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Why do we stop exploring new music as we get older?

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According to an estimate from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, people around the world spend on average 20.1 hours per week listening to music.

We have more ways to access music than at any time in history and a whole world of unfamiliar styles to explore.

The thrill of discovering new songs and new sounds can enrich people of all ages.

Except, most of the time, it doesn’t.

Our willingness to explore new or unfamiliar music declines with age. Multiple studies confirm the sentiments of US songwriter and musician Bob Seger:

Today’s music ain’t got the same soul

I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll

Academics use the term “open-earedness” to describe our willingness to explore new music. Across our lives this willingness waxes and wanes.

Until around the age of 11, children are generally happy to engage with unfamiliar music. Early adolescence sees a reduction in open-earedness, but is accompanied by an intense increase in interest in music more generally. Open-earedness increases slightly during young adulthood, then declines as we age.

What changes?

A major 2013 study involving more than 250,000 participants confirmed these changing behaviours. It also showed that the significance we ascribe to music after adolescence declines, and the amount of music we listen to reduces from a high point of 20% of our waking time during adolescence, to 13% in adulthood.

Researchers have different, but generally complementary, theories to account for these population-level trends. Some interpret the observed decline in music engagement in terms of psychosocial maturation.

Adolescents use music as an identity marker and engage with it to navigate social circles. Adults have developed personalities and established social groups. As such, drivers to engage with new music are lessened.

These same researchers point to age-related changes to hearing acuity – specifically a lowering tolerance for loud and high-frequency sound – as one cause for a reduced interest in new music for some people.

One explanation for the age-based reduction in music consumption simply posits that responsibility-laden adults may have less discretionary time to explore their musical interests than younger people.

Some scholars question whether there is a straightforward link between the decline in the rate of new music consumption and increasing music intolerance.

Teenage awareness

Others argue against using chronological age as a predictor for stagnant musical taste without first considering the different ways we process and use music across our lifespan. Teenagers tend to be very aware of what they are listening to. Adults who use music as motivation or accompaniment for activities such as exercise or menial tasks may be less conscious of the extent to which they actually do listen to new music.

There is consensus that people are highly likely to have their taste shaped by the music they first encounter in adolescence.

Adolescence shapes musical taste firstly because our brains are developed to the point where we can fully process what we’re hearing, and secondly because the heightened emotions of puberty create strong and lasting bonds of memory.

Neuroscience provides some fascinating insights into how and why our musical tastes develop. We know, for example, infants display an affinity to music they heard in utero.

Also, musical taste boils down to familiarity. In his book This is Your Brain on Music, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes:

when we love a piece of music, it reminds us of other music we have heard, and it activates memory traces of emotional times in our lives.

What we think of as our “taste” is simply a dopamine reaction arising from patterns our brain recognises which create the expectation of pleasure based on pleasures past. When we stop actively listening to new or unfamiliar music the link between the musical pattern and pleasure is severed.

It may take a decade or two to get there, but the result is, eventually, “young people’s music” will alienate and bring no pleasure.

So, are we doomed to musical obsolescence as we age? Far from it. Recent research suggests musical taste does not need to calcify but can continue to develop across our lives.

Here are some tips if you want to train your musical taste to extend beyond the “old favourites” of youth:

cultivate different modes of listening including in formal (concerts), focused (solitary), casual (as an accompaniment to other activity) and social settings

make listening habitual

be curious about what you’re listening to. You can help your brain form new patterns by knowing something of the story behind the music

be patient and persistent. Don’t assume because you don’t immediately like an unfamiliar piece that it’s not worth listening to. The more you listen, the better your brain will be at triggering a pleasure response

find a friend to give you recommendations. There’s a good chance you’ll listen to music suggested to you by someone you like and admire

keep listening to the music you love, but be willing to revisit long-held beliefs, particularly if you describe your musical taste in the negative (such as “I hate jazz”); it’s likely these attitudes will stifle your joy

don’t feel you have to keep up with new music trends. We’ve 1,000 years of music to explore.

If, after making the effort, you still find new popular music hard to bear, take solace from songwriter Ben Folds, who says in his memoir:

Good pop music, truly of its moment, should throw older adults off its scent. It should clear the room of boring adults and give the kids some space.

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Ford’s all-electric plan for Europe proves too challenging to achieve by 2030

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Ford has revised its plan to go fully electric in Europe by 2030, admitting it was too ambitious.

Originally aiming to transition entirely to electric vehicles, the automaker now plans to continue producing some internal combustion engine vehicles alongside electric ones.

Mike Costello from Cox Automotive joins for the latest. #featured

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Democrats scramble to rally behind Harris as Trump allies launch next phase of campaign

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Biden Withdraws: President Joe Biden Ends Reelection Bid, Endorses Kamala Harris.

 

After weeks of battling to salvage his political career – claiming he wouldn’t be stepping down after a disastrous debate performance – the president’s sudden change of course was not announced through an Oval Office address or a campaign speech. Instead, it was revealed in a letter posted to social media while he was recovering from Covid-19 at his beach house in Delaware.

“And while it has been my intention to seek reelection, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as President for the remainder of my term,” Biden wrote in a letter posted to X.

Harris expressed her gratitude for Biden’s endorsement, stating she is “honoured” and committed to “earning and winning” the nomination. Should she secure the nomination, Harris would make history as the first Black woman and first Asian American to lead the ticket of a major political party. To facilitate her candidacy, the Biden-Harris campaign has updated its filings with the Federal Election Commission, renaming its principal committee to reflect Harris’s new status as a presidential candidate.

Despite Biden’s support, the path forward remains uncertain. It is unclear whether Harris will automatically become the nominee or what alternative processes the Democratic Party might consider. Additionally, sources suggest that Senator Joe Manchin, an independent from West Virginia, is contemplating re-registering as a Democrat to enter the presidential race.

In response to Biden’s withdrawal, former President Donald Trump criticised Biden as “the worst president by far in the history of our country” during a call with CNN. Trump has also launched a fundraising appeal to rally his supporters.

 

 

 

 

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Trump allies launch campaign against Kamala Harris as he boasts an easier victory

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Donald Trump has said he thinks Kamala Harris will be easier to beat than Joe Biden.

With Biden out, Trump’s campaign will now adjust its strategy, focusing on attacking Harris and any other possible Democratic candidates. They aim to convince voters that Harris would be just as ineffective as Biden.

Biden faced growing doubts about his ability to win re-election, especially after a weak debate performance against Trump. Some Democrats also lost confidence in his leadership, leading him to step down.

Donald Trump said he thinks Kamala Harris will be easier to defeat than Biden. Trump and his team quickly began attacking both Biden and Harris online, claiming that Biden was not fit to be president and that Harris would be just as bad.

Allies of former President Donald Trump quickly launched their campaign against Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday afternoon, preparing a series of anti-Harris ads and planning their strategies for attacking her.

“I call her laughing Kamala,” Trump told the crowd, during his nearly two-hour appearance. “You can tell a lot by a laugh. She’s crazy. She’s nuts.”

 

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