Unit 36: Assignment 1 – The Role of Music in a Range of Cultures

This essay will explore the role of music in a range of cultures. It will focus on the UK rave culture, which spawned in the UK in the 1980’s, the fairly recent commercial EDM scene in America, and the Berlin Techno scene, that grew at the fall of the Berlin wall.

Free festivals and warehouse raves started popping up all over Britain in the 80’s, unifying the young, hedonistic generation that turned their heads from the right wing visions for the country. As long as Margret Thatcher ruled, the youth had reason to find a way to release themselves from the politics that dominated the lives of 1980’s Britons. The release came in the form of raving. And with it came a surge of Ecstasy and other psychoactive drugs. At the heart of the movement was the music – which came in the form of  four-to-the-floor house music, originating in Chicago in the late 70’s. Almost like a spiritual connection, dancing became concomitant with the movement and so it was through this expression that the music played a key role in the youth’s revolution.

In contrast to the care free ideology of the UK rave culture, the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene of the present has become more of a constructed industry as opposed to an organically grown culture. In 2015, it was worth $6.9 billion! America doesn’t hold back in making money from this industry, with North America alone estimated to represent roughly 29 percent, or $2 billion, of the global market. As EDM broke through to the American mainstream, and clubs now paying DJs in excess of $200,000 a night, you cant help but wonder, have the meaning and roots of the culture been replaced by greed and the self destructing desire for wealth? This being said, you shouldn’t undermine the power and unity that come with such widespread devotion to the music.

The techno scene that arose from Germany has its similarities with the UK rave movement in the way that it was very much of the time and place. The buildings of which accommodated these techno raves were temporary, and the clubs only existed for a couple of weeks, sometimes even a couple of days. The gritty kicks and growling synths that crawled from the depths of Germany’s capital came with emotion and meaning that was tied to that location. What I am taking about is the sound of techno that played a part in the revival and reunion of the youth of Berlin. It is the youth’s response and reaction to the political circumstances they found themselves in that gave birth to the culture itself. It cannot go unsaid that the UK rave culture has its similarities with the musical monster that grew from the devastation and industrial reform of Berlin. The scene was very much word of mouth and part of the experience was to explore the empty, derelict city looking for where the next party would be. A similar story of the youths of Britain in the 80’s as they looked for warehouses and whereabouts for their next rave. The young adults of Berlin seized the opportunity to dance, using techno as their musical tool, that mirrored the feeling and atmosphere in the desolate city of Berlin.

In conclusion, the evolution of these cultures combined with the introduction of hyper connectivity (Facebook and other forms of social media) amongst us earthlings have made it easy for people to cash in on the ever growing electronic music industry. This has created a divide amongst musicians and ravers alike. Many will stay ‘underground’ and ‘true’ to the music and respect to the culture in which it was bred. Others will sell themselves out to the mainstream. The choice is yours – but then you can’t help what sort of music gets you up and skankin’ in front of your bedroom mirror.


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