William Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on” right at the start of “Twelfth Night,” and he most definitely put it there for a reason. Music is food in a way. It is something that we as humans take in and can be satisfied with in a very profound way. Despite this, some people deprive themselves of the full joy of music. They label themselves as people who love country and people who will listen to anything but country, as people who like hard rock and people who live for classical music. What they don’t realize is how limiting this kind of thought process really is.
While one might think they are stating preferences or finding ways to connect with people, but in actuality, by selecting only a few genres or excluding one genre entirely, people are missing out. There is a reason that music is so vastly diverse: we need it. We as humans had feelings we couldn’t express, so we sat down and thought and found a different way to speak our minds. That way was music.
Countless studies have shown what I feel is relatively obvious: different music makes us feel different things. Music can evoke emotions that scientists have a difficult time studying because they are so complex. It can be used therapeutically, and it has a direct effect on how we react to situations. Music can make us better thinkers and better workers. Essentially, music has an amazing power to let us live fully.
You see, if we spend our lives only enjoying one type of music, we are really only enjoying one facet of a full life. Now, I am not saying that a genre of music can’t contain some variety and inspire multiple feelings. I am, however, saying that if you spend your whole life listening to pop, you will never know the excitement of a beautiful salsa or African drumbeats. If you think the only music worth listening to is alternative, you may never feel the soul of a blues singer. When you experience a variety of music, you experience a variety of life events and emotions, even if it is only vicariously.
Music, too, has far too many purposes to allow yourself to be trapped in a single genre. Music lets us dance, sing and play among other things. It makes cleaning house easier and a campfire more intimate. If you want to appreciate all of those experiences, I think you need to appreciate all the different kinds of music that go along with them.
Think of it like food. You may have a favorite food, something that you think you could simply live on. But could you? After a while, it would become almost tasteless because of its familiarity. It wouldn’t go with everything, and sometimes you just wouldn’t feel like eating it. You know you wouldn’t limit yourself with food in that way, so why limit yourself with music?
Now, I’m not saying you will go out and love every song you hear: you won’t. But right now, if you aren’t even trying, you are most definitely limiting yourself. Be bold. Trying new things only hurts a little bit, I promise. Ask friends, ask strangers, ask the internet. The world is so full of music and musical people that there is no reason you can’t go out and find something new. You might even like it, and if you like it, share it. Share it with me in the comments section, share it with everybody. Trust me, we want to feel, too.