This is a fascinating idea – how do we fall in love with music? And as we age, why do we like music less? This article explains the biological concept very well.
“We know that musical tastes begin to crystallize as early as age 13 or 14. By the time we’re in our early 20s, these tastes get locked into place pretty firmly. In fact, studies have found that by the time we turn 33, most of us have stopped listening to new music. Meanwhile, popular songs released when you’re in your early teens are likely to remain quite popular among your age group for the rest of your life. There could be a biological explanation for this. There’s evidence that the brain’s ability to make subtle distinctions between different chords, rhythms and melodies gets worse with age. So to older people, newer, less familiar songs might all “sound the same.”
This got us thinking about how the flexibility and receptiveness of our auditory processing changes through life. and how that change affects our likes and dislikes, opinions and preferences. Think of it this way – the music we may hear in retirement villages, and music that is used in music therapy in 30 years time, might be very different from the post WWII songs we might hear today. Maybe a mix of rap, hip-hop and Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran?
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“When you’re in your early teens, you probably spend a fair amount of time listening to music or watching music videos. Your favorite songs and artists become familiar, comforting parts of your routine. For many people over 30, job and family obligations increase, so there’s less time to spend discovering new music. Instead, many will simply listen to old, familiar favourites from that period of their lives when they had more free time.”
Another question may be – how does music learning impact this biological predisposition? Does the greater understanding and broader experience of music itself lead musically trained people to continue to seek out and enjoy new music as we age? What do you think?