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Old August 31st, 2017, 01:42 PM   #1

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Why would a person's social background determine a taste for music?


Actually, the more puzzling question is why people from different social backgrounds not only like different music, but why they dislike the music that appeals to other groups.

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What people don't want to listen to also plays a key role in creating class boundaries. "What upper class people like is disliked by the lower class, and vice versa," said Veenstra.

For example, the least-educated people in the study were over eight times more likely to dislike classical music compared to the best-educated respondents. Meanwhile, lowbrow genres such as country, easy listening and golden oldies were disliked by higher-class listeners.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0603124545.htm
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Old August 31st, 2017, 01:51 PM   #2

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Because music is often closely associated with social events and norms, which are also often class related, or at least favoured by a specific class.

For example, country or folk music, and their equivalent in various countries, are associated with the social lives of the common folk. Upper classes may not necessarily dislike this kind of music itself, but they may often dislike the social implications associated with it, seeing it as the music of the lower classes. And vice versa.
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Old August 31st, 2017, 02:15 PM   #3

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Certain music can be too challenging for some to truly find a meaning in it while other music can make you feel stupid when listening to it (imagine really stupid failed lyrics in a song).
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Old August 31st, 2017, 05:20 PM   #4
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At least in the US, my experience has been that people who grow up in "upper class" homes tend to get a veneer of knowledge about classical music and opera as part of the basic educational package that identifies the class. At the same time, pursuing a deep knowledge of such music is considered a little eccentric, and might be as likely from a person of one class as another. My sense is that upper class people in general don't form deep connections with art, as extensive business interests tend to inhibit forming other deep connections.

In the movie "Ray," based on the life of Ray Charles, the title character talks about country music: "I love the stories. You know about fallin' in love and have love knock you around, and then the pressures of the world on you so tough, it makes you feel small. You just want to give your soul to God. You might as well, your a** belongs to Him." Well that describes opera exactly as much as it does country music. I've found that it's easier to talk about opera to people of modest means than to professionals, because the latter already know what they think are the necessary points.
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Old August 31st, 2017, 07:29 PM   #5

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While my brother introduced me to classical music, my taste in classical music developed quite independently.
Orchestral? Mostly no unless it is the background music of my favourite singer(s).
I listen mostly to solo, duo, or small groups.
I keep listening to the following album repetitively.

The bouzouki one? I use one of the tracks as my cell phone ring tone.
Some may ask why I prefer harp over piano; piano may not truly hit my strings.

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Old August 31st, 2017, 11:54 PM   #6

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In Britain, probably from sometime after the war, the audience for folk music moved from the working class to the middle classes. We have the Cambridge Folk Festival, not the "Grungeborough" folk festival, and you are very unlikely to hear the music of Pentangle, or even Jethro Tull, coming from a social housing estate, but not impossible of course. It is also very much the case that liking foreign folk music, or any music where the singing is not in English, is an entirely middle class affair. As far as music that fits into the broad category of rock is concerned, from Elvis to the present day, that tends to be classless. On other types of pop music I don't really see any class issues, people either like something or they don't no matter if they are a production line worker or a duke. The divide, as it seems all over the world, is that the middle classes actively like classical music, and may play an instrument, even if badly, while the working class, while liking some in the right setting, state and religious occasions, will not go out and buy classical music. But this is all rather broad and loaded with assumptions and unpleasant snobbishness.

And, to answer in part the OPs specific question, snobbishness is an element in why people will like or dislike certain types of music. This snobbishness, which I find laughable as well as unpleasant, cuts both ways, with some middle class people engaging in reverse snobbery and pretending not to like classical music to give themselves "street cred", or pretending to be working class even if they are a professional musician, yes Nigel, you do look an utter "turnip". On the other hand, working class people who like classical or other "high brow" music, don't normally show snobbery, only that they can appreciate music. And, as always in Britain, what music you like, is in part dictated by which school you went to, state or public, and where your parents are on the social scale. Though one big element, irrespective of class, is what type of music you were exposed to while growing up, what do your friends listen to. In this age with so many people able to make and disseminate music digitally, and with so many new genre and sub genre, I think the old "system" I have been describing is breaking down, in fact has broken down, and a huge amount is now really classless, though still with exceptions for folk and classical.

Last edited by Corvidius; September 1st, 2017 at 01:03 AM.
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Old September 1st, 2017, 11:09 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoryOMore View Post
At least in the US, my experience has been that people who grow up in "upper class" homes tend to get a veneer of knowledge about classical music and opera as part of the basic educational package that identifies the class. At the same time, pursuing a deep knowledge of such music is considered a little eccentric, and might be as likely from a person of one class as another. My sense is that upper class people in general don't form deep connections with art, as extensive business interests tend to inhibit forming other deep connections.

In the movie "Ray," based on the life of Ray Charles, the title character talks about country music: "I love the stories. You know about fallin' in love and have love knock you around, and then the pressures of the world on you so tough, it makes you feel small. You just want to give your soul to God. You might as well, your a** belongs to Him." Well that describes opera exactly as much as it does country music. I've found that it's easier to talk about opera to people of modest means than to professionals, because the latter already know what they think are the necessary points.
I think it is what you get used to listening to: the more you listen to a certain genre of music--with a desire to listen to it, of course--the more it gets into your head and you like it.

Conversely, if I am forced to listen to music either when I don't want to listen to music or if it is not the kind of music I want to listen to, I'll come to dislike it. And I'll have to make an effort to break out of my initial dislike.

Re your story about Ray Charles--read a similar anecdote about Charlie Parker listening to country music on a jukebox.
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Old September 1st, 2017, 12:03 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvidius View Post
In Britain, probably from sometime after the war, the audience for folk music moved from the working class to the middle classes. We have the Cambridge Folk Festival, not the "Grungeborough" folk festival, and you are very unlikely to hear the music of Pentangle, or even Jethro Tull, coming from a social housing estate, but not impossible of course. It is also very much the case that liking foreign folk music, or any music where the singing is not in English, is an entirely middle class affair. As far as music that fits into the broad category of rock is concerned, from Elvis to the present day, that tends to be classless. On other types of pop music I don't really see any class issues, people either like something or they don't no matter if they are a production line worker or a duke. The divide, as it seems all over the world, is that the middle classes actively like classical music, and may play an instrument, even if badly, while the working class, while liking some in the right setting, state and religious occasions, will not go out and buy classical music. But this is all rather broad and loaded with assumptions and unpleasant snobbishness.

And, to answer in part the OPs specific question, snobbishness is an element in why people will like or dislike certain types of music. This snobbishness, which I find laughable as well as unpleasant, cuts both ways, with some middle class people engaging in reverse snobbery and pretending not to like classical music to give themselves "street cred", or pretending to be working class even if they are a professional musician, yes Nigel, you do look an utter "turnip". On the other hand, working class people who like classical or other "high brow" music, don't normally show snobbery, only that they can appreciate music. And, as always in Britain, what music you like, is in part dictated by which school you went to, state or public, and where your parents are on the social scale. Though one big element, irrespective of class, is what type of music you were exposed to while growing up, what do your friends listen to. In this age with so many people able to make and disseminate music digitally, and with so many new genre and sub genre, I think the old "system" I have been describing is breaking down, in fact has broken down, and a huge amount is now really classless, though still with exceptions for folk and classical.
Well thought of post. I think this boundary that sets apart the elite and the middle class people in their taste in music referring to classical is a dictate of the social norm that the classical music is branded with nobility and wealth.

I also agree with you that pop music seems to be liked by everyone. Here in the Philippines I find it absurd that the people who are into profession like doctors and lawyers who mingle with the rich and have came to a point that they can call themselves rich also would shift to playing music like jazz and classical but prior to that they actually like pop and folk music.

In my case since I was a kid, like I was four to seven years old I'd been enamored by the songs of the Beetles like "Don't Let Me Down," "Get Back" and "Come Together," and of course those songs of Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Led Zeppilin. My father was a guy who loves songs played by orchestra and South American music like cha-cha and Tango and those songs of Mat Monroe and Nat Kingcole which initially I appreciated being the household music but I eventually hated as I reached my adolescence and started to be into the groove of its time which were the music of Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, OMD, U2 and certainly I love to listen to songs of Twisted Sisters, GnR, Metallica and the 90's grunges for which songs of Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains were my priorities all together with Nirvana. Despite that I also love listening to Tupac, Ice T and other rappers of their time and now I am into indie rock like the songs of Arcade Fire, Passion Pit and the Killers to name a few.

In other words, I don't really think there must be barrier in art if you are into it. The usual stereo typing is for the shallow. I mean I'd been a lawyer for more than 20 years and my fellow in this country would showcase themselves as lovers of classical music because of their situation. Some are authentic fans of it but a lot are just trying to fit in. In my situation, I listen to what I want and there are people who'd be surprise if they happen to listen to Tame Impala music in my car and would ask me why I like rock music.

Borders for liking music is nothing but failure to take oneself into it.

Last edited by dagul; September 1st, 2017 at 12:05 PM.
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Old September 1st, 2017, 12:17 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Vagamundo View Post
I think it is what you get used to listening to: the more you listen to a certain genre of music--with a desire to listen to it, of course--the more it gets into your head and you like it.

Conversely, if I am forced to listen to music either when I don't want to listen to music or if it is not the kind of music I want to listen to, I'll come to dislike it. And I'll have to make an effort to break out of my initial dislike.

Re your story about Ray Charles--read a similar anecdote about Charlie Parker listening to country music on a jukebox.
Not really, because as a young boy I was bombarded with my father's music. We had that stereo with turn tables and the only album that I was able to appreciate out of his stock was the songs of the Beetles. He would play his music every afternoon after arriving from school because he was a history teacher, but despite listening to them frequently, there is that part in my brain that rejects them because they are songs that really don't tickle my brain cells.
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Old September 1st, 2017, 02:59 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvidius View Post

And, to answer in part the OPs specific question, snobbishness is an element in why people will like or dislike certain types of music. This snobbishness, which I find laughable as well as unpleasant, cuts both ways, with some middle class people engaging in reverse snobbery and pretending not to like classical music to give themselves "street cred", or pretending to be working class even if they are a professional musician, yes Nigel, you do look an utter "turnip". On the other hand, working class people who like classical or other "high brow" music, don't normally show snobbery, only that they can appreciate music. And, as always in Britain, what music you like, is in part dictated by which school you went to, state or public, and where your parents are on the social scale. Though one big element, irrespective of class, is what type of music you were exposed to while growing up, what do your friends listen to. In this age with so many people able to make and disseminate music digitally, and with so many new genre and sub genre, I think the old "system" I have been describing is breaking down, in fact has broken down, and a huge amount is now really classless, though still with exceptions for folk and classical.
I agree, snobbishness has a lot to do with it. I recall working class people being snobbish by mocking people who liked classical music, and it just made them look silly. I'm sure the same would be true of upper class people mocking other music, even though I didn't personally witness that.
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