Discovering music as art


James Fjeldahl, Guest Writer

Music. Music is a really amazing thing the more you look at it. Every song has a different style, just like someone’s fashion style. I decided to put myself through a little experiment. I wanted to explore the different musical tastes of people in my school and dive deeper into the world of music. I began by asking people such as my friends, teachers, and even my principal to give me an artist of their choosing to listen to for the day.  After a day of listening to some of the artist’s discography, I rate the artist out of ten. Some are better than others, but that’s not the point of the experiment. The goal of the experiment is to understand the musical tastes of everyone around me and to get to know people not just by their personality, but also through the music they enjoy.

The world of music is so much bigger than people actually think. Often, when people are asked how many music genres are out there, many people will say 5 to 10. Actually, there are about 47 genres of music and 337 sub-genres. This means there are primary sections of a genre like country, rap, pop, or rock. Sub-genres would be hip hop rap, pop rock, hard rock, or metal. To me, this is insane. It’s not only a large number of genres but the insane amount of sub-genres in every genre. Basically, every genre you listen to has another genre attached to it. If you look at genres in music, it’s like a family tree. There’s always another genre (sub-genre) that comes from one of many genres (primary genre).

Just listening to the first week of artists from many different genres really changed my mind about music. Before the experiment, music was just something that helped me with my emotions: to calm down and to ease my mind. But after listening to the first week of new artists, the script flipped completely. Music was no longer just an add-on to my day. It was my day. Instead of it being just background noise, I saw it as art. It was a way to be me. No matter what mood I was in, I always had an artist or genre that fit. If I felt lazy, it was what some people would call Indie music. If I felt hyper, it was rap. If I felt focused and excited, it was rock. I’ve always been a rock guy, so it just kinda sticks with me. Music is a way to live and thrive. It helps control emotions that sometimes feel uncontrollable. It helps me focus and stay in control of myself. 

During my project, there are a few things I noticed. Our generation and our music tastes are so misguided. Now some of you may be asking yourself what I mean by that, and why I, a 16-year-old junior, is saying it. I say that because almost 80% of the entries from this experiment were just rap, not different sub-genres, but basic modern rap. Don’t get me wrong, I like rap too, but music now isn’t even anything like it used to be. Many people (some of my friends included) listen to rap and only rap. When someone tries to show them something different such as rock, they will say “This is not it, ” or “No, I can’t listen to this.” I’ve even tried showing my friends 90s rap like Nas or other early 2000s rap, and they don’t like it, which makes no sense to me. Some of those artists made the music you listen to today; without them, you wouldn’t have the genres you have today. I think our generation is so dull when it comes to exploring the art of music.

I didn’t do this experiment just to hate on people’s music tastes. I made this to show people that not everyone has the same music taste, and sometimes music is more than just one genre; it’s a world. It has different aspects that make each and every genre as unique as the snowflakes that fall out of the sky. Sometimes some things are worth exploring, and I think music is one of them.