Musical Directions


It’s not a new phenomenon that people with a similar taste in music like to set themselves apart from people with different tastes.
However, with music being such an emotionally important aspect of many people’s lifes, there are certain diverging powers that result from this.

I would like to spin a few thoughts about what effects these powers have and conclude this article with some ideas on how things could be better for all of us.

“Normal” music

There are quite a few people who simply describe their taste in music as “normal”. Those people are happy with whatever the radio plays and they like to dance to songs they know.

Many people with more unusual tastes in music scoff upon those people. In their opinion, they have no style or taste. Having played on quite a few mainstream events as a DJ, I would disagree with that. I think that this has more to do with wanting to be part of a community with music being a shared cultural aspect. We are social creatures, so this is perfectly understandable.

The curse of being different

On the other hand, a lot of people don’t like listening to “normal” music. Many of those cultivate their own tastes, be it Techno, Drum&Bass, Jazz, Salsa or whatever.

It can be a real curse to have a taste in music that is even just slightly different from the mainstream. I have witnessed this myself too many times: If you live in a rural area or small town, there just is no choice when you want to go out. There are a few pubs, maybe even a small club playing “normal” music, and that’s it.

The problem is that if you have a musical taste that is not mainstream, the mainstream does not care about you. If you go to a “normal” disco or club, they will probably not just play less of your favorite music (which would at least be democratic) but they will probably not play it at all.

Musical ghettos

If you live in a big city or if you have the found the right websites, the chances are good that you will actually find quite a few people who share your taste.
You like Techno? There’s plenty of Techno parties and online-radios dedicated to that. You dig Drum&Bass? No problem. You are a Goth? There are lots of places to celebrate your dark side with like-minded people.

This is what a lot of people are used to today. You just find your own musical ghetto and stay there.

However, there are a couple of downsides to that approach. Many people also have friends outside of their scene and want to go out with them, too. I also have the impression that as people grow older, their preferences pretty much stay the same but they become less religious about them. Staying in your own musical ghetto can be quite an effort, and not everybody is willing to spend that effort.

How can you tolerate what you don’t know?

One big issue on all sides is also a lack of knowledge about other groups. It can be quite hard to stay up-to-date on the latest sub-culture trends, and the mainstream is not exactly static either.

If you just listen to whatever is on the radio, how can you know that there is so much different stuff that you might like? And if you are into Dubstep, how could you know that there is a lot of slow-grooving Rock music that kicks your ass as well? If you stay in your musical ghetto, you will probably never find out.

Tolerance starts with understanding that people can be different from yourself in various ways – but many people don’t even know where exactly other people can be different.

Leaving your comfort zone

I have no solution for these dilemmas, but I do have a couple of ideas.

If you have friends who like things that are different from what you like, it might be better to not settle for the lowest common denominator. Instead, why shouldn’t people take turns in deciding which event or venue to visit? I can only recommend going somewhere you normally wouldn’t go – this can be the most remarkable experiences.

I also wonder why DJs often stick to one style. Even if a DJ has a broad musical taste, he/she is often expected to stick to one style. I never understood why this had to be this way. Why can’t DJs be more flexible and play Techno, Salsa, Jazz, Dubstep and Rock in one set? I have already heard this a few times, and also done this myself. It is doable.

Of course, this requires an open-minded audience – and this is where everyone can play their part.

Image: // CC-by
About marvis (209 Articles)
Marvis is the founder of Sweet Headache. He lives in Cologne (Germany) and has been a music nerd for a long, long time.

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