Is it REAL music?

May 22, 2013
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is it real

Since a young age, my world has been molded around the music I listen to. My everyday activities have been narrated by the lyrics of the songs I chose and my favorite track changes by the hour. Why? Simply because my mood similarly changes by the hour as well. So it was easy for me to decide my favorite genre of music as it related to the mood I was in. I didn’t discriminate.

My CD Walkman or MP3 player at the time would include classics from Guns N Roses to some of Shania Twain’s greatest hits and of course Hilary Duff. My genre of music knew no bounds. While I had such a diverse knowledge of music, I’d notice those around me explain their favorite genres as “whatever is on the radio”. This I thought was acceptable as well because I too loved all the songs playing on the radio.

Early 2007, I was introduced to electronic dance music. Specifically, my cousin had left a Tiesto CD titled “Elements of Life”. I remember listening to its entirety and asking my cousin “what instrument was used to make these songs?” My answer was given to me in a hysterical laugh and an eye roll.

I always thought the feeling and emotion of a song was reached through the lyrics and words. This all changed for me after listening to the Tiesto album. I experienced something I had never before and it was all through the sound of the music. The way the tracks would have instrumental build-ups until the beat would drop. The way so many different sounds came together and made me want to jump up and dance. It blew me away!

Specifically, the song that made me fall in love was the title track from the album, “Elements of Life” by Tiesto:

I anxiously got to school trying to get my friends to listen to my new discovery. They hated it! (Mind you, my crowd was an opinionated bunch. It’s what I admire in my friends.) They told me that it wasn’t “real” music because no instruments were used to make it. Well, if it wasn’t music then what was it? The answer I got that day was “if it’s not on the radio, it’s not real music.” That struck a bell in my head! I had never heard this music on the radio before. My mother thought it was racket and my friends absolutely hated it. However I wasn’t ruling it out just yet.

From that day on, I made my own discovery. Music is more than just the instruments it is made up of or the voice played over those very instruments. It’s about the feeling it gives you. Have you ever listened to a song that has instantly made you want to grab your closest girl friends and go dancing? Or that one song that helps you get over your ex boyfriend? That’s the feeling I’m talking about. Tiesto’s music gave me a rush of energy that made me feel like I could do just about anything. This feeling assured me that this was indeed music I was listening to. It was not fake! It was very much real.
I believe this generation is the most opinionated and territorial of all generations. The way we guard and protect our favorite artists and genres of music is beautiful yet ugly in the same light. It goes back to the argument of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” We’ve adopted the habit of thinking our favorites reign as the best and everything else lies below it.

I’ve encountered countless people who tell me EDM isn’t music, that there are no instruments and there’s no hard work put into it. I simply tell them that they have a hindered definition about what “music” is. My arguing aside, I had kindly accepted at the time that EDM would never be a Top 40 sound and I was all right with that. I planned on keeping EDM as my own special secret.

The times were catching up to me though because 2009, Tiesto released his album “Kaleidoscope” and one of the tracks “Feel It in My Bones” ft. Tegan and Sara skyrocketed up the charts. The unthinkable had happened because EDM had collided with pop and made it to the Top 40s. I began hearing this song on the radio and I was raving!

So everyone finally started accepting EDM as music right? WRONG! The argument of “it doesn’t have instruments so it’s not music” had vanished and the new criticism was that “if it’s on the radio, it’s not real music.” This was the birth of age of indie and hipster! Simply put, if it wasn’t cool… it was cool! I have respect for all music but it seemed like my favorite songs could never catch a break with the critics.

Today, I continue to listen to EDM as it is making its way to the airways and is being vastly recognized in the industry as the years come (however the criticism never stops).

It bothers me that people keep such closed minds about music and have such specific demands for genres to qualify as music. Not a day goes by where I have to argue the talents of my favorite artists and music. I’m proud to say I enjoy listening to the classics by Nirvana, Rolling Stones, Van Halen. I’m also proud to say that today the hard work and passion DJs put into their music also make the cut onto my iPod. Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Etc. I hope to see their collaborations with some of my favorite artists such as Justin Bieber, Tyler Carter, Lana Del Rey.

In an industry oozing with so much talent, it would be a shame to show no appreciation. It brings me joy to see genres coming together and creating beautiful sounds. Music knows no limits.

-Sara Soulati

@SaraWKTDJ

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