Hello guys and welcome to another article by @mp4dreams!

Saturday, 18th July 2020

I have had this question from a very young age and always asked my father about it, since he has always been my Wikipedia when I need an answer. This was one of the questions he was unable to answer certainly and now that I'm old enough to research this topic, I decided to tell you about it too, because I'm sure even one reader has wondered what determines a person's music taste. It is actually a very complicated subject and involves many factors so this article is going to be a little longer.
Check my wonders of the human body collection for more interesting facts about our bodies and minds!
(While researching this topic I stumbled upon a website that said "Lately, there are a lot of very smart people trying to figure out why we like the music we do." and felt weirdly flattered lol)

Our musical tastes are shaped by a number of external factors: exposure, peer and family influence, the activities we listen to music during, as well as internal preferences we have for rhythm, harmony, timbres, structure or lyrics.

aesthetic, good music, and music image

In the same way there's a critical period for language development, when young children can more easily pick up a language's intricacies, there's also a critical age for the development of music taste. It starts at 14 and peaks around 24.

guitar, grunge, and aesthetic image

"Fourteen is a sort of magic age for the development of musical tastes," Daniel J. Levitin, director of the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University, told the New York Times op-ed contributor David Hajdu in 2011. "Pubertal growth hormones make everything we're experiencing, including music, seem very important. We're just reaching a point in our cognitive development when we're developing our own tastes. And musical tastes become a badge of identity."

Temporarily removed

To give you a more unscientific explanation by me, as a 14 year-old I figured out peer pressure and the impression we want to create play a big role in what determines our music taste. As teenagers we want to relate to others- hence why we share our music interests with friends and start listening to their favourite music. I want to have the ability to rant to someone about the new song of my favourite singer or openly hate them. When our friends have very different music tastes or love the singers we despise, it is harder to relate to them and may also cause irritabilty when they are badmouthing our favourites or praising theirs.

igor, tyler the creator, and music image

The music you listen to can also impose a certain feeling or create an impression on people who first meet you, and because we are aware of it, we want to create a persona based on it. I, for example, wouldn't admit listening to a singer with a bad reputation and more likely start disliking them, while I would be proud to openly say I listen to a musician who wins the respect of people that I admire. I don't care about the opinions of people I dislike, only the ones I look up to or like, so I tend to from my music taste further from the former and closer to the latter. Music is something that connects us and because our brain is aware of it, it influences a positive reactions to songs we have the urge to feel positive about. When I first saw a Frank Ocean poster I wanted to listen to his album "Blond" because i was already intigued by its aesthetic, so I already had created a positive feeling for his music without having listened to it. When I first heard it, I didn't really like it (i still ask myself how but whatever) but I kept coming back to it until I did, influenced by my positive impression. Same goes for Lana Del Rey and Tyler, the creator (my three favourite musicians)

One of the trickiest aspects of attempting to quantify musical taste is allowing for human deceit. Participants often lie about what they listen to on a regular basis. "There is a difference between the music that people report to like and what they actually listen to," Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, author of a 2007 study on musical tastes, told Medical Daily. "That's because people are aware that liking certain music is linked to certain values and personalities." It all goes back to music being a frequent small talk topic. Because many people consider musical taste to be an accurate reflection of personality and values, many tailor their likes and dislikes to craft a certain persona. However, it seems this kind of identity shifting becomes less common as individuals grow.

blue, music, and aesthetic image

Several studies assert that people stop seeking out new music at around 33 and slowly gravitate back toward the music that was popular when they were coming of age. In other studies, older people do report drawing far more pleasure from music that they heard in their 20s than any other period. Music from this time in people's lives is linked to some of their most impactful and exciting memories — from their first romantic encounters to uncertain career beginnings.

vintage, car, and aesthetic image
"Music plays a more important role in our lives than we are willing to admit. It often defines us in the eyes of others. In our youth it is often peer pressure that dictates our music preferences. The music we love is often the music with which we grew up. Our parents and older siblings introduce us to our first favorites. This brings us to the listening that invokes a particular feeling. The doctrine of the affections shows us that music has the power of putting us in any particular mood. We tend to listen to music that enhances our emotions in a given moment, whether at a party, or while spilling tears onto a pillow." says Dr. Magdalena Stern-Baczewska.

What I also want to advocate in this article is, that you shouldn't opress your music prefrences, like I sometimes do. It is more common than you think it is, and it sadly sometimes happens unwillingly, uncontrollably or unawarly. Sometimes being impulsive is a positive trait, especially when it comes to music. Don't be afraid to embrace your music taste!

More by me...

You can find my articles there too and also some collections about song aesthetics