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The history of listening experience – Part 2

Classical music's domination was challenged in the 20th century, by genres that presented alternative possibilities and body movement tendencies.
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The classical music domination was challenged by several new traditions in the 20th Century, most of them with origins in African American traditions, first out was jazz, which before the Second World War was explicitly dance music. For the moral elite, both the dancing and high number of African American performers implied that this was vulgar music for an uncivilised audience. Louis Armstrong, when touring in Europe, was for example, met with racist and condescending critiques. During and after a Second World War, new jazz styles emerged. The musician wanted to be listened to seriously. And the music no longer favoured dancing. And to a certain extent jazz listening has become more like classical music listening. You usually sit.
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There are applauds after solos, but no longer dancing, and not too much spontaneous reactions.
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The rock and roll of the 1950s was definitely dance music. And the performers moved quite widely. And since it was not usual at the time for a white audience to listen to African American music, Elvis Presley became important in spreading the African American rhythm and blues style to a large, white audience. He could sing, he was good looking, and he could move. At the time, this was so provoking, that he will shown only from his waist on up. In the ’60s, the rock and roll era was over. And new forms of rock and pop emerged. In the early ’60s, The Twist was popular, making it possible to dance not only in couples, but by yourself.
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And in the late ’70s, disco was everywhere, starting out in clubs in New York with just any type of danceable grooves, soul, funk, rock, anything that was good for dancing. But after Saturday Night Fever in 1977, a more explicit dance music was produced with a clear pulse feeling, often with bass drum songs on every beat. And this was continued in the late ’80s and the ’90s with house, and techno, and other styles, the bass drum often pumping out the pulse, [IMITATES DRUM] and club music became extremely popular. And going out dancing was the hippest thing you could do. Today, mainstream popular music has become very groove, and dance oriented. Influenced by this club music, it’s very danceable and rhythmically oriented.
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While the rock and roll of the ’50s was definitely dance music, rock developed somewhat like jazz. Still you usually stand, and there are many bodily reactions. But in certain rock genres, dancing is not really appropriate. The more advanced, progressive rock that evolved in the ’70s adapted many of the classical musical conventions. And indie rock had and still have ideas of showing distance to a mainstream audience with a less serious involvement. Indie, today is a very wide genre. But you might find performers and audiences that stand very still, and some might even look conspicuous upon audiences that move to much. Of course, you pay less attention to the performance if you’re involved in your own dancing.
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But what is and what is not a serious and fulfilling engagement with music, can be quite individual, as we shall discuss in later videos bodily movement in music can be extremely important for the experience. So if you stand up or you sit down, it will somewhat influence your experience.
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Today there are many producers of dance music that are extremely popular. And they have enormous concerts with so many thousands of listeners. Why do you think this music is so popular? It is connected to dance, right? It’s always a lot of people dancing in this huge concerts. But is this different than from other types of concerts, for other type of popular music, or jazz, or classical concerts? Well, the music is not that different. It’s the same elements. But maybe they emphasise more on those elements that really gets your body going, bass drum, and there are passages that really kind of build-up. But you have the same build-ups in classical music.
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But it’s just the context there is that you don’t move. So the context here is quite important, I guess. Because if you’re in a place where thousands of other people are dancing, I guess you were dancing too. Yeah. You would. And if you had the urge to move in the setting, but nobody else do it, you don’t because you would follow what the others do. So the cultural element is definitely important at least, and the context of in that, it’s done within. It’s very important, yes. But dancing or moving to music also seems kind of like you’re not really paying attention to the musicians. Is that so?
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Well, I guess at least we may have this idea that the ultimate way of listening to music is by purely listening, to sit in a dark room focusing on only the sound. But is it really so? We have a body. We do move all the time, and we do like to move to music. So why not? Yeah. And if you sit still, it influences how you experience this. And vice versa, if you move, that also influences the experience. So if you can do some things with your body that heightens the experience, then why not? But I guess you shouldn’t force people to move either, right? That’s true.
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Because if you don’t want to move, then it can have a bad impact if you have to dance or feel like you have to dance. Definitely. So it’s related to what you’re used to, the context you’re in, and if the people around you do it or not.

In this video, Hans Zeiner-Henriksen continues the historical overview of music and movement, starting at the jazz age and moving through the swing, rock, and disco periods before getting to today’s music scene.

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Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

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