Music Society and its Impact
Music and society have always been intimately related. Music reflects and creates social conditions – including the factors that either help or delay social change. The development of recording techniques in the last half of the 20th century has developed the amount to which most people have access to music. All kinds of music are available to most people, 24 hours a day, at the touch of a switch. The down side of this easy availability of music in the Western world is that there is a tendency for it to be taken for granted.
Music is a very powerful medium and in some societies there have been attempts to control its use. It is powerful at the level of ...view middle of the document...
Music can play an important part in human development in the early years stimulating foetuses and infants in such a way as to promote their wellbeing. Early interactions between mother and child have an essentially musical quality which assists in the development of communication skills. Listening to music or being involved in making it does not seem to directly affect intelligence, although active involvement in music making may enhance self-esteem and promote the development of a range of social and transferable skills. Listening to quiet, relaxing background music can improve performance on a range of academic tasks, while exciting music may interfere. Memorisation can be particularly affected. Adults are able to mediate the effects of interference through the adoption of coping strategies.
The increased availability of music seems to be encouraging people to use music to manipulate their own moods, reduce stress, alleviate boredom while undertaking tedious or repetitive tasks, and create environments appropriate for particular kinds of social occasion. In short, music is being used by individuals to enhance the quality of their lives.
In parallel with this, there is a large industry concerned with the effects of music on workers and consumers. Music can influence our purchasing behavior in subtle ways in a range of environments. It can assist our ability to remember product names and enhance the product through association with liked music. When consumers are actively involved in making a decision about buying a product, music is likely to play a more peripheral role. The evidence outlined above indicates the extent to which music pervades our everyday lives and influences our behavior. This demand for music is likely to continue to increase. To support our appetite for music, the music industries in the developed world constitute a major element of the economies of many countries. They are in danger of losing their skilled work force in the future because of the extent to which music is taken for granted.
Much of the research into the effects of music on intellectual and personal development, concentration, anxiety, pain reduction, and behavior in a range of settings has tended to ignore the possible effects of cognition at the individual level. This is an important omission. Such research as there is suggests that our thinking about music has a powerful impact on our responses to it. If we wish to understand how music affects our lives we have to take account of the experiences of the individual. The evidence suggests that many people have already discovered that music is good for them. Now we need to develop an understanding of exactly why and in what circumstances.
This will require a multi-disciplinary approach to take account of the many factors which may be important. These may include, the society or culture to which the individual belongs, sub-group membership, individual characteristics including gender, age,...