There is no doubt that music is universal in the sense that it exists in every culture, and that everyone enjoys and responds to it in one form or another, but can any one piece or genre of music ever appeal to everyone? In modern Western society we can choose from countless genres drawn from all over the world. The Western classical canon no longer enjoys privileged status in the musical marketplace. From opera to garage, different genres of music are fiercely defended and identified with by some groups and yet hated by others. At the same time, though, few would argue that all types of music are equal, and most of us want other people to share the music we love.
Is any particular form of music truly universal? Can aesthetic judgements escape cultural specificity, or rise above personal taste? Is a Chinese musician who plays Bach embracing something universal, or simply becoming Westernised? Are classical music buffs just another tribe? Or might other forms of music also stake a claim to being universal? And if there are no universals, how can we engage with new and unfamiliar music?
chief music critic, Daily Telegraph; professor, Royal College of Music; broadcaster; author, Music: healing the rift
singer, writer and performer; CDs include, The Man in the Long Black Coat and From Stockport to Memphis
|Sir Nicholas Kenyon|
managing director, Barbican Centre; presenter, BBC Radio 4’s Cities From The Ashes; former director BBC Proms
|Jon 'Webbo' Webster|
CEO, Music Managers Forum; founder, Mercury Music Prize
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; author, That Existential Leap: a crime story (forthcoming from Zero Books)
|Dolan Cummings associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; author, That Existential Leap: a crime story (forthcoming from Zero Books)|
|Cara Bleiman teacher, Arnhem Wharf Primary School|
|recommended by spiked|