Volume 92, Issue 8

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

wheeling and dealing


The meaning of music

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

Swing is swinging again, grunge is still dead, ska is kickin', electronica is groovin' and the folky sounds of Bob Dylan continue to flourish. Labelling and categorizing has been adopted to keep order in the wide expanse of pop culture.

What happens unconsciously is that we tend to label and categorize what we see and hear, likening it to what is familiar and accepted by mainstream.

But what exactly is mainstream? Is mainstream the alternative? The alternative is becoming obsolete because it has no other to which it can be compared.

So where does this leave us? Modern music and its labelling are paradoxical. It's impossible to discuss a piece of music without, even within the realm of your mind, likening it to another sound. So alt-rock becomes the post-Nirvana whose influences stem from Dylan and carry through to Elliott Smith. Every newcomer enters alongside the tradition of music and is measured against their predecessors. And we, the listeners, judge it for its similarity. How very corporate of us.

Major record labels jump on every "new" trend – swing seems to be big, so here's the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Mainstream moves from one trend to the next, but what breaks and starts these new trends are the ones looking for the smaller scene.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998