Western Music History/Contemporary Music

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The Contemporary Music period is the period following the Modern Music period. It is generally considered to have lasted from 1945 A.D. to the present.

Contemporary music is (in general) based on originality. Then Contemporary artists use dissonances and tried to disobey "the laws" that music had followed for many years.

After the Romantic period, music began to differentiate into many varying genres, and as a result contemporary music as a term is used to denote the time period, rather than style.

There are many sub-categories of Contemporary music, like minimalism, a style utilising limited music materials that has been explored by many artists including Steve Reich, John Adams, and Philip Glass. Other genres include neoromanticism, serialism, and postmodernism.

The Contemporary Era was formed during the last quarter of the nineteenth century through a painting movement called impressionism. Around 1870 a group of French painters rejected the Romantic Era. Twentieth Century music reflects the influences of art and literature of the mechanistic atomic age. The pleasant sounding impressionistic music, characterised by composers like Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, gave way to experiments with twelve tone music, often associated with the Second Viennese School. Some composers drew inspiration from across the world, like Olivier Messiaen, whose modes of limited transposition did not permit traditional cadences, and as a result his work is sometimes considered to be outside of the Western Classical Music tradition.

Contemporary music also encompasses genres which may not be considered 'classical' by an average person. Many of these are often reliant on the quite recent invention of synthesised sounds or non-traditional scales and chords, such as jazz or electronic music.

As well as these, different people from the romantic era made variations of there songs so they could add Impressionism.Some of these composers include Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Aaron Copland, Dmitri Shostakovich, Samuel Barber, and Henryk Gorecki.

The music also contains non-western melodies and leaves out romanticism.The Contemporary also introduces new scales as bases for melodies (whole-tone, modes, and chromatic) and chord uses. Some common characteristics, which are not always present and are not only specific to this period, include:

  1. Fewer lyrical melodies than other periods.
  2. Dissonant Harmonies
  3. Complex rhythms
  4. Percussiveness
  5. Greater use of percussion,brass,and woodwind.
  6. Uses synthetic and electronic sounds

Film Score[edit | edit source]

Original scores flourished during the 1960s and many composers began to compose original scores for whatever movies they worked on. Musicals also began to become exceedingly popular, both animated and live-action. By the late 1960s, the number of musicals that were being filmed and released began to decrease as live-action films that did not involve the characters singing became more popular. The exception to this is the great and popular movie musical The Sound of Music.

In the 1960s, film scores had begun to evolve once again. The evolution was gradual, but the sixties marked the true beginning of symphonies in film scores. Many movies during the late fifties and early sixties were movies and stories based on historical events, epics, or popular novels. The film music of this time was extremely dramatic and required larger ensembles. Movies of this time such as Cleopatra, Planet of the Apes, Goldfinger, To Kill A Mockingbird, and most importantly, Psycho.

Leitmotif[edit | edit source]

Psycho was an American horror film that was scored by Bernard Herrmann and released in 1960. This film is the first American film to ever have an original leitmotif used in a movie score. A leitmotif is a musical theme that is supposed to be identified or associated with a person, idea, place, or thing and it is credited to have been used mostly by Richard Wagner though earlier composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have used this technique as well. Bernard Herrmann created a theme of three notes for characters in the film Psycho.

John Williams[edit | edit source]

John Williams

John Williams, one of the greatest composers and film scorers of all time employs the use of the leitmotif in most if not all of his works. John Williams’ career spans eight decades and during this time he has composed for some of the most popular movies and franchises, such as Star Wars, Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter. John Williams utilizes Bernard Herrmann’s idea of using leitmotifs in movies and takes it a step further by creating various themes and leitmotifs for specific characters. He created one theme or leitmotif for each character and whenever this character is on screen or is spoken of, the theme or a variation of the theme will play. Star Wars is the first film to have specific themes per character or place, for example, Darth Vader has The Imperial March or Yoda has Yoda’s Theme. John Williams’ idea of using different leitmotifs throughout the entire film score for various characters became a central part of films, especially those that have sequels and prequels as well as films in specific genres such as action, science fiction, adventure, and romance.

Film Score in the 21st Century[edit | edit source]

Today, in the twenty-first century, film score continues to grow, especially the use of leitmotifs. Many composers such as Hans Zimmer, Ludwig Göransson, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, and Joe Hisaishi still employ the use of leitmotifs in their film scores. Film score is an integral part of movies today, especially big blockbuster films that are put out by certain companies such as Disney, Marvel, DC, Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, etc.

Lin-Manuel Miranda[edit | edit source]

Lin-Manuel Miranda is an American composer, lyricist, playwright, performer, and producer. He was born on January 16, 1980 at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan in New York, NY. He was raised in Northern Manhattan by his parents, Luis A. Miranda who works as a Democratic Party consultant and Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda who works as a clinical psychologist. Lin-Manuel Miranda has an older sister named Luz Miranda-Crespo who works as the Chief Financial Officer of a strategic consulting firm in Government and Communications. He studied theatre at Wesleyan College where he graduated in 2002.

Lin-Manuel Miranda started writing musicals during high school, and during his days in Wesleyan College (1999), he started his first draft of the musical “In the Heights.” He wrote songs that introduced concepts such as free-style rap and salsa music. Unfortunately, “In the Heights” was turned down by many broadway executives multiple times throughout the years because they thought that the characters in the musical lacked drama. “Why isn’t she pregnant? Why isn’t she in a gang?” were some of the ideas that the executives wanted Miranda to add to his musical.

After he graduated, he took on several jobs while working on and perfecting “In the Heights.” He worked as a substitute English teacher for his old high school, a newspaper columnist, and a jingle writer for political campaigns. In 2004, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Veneziale, and Thomas Kail founded Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop improv group which they developed into a touring group. They performed in various festivals and venues, and even had their own 11-episode television series in 2014. In 2008, “In the Heights” finally premiered on Broadway. It was performed over 1000 times and received 4 Tony Awards including one for Best Musical and Best Original Score. It was then adapted as a film in 2021. In 2010, Miranda married his old high school friend, Vanessa Nadal at the age of 30. He co-wrote music and lyrics for the musical “Bring It On: The Musical” the next year. His next broadway show was “Hamilton" in 2015. He once again worked with Thomas Kail to produce a groundbreaking musical where he featured non-white actors to perform as the founding fathers. His idea stemmed from a biography on the founding father in 2009. He was inspired to write a rap about Alexander Hamilton, resulting in the creation of “Hamilton.” He also starred in his own musical as Alexander Hamilton. “Hamilton” received 11 Tony Awards including a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It also received a Grammy award for the best musical theatre album. Miranda also won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

In 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda was the primary songwriter for Disney’s “Moana.” He found this opportunity a lighthearted break from writing about American History. He said in an interview, “I don’t have to deal with American History, I don’t have to deal with facts.” He wrote music with Opetaia Tavita Foa’i from Samoa and his vocal group Te Vaka to create a lot of the ethnic colors and backgrounds in their music. It took the songwriters and studio three years to finally complete the music for the animated film. Lin-Manuel Miranda won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for the song “How Far I’ll Go” in Moana. He also wrote music for the film “Mary Poppins Returns” in 2018. In 2021, He wrote music for Columbia Picture and Sony Pictures Animation “Vivo”. He also starred in the same film as the protagonist of the film, Vivo. Some of the songs he wrote in Vivo were “One of a Kind” which he sang himself, and “My Own Drum.” He was working on these songs for a few years, but Disney did not end up making the film so all of his songs were sent back and was put aside. Fortunately, they ended up working on it again, and Miranda was elated. The same year, he wrote music for Disney’s “Encanto.” All of the songs in this film was written by Miranda, and he was more than happy to do so. Some of the songs include “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “The Family Madrigal,” and “Surface Pressure.” Lin-Manuel Miranda won multiple awards for “Encanto,” including the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature, a Satellite Award for Best Original Song for “Colombia, Mi Encanto”. Miranda also contributed Spanish Translations for the musical “West Side Story.” He also contributed to children's shows such as “The Electric Company,” “Sesame Street,” and “Star Wars VII and IX.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda debuted as a film director with “Tick, Tick…Boom!” This was an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical musical “Tick, Tick…Boom!” by Jonathan Larson. It was released on Netflix in 2021. This time, he did not write any songs for the film; instead, he still used the songs that were written by Jonathan Larson. Miranda was not just active in the field of music making—he was also very involved and supportive especially when it came to his parents’ place of origin: Puerto Rico. He publicly supported the Puerto Rico Oversight Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in 2016, and in the next year, the proceeds from his song “Almost Like Praying” raised $22 million dollars to help the people affected by the hurricanes Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico. When Miranda was 38, he participated in the Families Belong Together rally to oppose Trump’s Family Separation Policy.

Music and the Brain[edit | edit source]

“Music is not only seen as art and entertainment but as an essential manner of sensorial patterning that increases long-range memory, reading skills, and physical development.”(Don G. Campbell). Music can be an abstract subject and yet so close to us. Since our childhood, it has been present in nursery rhymes; we can hear it in stores, in movies (it allows us to have a particular atmosphere), ... During our analysis, we will try to understand its impact on our brain and its benefits.

I) Music processing by the brain The brain is an organ that weighs nearly 1.3 kilograms; it is one of the most protected organs. It is made up of 75% water and consumes between 15 and 20% of the energy produced by the body. As you can see in the picture, the brain is divided into four parts: The Pink part, which represents the parietal lobe which contains the touch, the pain, and the hearing. Then, the blue part represents the frontal lobe which is in charge of muscle control, speech, and creativity. The brown part is the occipital lobe that manages sight. Finally, the yellow part represents the temporal lobe which directs the reading, memory, smell, emotion, and taste. (Daniel J.Levitin, Appendix A) The melody consists of vibrations in the air that are transmitted from specific frequencies—the ripples. The frequency (which is expressed in Hertz) determines the pitch of the sound. Note A; the reference note has a frequency of 440 Hz. The human ear can hear from a low frequency of 20 Hz (lower is the infrasound) to a maximum of 20 000 Hz. (above are the ultrasounds). When we listen to music, there are some definitions to have that we will list to understand the musical vocabulary better.

“Melody is the main theme of a musical piece, the part you sing along with, the succession of tones that are more salient in your mind.” (Levitin, page 16) “ Harmony has to do with relationships between the pitches of different tones to lead to expectations for what will come next in a musical piece.” (Levitin, page 17) “ Pitch is a purely psychological construct, related both to the actual scale. It provides the answer to the question “what note is that?” (Levitin, page 15) “Rhythm refers to the duration of a series of notes and the way that they group together into units.” (Levitin, page 15)

II- How the brain perceives music The auditory cortex is activated when listening to music, and musical imagery is also stimulated. Let's take the example of Beethoven (example mentioned in one of the books). We know that he became deaf, and yet this did not prevent him from continuing to compose. Of course, he could no longer hear, but thanks to his musical knowledge and the memory he had accumulated in this field, he could only compose music intellectually. Although we are constantly surrounded by music, there are also people who are insensitive to it. The construction of musical pleasure is a gradual process and, as we have seen before, it involves different parts of the brain. The "musical anhedonic" would not have been able to set up the basis of a dialogue between perception, memory, and pleasure in the brain. This means that they can understand music in an intellectual way, but not feel any emotion, although they can tell the difference between nostalgic music and happier music.

According to neuroscience research, musical pleasure is built up over time. The emotions that are provoked by certain music are linked to specific events. "Musical pleasure is built up in stages, from the raw, visceral effect to the aesthetic feeling of the informed music lover." ( Emmanuel Bigand). The levels of musical enjoyment are divided into three levels: First, visceral pleasure, which occurs at the physical level, our body feels the vibrations, the tactile receptors of the skin as well, and this is more than enough to create an emotion in the listener. Then, the emotional pleasure is based on elements stored in the memory. This can also cause the "musical thrill." This is linked to the auditory cortex and the memory of lived experiences. And finally, aesthetic pleasure is characterized as the "expert pleasure" due to the fact that it is constructed culturally. The satisfaction comes from having musical knowledge, of having the possibility of being able to understand and decipher works, and it is not innate. Of course, the three can be felt simultaneously or independently.

III-The beneficial effects of Music Music has also affected mental health since the beginning of time. According to Pythagoras in the "Jamborean Philosophy," "Music moved souls from one state to its opposite. Crying, anger, self-pity, irrational desires, fears, desires of all kinds. Each of these disorders was brought back to the corresponding virtue by means of the appropriate melodies, as using an effective and carefully prepared medicine." In the Tule tribe in the Amazon, Music is used to deter the various predators that prowl around the village at night. For example, music therapy is recognized and has been used for patients with Parkison. " The patient can regain a fluent motor flow with Music, but once the Music stops, so too does the flow. A lot of research in neuroscience shows that it can relieve different pathologies. It allows stimulating certain parts of the brain. Here is an example: a stroke patient who learns to play the piano will enable him to rehabilitate his motor skills little by little. This practice stimulates the motor cortex, and this association would contribute to the reorganization of the motor cortex damaged by the stroke. The brain of a musician is built differently because they use touch, sight, and hearing. These hours of practice will change the growth of his brain. The earlier a child starts, the more brain changes there will be. Moreover, children who have played an instrument have a better representation of the intonation of their language, a richer vocabulary, read better and learn a foreign language quickly. Playing an instrument regularly will cause changes in the neural substrates. Moreover, when we look at the imagery of the motor cortex (which is responsible for hand movements), pianists have more developed hands, and violinists have asymmetrical hands due to the bow's holding and the rapid movements made with the left hand.

To conclude, we have seen that music and memory are closely linked. Music brings advantages and allows to development of cognitive abilities that are not necessarily related to music. It is part of all cultures and is present in different aspects of a human being's life, such as nursery rhymes, religious services, or music therapy for people with mental illnesses. It provides a social and playful connection and strengthens the bonds between people. "There is something about music's evocative and expressive power that is not found in verbal or written forms."

The Development of Psychedelic Music[edit | edit source]


The word psychedelic was coined by British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957. It comprises two Greek words, i.e., “Psyche” which means the soul, and “Deloun” which means to manifest. The term Psychedelic, therefore, implies the ability to manifest the soul. In modern times, the term psychedelic is mainly used to describe hallucinatory drugs like LSD and cannabinoids and the “mind-altering” effects they have on people. The use of psychedelic drugs dramatically increased in the 1960s, and that laid the foundation for one of the most radical and abrupt developments in music history as well as Western society as a whole. What makes the psychedelic music genre fascinating is its rapid development and its short duration, which was marked by the use and disuse (due to the ban) of excessive psychedelic drug consumption. Psychedelic rock music was a massive part of the countercultural decade and was the main driving force of society in the Western world. This article summarizes the developments that took place before and during the 1960s that facilitated the rise of this incredible genre.


The birth of Impressionism and Symbolism in 19th-century art and the rise of programmatic music are credited with laying the foundation for elements of the psychedelic music genre. In 1830, Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” illustrated an opium-induced nightmare of unrequited love and desire. Robert Schumann described it as “so intense in every note as to defy normal harmonization.” Berlioz’s program notes for the symphony instill such distress and misery into the listener as the symphony unfolds. Leonard Bernstein rightly described this symphony as “the first musical expedition into psychedelia.” The 1894 “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Fawn” by Claude Debussy is another excellent example of psychedelic music from that time. Debussy produced a free-flowing, dream-like, almost kaleidoscopic feel in the piece that puts the listener in a sort of trance. You can hear a lot of ‘Debussyesque’ references in the psychedelic music of the 1960s.


Romantic music was prevalent during the Industrial Revolution, which offered the musicians of that time great freedom to express themselves. One of the main features of the Industrial Revolution was the steam engine, which allowed musicians to travel extensively from one place to another and share ideas. The concert halls became bigger and the rise of the middle class allowed more people to attend concerts and influence the development of music. The Industrial Revolution kick-started the mass production of instruments, which enabled many people to own instruments and learn music. People were exposed to a new type of sound, i.e., noise which ranged from the clanking of metal in the factories to the sounds of the steam engine. Luigi Russolo, an Italian futurist, in his treatise “The Art of Noises” in 1913, said that noise was “ripe for artistic exploitation.” He urged composers to take advantage of these new sounds and incorporate them into their compositions to stay relevant to the current state of humanity.


Edgard Varèse almost single-handedly laid the foundation for mainstream electronic and psychedelic music. He collaborated with scientists and engineers to create melodies from new sources of sound. He experimented with tape loops and gave us the concept of “organized sound.” Poème électronique composed by him in 1958, expanded the potential and scope of music at that time. His exceptional use of “non-musical” sound throughout the piece, coupled with the film and lights show that accompanied its debut at Brussels’s World Fair, was one of the first multimedia artworks that fused architecture, sound engineering, graphic visuals, and noise together into one complex unit. Many concepts pioneered by Varèse, such as tape manipulations, organized sound, etc, were used by bands such as the Beatles and Pink Floyd. The song “Money” from the album “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd is a fabulous example of using noise in music.


People in the Western world were put through one traumatic event after another. They went through two World wars, they went through the great depression, and they lost friends and family. Without proper mental health professionals to help society get through trauma, the West became a sort of pressure cooker ready to explode. This explosion gave rise to the counterculture in the 1960s, leading to hippie and beatnik culture. The people of this time heavily consumed LSD and fought against systemic racism. They fought for equal rights and were anti-war. People embraced Eastern philosophy and music. Indian and Middle Eastern influences can be heard in the music produced at this time. Psychedelic music used popular Indian instruments like the sitar and tabla. Psychedelic music performances now offered multi-modal and multi-sensory experiences, which, coupled with the consumption of psychedelic substances, produced a mind-altering effect in the audience. For the first time in music history, visual art, music and philosophy caught up and fuelled each other. Psychedelic rock peaked in 1969 at the Woodstock Festival, which featured important psychedelic rock bands of that time like Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. Other influential psychedelic rock bands of this time were Pink Floyd, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.


LSD was classified as a Class A drug in the UK in 1971 and was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the US in 1970. The ban on LSD single-handedly brought the development of psychedelic music to a standstill. The “acid casualties” of Danny Kirwan of the band Fleetwood Mac, Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and many others gave people a frightening reality check into the danger of drug overdose. The catastrophic and violent events that unfolded at the Altamont Free Concert, coupled with the Charles Manson murders, spread fear among people regarding the counterculture movement and shut down the last remaining sparks of LSD fuelled music. People subjected to the horrors of drugs and society now needed a newer and darker form of music to relate with, which caused Psychedelic music to develop into Hard rock, Heavy Metal, and Electronic rock music.


The rise and fall of Psychedelic music is one of the most interesting phenomena in music history, as it began and ended with the consumption of psychoactive drugs (LSD). Researching the development of this genre taught me that music is the sound of society. Psychedelic rock and the rise of the countercultural movement aimed at bringing peace to people at a time of grief, but unfortunately, like the saying “too much of a good thing is bad for you,” the overconsumption of psychedelic substances brought an end to this incredible genre.

Rock Music[edit | edit source]

Fats Domino, a pioneer in Rock music


Contemporary rock music is a very unique kind of music that started out mostly in the 1950’s. After the 1950’s it started to get more and more popular. “Rock and roll of the mid-1950s evolved from the rhythm-and-blues, rockabilly, swing, and boogie-woogie of a few years earlier” [1]. Rock music is mostly characterized and recognized as teenage rebellion especially in straight, white men. There are examples of this throughout the history of rock music. Examples such as how Thom Yorke was 17 years old when he started Radiohead. Also Angus Young was 18 years old when he started AC/DC.

Even though rock music is characterized and often seen as rebellious teenagers there are other characteristics that help to define rock music as a whole. Rock music is “grounded in the white consumption and appropriation of black rhythm and blues” [2]. Rock music is also very riff based which is because of its heavy electric guitar presence within it. This helps rock music to create this distinct and destroyed, loud and sustained sound. This makes it unique from other genres. Rock music is also based off of blues music but with a more loud and heavy sound to it.

There are rock and roll songs that are an expansion of blues songs. There are songs in rock music such as “House of the Rising Sun” by: The Animals, “Time is on my Side” by: The Rolling Stones are expanded off of blues songs. “House of the Rising Sun” was expanded from a blues song called “Rising Sun Blues” by: Tom Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster. The original song by these two blues artists came out in 1933 while The Animals song came out in 1964. The song called “Time is on my Side” was first recorded in 1963 by a Jazz trombonist called Kai Winding. It was sung by a lady called Irma Thomas [3]. The Rolling Stones made this into a rock song that became very popular. These are some rock song examples that were expanded off of blues songs and blues music characteristics.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

When talking about rock and roll music one's mind often goes straight to Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley was a very successful rock and roll artist and he was dubbed and known as the “king of rock and roll”. He was one of the most successful rock and roll artists and started his career in rock music when he was just 19 years old in 1954. This also references back to the ideology of rock music as being the music of teenage rebellion. When Presley was “30 he [was] the highest paid performer in the history of show business”[4].

Elvis Presley was known for his dance moves which were a little controversial. He received many criticisms but the reason for doing this was explained by him. He explained how “When I sing, I just start jumping. If I stand still, I’m dead.”[4]. Another interesting thing about Elvis is that he did not know much about music, especially guitar. He explained how “Getting a guitar was mama’s idea. I beat on it a year or two and never did learn much about it. I still know only a few major chords.” [4]. This shows how talented Presley was, he is an icon of rock and roll.


There are many important things to look at like how Rock music is tonal. This means that it is made up of a single pitch class that makes up the tonal center, also known as the home pitch. This is the main point of focus. Other pitches and chords in songs relate to the tonal center. Each rock song also has a key with a scale in it. This is where the notes and chords in a song are drawn from when creating them. Social context and cultural meaning in rock music are also important. Rock songs are different based on the social context and cultural background of the artist. This is what makes every song different and unique from one another. There are different elements of rock music that help to show how unique and different it is from other genres.

Scales and Key

Scales and keys are an important part to understanding rock music. There are certain pitch organizations, modes and keys in rock that help define it. A scale system that is used are diatonic modes. Diatonic modes are the “primary system of pitch organization in rock” and “Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Aeolian are the most commonly used modes” [5]. There are many different well known rock songs that use these modes. There are songs such as U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” that uses the Mixolydian mode, The Bees Gees’ song “Stayin Alive” uses the Dorian mode, The Who’s “The Kids are Alright” uses the Ionian mode and Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” uses the Aeolian mode.

Each of these modes were used and most popular in different periods of time throughout history. Each mode also has different triads. These are groups of 3 tones or a chord of 3 that make up a tonal harmony. The triads contain the major, or minor, or a mix of both chords. The different modes all have a very distinctive sound and all are unique. These modes help to also show how rock music is unique and how it has different traits from other genres.

The Mixolydian mode was most used and popular in the 1960’s and the triads are a combination of major and minor. The Dorian mode appeared and was popular in the 1960’s rock and roll music, but is very popular and common mostly in late 1970’s disco and funk music. The triads are also a combination of major and minor. The Aeolian mode was popular in the 1980’s where a new wave of music started. This was used in harder rock groups and songs. The triads for this mode are all minor. Lastly the Ionian mode is used in almost all of the subgenres in rock music. This is a major made and the triads are all major.


Harmony is also a very important aspect of rock music and is important to look at. One thing about harmony in rock is that “chords in rock are overwhelmingly triadic” and it is known that about “92.9% of the chords are major or minor triads” [5]. This accounts for a lot of chords in rock music, almost all of them. Another aspect of rock music that is common in harmonies is the use of power chords, also known as the open fifth chord. This is common in rock and roll as it helps to create that more sustained and distorted sound that is heard in rock music.

Many songs of rock and roll music in the 1950’s and 1960’s used the doo wop progression. This progression is a blues based progression, it is used in rhythm and blues music. Since there is that element that rock music evolved from blues music. Another progression that is seen as a blues progression is the twelve bar blues progression. This has also been used in rock and roll songs such as Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock”. This song uses a modified version of the twelve bar blues progression.

Rhythm and Meter

Rhythm and meter in rock and roll music is also important to consider and look into when learning about rock music. Tempo is important, when defining it, it “is essentially the speed of the tactus level defined as the number beats per minute (BPM); in rock, this is most often in a range of 80 to 140” beats per minute; This is most commonly used in rock and roll [5]. The most common meter in rock music is 4/4, this is what most songs follow.

For rhythm and meter the 1950’s had a 4/4 jazz swing feel that was really popular in a lot of songs. This is right when rock and roll was starting to develop so the jazz feel was more prominent. In the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s the doo-wop blues style was popular. This style has a slower meter. Starting at around 1964 a straight non swung style began to become popular. This is when rock music started to change. In the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s the simple duple meter which meant 2 beats per bar became popular. This was the start of the change from the 4/4 meter. After, irregular and shifting meters such as 5/8 and 7/8 started to arise. This was mostly used in progressive rock in the 1970’s, this is when artists started to experiment more. Lastly in the 1990’s a slower tempo started to arise again. This is the age of rap in rock music, this started to become popular and was a new trend in the 1990’s. Songs in this era favored a sixteenth-note syllabus rhythm. All of these help to describe and show the progression rhythm and meter of rock and roll music throughout history.


Melody is very strongly highlighted in rock and roll music. For the melody of rock the grouping of the notes is important. The grouping of them is simple, the grouping is close together notes that form groups and boundaries. These groupings are reinforced by the lyrics of the song. Accompaniment is also important because it corresponds with the melody. When it does this it helps to create a seamless flow of sound that ties the song together. Many rock songs also have a symmetrical and repetitive grouping structure. In this it shows the symmetrical and repetitive pitch patterns and rhymes. There are examples of this in The Beatles “She Loves You” or AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

Timbre and Instrumentation

Timbre and Instrumentation help to describe and show rock music as well. In rock music the use of overtones is used, this helps to create loudness and energy that is heard. Electric guitar is very present in rock as well as it helps to bring a distorted and new sound that defines rock music. Wah-Wah pedals are often used on electric guitars this filters the sound coming from the guitar and narrows the range of frequencies. Also the “electric guitar [is] equipped with the full range of special effects (distortion, flanging, echo)” these create audio effects [5]. An example of this is The Police’s “Walking on The Moon”, the electric guitar uses a phaser to help create that distorted sound. Other instruments that are used in rock are lead guitars, rhythm guitars, snare drum, bass drum, piano. These are the main instruments.

Emotion and Tension

Emotion and Tension are important in music. Without emotion or tension the song would not be appealing. Some songs people listen to because they can relate to it for example. There is the difference between felt emotion and perceived emotion. What we feel and what we perceive. In rock a model called the Valence Dimension (positive vs negative emotion) is used. The circumplex model is used in the valence dimension. This is a “two-dimensional space having four quadrants: +valence +energy (joy and excitement) + valence - energy (calmness) - valence + energy (fear, anger) - valence - energy (sadness)” [5]. These are the four quadrants that rock music is based on usually. Lastly rhythm, tempo, loudness, timbral brightness and melody contrast in different energy levels and help to differentiate between hard rock and soft rock. These all come together to define the type of rock music and are important in defining them.


Rock music is important in the music industry and is important to know about and learn about. The development of rock music has been big throughout history and there are many different aspects of rock music that are important to explore. Rock music as a whole is very unique. This is a way for different people to express themselves and that is one thing that makes it so important.

Music for fashion[edit | edit source]


According to the Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, fashion is defined as "the cultural construction of identity that encompasses all forms, from street styles to high fashion created by designers and dressmakers." Although the literal translation means "modernity" in French and "luxury clothing craftsmanship" in English, fashion encompasses all individuals in society regardless of their physical, social, or ethnic differences. Fashion is constantly evolving because it "defines" the clothing style and the attitude that an individual will have; to exert its influence, it can use different means (advertising, fashion shows, magazines, influencers, etc.). The music as the fashion also seeks to create a specific identity, and this is what, during the history has linked them.

Impact of music in fashion

Although the fashion has an ancient existence, it was only around the 1920s that music found its place in the world of fashion with the "speakeasies" (clothing and jazz style) where there was a particular "national prohibition" in the United States (Caroline Friedl) is served on the one hand as a means of expressing personal convictions (political, individuality, sexuality, etc.). Still, also it served as a source of inspiration and the appearance of new styles that impact our current era. We can say that the changes in styles have been mainly due to historical events such as the first world war for speakeasies or during the years of the cold war, which bring to the growth of punk rock. There is a strong link between fashion and music, although today's society is no longer influenced or inspired by past styles in the same way as it was before. Music and fashion have a broader approach, as a mixture/mix of differences to get a new genre. As a result, music seems to be more accurate to its rules than before because it doesn't necessarily identify with a particular dress style; for example, a jazz artist might dress in a dressy or provocative way. The evolution of music with fashion is thus a little more different from before because fashion obeys fewer rules than music. Nevertheless, it doesn't change that there is an interdependence between them.

Description of Fashion Show

The fashion show appeared for the first time in 1858 in Italy, with the main purpose of showcasing different clothes by the designer. It has become a public event and an unavoidable appointment for personalities from different artistic worlds with the potential public consumers and followers of new styles. Now designers can share their creations but also in recent years to collaborate with musicians and also to have a "massive media coverage" (J-P. S). A fashion show or the representation of a collection is composed of three elements: the environment, the clothes, and the models. Its functioning is similar to the theater because everything is staged to ensure the best representation of the collection and thus seduce the audience. Therefore, it is a whole because each element must contribute to the success of the brand or the image of its creator. The environment is the surrounding space where the models will have to parade with the brand's creations; it includes the lighting, the accessories, the decor, and the music. The environment is, therefore, symbolic space and not negligible. The clothes are both the most minor and most important element as they are perceived as an accessory in the atmosphere represented and what the spectators are expected to buy (and therefore wear). The models must meet the brand's requirements through their approach and their attitude. The fashion show is the exact representation of what fashion is, the way things can be put together to give it a particular image. It, therefore, requires creativity but above all coordination to "bring to life" the collection through image and sound. All 3 elements are interdependent, in other words, if a bad decision is made in one of these elements, the show (the presentation) can be ruined. Fashion shows are above all promotional events with the objective to touch the public with something other than only clothes. The actual function of fashion week has since changed and has become a place of competition between fashion houses to increase their influence, impress the public, and be the fashion house that influences/transforms the culture.

The different ways of music used in fashion shows

The music is part of the environment (see paragraph above); its role is crucial because it defines the atmosphere and allows for a better collection display. There is no particular musical movement, the goal being to use the appropriate music for the collection, so there are all kinds of music (classical, electronic, etc.) On the other hand, there are four different ways the music is used: soundtrack, a live performance that includes the orchestra, singers/rappers or even DJ. Those who "produce" the music for the fashion show are called musical directors and their function is to grasp the ethos, idea or concept of the collection before he sees anything, usually before he even sees any looks. An "original soundtrack" is a musical work (album) having for goal to be used in a film (sound universe: dialogues, effects, music) contrary to a film soundtrack which concerns only the pieces of music produced for a film. It can be written by one or several composers. The principle used for the fashion show is the same as a film soundtrack. A set of sounds is ordered by composer(s) to represent the idea of the collection with specific requests according to the designer's intentions. The live performance is recent; it concerns orchestras, singers/rappers, and DJs. The orchestra is generally classical and interprets all types of music, but primarily classical, for example, in the Dior fashion show (2019-2020), where the "Dior Quartet" interprets the four seasons of Vivaldi or for a Louis Vuitton fashion show, the designer Benji B ordered the rapper Tyler, the creator who was played live by the Chineke Orchestra, directed by the conductor Gustavo Dudamel of the Paris Opera. It is only recently that singers/rappers and DJs have been invited to perform during the fashion shows; their performances are usually free where they are not forced to interpret specific sounds and produce musical projects for these events, for example, " the new musical project of Oliver (Wench) in collaboration with the electronic music DJ Arca" (Persson). Also, today many artists in the United States perform for their shows, such as Kanye West for his collection but also create collections inspired by music (such as Shayne Oliver)

Function of music in fashion shows

Music is used for important reasons; it transforms a fashion show into something unique and alive. Functions that the music has in a fashion show : -Have the audience's attention by creating an atmosphere that keeps the viewer interested and attentive to each detail of the fashion show but also to the whole story (foreshadow narrative) -Provoke feelings; Fashion designers have always collaborated with musicians to produce specific outfits that would provoke emotions of love, joy, and sadness. -Represents the theme of the clothing because music gives meaning to the thoughts of the designer that help the musicians to create music with authentic fashion that defines the specific style of the designers. -Brings rhythm to the fashion show (as opening themes, cut music, or background music); the music accompanying the shows also provides tempo and cadences for the models' steps. The timings change as the shows are built, so a particular synchronization is needed. If there are more/fewer looks than expected on the music, the show is no longer in "rhythm."

Each garment has its unique temperament of music; music is necessary for the success of a fashion show; it offers fashion show the visual and auditory enjoy an ideal environment; discussing the rhythm of music, rhythm, tone, and dress can bring the emotional resonance of the audience, the aesthetic feeling of mining both in shape, thus revealing the sound effect of music in the fashion show a style of music. Enjoy the music in the fashion show that realize the music interacts with the style of clothing, with the body and mind to understand the creation of the designer


A fashion show is much more than what is visible: beautiful people and elegant clothes parading down the catwalk. The fashion show is an art with a unique artistic language to build the dynamic fashion deductive and aesthetic by modeling the human form and music as a “performance”. But also, to build the participation of the auditory and visual imagination space. The sound effect of music can not only make the model performance fully show the design concept and design style of fashion but also is a means of communication and dialogue between the designer and the public.

'Works cited'

-Sardone, A. (2021, August 9). A timeline of Music's influence over fashion. University of Fashion Blog. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.universityoffashion.com/blog/a-timeline-of-musics-influence-over-fashion/

- PERSSON, L. B. (2020, January 27), 24 Times Fashion Designers Got Their Beat From Music. Vogue.com / Runway. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/24-times-fashion-designers-got-their-beat-from-music.

- Olóndriz, P. (2021, August 11). Musique de fond pour les défilés de mode. Legis Music. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://legismusic.com/fr/musique-pour-defiles-et-mannequinat/ (Music producer company)

- Jean-Pascal Simard, J-P. S, (2006 March), Le défilé de mode comme « ÉVÉNEMENT » Théatral, Works for Master of Art University of Quebec, Avalaible from le défilé de mode comme « événement » théâtral : trois cas d'analyse : Viktor & Rolf, Alexander McQueen et John Galliano (uqam.ca), Retrieved April 24, 2022

-Lieberman, Stanley (2000), A Matter of Taste: How Names, Fashions and Culture Change with Time. New Haven: Yale University Press, Retrieved April 24, 2022

Music Therapy[edit | edit source]

      Music therapy is a profession that has been established within the healthcare system, it has been recognized by The Canadian Association of Music Therapists since 1974. Music therapy holds practice in clinical settings as well as educational and communal. The use of music in a therapeutical setting is used purposefully to support the health and wellbeing of the individual and contribute to a better quality of life. (CAMT. Musictherapy.ca. (2022). Music therapists address the cognitive, physical, emotional, and communicative realms for many disorders and illnesses regardless of age. Because music facilitates sensory stimulation this in turn benefits the expression of complex emotion. 

Music Therapy Approaches

      There are multiple approaches of music therapy, it goes beyond listening to music, such as analytical music therapy, creative music therapy, and vocal psychotherapy and many more. Within these exercises the therapist can encourage either an active (the client engages directly) or a passive direction (the client listens) in the therapy session. The first approach, analytical music therapy involves improvised, impromptu music through singing, and or playing an instrument to express unconscious thought, then with the therapist it is reflected upon. Next, creative music therapy also referred to as Nordoff-Robbins music therapy is an improvisational method where the client plays an instrument and the therapist accompanies them to facilitate the expression of self. Lastly, you have vocal psychotherapy, which focuses on creating a deeper connection through vocal exercises, natural sounds, and breathing techniques. (Bunt, & Warner; Green, & Charboneau, & Gordon, (2014). 

These techniques are implemented to further interlink emotions and impulses. The benefits of music therapy are vast, ranging from fulfilling social needs in group settings, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, decreasing muscle tension, releasing endorphins, to minimizing the effects of stress. Music therapy can also have an effect on memory, movement, sensory relay as well as decision making and can activate regions of the brain associated with reward.

Benefits of Music Therapy

       Anyone can benefit from music therapy however, individuals with disabilities and illnesses have shown to greatly improve with the use of music therapy. Whether the condition be autism or brain injury, neonatal or geriatric, mental or developmental disabilities. 

Music therapy’s focus is to support development of the mind, emotional being and body. The maintenance of health and well being of the individual is top priority and it purposes to alleviate symptoms of stress, discomfort, and pain. Music therapy is a practical method for a better quality of life for anyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or illness.

Cited [6]

Alternative Music[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The official term “Alternative Music” remains relatively undefined. It was used during the 1960s to represent groups of musicians who felt their music was unlike the ‘mainstream’ and those who desired no association with the genre of popular music. The goal of creating the term ‘Alternative Music’ was to create a genre for a kind of musical sound or content that does not fit the guidelines of classical, jazz, rock and pop genres and to effectively create an umbrella term for all of these different sub-genres. “Mainstream rock music had, according to its critics, “sold out” its soul to the commercial devil: it had become the grist for top 40 format radio stations and large live arena venues. The music had become derivative, lost its experimental edge and was felt to exist merely to fatten the wallets of the promoters of this insipid genre.”[1] The genre of Alternative music is crowned as the epicentre of sub-genres, including but not limited to Grunge, Pop Punk, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, College Rock, Emo and Britpop. The means of creating such a diverse musical genre was based on one central commonality “...a desire to redefine the traditional boundaries between styles and genres, and even those of music itself.”[2]

While Alternative Music generally stems from the Independent or “Indie” music genre, It mainly was aired on college radio stations as many students (roughly ages 18-25) began to identify with the music being created during their early adult years. College radio gave artists a chance at radio play without requiring a large record label. “The advent of college radio and the college charts created the possibility that a band could break through to at least cult popularity without the aid of a major record label (and now can achieve mainstream success by graduating from the ranks of independent labels to the majors: witness REM and Nirvana).”[3]These college radios encouraged unknown artists to create their singles and record them regardless of whether or not they had professional representation.

The term ‘Alternative’ came to represent the genre of popular grunge, pop and rock artists such as Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. Many of these groups contributed to creating their shared genre and have made Alternative Music into what it is known as today.

Popularization of Alternative Music[edit | edit source]

Nirvana performing

Alternative music peaked in the late 70s to late 90s, which solidified a new official genre that would be filled with a large number of diverse sub-genres. As the ’90s began, the music industry began to take an interest in the self-titled genre of “Alternative”. “Alternative Rock” artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction had already been signed by major record labels and had begun attracting many listeners, peaking the interest of music industry personnel.

Emerging from Seattle, Washington in 1988, new grunge band Nirvana quickly became the staple of Alternative Music, a blueprint for other bands whose goal was to become famous in the newfound genre. Their biggest hit single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” September 1991, became widely popular. The single was frequently aired on the radio and was featured many times by MTV studios, including airplay of their music video and live performances/recordings.[4]

By December of 1991, Nirvana’s album “Nevermind” was topping the charts almost worldwide, reaching the number one weekly spot in approximately 9 different countries. Nirvana’s widespread popularization of the Alternative genre successfully introduced the world to the sub-genre of Grunge. Nirvana’s widespread success officially began the 90’s era of Alternative Music as Seattle became the apex of this new genre.

After the initial popularization of Alternative Music and specifically Nirvana, it was frequently questioned whether or not the group could still be considered Alternative as the band had become incredibly popular with radio stations and had become associated frequently with mainstream media. It is said that frontman Kurt Cobain struggled with the thought of his band Nirvana becoming mainstream, the very concept that many other Alternative Artists fought. Following his suicide in 1994, many fans and listeners theorized why he may have committed suicide and felt “His untimely suicide was, at least in part, a response to the growing commodification and domestication of his band and what it signified.”[5]as Kurt Cobain’s band had become featured with musical artists that represented the mainstream pop/rock genres.

Boston: The Spread of Alternative Music[edit | edit source]

After the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the focus of Alternative Music had been lost in tragedy and began to move to a new location entirely. Since Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana had disbanded, the focus of Alternative Music drifted to Boston as groups such as Aerosmith and The Pixies began their era of musical popularity.

Alternative Music: Worldwide[edit | edit source]

As Aerosmith, The Pixies and other artists from Boston soared to the tops of the charts in the United States, a new subgenre of Alternative Music was brewing overseas.

Britpop was introduced as a subgenre of Alternative music as a mid 90’s ‘new wave’ British Alternative Rock genre, emphasizing British identity. With stylistic roots buried in “Glam Rock” and “Punk Rock,” Britpop bands like Oasis and Blur brought a Western-styled diversity to the genre of Alternative Music. Britpop most notably contains themes and even folk tunes or familiar sayings that many people in the United Kingdom would recognize.

Alternative Music Today[edit | edit source]

Alternative music today is arguably more diverse than ever and will likely only become more diverse. Due to the undefined nature of the genre, any artist who defines their music as a deviation from the mainstream can be considered Alternative Music. Many contemporary Alternative artists use stylistic elements from electronica, hard rock, pop-punk and indie genres.

The Elements of Alternative Music[edit | edit source]

Alternative music is known for being mostly centred around a leading guitar line or melody, such as the one heard in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit .” These guitar melodies were gritty but catchy, making them a staple for the music industry’s new desired sound. Alternative music is defined as music that rejects the mainstream music genres and aims to become separate from the commercialism of these genres. Although many popular Alternative artists and groups have entered the mainstream of pop and rock, Alternative music continues to be an umbrella term for many different types of sound.

Themes[edit | edit source]

While Alternative Music can have a wide variety of different themes and subjects according to its definition, the main themes that classify Alternative are not meant to be limiting in a diverse genre. Most common themes include drug use or abuse, generational discontent and general struggles with mental illness. The flexibility regarding what themes can be defined as alternative is ultimately what makes the Alternative Music genre unique and a safe haven for any artist or group to identify under, no matter the underlying theme of their music.

Strange or Unusual Vocals[edit | edit source]

Western music is incredibly plain in defining what is considered common vocals. Many alternative artists began to implement unusual vocals in their songs to create a divide between themselves and Western popular music. Many of these artists did not implement strange vocals or words into their music, but instead had unique vocal styles or a lead vocalist who had a unique voice.

The use of unusual vocals in alternative music has died down in recent years since the categorization of the genres of “Freak Folk” and “Psychedelic Folk” as the new title gave way for artists to define themselves using their vocals in the early 2000s. However, many of these artists do still fall under the common label that is “Alternative Music.”

Inventive Musical Structure[edit | edit source]

Alternative Music artists were trying so desperately to stray away from mainstream pop music that they decided that one of the best ways to avoid the mainstream is to avoid what is considered mainstream structure. Since most popular singles have used the same lyrical structure for decades, it was simple to develop a new structure to define a new genre of music. While most pop songs carry a very linear lyrical progression, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Bridge, Chorus, Alternative artists took this structure to the next level by rearranging or alternating the lyrical progression. Some artists even abolished the structure altogether, creating songs that contained no chorus or bridge, freely flowing from one idea to another regardless of the previous thematic elements or instrumentals. Alternative music has the tendency not to resonate with Pop Music listeners as the contrast between Pop’s straightforward, easy-listening style clashes with alternative’s creative musical patterns and disorganized nature.

Song Length[edit | edit source]

The average Pop song varies from two minutes and thirty seconds to about four minutes, the perfect length for casual radio play. Alternative artists who sought to avoid radio play and avoid the risks of becoming mainstream created unusually lengthy or short songs to avoid radio play. This avoidance of radio play is effective, but ultimately diminishes an artist’s chance of popularity even in the Alternative scene. Many listeners do not want to listen to single songs that may be up to 20 minutes long. The tendency for lengthy songs or albums discourages listeners from finishing a single or album, ultimately lowering streaming/sale numbers and total revenue for these artists.

Obscure Instruments and Sounds[edit | edit source]

Alternative music can be defined as “the musical reaction against the formulaic routinization of mainstream popular music,” which encourages artists to explore any musical possibility that would cause a dramatic clash or contrast with the common elements of Popular Music. As Western Music became more and more defined, many artists struggled with originality and the need to set their music apart from other artists’ works. As a result, many artists had to start becoming creative, beginning with implementing items that were not commonly used as instruments to the modern technologically synthesized sounds and beats that music listeners are familiar with today.

Artists such as Pink Floyd took this idea to heart, implementing strange sounds and instruments into the creation of multiple of their songs. Most notably, the song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” from their 1975 album “Wish You Were Here” features wine glasses as the main instrument in the titular ‘otherworldly’ opening of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

Alternative Music Representation in Modern Media[edit | edit source]

Grunge Band ‘Nirvana’ in “The Batman”[edit | edit source]

A single from the classic Grunge-era band Nirvana is featured in the 2022 film “The Batman.” The single “Something in the Way” from their 1991 album ‘Nevermind’ is featured as Bruce Wayne’s or Batman’s ‘theme song’ as the track plays most frequently when he enters a room. The use of this song in the film is essential as the sign was explicitly chosen to reflect the way Bruce Wayne reacts to his surroundings as there is always “Something in the Way.”

'Imagine Dragons' Featured in Netflix Series[edit | edit source]

The single “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons was recorded and written for the Netflix series “Arcane,” a steampunk adult animation series based on characters from the online game “League of Legends.” The Netflix series was a hit among Imagine Dragons fans and League of Legends fans alike, as the series is one of the highest-rated Netflix shows to date.

Singer-Songwriter 'Melanie Martinez’ Creates ‘Visual Album'[edit | edit source]

In 2019, American Singer-Songwriter Melanie Martinez wrote, filmed and directed a film starring herself, reflecting the themes and including the songs from her 2019 album “K-12”. The film follows the main character “Cry Baby” through each song featured in the album and the classic trials and tribulations of attending a private boarding school as a supernatural being.

Alternative Duo ‘Twenty One Pilots’ Breaks Numerous Records[edit | edit source]

American Duo “Twenty One Pilots” has managed to break numerous records in the music industry. The alternative duo gained worldwide recognition with their hit song “Stressed Out” from the 2015 album Blurryface, which ended up being the first-ever album to receive at least a Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for every song. The duo also became the first rock act to achieve one billion streams on Spotify off of a single song. Their song “Stressed Out” became the twenty-fifth song to reach one billion streams worldwide.

References[edit | edit source]

Music’s Influence on the Economy[edit | edit source]

A record store in 1988. While record stores have mostly vanished, the role of music in the economy is more important then ever, transitioning to a massive digital market and with with ties to a number of other industries.

In our present-day, music has shown to have such a great influence in our society. Whether it's sharing different cultures, or connecting people of similar interests together, music has proven to be a staple in our everyday lives. We hear music when we are in our car, in the store, our ringtones and many more. One particular area music has greatly impacted would be our economy. In other countries throughout our history we have seen people use music for various reasons. Not only did it help people through wars but many people were capable of expressing themselves and sharing their cultural differences. We now have the knowledge of a variety of music genres because people were allowed to share their art. People are able to purchase and listen to music of their liking, and with that the economy is able to grow and thrive. Consequently, music has grown not only regionally but internationally as well. This permits many artists to sell music and tour to sell more of their product, which in turn, brings even more revenue to their country.

1.1 Contemporary Music

By taking a look at the transition from modern to contemporary music we can understand why music in our current age developed to be the way it is. There is a great difference between modern and contemporary music, such as the following characteristics. On one hand, contemporary music has more complex rhythm, percussiveness, they may use synthetic or electronic sound . That would include using styles such as minimalism. Whereas, modern music includes composing music using methods such as atonality, serialism, and impressionism. Contemporary music includes music such as rock music, folk, hip-hop, metal, jazz and blues. Those styles of music evolved after the 1950s . They are characterized by different styles of scales and key, harmonies, rhythm and meter. These genres of music came about from people trying to express themselves. We can take jazz as an example, jazz was developed around the 1950s as well. Started in New Orleans where many African American used it as a form of socializing and self expression. Jazz musicians were former slaves that found jobs as musicians, and were able to take aspect of their home tradition and translate it into music. Jazz was used as a form of self expression and freedom, it's a mixture of west african rhythms and European harmonies with a variety of instruments . Another type of music would include rock which started its popularity with rock and roll in the mid 1950s. This genre of music was “characterized and recognized as teenage rebellion especially in straight, white men”. However it is an appropriation of black rhythm and blues in the 1940s. It originated from black American music which includes gospel, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and country music. Now the more popular genres of music would be hip hop. Which is most likely what the majority of people would now hear. Which is also what the radio and media would be promoting the most.

1.2 Music Popularization

The effect of music on the economy is not comprehensible without taking a look at how it all started. The first instance of music recording was in the 1920s with the use of a gramophone or phonograph. The phonograph came first which was created by Thomas Edison who “discovered that sound could be reproduced using a strip of tinfoil wrapped around a rotating metal cylinder”. According to Shawe-Taylor, after the phonograph a slot was left open since Edison had “lack of interest in the musical possibilities of his invention left the field open for a while”. Then came Emila Berliner, a German immigrant that came to the United States with the invention of the gramophone. Which was similar to Edison's phonograph with the use of a flat disk instead of a metal cylinder. Therefore around this time (1890s) the reproduction of flat disks was more common and music recording "became increasingly more commercialized”. Singers of all genres would habitually record their music to make it easier for people to purchase. Even artists such as opera singers and concert singers utilized those tools and recorded their work. That eventually “formed the musical backbone of the catalogs until the arrival of the electric recording system in 1925”. Then came in electrical recording, which allowed people to play longer recordings (20-30 minutes). According to Shawe-Taylor, it was first introduced in 1925. Opera singing was the leading genre on classical music recording, since electrical recording allowed “ the complete recording of the concert repertory”. As a result, competition became more prevalent during this time. During the late 1900s the copyright laws came into play to help artists “earn money by producing as much music as possible”. The rise of electrical recording was paired with the rapid popularization of radios. The use of gramophone and sheet music began to decline. Meanwhile the use of radios and electronics recording rose. The music industry took advantage of this and “began to profit from the new technology”. As previously stated, Jazz and Blues are contemporary music genres that developed that time. During this same era of electronic music growth, radios helped with the popularization of jazz and blues. Radios allowed the popularization of many other music genres and styles as well. It enabled listeners to “experience events as they took place”. The radio sales were affordable and people took advantage of it and purchased them. The 1920s to 1950s were known as the golden age of radio with the amount of radio listening rising exponentially. Consequently, the radio broadcasting made many music gain “ popularity across the country”.

1.2.1 More Recent Methods

The 1940s had a great technological advancement. Soon following radios were tape recorders which included “one track on which to record sound onto magnetic tape”. Then came the reel to reel recorders up until Columbia Records “perfected the 12-inch 33 rpm long-playing (LP) disc”. This disk was used as the standard form of recording until the forthcoming release of the compact disk (CD) which would dominate the music industry. As we know currently, the advancement of technology helped propagate music exponentially. Even though most of the public do not utilize records any more, broadcasting companies decided to preserve and make [records] speedily available”. Many individuals and private institutions decide to give a hand and help preserve uncommon material such as older broadcasts and commercial recording. Around the 1940s recordings were mainly of adults but soon came the war which drastically changed the lives of many.

1.3 Outstanding Events in History

One event that affected music and the economy drastically was the Great depression. This massive decline in the economy marked the change of musical style of many artists. From about 1929 to 1941 the United States experienced massive economic crises. Approximately, ninety-eight percent of the economy dropped and unemployment remained at twenty-five percent. Many people had a great feeling of hopelessness and fear, especially "those already at the bottom of the economic hierarchy”. This furthermore explained why many artists, whether it included films, visual art, sport, fashion, and music, used their work to reflect on their current situation. Just as people were unable to pay for their basic needs, the sale of recorded music dwindled. It eventually discouraged many “all-star complete recordings. However even if record sales went down by forty percent, some other areas had proven to do better than most. Areas such as broadcast companies and Hollywood “underwent significant growth”. Many artists received less from their work since many people stopped spending on records and concerts. Consequently, Roosevelt's administration created a program called the FMP or Federal Music Project where they would hire teachers, orchestral players, chamber music players, jazz musicians, singers, composers and more. This program created more opportunities “for musicians playing “art” music of the Western tradition”. The great depression caused many artists to rethink their role and their influence on their target audience, such as “What were the responsibilities of musical artists to the larger society?”.

1.3.1 Post War Boom

World War II came and soon after there was a change in the economy. There was a new change in people's lives and more people were able to spend money. This permitted the music industry to flourish. During the 1930s through the 1940s the after war boom permitted teenagers to acquire more money therefore they were “spending money for records”. Eventually the selling and promotion of records helped “stabilize the recording industry”. With the continuation of the development of technology such as television, and cheap mass production due to the war, music was able to spread rapidly. With radio and television the radio industri’s existence was threatened, that is where the Billboard was created. The billboard played songs for popularity and eventually “began to influence record sales”. Where the radio would play popular music over and over which would eventually increase sales. World War II came and soon after there was a shift in the economy. There was a new change in people's lives and more people were able to spend money. This permitted the music industry to flourish. During the 1930s through the 1940s, the after war boom permitted teenagers to acquire more money, therefore they were “spending money for records”. Eventually the selling and promotion of records helped “stabilize the recording industry”. With the continuation of the development of technology such as television and its cheap mass production due to the war, music was able to spread rapidly. With radio and television, the radio industry's existence was threatened, that is where the Billboard was created. The Billboard played songs for popularity and eventually “began to influence record sales”. Where the radio would play popular music over and over which would eventually increase sales.

1.4 South Korean Music

We see a lot of examples more recently of artists completely shifting the economy of a country. Let’s take K-pop as an example, where many might know of more recently. Artists such as BTS, Blackpink, and EXO-CBX have had such a great influence not only in their own country but overseas as well. They reached such a height in popularity they managed to reach the United States and eventually the whole world. They are able to provide English subtitles even if their music is originally in Korean, and acquire an English speaking audience despite the language barrier. In the year 2020 BTS was the first South-Korean group to reach the number one on billboard in the US. They have brought a revenue of about “$5 billion to South Korea’s GDP in 2018”. As for Blackblink they were the “first K-pop group to play Coachella”. This proves that even though K-pop is a genre of music made and popularized in Korean, it was able to influence and spread its music to all areas. K-pop began around the 1990s which introduced the idol aspect of K-pop. This causes K-pop to have a strong fan based culture “among teenagers and young adults. Slowly and surely K-pop became even more popular especially after it was hosted in the World Cup. It wasn't only limited to K-pop but South-Korean culture in general rose in popularity. That included food, beauty products and even films (Korean dramas) hosted on Netflix. Due to technology and digital music, K-pop has been available on all platforms “such as YouTube and Spotify”.

1.5 Common Methods

Youtube and Spotify have been mentioned above as ways of spreading music and generating music, however there are a lot more ways. As we know there are radios and televisions, but there are platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and many more. Now people can purchase, download, stream, and view music of all types. Youtube is a major way people use to popularize music. It allows international content to be shared across the world. For example the first major instance of K-pop getting into the US market was when the artist Psy’s “was viewed more than three billion times and became YouTube’s most-viewed video”.

1.6 Artist and Financing their Art.

Now that music popularization and diversification has been explained, we can now take a look at the importance of art to the artists. According to Gerber, some artists decide to create art of all sorts to make profits while others do it because they love it. Some artists are willing to put work into their art “regardless of their credentials, employers, income, or other markers”. Some may succeed, but many are able to make revenue just to get by. It is not everyday that a person becomes famous because of their creation.

1.7 Government Funding and Grant

Especially during the recent covid era, just like during the Great Depression artists have had a hard time making a profit. That is why the Government has set up grants and funding to support them in time. of need. Recently the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund invested 181.5 million dollars in supporting art and live events workers during the COVID-19 period. Some indirect ways art is funded are by property tax, tours, concerts, shows and festivals. There is also the Canada council grant which provides funds for artists across Canada. They give up to thirty thousand dollars to those artists who apply.

1.8 Music Vs the Economy In short, music has proven itself to be such an influence through millions of years. People may use music for various reasons, such as sharing stories and culture. Technology in our time has permitted this. Not only has it opened access to a variety of cultures, it was able to bring wealth to various countries. Now that music is everywhere we go in our society, artists have more chances to reach their target audience and make profit from their work. Thanks to technology the purchase and selling of music is the easiest it has ever been. This evolution allows many to share and to support the artist of their liking.


-Alison Gerber. 2017. The Work of Art : Value in Creative Careers. Culture and Economic Life. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e864sww&AN=1576918.

-“Grants.” Canada Council for the Arts. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://canadacouncil.ca/funding/grants.

-“Great Depression, The.” Grove Music Online, July 25, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2241306.

-“The Origins of Jazz.” Jazz Observer, March 14, 2018. https://jazzobserver.com/the-origins-of-jazz/#:~:text=Where%20did%20jazz%20originate%3F,the%20streets%20of%20New%20Orleans.

-Shawe-Taylor, Desmond. “Recording.” Oxford Music Online, 2002. https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.o011552.

-“Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication.” Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication - Table of Contents. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_understanding-media-and-culture-an-introduction-to-mass-communication/index.html.

-“Western Music History/Contemporary Music.” Wikibooks, open books for an open world, April 25, 2022. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Western_Music_History/Contemporary_Music.

-“Western Music History/Modern Music.” Wikibooks, open books for an open world, April 25, 2022. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Western_Music_History/Modern_Music.

-Wooten, Jadrian J., Wayne Geerling, and Angelito Calma. “Diversifying the Use of Pop Culture in the Classroom: Using K-Pop to Teach Principles of Economics.” International Review of Economics Education 38 (2021): 100220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iree.2021.100220.

Zoomusicology[edit | edit source]

While considering the many aspects that combined to form the music of western society as we know it today, it is important to acknowledge the historical origins of how and where western music evolved. It is becoming increasingly evident in the everchanging and present world that western music history has been somewhat exclusive when it comes to appreciating the composers and performers who have contributed to western music. This gives individuals of modern generations a somewhat limited view of music, resulting in a shallow perspective of society and the world. The work of many modern musicians and researchers begins with attempting to bring long overdue recognition to some of the racial, religious, and other minorities that have been somewhat neglected in appreciation for their valuable contributions to western music in our society. One of the groups of composers who have not yet been given full recognition for their contributions lies within the musicians and songs of nature.

    Zoomusicology can be defined as a combination of multiple terms; musicology, zoology, semiotics, and zoosemiotics.  In order to fully understand the concepts and language of communication that encircles the concept of zoomusicology, semiotics and zoosemiotics must first be understood.  While discussing how an object or sound gains meaning, we use the term semiotics to name this process.  It occurs most often between two organisms, human or animal, and gives them a way to communicate with one another.  If semiotics describe the way in which one organism displays a sign and another perceives that sign as a signal that carries meaning and  valuable information, then zoosemiotics deals with the way in which signs and signals are understood and gain meaning between animals.  Musicology deals with the branch of research and scholarly study that is directly related to music.  When combining this term with zoology (which is the study of information pertaining to animals) as well as semiotics and zoosemiotics, the four result in zoomusicology: the study of music related to the communication amongst animals.  If one can understand the relationship between these four terms, they will develop a richer perspective when contemplating zoomusicology and its importance in our world.
    Zoomusicology is not limited to the interactions amongst animals and semiotics between humans.  This term has evolved to earn its place in the history of western music, positioning itself underneath the umbrella term that covers other forms of experimental music.  The term could also be included in contemporary music categories, even though the music of nature has long been in the world we live in, it remains a somewhat mysterious and arcane form.

The sounds of nature are often being mimicked by instruments, vocalists, and even certain composers of more contemporary and experimental pieces. However, upon closer inspection of western music history it is apparent that nature has inspired our musical genres from eras much older than contemporary music.

    Perhaps the first recorded interaction between nature and western society would have been with Mozart and his starling.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a very well known musical composer from the Classical period.  Many individuals who study musicology will come across Mozart and read about some of the journals he kept in their research.  Mozart kept journals to jot down ideas for compositions, diary entries, notational transcriptions, and even his most recent purchases!  As the story goes, Mozart kept one of these such journals in which he recorded a recent purchase made from a pet store in Viennese (where he was living at the time).  Such a purchase would not normally demand the attention of studying doctorates and musical historians; however, this purchase was for a European Starling that later became known as “Mozart’s Starling”.  This particular species of bird has actually become an invasive species throughout North America, but despite its common and somewhat detested appearance, Mozart was able to find some beauty in his little bird.  In another one of his journals, the composer jotted down two phrases of a nearly identical melody on the same page.  Beneath one of the variations, he wrote “das was schön” in German, which translates to “that was beautiful” in English.  Historians have interpreted his comment as a compliment being directed towards his musical starling, who must have been singing the melody to the composer.  The starling’s variation was only slightly different from the succeeding phrase which is perceived to have been Mozart’s own transcription- later appearing as a replication of the opening of the third movement from his “Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major”.  
    An anecdote such as this begs the question to contemporary musicologists: who composed the melody first? Did Mozart teach his starling to imitate the phrase, or is it possible that the starling sang the phrase to Mozart first and he felt inspired?  Without a living witness to tell the story as it was confirmed, one cannot determine who sang the melody first, but the relationship between human and animal semiotics appears to be on a very similar scale between Mozart and his Starling. 
    Much of the information which can be found throughout history displays how closely the sounds of nature factor into human perspectives on the musical world.  Even since the encounter of Mozart and his starling, the music of animals has influenced western society for many centuries and will continue to do so for centuries to come. 
    Programmatic music became increasingly popular during the romantic period when the idea of experiencing a moment in life and sharing it with the world was finally achievable using instruments and the compositions of other performers to spread musical ideas.  A programmatic composition has the potential to mimic some of the many sounds of nature; perhaps one of the most well-known examples of this is Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”.  In this piece, the composer imitates the wing beat of a bumblebee taking flight through the use of instruments and rhythmic patterns, a romantical experience to be sure!  

As the centuries pass, contemporary musicians have even begun to incorporate some of the sounds of nature into their pieces as an “ad-lib” or improvised section. This style of composition and performance would fit underneath a more experimental, rather than a programmatically inspired sense of music, but still demonstrates the constant influence of natural sounds on western society. Some modern violinists are able to imitate sounds of nature on their instruments, and these sounds are sometimes used where appropriate in the contemporary age of concert music! Some of the greatest and most interesting discoveries made revolving around music were actually inspired by studies done on animals. Even while taking a walk through a north American forest, one can hear woodpeckers knocking on trees in search of food. What an individual observing these simple birds might not realize is that the woodpeckers drum on the trees to communicate with each other! Almost as if two musicians were creating an improvised call-and-response composition.

    Any choral or orchestral performer who has experienced performing as a member of a larger ensemble has felt the ground shake underneath them with all the noise and echoes that are dispersed around the room.  Even Ludwig Van Beethoven, who was believed to be almost completely deaf by the time he was forty-five could somehow hear well enough to conduct a group and to do so while keeping on beat with the time signature. The answer to how Beethoven may have done this lies within the sounds of animals around us once again.  In a study initiated by the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, scientists came to the realization that two elephants could communicate with each other from many miles away, even without humans being able to hear audible vocalizations!  The elephants make sounds of such low frequencies that humans cannot hear the noise, but those sound waves travel down from the elephant’s resonating chambers and into the ground where they are conducted through the earth’s surface to the foot of an elephant standing miles away.  The second elephant was then shown to be able to interpret the message being passed on from the first by absorbing the vibrations through its feet and the rest of its body.  Similar studies have been conducted on whales; where the sound waves take on a similar approach but travel through the water much faster than on land.  Perhaps Beethoven was relying on more than a vast musical knowledge and his vision to conduct his final works.  Perhaps he was sensing the vibrations resonating through his body, just as animals do in their daily lives. 

Not only can one find many underlying connections between the music of nature and the music we have come to know in western society. Zoomusicology also takes the physical interactions of animals into account. Mosquitoes, another popular pest found throughout most parts of the world, actually find a naturally occurring “harmony” with their duet partners in nature. In an experiment conducted by the colleagues of T.E.D. talk, Greg Gage and his team superglued different mosquitoes above a microphone to record the frequencies of their wing beats. The team was careful to glue the bodies but to leave the wings free of the glue so that they could be free to vibrate and resonate as normal. As the study progressed, the team discovered that male mosquitoes beat their wings at a rate that produces a sound with a frequency somewhere around 600Hz, whereas the females beat their wings around 400Hz. However, when a male and a female mosquito were constrained next to each other, the pair took part in courtship behaviour that resulted in a matching of pitch frequency between the two mosquitoes. In other words, the insects either sped up or slowed down their wingbeat speed to match that of their duet partner in perfect unison! This has led to newer discoveries in both musicology and zoology, but which one came first? Perhaps mosquitoes were truly responsible for inventing the duet, and humans have imitated the sounds of nature without even realizing how music and the natural world are so intimately connected to one another.

    There are so many recorded encounters with animals and nature being found within the influences of western music, surely they cannot be a simple coincidence.  Our world was created by a creator who had a form of harmony in mind, and a music that would encompass all of the creatures on the planet.  In order to give them some way to communicate with each other, He gifted them with the gift of music.  One of the most controversial topics debated by contemporary musicologists revolves around the idea of whether or not music can be considered a universal language.  However, in order for a language to be considered universal that means it must be understood by people of all race, language, identity, and background, which is not always the case.  Even though music might be completely universal and comprehensible by each and every person, it cannot be denied that there is a very close correlation between the music of western society which has spread throughout most of the world, and the music of nature that sings all around us whether we are aware of it or not. Perhaps music is not a universal language, but the language is the music.  Animals and humans have been able to coexist on the same planet for centuries, it’s no wonder that they would have developed some method that allows them to understand and communicate with each other; as humans, we come to relate with animals by studying zoomusicology and how it relates to our lives as members of western society. 
    Even though contemporary music is generally refined to more specific categories, western society must be careful not to exclude each and every contributor from the history of the genre. This includes composers of unique origins and backgrounds, and even the animals that roam the planet alongside us, inspiring some of the greatest of composers! One must be careful not to misuse the gift that has been given to us to be able to communicate with one another and to understand animals using the experiences, wisdom, and sounds of nature. 


Contemporary Christian Music[edit | edit source]

In the 1960s, Contemporary Christian Music started to become a huge part of what the christian bands would create. A lot of composers started to make their music contemporary, because it was a huge part of music, which then got popular as more joined. In the 1960s, Christian Music started to become popular, because of the composers, which then led to the Jesus Movement, which led to many other composers to become more interested with the genre. Just like music, there was Contemporary Christian Music, then there were a lot of composers that joined and helped make it more popular, and there was also the Jesus Movement that they did to help those in need. Contemporary Christian Music first began to become popular in the 1970, and 1980s, because that is when a lot of bands started to join with the genre, which was then called the CCM. The genre, Contemporary Christian Music consisted of many others such as rock, folk, worship, and some country music to show the mix of the genres and that everyone was welcome. It was one big genre to get people who like different styles of music to come together and listen to the music, while also getting taught about God, in hope that they would get stronger in their faith. Many called it the CCM for short, because it was an abbreviation, which they believed that it was the “Music that feeds”, and that would feed into people to become better christians, and to feed into their mind to get them to become believers too. Many famous composers were a part of this genre, such as Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and DC Talk.

   DC Talk were christian composers that made tons of music for this genre, and they made songs that were more rock focused, with rap in them, because they believed that people, especially the younger would love rock songs, instead of gospel. Their music had great meaning in them, and were able to teach people more about their religion, hoping that others would join too. One of their biggest songs that people liked was called Jesus Freak, which had a very big meaning behind it that a lot of people enjoyed. This song was created to show how persecution was, and that it could occur again in the future, however, they called themselves “Jesus Freaks”, and claimed that they should not be embarrassed about it, and instead, be proud of what they are. The band consisted of three members that went on tours, and made their own rock music. They believed that being in that genre opened a door for them for what they could create to help those in need. They really liked the CCM, and even would talk about it, and the bible in their concerts. Just like Michael W. Smith, they were one of the biggest composers that were a part of the CCM. Michael W. Smith is a christian composer that has created a lot of music, which most were worship songs. He believed that not everyone liked rock music, and that he wanted to show that people like gospel music, showing the blend of the genres. One of his biggest worship songs was the song Waymaker that was made to believe in God, in hope that others would do the same. Even though himself, and Dc Talk created a lot of music for this genre, the Jesus Movement did a lot for this genre too, and got many to become christians.

The Jesus Movement happened between the 1960s, and early 1970s, which was made to make music that the younger generation would like. They believed that a lot of younger people struggled with their faith more, so they focused on making music for them, hoping that they would grow stronger in their faith. Later, many bands either died, or left the movement, so it quickly got shut down with not even being operational for 10 years. The Jesus Movement was a great movement that helped many, and even gave some good music to listen to with great meaning. While the movement was still active, they believed that Jesus was coming soon, and that they should all be ready for when he does. Many bands that were a part of the movement read bible verses, like DC Talk in their concerts, and would tell stories too about their religion. They called themselves the “Jesus Freaks’ also, and did not care about what others thought about them. Their songs gave a lot of hope, encouragement, and talked about praising God through them, which served as messages. Most of the music was made for younger people, however, soon they created it to reach out to everyone, and even showed that all genres can fit into this one. Contemporary Christian Music was a big part of everyone's religion, that many composers such as Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk would make music to help the world. In the 1960s, Christian Music started to become popular, because of the composers, which then led to the Jesus Movement, which led to many other composers to become more interested with the genre. The Jesus movement was a big part of the music, which allowed a lot of people to become christians. The composers like Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk helped many throughout the world see the truth, and meaning behind the songs, and taught many lessons through their music. The Contemporary genre as a whole opened many doors to many different artists, that allowed a lot of genres to go into one, and hope for those in need. This genre of music has not only helped a lot of people in the past, and also in the present, because of how powerful the music is, and what every song means.

Works Cited Howard, Jay R., and John M Streck. “The Splintered Art World Of Contemporary Christian Music.” Popular Music, vol. 15, no. 1 Jan. 1996, pp. 37-53 “Jesus Climbs the Charts: The Business of Contemporary Christian Music.” The Christian Century, www.christiancentury.org/article/2002-12/jesus-climbs-charts. Meet TobyMac, One of Christian Music’s Biggest Stars - The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/meet-tobymac-one-of-christian-musics-biggest-stars/2013/10/31/ab620922-40ab-11e3-9c8b-e8deeb3c755b_story.html.

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Neo Soul Music

Neo-soul is a genre of music that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s, blending elements of soul, R&B, funk, jazz, hip hop, and sometimes even electronic music. It is characterized by its smooth, soulful vocals, laid-back grooves, and introspective lyrics. Some notable neo-soul artists include Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Angie Stone, and Lauryn Hill. Neo-soul gained popularity as a reaction to the more polished, commercial sound of contemporary R&B at the time through the fusion of soulful melodies of Jazz, Funk, and gospel music, along with poetic lyrics and innovative production techniques, neo-soul music serves as a vehicle for artists to be heard while also challenging the mainstream narratives, resulting in a dynamic musical landscape that continues to evolve and inspire.

Fusion of Genres

Neo Soul Music is a fusion of different genres; with the fusion of genres, there is a large emphasis on the harmonies and chord progressions due to the jazz influence. Extended chords, modal interchange and chromaticism are also used to create sophisticated harmonic textures that add great depth and complexity to the composition of these musical aspects. Groove and rhythm play a central role in neo-soul Music. Many artists and producers within this genre carefully pay attention to the feeling and groove of their soundtrack. The laid-back mid-tempo and rhythms create an infectious feeling that encourages the listeners to groove along. Unlike contemporary R&B and hip-hop genres that heavily rely on electronic production, neo-soul music often incorporates live instrumentation. This includes guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, horns and stringed instruments. This places an emphasis on organic instrumentation and contributes to the warm, textured sound and characteristics of the genre. From the eclectic fusions of neo-soul music to the profound emotional depth it embodies, the genre captivates listeners with its rich tapestry of sound and heartfelt lyricism.

Emotional Depth and Authenticity

The emotional depth of neo-soul music resonates profoundly, weaving intricate layers of feeling and authenticity into its melodies, lyrics, and vocal performances, captivating listeners with its raw and soul-stirring sincerity. Lyrically, neo-soul songs often explore themes of love, relationships, self-discovery, social justice, and spirituality. Artists use their music as a platform for personal expression, storytelling, and social commentary, infusing their lyrics with honesty, vulnerability, and introspection. With engaging play on words and stories, artists have used their music as a platform for their personal expression and for social commentary. The lyrics are honest and present vulnerability and introspection. In presenting these lyrics, often times, rich emotions and vocal styles are shared. Drawing from traditional classical soul singers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye. Vocal performances in neo-soul music have great emphasis on expression, intimacy, and authenticity; singers deliver heartfelt lyrics with passion and conviction. From its profound emotional depth to its remarkable ability to push boundaries, neo-soul music captivates not only with its raw emotion but also with its innovative approach to blending genres and exploring new sonic territories. In presenting these lyrics, often times, rich emotions and vocal styles are shared. Drawing from traditional classical soul singers such as Aretha Franklin, Algreen and Marvin Gaye. Vocal performances in neo-soul music have great emphasis on expression, intimacy and authenticity. From its profound emotional depth to its remarkable ability to push boundaries, neo-soul music captivates not only with its raw emotion but also with its innovative approach to blending genres and exploring new sonic territories.

Pushing the Boundaries

Neo-soul music pushes the boundaries of genre conventions, embracing a fearless exploration of sound and style that challenges musical norms and fosters creative evolution. The innovative production techniques in neo-soul music push sonic boundaries, blending traditional elements with contemporary experimentation to create a unique and immersive auditory experience. Neo-soul producers have innovative production techniques to create lush, atmospheric soundscapes that complement the genre’s soulful vocals and live instrumentation. This includes sampling, electronic effects, studio manipulation and creative mixing and mastering approaches to achieve a distinctive aesthetic. In neo-soul music, lyrics and vocal expression intertwine seamlessly, crafting a soul-stirring experience that resonates with listeners through its raw emotion, poignant storytelling, and authentic delivery. By addressing complex and often taboo topics in their lyrics, neo-soul musicians push the boundaries of conventional songwriting and also challenge listeners to engage with deeper layers of meaning and emotion. The vocal artist's experimentation with vocal techniques, melodic phrasing, and improvisation pushes the boundaries of traditional vocal performance and explores new avenues of expression and creativity. Diverse representation within neo-soul music reflects its inclusive ethos, showcasing a wide spectrum of voices, experiences, and perspectives that enrich the genre's vibrant tapestry. Since there are so many different genres involved,  The diverse representation highlights many different voices and underrepresented individuals within mainstream music. This includes women, people of colour, the LGBTQIA+ community, and many other marginalized communities. Neo-soul music has had a profound cultural and social impact, serving as a voice for marginalized communities and inspiring movements for change through its introspective lyrics and boundary-pushing sound. Neo-soul music influences fashion art and shapes popular culture. By addressing pressing social issues and advocating for change neo-soul music neo-soul artists push the boundaries of what is possible within music as a form of social activism and cultural expression.


Neo-soul Music stands as a testament to the transformative power of artistic expression. By weaving together the rich sounds of Jazz, Funk, and gospel alongside the impactful lyrics of the boundary-pushing production, it not only offers a platform for unheard voices but also dares to question the status quo; in doing so, it reshapes the musical landscape, encouraging authenticity and diversity while inspiring listeners to embrace change and creativity. Neo-soul Music is not just a genre; it is a movement and an ever-changing journey of self-discovery and societal reflection.


Bronze, Yuri, and Daniel Shanahan. "Diachronic changes in jazz harmony: A cognitive perspective." Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 31.1 (2013): 32-45.

David, Marlo. "Afrofuturism and post-soul possibility in black popular music." African American Review 41.4 (2007): 695-707.

George, Nelson. Where did our love go? The rise and fall of Motown sound. Champaign, University of Illinois Press, 2007.

McIver, Joel. Erykah Badu: The First Lady of neo-soul. Bobcat Books, 2011.

“Modal Interchange: Following on from His Piece on Modal Harmony, Dave’s Got New Ways for Us to Substitute Chords into and out of Our Progressions.” Electronic Musician, vol. 37, no. 1, Jan. 2021, pp. 30–31. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=146941644.

Whaley, Deborah Elizabeth. "The Neo-Soul Vibe and the Post-Modern Aesthetic: Black Popular Music and Culture for the Soul Babies of History." (2002): 75-81.