Cool Music (?)

What makes music cool?
Is it the amount it sells? Is it how much it adheres to the musical conventions set in place by years of western musical history? Is it found in its uniqueness or difference from uncool music?

I think what makes music cool is who listens to it.
A friend introduced me to a website where it broke down a whole bunch of social groupings of people. It broke them into different fashion style, with their different heroes. But most interesting to me was the segregation of music. It showed the playlist of each grouping of people. Music is such a binding force. It connect people like very few other things can. In fact studies have shown the increased spike in oxytocin, the bonding or hugging hormone, that occurs when people sing together. This puts forward a compelling reasoning for the power of music to cement a group of people, to make them feel more closer and together. This handy bit of neurological magic can start to explain why some music is cooler than others. Is it a balanced musical reason? Nope…you just like that song that people similar you seem to like. Thus it is “cool”.

So is there such thing as musically cool music?
As a musician, I’m not convinced that we should ever subscribe to this concept of music being cool. Because if certain music is cool, that means that other certain music will be uncool. And as we just looked at, coolness may not be based on good musical choices. It might just be what your friends like. Or it might just be the musical preference of the people you aspire to be like. But if we can banish the concept of cool music, we might actually start to discover the strength, beauty and lessons to be learned from music destinations we may have never considered before.

And this is something amazing…
As you open yourself up to new styles and persuasions of music you progress along the path of MUSICAL MATURITY. It’s easier to be a one style musician. But if you put your hand up and say, “Yes, I’m a musician.”, you now belong to a school of subjects and studies that you will never be able to exhaust. It is a life long pursuit and will still be yielding surprises well into your 80th year of study. The truth is this: the better a musician you become, the more you will be able to learn, the more you learn, the greater a musician you become. I like to think of it as music’s infinite loop, its Ouroboros. And as you mature as a musician it brings finer light, life and detail into every style you play. How do you be a better pop musician? Do away with the concept of cool music and listen to country and jazz. How do you be a better indie singer/songwriter? Listen to more Bob Marley.

I Got New York (Black Eyed Peas vs. Frank Sinatra)


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