Music like all art forms is the language of the soul. The Answer-Seeking Gal puts it rather well when she says that as human beings we are all subject to separation. That is that each human being is separated in mind and spirit from other beings. I believe that the mind duals as it may as both a doorway to other worlds and a prison keeping our essences locked inside and utterly alone. This doesn't mean that this privacy is an inherently bad thing, for I would prefer isolation to the curse of telepathy (both The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dreamcatcher provide great testaments to this fact). It means that as humans we have a longing to find something to connect with, a greater spectrum in which to place ourselves in and become something more than an isolated mind. That is where the arts and mass culture come into play. The mechanisms of literature, music, painting, etc. are all mechanisms which can touch our minds and thus bridge the gap between people.
Music itself is more than just lyrics. The lyrics are merely the definitive half of the genre, there is also the abstract side of music which is made up of the instruments and sounds themselves. The mind itself responds to the sounds by creating emotion and imagery; unfortunately it is not quite that simple. Our minds are still unique in both their history and composition, which means that the language of the soul is not universal; in fact it is probably safe to say that is different for every person. That is why mental response to music differs from person to person. While our minds mostly agree on the definitive meaning of a song (lyrics), the interpretation of the abstract meaning of a song will vary greatly. In fact, in some people the differences in mental language can be so vast as to lead to misunderstanding and distain for that particular song (or genre).
This is where genre comes in. A genre is nothing more than a group of similar musical dialects. This is why some people may enjoy rap and loathe country (or vice versa), because they can understand that particular dialect of language more accurately.
In my opinion, this is related to why studies keep showing that listening to classical music increases brain activity and may help improve intelligence. In the interpretation of the music the mind exercises itself through the creation of emotions and dreamscapes, much like in the reading of a book. One of the things that disgust me greatly is that many of these studies limit themselves to classical music alone. In fact many of these "professionals" are of the mindset that classical music is the only beneficial genre of music. While it is true that musicians of old invested a lot of time and effort into their work and were undisputedly musical geniuses, this does not mean that classical music is the only beneficial genre of music. This is nothing more than an elitist view of music itself. Many are of the opinion that other forms of music are merely music for the uneducated and unrefined lower class pig (maybe not in so many words, but the feeling is still there). My purpose in writing this is to speak out against this “aristocratic ass-hole” view of a broad and beautiful form of art.
Now don't get me wrong, I like classical music; I do however like quite a few other genres as well. This is completely theoretical, meaning I don't have studies to prove this fact, but I believe that different types of music likely stimulate different portions of the mind. What studies I've read speak of classical music helping improve math abilities. This seems reasonable enough to me, due to the fact that classical music consists of a very structured form. My guess is that most mental reactions to classical music stimulate the areas of the brain associated with mathematics; as a result that portion of the brain gets exercised and improved. From this I think that a study should be done on what areas of the brain other genres of music stimulate. I believe that if we study the effects of a genre such as Trance it may be discovered that due to the fact that this genre relies more on creation of imagery and less on form or structure, it would be found that exposure to this form of music may improve creativity and imagination.
All throughout history, people have compared themselves to other people and prove themselves to be better. It is human nature to find satisfaction in comparison with others. This idea stems past physical, touching all aspects and extensions of our "humanity". There are even people living in my dorm who are perfect examples of this. They constantly attempt to prove themselves better than other people in order to feel the vacuity that is there self worth. These same people have approached me on multiple occasions in order to belittle the musical genres I choose to listen to. I have gritted my teeth through such comments as: "Techno music doesn't even deserve to be called music." and "Why are you listening to this garbage?" It should be noted that the latter remark had nothing to do with the actual lyrical content of the music (aka message or word usage), but was a direct attack at the music itself. These people consider themselves to be the musical elite of the floor, because they listen to what they deem as the "cream of the crop" musicians. I'm going to stop before I start ranting. Basically what I'm trying to say is the world of music is vast and growing; music in the latter half of the 20th century branched out in hundreds of directions. Saying that one form of music is inherently better than another is nothing more than musical racism.
Listen to whatever connects with you the best; personally my taste in music is directly correlated with my current mood. If I am working on a story or in a very creative mood, I turn to Techno music; if I am in a depressive mood I turn to low-key rock; if I'm pissed at the world I turn to hard rock; etc. Studies oftentimes end up showing what the study makers want them to show anyways, so don't take too much merit in what the "latest studies show". Be yourself, be creative and don't let the "aristocratic ass-holes" tell you what you should and shouldn't do or who you should be. Know who you are, and live it.
This post was inspired by these magnificent authors: