stoned that he literally didn’t have the mental capacity to care? I’m not saying that the two go hand in hand. that you have to be on acid to enjoy psychedelic music, or that you have to be on pills to enjoy techno. each has their time and place… but what I am saying, is that there is certainly a link between the two, and that drugs tend to enhance your experience of these genres. in fact there are whole genres that refer specifically to drugs such as ‘acid rock’, ‘stoner beats’ etc etc.

there has been research done into electronic/drum and bass music that points to a connection with the physical state of the listener. that certain frequencies of sound occur inside the head or body, with the sound absorbed inside. I suppose there is research somewhere about how acid and other psychedelics affect your brain and open you up to perceive more that is going on around you – therefore are more likely to appreciate the complexity of music. same can be said of the effects of marijuana and the sensation of relaxation.  does this mean that this music specifically caters to the sensations given by the substances that are related? or that it’s simply a natural coincidence?

(oh wow, I suddenly have the uncontrollable urge to dance around pumping my fists whilst eating a lollipop)

this theory can be transferred into other cultural trends, like dress sense and stereotypes. do people dress a certain way because of the music they listen to? or listen to the music they do because they dress a certain way? music affects more than your dress sense. it effects your perception of the world, your value system, your personality, your taste in other respects, your sexual preference, your opinion of people…the list goes on. we make assumptions about people depending on their music taste (and by extension, the way they dress and hold themselves in general). some music triggers phases and subcultures, particularly in adolescents that – we like to hope – we grow out of when we stop listening to the music (but is hilarious when people don’t- have you ever seen a 50 year old goth? it’s like…wow man, that’s commitment).

(kimmy j obviously listens to too much bullet for my valentine..)

I wonder what the ramifications of growing up listening to dr dre (90’s gangsta rap) and marilyn manson (do I even need to extrapolate) had on the way I am today. do I genuinely get along with women less than men because Dr Dre told me ‘bitches aint shit but hoes and tricks’?

(or does it at least explain my enjoyment for doing dishes?)

does it have some effect on my value system? my relationships? my uncontrollable need to swear like a bearded-unwashed-truckie on speed? who knows, but I am definitely aware on the effect the music I listen to has on my mood and my perception of the world. as soon as I hear the first few chords of ‘skinny love’ I immediately need to crawl into my bedroom and sob uncontrollably. and when I listen to rage against the machine whilst driving my car I suddenly have the urge to start running down people and screaming ‘fuq da poleece’.

(nemo loves rage against the machine) 

maybe we should all be a bit more aware of what our music taste subconsciously tells us. or maybe not. either way, I’d keep clear of miley unless you want to lose your soul.

One comment

  1. Pingback: 8 | Bec's blog (is so far down the alphabet that by this point nobody cares)

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