Changing the Beat of Musical Gatekeeping

Courtney Cordoza
Staff Writer

PC: Bruce Mars

Music is an integral part of society that is found in every culture. One can point to a region on a map and discover instruments and styles of music that would not be found in another area. Musical traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. Although it is important to celebrate music that is native to one’s culture, there is no rule saying that you cannot listen to music outside of your cultural sphere, regardless of what “musical gatekeepers” might say.

Musical gatekeepers like to reserve genres of music or bands from others. If someone says they enjoy a band, then the gatekeepers might say that they are a fake fan if they only know a handful of songs. Many teenagers and young adults like to wear band shirts. The gatekeepers say that they only wear these shirts because it is trendy to do so. This may be the case, but gatekeepers have no right to tell them if they can wear band merch. Gatekeepers have a sense of entitlement over music they enjoy, when any genre of music is open to anyone.

Another thing gatekeepers like to do is question the music tastes of people. Each genre of music is loaded with stereotypes. Some genres connote a specific type of person. For example, country music may conjure up an image of people in the deep South wearing cowboy boots and sipping on beer. Hip-hop may procure an image of a black man living in an urban area. All musical stereotypes and stigmas do is cause a divide.

Music listeners should not be put into a box. People can like all types of music, regardless of their upbringing or affiliations. Some people are perplexed when they find out that yes, I enjoy listening to music outside of hip-hop and R&B. In fact, just take a look at my Spotify. I listen to a variety of music.

Sometimes I want to hear the pulsating energy of an electric guitar, and the banging of drums. Other times I want to hear strong, powerful vocals. When I want to initiate zen mode, I listen to mellow beats and sugar-coated lyrics. Music, along with writing, is my artistic form of expression. This is how I unwind at the end of a long day. When I am feeling confident, I turn on a mood-boosting playlist. When I am anxious, I listen to uplifting tempos. Music can match or improve your mood.

Music is a crucial part of identity. In the past, I have had to make life-altering decisions. My music was there as emotional support, even on the days I felt so alone. Gatekeepers have the audacity to tell me whether or not my listening to a particular sound is valid. Music is not a club with restricted access. Music symbolizes liberation and self-expression. No person has the right to take that from someone.

In past experiences, I have been questioned about my taste in music. Critics would tell me what I listen to is not the norm for someone of my background. Listening to a variety of music is good for you. It opens you up to new styles and broadens your world. Each individual artist brings with them their background and fresh ideas, which they then put out into the creative outlet of music. Gatekeepers would tell me to stick to the status quo. Listening to all genres of music is an enriching experience. It gives one insight into traits each genre has and how an artist will take inspiration from another genre or artist.

Music encourages one to get out of their comfort zone. It has caused me to appreciate other styles of music. I may not listen to a particular music genre, but I can respect its artistic value. Listening to music helps one dive into the culture of a group. Musical gatekeepers are stuck in their ways and believe that everyone has to listen to only what they know. I like knowing I can open Spotify and choose whatever I wish to listen to: rap, rock, pop, indie or country. The world of music is at my fingertips. As they say, variety is the spice of life. I, for one, enjoy having options.

Categories: Opinions

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