Music; Sociology; Musical Genres; Influence; History
Musical genres have been an integral part in all societies, ancient and contemporary. As time has progressed, so too have the styles and methods of making and consuming music. Modern music presents us with an enormous amount of variety, allowing us to choose which genres we prefer based on our own ideologies and preferences. In order to understand how these genres came to be, one must look at the context through which they were formed. The context includes a variety of factors, such as time period, cultural and social factors, familial influence, and the geographical location where the music emerged. Historically, musical genres have experienced less variety, with classical music being the predominant force in European music. As technology advanced, so too did our exposure to the music of foreign cultures. For example, a blending of European and African cultures generated the birth of Jazz in a late 19th century North America. ultimately, the blending of genres became common practice, revealing a path to the creation of other genres that remain extremely relevant today: Jazz, Rock, Country, Rap...etc. For my Honors Project, I studied how new genres form, and more importantly, how a particular genre might impact a society at the time of its creation, and at any point after. I studied the works of Nathan Davis, Peter J. Martin, and Joseph A. Kotarba. These authors observed musical genres through the lens of sociology. The goal of this research was to gain a personal understanding of how genres are formed and to discover what societal factors may have influenced their creation. I also sought to discover which genres have the most relevant impact in today's society. To do this, I surveyed a small sample of college students at the University of Rhode Island. My combined research and survey helped me to draw multiple conclusions about the impact popular music has on our culture today.