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The Aquilian

Identifying one’s musical identity

Student Leo Maques Da Costa listens to music in a break. Photo by Colin Clark

You do not need to go far around campus before finding someone listening to music whether it be in AirPods, earbuds or from a record player. Music is the creative expression of self, and we all have our own ideas on what good and bad music sounds like. I could easily start an argument over what type of music is the best, but more importantly I care about which type of music is most helpful. A personal theory of mine is how the music we listen to helps determine the way we perceive the world and affects our psyche. I prefer a type of motivational rock, which is a far cry from the EDM Assistant Dean of Students and Social Studies Teacher Mr. Anthony Cerra used to like a few years ago before adopting classic rock. 

English Teacher Mr. Joseph Ross prefers jazz to other genres because it combines sorrow and joy. Very few art forms can combine the two forms, and Mr. Ross’s favorite artist is John Coltrane with his favorite song being A Love Supreme. Alternatively, Mr. Ross would listen to folk rock from southern California in the 1960s and 1970s, but he listens to jazz for relaxation and enjoyment. 

“Jazz confirms my psyche. I see the world as a pretty good mix of sorrow and joy and I’ve seen the world like that for most of my life and jazz makes me feel ok with that. I stop[ped] disliking that and accept[ed] that about myself,” Mr. Ross said.

Mr. Ross uses music as an interpretation and affirmation of his opinion of the world much like I do. The most memorable insight was that people are drawn to not just music but art forms that speak to who they are. During our conversation, he opened with a poetic verse about sorrow and joy which I commented on. That only goes to show how all art forms are an expression. 

Mr. Cerra likes classic rock by Tom Petty and The Police among other artists. He used to like Gorgon City and Matoma, EDM artists. 

“Music is an expression of how the youth views whether or not their voice is being heard or not. Turbulent social situations like the 1960s had the best expression of music and art, as well. Repression fosters creativity and a new style of self expression,” Mr. Cerra said.

Mr. Cerra sees music as an expression of ideals, not an affirmation of ideas an individual latches onto. Music is an outcry for reformation or an exclamation of joy. I think the difference in opinion is as valuable as the genres of music. Much like a parable, there are multiple applications under several different circumstances. 

Students also have strong opinions on music. Seniors Zach Taylor and senior William Conaton believe music is used as a tool to feel emotion and recover from emotional arousal and enhance mood and energy, respectively. Taylor likes hip hop rap and classic rock while Conaton prefers pop and reggae. 

 “Listening to sad music [shapes the way you think] because, by comparing yourself to a song that is sadder than your current situation, you can look at yourself and feel the way you need to or say it’s not that bad,” Taylor said.

His unique perspective uses music as a method to feel emotion. Taylor believes that music can be used as an outlet to feel emotion. Rather than directly affecting his view of the world, Taylor uses music as a medium instead of interpretation. 

“Everything around you reflects how you see the world. You listen to an artist who has done things you haven’t and that gives you insight into their world,” said Mr. Brandon Cowan, classics department teacher.

The classicist provided a very philosophical answer but also mentioned he likes listening to Kendrick Lamar every six months. Mr. Cowan has no favorite artist as it is transient but has a de facto favorite in classical music.

Throughout all of campus, dozens of people with dozens of different tastes all look at the world a little differently. Next time you see someone wearing earbuds, try and talk to them and learn a new type of music you might like. 

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