What Is Real Music?

The band TOOL recently released Fear Inoculum, their fifth album, on August 30th of this year. At the end of their debut week, it ended up charting on the Billboard 200 at number 1. And of course, as is typical of most rock bands that chart on the Billboard (and, in general, sell a lot of copies of an album), people are quick to say that “Rock music isn’t dead” or “The Billboard finally has real music charting”.

Problem: rock music has never been dead and the Billboard charts real music all the time.

I know that people like to make a big fuss about the fact that the Billboard mostly charts pop music, hip hop, and rap, but the thing is that most of the music that charts is only popular because it’s not exclusive. It doesn’t suggest that rock music is dead. The fact that rock music doesn’t have to chart or make any new ground to even be heard and listened to is a testament to its enduring popularity.

If you ever think that rock music is dead, just remember that there are probably millions of rock bands and solo acts making their mark around the world, whether they’re local, national, or international acts. Probably the biggest reason why other genres such as electronic music are so popular in comparison to rock especially among younger people is because it’s easier to get into, both in the realm of listening and in the realm of playing the genre. For rock music, guitars, bass, and drums are essentially prerequisites for writing the music alongside recording software and various effects to help make the music more modern. Of course, there are electronic interpretations of real drums, bass, and guitar, but most people prefer using real instruments to record rock music.

Contrast this with electronic music, where the prerequisite instruments are maybe a MIDI keyboard and most definitely a laptop and recording software. Most kids have already used laptops by the time they’re 4 or 5 years old, and if not, they have a tablet, another device that can record good electronic music. From there, it takes practice and patience, but by the time kids are older, they’d most likely be listening to electronic music and, should the inclination come, writing and recording it.

I’m not saying that every scenario involving electronic music happens this way, but an activity is much more commonplace when it’s easier to get into or some of your friends do it. This is also the reason why sports such as baseball or football thrive; you can join a group of friends and play, or join a league and play, make friends, and get better. Electronic music might be written and recorded alone, but for the most part, it serves as a community-building activity for today’s younger generation (similar to rock in the 70’s and 80’s), and since it’s more accessible, of course kids would listen to more electronic-based music than rock music.

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