Mus 1014-Understanding Contemporary and Popular Music Musicsmus 1014-Understanding Contemporary and Popular Music Musics

9 September 2016

Music Idolism blinds most people’s judgment in the world be it if he/she is educated in music. So, what factors are involved in Music Idolism? The two major factors involved are appearances and of course, music. Most people would say ‘person A is my idol! ’ or ‘I love person A! ’ and the reason for those statements is the artist’s appearance and music. If an artist is handsome or pretty, it already gives them a big advantage. As what most people would talk about is their appearances as it is the first impression of the artist that gives him/her the popularity factor.

People then spread word about that artist to their friends and which in turn shares about that artist in the internet through sources like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many more. The other major factor is music. What is involved in music that will make the world go crazy? How did so many artists achieve popularity? In 21st century music, most popular artist use a four chord loop or catchy rhythms that will draw the attention of many listeners.

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And soon, more artists followed in the same style in hopes of getting famous.

After all these said, how does it affect people in the world today? Imagine telling a group of friends about a song and wanting to introduce it to them. After saying ‘I want to introduce you to this music. ’ A friend immediately says ‘no! Artist X is better; his music is good and nobody makes better music than him, so I’m not going to listen to this. ’ And he/she says that without listening to the music introduced first. Besides these, we have seen many people who are influenced by their idol artists.

I have friend who said ‘I want to play the piano like pianist X’ and many people started using their idols to judge others in terms of music too. When I show my friend some piano videos, most of my friends will say statements like ‘no, pianist X is better’. When I ask why, the reply would be ‘because he is my idol and he is so handsome! ’ As such, many people view themselves as inferior to their idols and are stuck in their own “idol bubble. ” Music Idolism is not just a problem in the 21st century, we can also see music idolism also in the early 19th century.

Seen in Beethoven’s time in Nicholas Cook’s book. From his book, Cook says that “for generations, finding your voice as a composer meant defining yourself in relation to Beethoven. “ From this, the evidence is strong that Music Idolism exists then. Many musicians of the 19th century write music for set occasions. Like Bach, who writes music for his church and Haydn, who writes music for a feudal landowner in Hungary. But Beethoven writes music that he wanted to write. As such he began a new idea in which many people followed and which in turn, many musicians turned him into their personal idol.

So from then, music idolism existed and even after Beethoven’s death, many other composers took his place as an idol like the ever famous Chopin, who caused many people of the 21st century to learn piano, saying that they want to play like Chopin or play Chopin’s pieces. But this also caused a different effect where people who are new to music just want to learn their (referring to Beethoven, Chopin and the more famous classical/romantic composers) music without learning the basic skills on the piano.

I have seen people who learn piano just for these pieces but yet as they do not have basic skills, I feel that they are a disgrace to the composers when they play the piece without feelings or emotion and even with an extremely lot of mistakes. It just makes me mad to think of what most people view classical & romantic pieces as. Just a ‘show-off’ piece. Even these pieces are used in modern day film and music, when Chinese pop idol Jay Chou came out with his movie ‘Secrets’, he stated that he has improvised Chopin’s music to make it sound like pop. This also sparked another reaction from his fans.

Although the music came from Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp minor and Etude Op. 10, No 5, many fans insisted that Jay Chou is the original composer of these pieces and disregarded Chopin. There are many other examples even in 21st century. In the most recent events we have an artist called PSY who came up with a song called ‘Gangnam Style’ which drew a full 1,129,853,656 viewers to become the most-watched YouTube video of all time. The world started learning the dance, the music and even started to learn to be like PSY. Before PSY, the world was on about Justin Bieber with his hit song ‘Baby’ in which also took the world by storm.

We have all these great examples to see how Music Idolism has impacted the world and how it affects us and the way music is made or even so, affected the creditability of some. In another way, it can be said that people has been robbed of their musical birthright. As Christopher Small says in his book: The fundamental nature and meaning of music lie not in objects, not in musical works at all, but in action, in what people do. It is only by understanding what people do as they take part in a musical act that we can hope to understand its nature and the function it fulfills in human life. … “… everyone, every normally endowed human being, is born with the gift of music no less than with the gift of speech. If that is so, then our present-day concert life, whether ‘classical’ or ‘popular’, in which the ‘talented’ few are empowered to produce music for the ‘untalented’ majority, is based on a falsehood. It means that our powers of making music for ourselves have been hijacked and the majority of people robbed of the musicality that is there by right of birth, while a few stars, and their handlers, grow rich and famous through selling us what we have been led to believe we lack.

So according to Small, everyone has the gift of music but not everyone has managed to find it. And thus lead to think that most people are musically untalented like what most of my friends say ‘I’m not musically inclined like you. ’ However this is not true! Often people ask each other ‘can you sing? ’ But I emphasize this to my friends, ‘everyone can sing. It’s how well you do it. ’ The same, to my friends who think they are rhythmic idiots and cannot follow beats. I would say to them, ‘If you think you cannot follow rhythm, then why is it, that you can walk in rhythm?

And you can hammer a nail in rhythm? And even so, your heart beats in rhythm and you breathe in rhythm. ’ So why then, that Music Idolism exists in this world? It all leads to the individual. Whether or not to decide to idolize someone or be true to oneself. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about listening to an artist’s music or talk about it, or spread it to friends or even play it and improvise it. Music is about oneself and not about other people. Like what small said, it defines one self’s mind, character and how different one can be from the rest.

But it is obvious that someone has idolized an artist when someone says that artist A is better than artist B simply because ‘he is handsome’ or ‘I like his music more’. There is no basis in these sentences. Imagine, I want to buy an ice-cream and when I go to the supermarket, I see that A is cheaper by say $2. It does not mean that A’s quality is bad until I try it. So to avoid Music Idolism, listen to other’s music before saying that A is better than B. And for musicians, respect the composers. If the piece is not one’s current level, improve one’s skills before learning it. Do not learn music for a piece, learn music for oneself.

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