Music, as the oft-repeated truism goes, is the soundtrack of our lives.
It suffuses our days at home, in the car, at work, at the gym, at parties, clubs, restaurants, graduations, weddings, and funerals. It is frequently a key marker of our identity, of our self-conception; it can mold and form our relationships with the people in the world around us. Music soothes, calms, inspires, incites, excites, moves and energizes us. For true music lovers, a day without music is unfathomable or, if fathomable, deeply undesirable.
Although music has been recorded for only a little more than a century, it has been the most basic component of human culture for millennia and forms the backbone of nearly every civilization in history. Modern popular music developed out of the intermixing traditions of classical European composition, improvisational African musical styles, and ballads and folk songs of the working and poorer classes. Much of this sonic synthesis occurred in the South of the United States in the early years of the 20th Century before spreading to America’s growing urban centers and then abroad, particularly to Britain, from which it came spectacularly back to America in the early 1960s.
Popular music today is incredibly vibrant, diverse, and tailored to almost every sonic taste and subcultural interest. Pop music’s public profile and creative process have both been tied to technology from its earliest days, and both the form of the music and its delivery methods continue to change radically as digital technology advances at a breakneck pace.
No matter what direction contemporary popular music takes, the form has by now produced a considerable canon of acknowledged classic songs and albums whose artistic merit and established appeal will keep them at the forefront of the consciousness of music fans for a long time to come. The future of the music industry is uncertain, but the future of the production and enjoyment of popular music for an enthusiastic audience of music lovers is assured.
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