TED Conversations

Alex Torres

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

What defines music? Is today's pop music really music?

As a high school student, I hear students' music walking down the hallways ranging from electronic (dubstep) music to classical, even Baroque-era, music.

Many people from the 80's and the previous decades consider today's music as not music. One reason being that it sounds like fax machines. Other reasons for the claim are that the music is too digitalized, and not instrumental.

I am not sure about this, but were parents of the 80's kids considering the rock and roll music as intolerable?

Every decade, the popular music style seems to change. There was the jazz, swing, beap-bop...disco, rock and roll, hip hop...electronic-dance. If it is the new music style, should it be considered music?

Every music-era before today's has had musical instruments for the production of the music, but today's music uses sounds produced from technology. Maybe technology is the new instrument, the new orchestra.

Some who do not like today's music, say that the new "youngsters" are not aware of the diversity in music, and therefore do not understand what is music.

I would greatly appreciate your opinion. As a multi-instrument player, I listen to all varieties of music from any age. I want to know what you think about today's music.

+2
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Oct 11 2013: I'd go with a fairly inclusive definition of music. Music is the purposeful manipulation of sound with the purpose being of sharing it with others. Today's music would fall under this loose definition, but this does not mean it is good or bad music. I think under most definitions, it is ridiculous for people to use the digitalization (it's a word now spell check!) of music as a reason as it isn't music. Technology in music is no less an instrument than a guitar or any other 'physical' instrument. I just looked at your description and realized I practically repeated what you said, so everyone look above for another wording of what I just said.

    Thanks for the question! I am a mid-90s teenager (born in the mid-90s, not a teenager during the mid-90s), and like 80s pop, classic rock, and select current popular songs.
  • Oct 10 2013: think music is an individual thing. Music to one person could be noise to another. I have no problem so long as they do not force me to listen to something I do not consider music - 8>))
  • Nov 7 2013: Music is a changeable thing day by day and it is one of the important art in our lives. It's totally different between 70's music and today's one. We cannot say what is the real music because some people like rock music, but others definitely don't. I like pop music but it could be noise to someone, so it really depends on person. We have lots of kind of music all over the world! We can enjoy the music whatever we want!
  • thumb
    Oct 19 2013: I like axis of awesome view on music's top songs that most all have the same four cords.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpB_40hYjXU
  • Oct 15 2013: I like music very much.And there is a legend which is about singing lady in my hometown.The lady's singing maintains all people's intelligences.No matter man or woman,old or young all like her singing.I think just because her singing is from nature and from people's daily life.People are easy to get resonance.So nice musics are from nature and real life,deep heart.

    I don't have so much preference to keep any category in music,I listen music freely and follow my feeling to feel them.Music gives so much comfort in my life.
  • Oct 12 2013: Let's look at your problem this way. I know of many new style "music" consists of some "singing" , in most part monotonous, sometimes with vulgar or cussing languages, accompanied with some digitally programmed or instrumental music.. My question here is "If we take out the human voice ( most of it is usually not quite literate), do we still want to listen to the the music alone? If most of us, even the youngsters, are no longer interested in it, then it shouldn't be called music. Because the monologue human voice certainly is not of the musical art, or is it? The counter example is that many masterpieces in opera music were so good and pleasing to our musical sense that we often enjoyed them tremendously even if the human voice is taken out of them.
    • Oct 13 2013: Right! There are many songs that I listen to that are just chord progressions, with no voice.
  • Oct 10 2013: An interesting question. In some sense music is very unique. Consider that the perceptive process of listening is very different to say touch or sight. In fact sight is like a form of touch at a distance. Hearing or listening is very different, in the case of music it relies on a memory of what has come before otherwise meaning is lost, that is to say the meaning that is intended is lost maybe to be replaced by another also maybe intended. If you listen to a piece of music whether classical or folk or modern in order to appreciate the meaning you must hear all of it and each part gains meaning from what came before it. What is present resonates from what came before so that the new isunderstand as a whole. This is the most interesting aspect of music and concretely demonstrates the concept of the whole, not as an overarching power but rather so that each part is understood as part of the whole and the whole is defined through the parts.
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2013: I like music very much because I like singing very much. I also like all kinds of music and I think music is combination of all the beautiful sounds from the outside world(artificial or natural). "Beautiful" depends on individuals' taste based on his experiences and mind world. If you don't like the music, then it's just noise and a pain in the neck. I personally think Today's music is more in entertainment direction without many impressive classics.
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2013: Let us compare music to writing shall we. Writing when it started was the culmination of the language. Few people had command over the spoken and written language. Writers cam along the time when no one around expressed themselves in a written form clearly. The cost of paper, ink and the luxury of writing was only available to a few. Then times changed, the luxury became a necessity and writing became common. Paper production increased and there were modern typewriters, pen which promoted writing even more. Thus, writers were increased in number. After we entered the digital age, it increased even further. Anyone can afford to wrote now and the blogs, articles are considered writing in the modern times.
    Similar process followed with music. Instruments and stages cost a lot in the olden days. Recording an album or singing a song and making a video was luxury. But time decreased the cost of it all. Everybody could afford it in the 80's and the 90's. Guitars had lower cost, amplifiers were common. Recording was easy and rock and roll was at it's peak. Now, every Macintosh computer is a studio itself. Every hand held cell phone is video camera. This has reduced the cost of production and increased the quantity of music. The type of instruments and music has differed as well (as it differed in mediums in writing). Thus, the music right now can be considered as music.

    I see the debate not as Old VS New but as a debate of quantity vs Quality.
  • Oct 10 2013: Sometimes on the radio I will hear the synthetic vibes or digital instrumentation, but it is music. Yes, some new music does hurt the ears, badly!
  • Oct 10 2013: As mentioned above, Music is an art form, dependent of the direct involvement of various aspects of humanity, just as are food, literature, visual and performance arts, etc. Some individuals may not appreciate the reality of it, but anything somebody refers to as music is in fact true music, it is merely just relative. The interests of the masses will change and evolve over time, transforming into new and more radical interests that will only be misunderstood by a similar group of individuals who misunderstand the nature of the modern art. Its a vicious cycle, but nonetheless fruitless to attempt controlling through anything short of personal expression and the hopes that others might agree with you!
  • Da Way

    • 0
    Oct 9 2013: I think music, like any form of art, whether it's visual art, food, cultures, movies, etc. as a 'field', it can only advance. I think it's easy to generalise and mix up 'pop' music with 'today's music'. Music has definitely become more varied and therefore widened its options, in terms of instruments, and communication (as technologies such as mp3 and file sharing is popularised). Pop is only one genre, but even within itself 'pop' has become more cultured. If you look at the charts in the 50's, its mostly one style of music. where as charts today are a wide mix of rock, hiphop, even simple acoustic. You can like one style or another, but you cannot deny it's definitely more varied.

    Music, in my definition, is a pattern/combination of sounds, often with varied frequencies and rhythms that bring about (hopefully a positive) emotion. Since we've been banging rocks together as cavemen, we've been creating music. And the only way you can define quantitively whether music is improving over time, is to measure the positive emotions it has brought. And I think over all, we have more options and varieties to enjoy than cavemen did.
  • Oct 9 2013: Pop music is music. Music is as diverse as the world. But not all who make 'music' are musicians.
    In this 21st century life there are more entertainers than musician, all sort of popularized mediocrity can be called music. And they are.

    But there is gold, pure gold; and there is gold with a mix of dross (little or much).

    So it is with the music.