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More than just a song



How does the way we consume music affect our emotional connection with it?

Thanks to the convenience of digital music stores, we can now choose to buy either an entire album or just one song off the album.

However, this could affect the connection between the artist and the listener, because the artist usually creates an album of songs as a single entity. Just buying one song off the whole album extracts it from a wider understanding of the idea behind the record.

Today, there are many formats of music available, making us even more spoilt for choice. I often wonder if these options are changing our emotional connection with music.

For someone who used to listen to an entire album from start to end, I find the experience of listening to particular songs alone fleeting and detached.

Jaeden Mikhailov, 24, infant swim coach and avid music listener, said: "When I listen to music or seek new artists to listen to, I like to get into the lyrics. To me, that's when you can really connect with the message the artist is trying to convey in their art."

Music fans, myself included, are not the only ones worried about this new phenomenon. It has become increasingly common for artists to voice their concerns too.

The impact of free streaming platforms on artists is becoming apparent. Unless you're Taylor Swift, most artists cannot afford to make drastic decisions about how their music is consumed.


So, why do we have such an emotional connection with music?

Perhaps it's the unfathomable way music transforms the mundane happenings of everyday life into distinct experiences.

You know how listening to certain songs reminds us of what we were going through at a certain point in time? All it takes are the opening notes of a certain song or its melody to remind us of fond (or not so fond) memories of our past.

That probably explains why we tend to associate certain songs with particular milestones in our lives. I know for a fact that Vitamin C's 'Graduation (Friends Forever)' continues to be played at graduation ceremonies, even though it was released some 16 years ago.

Another music format that is slowly catching up with streaming services is vinyl. Its recent revival also reminds me of the days we devoured albums as a whole.

The vinyl format saw 260 per cent growth since 2009. Compared to digitally mastered formats, vinyl allows music fans to immerse themselves in the imperfections and feel of the record. Browsing the physical album sleeve is something you can never experience with digital copies of music.


Musician Nur Afiq Jalaludin, 21, said: "I prefer the vinyl format because I feel that its analog state enhances the qualities of the music. When your ears understand the different qualities of the different formats available, you'll start to have different kinds of connection towards that piece of music."

David Bowie's last album, Blackstar, proved how physical copies allow more room for artists to personalise music fans' listening experience.

In a way, these new trends allow us to get more from our favourite artists, which improves the emotional connection we have with the music. However, this does not mean people are not thankful for the choices that they have today.


Undergraduate Clara Cheah, 22, said: "I don't think [having all this music so easily available] erodes the sense of emotional connection we have with it. It actually allows us more variety and the choices that we have today makes it easier to connect on an emotional level with songs that our peers may not even know about."

With so many options available, sometimes it's easier to just click shuffle and enjoy the ride.

Tags: Opinions Music