Friday, February 16, 2007

And The Most Popular Topic of Conversation Is...

Remember my post about conversation? It turns out some psychologists were interested in conversation as well. They asked groups of people to get to know each other over six weeks, and record what they talked about. The most popular topic of conversation (58%) was music.

The study does not tell us why this is so. But guess what? Believe it or not, I have a theory!

My theory is as follows:
Almost everyone likes music. A lot of people are at least somewhat passionate about it. So, when trying to get to know someone it's a good topic to start with. It can also lead to CD trades, concerts, expanding one's own music taste, etc.

Sure people like movies and sports. There are probably more people passionate about music than movies. However some real sports fanatics would out-fan, and out-number music fanatics. But if you picture the average person, I think you'd more more likely to see someone who cares more about music than sports, or at least specific sports. A football fan won't have too much to talk about with a hockey fan.

I have often wondered why people like music so darned much. I do. I like to think I am passionate about music. But I can't for a moment think I'm alone. Lots of people are. And music is personal. What's beautiful music for one may be agonizing noise for another. But why is this so?

My theory on this is that music acts as the soundtrack of our lives. You hear a song, and it's associated with a feeling and/or emotion. You listen again, and due to the familiarity principal, the liking feeling is reinforced. Within the last couple of weeks I've started listening to more Celtic music. I told a friend who's really into Heavy Metal about my new-found appreciation. He said "That doesn't surprise me. You are from Nova Scotia."

I nodded, "Oh yeah....I guess that does make sense."

The other thing is that a song may have a certain "hook" that makes the song. Brittany Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time has that little piano "riff." I can't prove it, but I'd bet money that that piano riff made that song, and consequently her, a lot more popular than it and she would have been without it.

Sometimes music makes you feel like you want to feel, or sympathizes with how you do feel. Pink Floyd's The Wall is great to listen to when you want to be alone. Jagged Little Pill is good when you're angry at the world. Oddly enough, the Christian music I listen to doesn't sound much like the secular stuff that I listen to. (I'm still looking for the Christian version of Pink Floyd.)

And music tastes are as personal as fingerprints. Each person's is different. Even people who share the same music taste might name the same bands as their top five, but they're probably not in exactly the same order.

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