Generic music style preferences of urban South

Generic music style preferences of urban South
Generic music style preferences of urban South
African adolescents: a follow-up study including
additional genres of Hip-Hop, House, Kwaito, Metal
and Rhythm & Blues
Robert Eric Matthews
Student number: 24504582
In fulfilment of the degree
MMus (Music Education)
Department of Music
Faculty of Humanities
University of Pretoria
Supervisor: Professor Caroline van Niekerk
© University of Pretoria
Where words fail, music speaks.
Hans Christian Andersen
Let my teaching fall like gentle rain.
May my words descend like morning dew,
like moderate rain on tender shoots,
like spring showers on the garden.
For it is in God’s name I teach.
Respond to the greatness of our God!
His works are perfect and
His ways are fair and just.
Deuteronomy 32: 2 & 3
This exploratory study measured the generic music style preferences of urban South African
adolescents using a cross-section of grade nine adolescent learners living in Johannesburg.
Johannesburg is the third largest city in Africa and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Quantitatively, through a survey, the research determined which music styles were preferred
and qualitatively, through interviews, established the extent to which multifarious variables
affected preference. LeBlanc’s Model of the Sources of Variation in Music Preference was
used as the theoretical framework upon which the study was built. A similar study,
completed ten years ago on South African urban adolescents, conducted by Jennifer James,
inspired this study and was used as a point of departure for this project. James’s 2000 study
was entitled, Generic Style Music Preferences of Urban South African Students.
Examples of fifteen generic styles of music, selected from popular, classical and indigenous
traditions, were used as music excerpts in the listening test (Music Preference
Questionnaire). Through purposive sampling, a total of five-hundred and sixty-eight learners
in grade nine participated in the study. The learner sample used was demographically true in
its representation of the country’s population.
Three broad categories of variables pertaining to preference were delineated and discussed
within the study. These encompassed listener, music and environmental variables. Learner
variables included: music training, gender (sex), ethnic group (race and language), socioeconomic status, and age. Music variables pertaining to preference included: physiological
properties of the stimulus [music], complexity of the stimulus [music], and referential
meaning of the stimulus [music]. Environmental variables pertaining to preference included
media, peer influence, family influence, and the influence of teachers and authority figures.
The study revealed that the current generic music style preferences of South African urban
adolescents in order of most to least preferred were: Rhythm and Blues, Western Pop,
Kwaito, Reggae, House, Hip-Hop, South African Pop, Western Choral, Metal, Rock, Gospel
Jazz, Traditional African, Western Classical and Indian Classical.
Music preferences
Music styles
South Africa
Urban learners
Table of Contents
List of tables
List of figures
Chapter 1
Research methodology and background
Introduction …………………………………………………………
James’s 2000 Study...................................................................
Johannesburg Schools Survey....………………………………
Study objectives and motivation......……………………………...
Delineating LeBlanc’s model for music preference....................
Research methodology..............................................................
The research questions.............................................................
Quantitative data collection........................................................
1.9.1 Instruments...............................................................................
1.9.2 Procedure...................................................................................
1.9.3 Qualitative data collection..........................................................
Glossary, acronyms and abbreviations......................................
Chapter 2
Literary review
Concepts of music preference......………………………………..
Merriam’s ten functions of music ………………………..............
2.4.1 Informal influences...................................................................
2.4.2 Informal music education.........................................................
2.4.3 Formal music education...........................................................
2.4.4 Musical domain........................................................................
Identity in crisis..........................................................................
Social identity theory..................................................................
Social constructionist theory......................................................
Music identity.............................................................................
2.8.1 Communicative musicality........................................................
2.8.2 Music preference and gender identity.......................................
2.8.3 Music preference and the role of gender in music collecting....
2.8.4 National, ethnic and cultural identities......................................
2.8.5 Youth culture............................................................................
Music listening..........................................................................
2.9.1 Auditory perception of patterned sound..................................
2.9.2 Social listening........................................................................
2.9.3 Emotional listening..................................................................
2.9.4 Analytical/musicological listening............................................
Hearing material.........................................................................
The music industry.....................................................................
2.11.1 The function and working of the music industry......................
2.11.2 The ‘BIG 4’ – the world’s largest recording companies..........
2.11.3 A brief history of the global recording industry and its current
status quo………………………………………………...............
Chapter 3
South Africa’s demographic build and a
summary of James’s 2000 study
South Africa’s demographic make-up........................................
3.1.1 Racial Build of South Africa....................................................
3.1.2 Population Density..................................................................
3.1.3 Black South African demographics.........................................
3.1.4 White South African demographics.........................................
3.1.5 Language................................................................................
3.1.6 Religion...................................................................................
3.1.7 Education................................................................................
3.1.8 Socio-economic status............................................................
3.1.9 Age distribution across races..................................................
3.1.10 Gender ratio across races.....................................................
3.1.11 Literacy rate..........................................................................
3.1.12 South Africa’s largest cities...................................................
3.1.13 Miscellaneous facts affecting preferences............................
James’s 2000 study...................................................................
3.2.1 Sample descriptions................................................................
3.2.2 Sample sub-categorisations according to city.........................
3.2.3 Sample sub-categorisations according to the former
departments of education.......................................................
3.2.4 Sample sub-categorisations according to race.......................
3.2.5 Sample sub-categorisations according to music training........
3.2.6 Sample sub-categorisations according to gender...................
3.2.7 Sample sub-categorisations according to age........................
3.2.8 Sample sub-categorisations according to language...............
3.2.9 Sample sub-categorisation according to selected
3.2.10 Conclusion............................................................................
Chapter 4
Johannesburg Schools Survey
Johannesburg Schools Survey…………………………………...
Music samples............………………….…………………………
Listening excerpts.....................................................….............
4.4.1 South African Pop – Memeza.................................................
4.4.2 Rock – Hotel California...........................................................
Western Pop – We Are the World..........................................
4.4.4 Western Classical – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 2nd
4.4.5 Reggae – Buffalo Soldier………………………………...........
4.4.6 Jazz – Take Five…………………………………………..........
4.4.7 Gospel – Move on Up a Little Higher………………...…........
4.4.8 Indian Classical – Raga Kausi Kanhra ………………........…
4.4.9 House - Poker Face……………………………………........…
4.4.10 Kwaito – Nkalakatha……..……………………………….........
4.4.11 Metal – Enter Sandman..…………………………..................
4.4.12 Western Choral – Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus………….......
4.4.13 Hip-Hop – Rappers Delight……………………………...........
4.4.14 Traditional African – Sikhulele Emahlathina…………….......
4.4.15 R & B – I Will Always Love You…………………………........
JSS findings…………………………………………………….....
4.5.1 Sample descriptions…………........……………………..………
4.5.2 Sample according to gender…........…………………...………
4.5.3 Sample according to age……………........…………………….
4.5.4 Sample according to home language…........……....…………
4.5.5 Sample according to race………………........…………………
4.5.6 Music training……………...………………........………………..
4.5.7 Aspects that influence preference……….......…………………
4.5.8 Modes of listening………………………........………………..
Interviewee Responses……………………………………………
Listening test observations........................................................
Chapter 5 Findings, conclusions and reflections
How the study’s results fit into LeBlanc’s Model of the Sources
of Variation in Music Preference ................................................
Answering the research questions.............................................
5.3.1 What are the current preferences for different generic styles
of music among South African urban adolescent learners
living in Johannesburg?.........................................................
5.3.2 Through which mode/s do urban adolescents living in the
Johannesburg area listen to/ hear music? How do these
listening modes differ? ..........................................................
5.3.3 To what extent do important social and cultural variables
affect the listening preferences of adolescent learners?.......
5.3.4 Which physical properties of music account for the music
preferences adopted by adolescent learners?.......................
5.3.5 Which environmental factors influence the music
preferences of adolescent learners?.....................................
Study limitations.........................................................................
Recommendations for future research.......................................
Implementation recommendations.............................................
Concluding remarks..................................................................
Appendix A
Letters of consent ......................................................................
Appendix B
James’s 2000 listening tests.......................................................
Appendix C
Matthews’ 2010 MPQ and MPI...................................................
List of tables
Table 1
Physical versus digital single record sales ..............................
Table 2
Album sales shares and share of world market in 2005...........
Table 3
Interim physical retail sales in 2005 - all figures in millions........
Table 4
Five most populous cities/municipalities in South Africa (1996
& 2001)......................................................................................
Table 5
Preferred genres in order of preference indicated in
percentages ..............................................................................
Table 6
Music style preference from highest to lowest percentage........
Table 7
Sample sub-categorisations according to city............................
Table 8
Segmentation of former Education Departments.......................
Table 9
Sub-categorisation according to race........................................
Table 10
Sample according to music training...........................................
Table 11
Sample sub-categorisations according to gender......................
Table 12
Student sampling according to age............................................
Table 13
Interviewees’ preference in %....................................................
Table 14
Student preferences per urban centre ......................................
Table 15
Preference according to rank and urban centre.........................
Table 16
Test/ retest values......................................................................
Table 17
Music excerpts used by James in her 2000 survey...................
Table 18
Listening excerpts for JSS.........................................................
Table 19
JSS generic music styles listed in order of preference..............
Table 20
Schools surveyed.......................................................................
Table 21
Learner age groups in grade nine..............................................
Table 22
Learner sample according to age and gender...........................
Table 23
Sampling according to home language......................................
Table 24
Sample according to race..........................................................
Table 25
Music training.............................................................................
Table 26
% who study music at school.....................................................
Table 27
% who would like to study music at school................................
Table 28
Influences affecting preference..................................................
Table 29
Music aspects affecting preference...........................................
Table 30
Modes of listening .....................................................................
Table 31
Interviewee ages........................................................................
List of figures
Figure 1
LeBlanc’s Model of the Sources of Variation in Music
Figure 2
MPD Triangulation....................................................................
Figure 3
Merriam’s Ten Functions of Music adapted from Radocy &
Boyle... ......................................................................................
Figure 4
Music market shares as per Nielsen SoundScan in 2005.........
Figure 5
Geographic representation of top thirty record sales in 2003....
Figure 6
Generic music style preferences of South African students in
Figure 7
Line graph representing generic music style preferences .........
Figure 8
Student sample according to city...............................................
Figure 9
Student sample according to the former departments of
education .................................................................................
Figure 10
Student sample according to race ............................................
Figure 11
Student sample according to music training..............................
Figure 12
Student sample according to gender .......................................
Figure 13
Student sample according to age in grade nine.........................
Figure 14
Student interviewees according to chosen variables.................
Figure 15
Music style preferences of interviewees in % ...........................
Figure 16
Preferences as per city .............................................................
Figure 17
Test and retest results ...............................................................
Figure 18
JSS generic music style preferences in relation to each other..
Figure 19
JSS generic music style preferences in order of preference......
Figure 20
Schools surveyed......................................................................
Figure 21
Sample according to gender .....................................................
Figure 22
Learner age-groups in grade nine .............................................
Figure 23
Learner sample according to age and gender ..........................
Figure 24
Language frequency .................................................................
Figure 25
Proportionate indication of home languages .............................
Figure 26
Sample according to race .........................................................
Figure 27
% of learners with music training ..............................................
Figure 28
% who study music at school ....................................................
Figure 29
% who would like to study music at school ..............................
Figure 30
Influences affecting preference..................................................
Figure 31
Aspects of music influencing preference...................................
Figure 32
Modes of listening ………….………………………………………
Figure 33
Interviewee ages........................................................................
Figure 34
Interviewee gender percentages………………………………….
Figure 35
Physiological properties of music affecting interviewee
Figure 36
Simple vs. complex Listening……………………………………..
Figure 37
Listening mode of preferred genre or music similar to it……….
Figure 38
Family influence on interviewee preference……………………..
Figure 39
% who would like their teachers to use preferred genre or
music similar to it in their teaching………………………………..
Figure 40
Percentage of friends who prefer the same genre……………...
Figure 41
Percentage of learners who had performed their preferred
Figure 42
Language preference of preferred genre if applicable………….
Figure 43
Percentage who would buy a recording of preferred genre……
Figure 44
Percentage of interviewees who would attend a concert of
preferred style of music…………………………………………….
Figure 45
Most frequent mode of listening…………………………………..
Figure 46
Most frequently viewed television channels for music videos…
As the music is, so are the people of the country.
Turkish Proverb
Chapter 1
Research Methodology and Background
As a music teacher, I marvel at the capacity that music has in wholeheartedly
consuming its listeners. Whether the listening experience is favourable or
disapproved of by the listener is immaterial. What is interesting about the listening
experience in and of itself is that music, regardless of its genre, will elicit some sort
of response from the listener. What fascinates me more, however, is the extent to
which the individual or groups of individuals choose to like the music they listen to,
and through which preferred manner or mode of listening these individuals or groups
of individuals listen to it.
The purpose of this study serves to identify the current generic music preferences of
urban adolescents living in the Johannesburg area. It further serves to highlight the
current modes of listening of these adolescents as well as the many possible
variables affecting their music preferences. The broader aim of the research project
is to use the results gathered through the study to enhance educational practices in
specialist music classrooms as well as in the generalist classroom.
If South African teachers are able to identify, understand and contextualise the
current preferred listening genres of their learners, they might use this knowledge to
enhance the teaching and learning of Arts and Culture as well as using the
knowledge base attached to adolescent children’s listening preferences as the point
of departure for the development of integrated Arts and Culture and other learning
programmes. Specifically, however, this knowledge base might expressly be used
for the upliftment of music education in the South African classroom.
Over the last ten years, I have taught class music to children at primary school level
(grade R through seven), music as a subject to high schoolers (grade eight through
and music methodology to university students specialising in music
education (first, second and third year under-graduate students). What stands out for
me as an educator is the extent to which the role that music plays in each of the
above mentioned age groups differs. This is not in the sense that music is observed
to be more or less important to one group over another (because it appears to hold
equal importance for all age groups). What appears to be exclusively different,
rather, is music’s function for adolescents: more than any other age group
adolescents appear to deliberately allow music to shape their individual and
collective identity.
When considering music preference, many questions come to mind. For example, to
what extent do people learn to listen to particular types of music? Does the number
of times a piece is listened to or played sway preference? To what extent does the
preference of one group of people affiliated to a particular culture or race or religion
differ from another? When considering music preference amongst adolescents one
must query the extent to which peer, educator or parental influence affects
preference decisions.
Three years ago, due to curriculum requirements placed on educators by the
National Curriculum Statement (NCS), I designed an integrated Arts and Culture
programme for grade six and seven learners, based on Hip-Hop. In teaching
adolescents, I have noticed the strength of the impact the learners’ listening
preferences has on their thought, behaviour, dress, peer interaction and general
identity. Denora (2000: 61) states:
Music is often described as an active ingredient in the
organisation of self, the shifting of mood, energy level, conduct,
style, mode of attention and engagement with the world. In
none of these, however, does music simply act upon
individuals like a stimulus. Rather, music’s effects come from
the ways in which individuals orient to it, how they interpret it
and how they place it within their personal musical maps.1
Emphasis of these three words has been added by the researcher. He interprets the phrase
'personal music maps' within the context of the above quotation to mean 'desired music preference/s'.
Music, according to Eyerman (2002: 447), is a form of cultural expression and can
serve to articulate as well as fuse a group, offering a sense of belonging and
collectivity. In certain instances, some authors (Meng-Jinn et al 2006, Pearson &
Dollinger 2004 and Rentfrow & Gosling 2003) go as far as to say that one’s music
preference may also be indicative of behaviour traits like aggression tendencies and
levels of fear, etc. However, music is not the only factor to be considered when
quantifying and qualifying music style preferences because the elements2 that
govern music are not in themselves emotional; it is when music, made up of the
‘elements of music,’ acts in accordance with certain other variables3 not directly
linked to music, that a music style preference is elicited from the listener, based on
his or her emotional responses and reasoning.
In December 2000, Jennifer James, a doctoral student at the University of DurbanWestville under the supervision of Professor J.D. Jansen, completed a dissertation
entitled Generic Music Style Preferences of Urban South African Students. James’s
study aimed to identify the dominant music style/s preferred by junior secondary
students in urban South African schools.
James’s 2000 Study
James’s study spanned three major urban4 city centres: Johannesburg, Cape Town
and Durban, and targeted six demographically representative high schools in each
urban city centre. Eighteen schools in total were used in the study, targeting one
grade nine class in each school. The following ten generic styles of music, bracketed
under the genres of popular and classical music, were used in the study: Jazz,
Reggae, South African Pop, Gospel, Western Pop, Rock, Indian Classical, Western
Classical, Western Choral and Traditional African.
Pitch, rhythm, time, tempo, timbre, texture, harmony, melody, mood, articulation, dynamics, etc.
Listening variables such as age, sex, culture, social context, the influence of media, etc. according to
LeBlanc (1982) and Prince (1972) also include factors like: influence of peer group’s music listening
preference, influence of mothers’ music listening preference, influence of fathers’ music listening
preference, formal music experience, informal music experience, familiarity with music, media, etc.
Schools in rural areas in the country tend not to be demographically representative in that, during
apartheid, some racial groups were forced to live in areas outside the cities (James 2000: 16).
Learners listened to examples of each of the afore-mentioned music styles and then
indicated their personal preference for each music excerpt on a music preference
rating sheet (MPR). James used the test-retest design to gather data from the total
sample of students as per the quantitative method of research. Three percent of that
sample completed interviews in an endeavour to collect more in-depth data
according to the qualitative method of research.
Johannesburg Schools Survey
The Johannesburg Schools Survey (JSS) undertaken in my study spanned nine
demographically representative schools falling within the Johannesburg metropolitan
district, an area encompassing an approximate radius of fifty kilometres from the
city5 centre outward. Five hundred and sixty-eight learners (N=568) in grade nine
participated in the study. The data collection was conducted in a similar fashion to
that of James’s 2000 study in that data was collected through a group-administered
test (Music Preference Questionnaire). There were three salient differences between
the two studies:
Firstly, where James’s sample spanned three urban centres (Johannesburg, Cape
Town and Durban) this study focuses on adolescents living in the Johannesburg
area. One of the reasons for this is that differences in preference ratings revealed in
James’s 2000 study indicated almost no differences in the preference of adolescents
in three urban centres. Secondly, while James used the test/retest design for her
2000 study, LeBlanc (1979: 83) states that the test-retest reliability measure is
generally a weak gauge for rating preference when it comes to individual students’
preference ratings. It was for this reason that only one test was done. Thirdly, five
additional generic styles were added to the Johannesburg schools survey.
This study, in nature, was a survey of the listening preferences of varying groups of
adolescent children. The most suitable research design for this study took the form
of a survey. According to Weiten (1995: 51),
Johannesburg according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2010) is Africa’s third largest city. First is
Cairo and second is Lagos. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Johannesburg is considered to be not only the
largest but also the city the highest distribution of wealth per capita.
…surveys are often used to obtain information on aspects of
behaviour that are difficult to observe directly. Surveys also
make it relatively easy to collect data on attitudes and opinions
from large samples of subjects.
Mouton (2002: 152-153) states that surveys are usually quantitative in nature. They
aim to provide a broad overview of a representative sample of a large population
employing structured questionnaires and structured interviews as their primary mode
of observation and data collection. A thorough literature study of music preferences
and the influences of music on identity formation as well as a comparative analysis
of already existing data from a similar study conducted by James several years ago,
constitute the framework on which the study was built, using as a point of departure
the critical research question.
In certain instances, due to the subjective perspectives of individuals, interviews6
cannot be described as quantitative in nature: they will, however, still be used in this
study to provide a broad overview from a representative sample of a larger
population. In part, this study relates to the formation of music identities among
adolescent children, the measurement of which might not always be possible
through mathematical means, negating quantitative methods or formulas. “Within
modern societies music’s powers are typically invisible and difficult to specify
empirically” (Denora 2000: ii).
This data has been captured and analysed and the findings have been compared to
those revealed in James’s 2000 study of Generic music style preferences of urban
South African students. Additional information or data have been obtained from an
in-depth literature study, which includes sources such as magazine and journal
articles, newspaper and media reports, and information available on the Internet.
Interviews can be seen as a way of understanding social reality and society from the perspective of the
participants who interpret their world through and in social interaction.
Study objectives and motivation
Various researchers have suggested that a clear shift from the aesthetic philosophy
of music education to a more praxial philosophy of music education is warranted
(Mhlambi 2004; Nzewi 2003; Elliott 1995; Reimer 1989; Nketia 1974). It was, in fact,
this very notion that prompted the curriculum designers of the NCS to recognise the
performance-based and integrated nature of art forms embedded in Arts and Culture
as they occur in indigenous African societies (Herbst et al 2005: 261). Song, dance,
drama, poetry and/or design are integral parts of indigenous African genres and
activities as well as cultural rituals and festivals (DOE 2004: 5). This in essence
reiterates David Elliott’s recent praxial philosophy applied to music education. The
term ‘expressive arts’ within an African context can also be referred to or interchanged with the term ‘musical arts’.
The term ‘musical arts’ was introduced by Meki Nzewi in 2001 in his keynote address
at the Pan African Society for Music Education (PASME) in Lusaka, Zambia. As a
result of his address, the name of the society was changed to the Pan African
Society for Musical Arts Education (PASMAE) to reflect the integrated nature of
music, dance, drama and the visual arts in indigenous Africa (Herbst et al 2005:
The South African Department of Education expects teachers of Arts and Culture to
teach the four expressive art forms or musical arts (music, dance, drama and visual
art) as one unit banded together under the umbrella learning area of Arts and
Culture. They further expect these teachers to integrate the expressive arts into
other non-music learning areas like maths and literacy (DOE 2004: 7).
During Apartheid (1948-1990), all South Africans were legislatively separated into
categories according to race. Under the banner of the Department of National
Education, the National party government created four separate departments of
education for each race group: the Department of Education and Training (DET) for
black schools, the Department of Education and Culture in the House of
Representatives (HOR) for coloured schools, the Department of Education and
Culture in the House of Delegates (HOD) for Indian schools and for Whites the
Department of Education and Culture in the House of Assembly (HOA) (Parker
1986). Music education varied radically in each of these departments.
With regard to African music education during Apartheid, Mngoma (1986: 116)
Music in African schools is given a peripheral position and is
not given the central position it should have in the light of the
central position music takes in African life in South Africa.
According to James (2000: 9), 'Black' schools had no official music education
curriculum although in rare instances, limited music theory was taught. Thus ‘Black’
South Africans relied on indigenous music traditions of African communities to
develop through enculturation and informal music education. In some instances,
however, depending on the availability of teachers who were choir conductors within
their communities, some schools offered choir participation as an extramural activity.
Their repertoire drew on western choral music and African traditional songs, which
were often presented at choral competitions.
In ‘Coloured’ schools, Hoffman (1986) states that music education struggled to exist
due to a lack of properly trained music teachers. Those that were trained at college
level continued the music traditions that they had experienced during their student
teaching. Western music was emphasised in the curriculum and while music existed
in theory as an ‘exam subject’ in ‘Coloured’ schools, few of these offered music as
an examination subject. This, according to James (2000: 10), was due to the lack of
qualified music teachers.
In 'Indian' schools, according to Jackson (1986: 125), students were limited to
learning the recorder and repertoire was confined to Western Art music. James
(2000: 11) states that while ‘singing for appreciation’ existed in Indian schools, it was
subject to a confined list of British and Germanic songs.7
This scenario, due to colonisation, would probably be the case in many places the world over.
At ‘White’ schools, formal music education was based on the teaching of music in
schools in America, Britain and Europe, who based their music curricula on Western
Art Music. In theory, South African ‘White’ schools took one of two forms of music
education. The first was music as an examination subject, colloquially known as
‘exam music’. The second was music-for-appreciation known as ‘class music’.
Implicit in ‘exam music’ was the option for learners to play a wide variety of
instruments to matric level as an examination subject. Implicit in ‘class music’, where
resources allowed, were basic non-melodic and melodic percussive instrumentation,
recorder playing and singing for appreciation. In practice, however, few South
African government schools for 'Whites' had exam music.
In 1993, Hauptfleisch published a comprehensive study on music education in South
Africa. She stated:
A crisis of coherence, therefore, implies a lack of logical
connection and consistency. In the case of current South
African music education, this lack of connection and
consistency is apparent in the fragmented education system
and the resulting uneven distribution of music education
practices and resources throughout the country. In some
education departments there is hardly any suggestion of a wellstructured music education programme, while, in others a
comprehensive programme has been developed and is being
maintained. To a greater extent, the unequal distribution of
skilled music teachers and facilities for music education mirrors
the unequal distribution of education resources as a whole,
from historically black state schools with almost no resources,
to private schools where the facilities are luxurious. Music
education policies and practices in the different education
departments are, therefore, neither logically connected nor
consistent (Hauptfleisch 1993: 1).
In 1994, the new African National Congress government called for a total
transformation of the education system. As a result, Outcomes Based Education
(OBE) was adopted (Geyser 2000: 22). The process of democratic change that
followed the 1994 elections spurred hope in the hearts of music educators that a new
education policy would help promote the arts and especially music education. In
1996, a draft white paper promoting the arts and music education was presented by
the then South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science & Technology and
received an affirmative nod by members of parliament. As a result, in 1998, the
document ‘The Green Paper on Education and Training’ was accepted. The revised
education policy now affords the arts a new status and the four expressive or
musical arts (music, dance, drama and visual art) within the Arts and Culture
learning area have been banded together.
While the philosophies governing music education in South Africa have shifted
paradigms from a strongly aesthetic teaching model to a more praxial one, the South
African schooling system is still prolifically punctured. It is apparent amidst a
desperate deficit of resources that former teacher training failed to properly equip
music teachers with the practical performance skills needed to adequately teach
music (Herbst et al 2005: 273). There are other discrepancies too, however. James
(2000: 14) claims that the sole use of Western classical music in the South African
schooling system prior to 1994 has created a ‘gap’ for other styles of music.
Literature reviewed for this research project and expounded in chapter two focuses
primarily on concepts of music preference and secondarily on music influences in
identity formation. Chapter two provides an overview of the field of music preference
by offering global and local descriptions of music preference or taste, examining
related research findings by considering the extent to which music preference
contributes to one’s music identity. The latter half of chapter two serves to depict the
extent to which non-music aspects, in contrast to music aspects, contribute to one’s
music identity.
The study relies heavily on LeBlanc’s model of the sources of variation in music
preference (adapted from Cutietta 1992: 300 and illustrated on page 9 below). The
model is used as the theoretical framework upon which the study is structured. It
serves largely as an interpretation and analysis tool of the data gathered from the
Johannesburg Schools Survey.
Figure 1:
LeBlanc’s Model of the Sources of Variation in Music Preference
of Stimulus
Further Exploration
of Stimulus and/or
↔ Heightened
Processing by Listener’s Brain
Music Personality Gender
Socio- economic
Current Affective State
The Listener
Basic Attention
Physiological Enabling Conditions
of Stimulus
of Stimulus
meaning of
The Music
and Authority
The Environment
Delineating LeBlanc’s model for music preference
LeBlanc’s model of the sources of variation in music preference is comprised of eight
levels of variables, which represent sources of variation in music preference. The
JSS incorporated variables from levels 1, 2, 4 and 8, which were employed directly
through the music preference questionnaire and interviews to gather data. The
broader aim of the study was to gather the extent to which variables in levels 4
(specifically music training, gender (sex), ethnic group, age and socio-economic
status) and 8 (specifically variables pertaining to: a. the music physical properties of
music stimulus, complexity of stimulus, referential meaning of stimulus, performance
quality, and b. the environment: media, peer group, family and educators and
authority figures) affected preference.
The only variables significant to the study in level 1 were Rejection and Acceptance.
The Repetition of Stimulus variable was not applicable within the test procedure
because learners only heard each excerpt once. In level 2, the only variable
considered was Preference Decision. No Further Exploration of Stimulus and/or
Environment occurred in either the quantitative testing or qualitative sampling
through either the Repeated Sampling or Heightened Attention variables.
The variables in level 4 encompass the personal characteristics or attributes of The
Listener. Because the focus of the study was not to investigate the Auditory
Sensitivity of the listener, this variable was excluded altogether. In the same vein,
Musical Ability, Memory and Personality were also excluded. When one considers
Auditory Sensitivity, Musical Ability, Memory and Personality in the light of music
research studies, these variables are considered to be innate qualities of the listener,
which when measured are qualitative in nature. Music Training, Gender (sex), Ethnic
Group, Socio-Economic Status and Age as variables relating to the listener were
significant and measurable in the context of the study.
The intervening variables 5 (Current Affective State), 6 (Basic Attention), and 7
(Physiological Enabling Conditions), while not treated as separate variables are,
logically, implicit within the context of the listener and were thus incidental within the
test procedure.
When considering the variables in level 8, as mentioned above, these were divided
into two categories: 1. The Music and 2. The Environment. Variables pertaining to
The Music category included: Physical Properties of the Stimulus, Complexity of the
Stimulus, Referential Meaning of the Stimulus and Performance Quality. Variables
pertaining to The Environment category included: Media, Peer Group, Family,
Educators and Authority Figures. While Incidental Conditioning is also a variable in
level 8 bracketed under The Environment, it was not dealt with or measured in the
Research methodology
This study is largely empirical in nature. This means that the researcher relied on
formal, systematic observations to explore and answer the critical research question.
Due to the fact that this research project took the form of a survey, it was largely
quantitative8 in nature. However, five percent of the sample group completed
interviews, which, in nature, are qualitative. This study was therefore conducted
within the quantitative paradigm but also relying on the interpretation and analysis of
the interviews, to bring to the study nuances from the qualitative paradigm.9 The use
of both quantitative and qualitative methods within a study serves to satisfy the
purposes of ‘methodological triangulation'10 (Janesick 1998: 46).
Mouton (2002: 152) states that surveys are linked to a more behaviourist11 or
positivist meta-theory when in actual fact they are more closely associated with the
tradition of variable analysis12. This study aimed to quantify the listening preferences
of South African adolescents and then through literary study and the qualitative
Analysis of data within a quantitative paradigm helps towards an understanding of the individual's
subjective perceptions of experiences in a complex social world.
One of the major distinguishing characteristics of qualitative research is the fact that the researcher
attempts to understand people in terms of their own definition of their world (Henning 2004).
One of the principal aims of triangulation in the social sciences seems to be to corroborate one set
of findings with another in the hope that two or more sets of findings will converge on a single
Behaviourism according to Weiten (1995: 709) is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that
scientific psychology should study only observable behaviour.
Variable analysis or variability according to Weiten (1995: 718) is the extent to which the scores in a
data set tend to vary from each other and the mean.
analysis of interviews to account for the reasons behind such listening preferences
or tastes in music. Behaviourists endeavour to account for overt behaviours or
responses by linking them to observable events or stimuli13 in the environment.
While this notion accounts for affective variables such as ethnic group, socioeconomic status, music training and maturity, it does not completely account for
variables such as music ability, auditory sensitivity, memory, personality and gender,
The research questions
The study is based on the following main, critical research question:
To what extent have the generic music style preferences of urban South African
adolescents changed over a ten year period?
The following sub-questions function to embellish the critical research question:
1. What are the current preferences for different generic styles of
music among South African urban adolescent learners living in
2. How do preferences for different styles of music for learners from
James’s 2000 study and the Johannesburg Schools Survey
3. Through which mode/s do urban adolescents living in the
Johannesburg area listen to/ hear music?
4. To what extent do these modes differ?
5. How do urban adolescents living in Johannesburg obtain the music
they listen to?
6. To what extent do important social and cultural variables affect the
listening preferences of adolescent learners?
7. Which physical properties of music account for the music
preferences adopted by adolescent learners?
According to Weiten (1995: 8) a stimulus is any detectable input from the environment and can
range from light and sound waves to words on a page, advertisements on TV, or sarcastic remarks
from a friend.
8. Which environmental factors influence the music preferences of
adolescent learners?
Quantitative data collection
Quantitative data was collected from nine demographically representative schools.
Participation in the JSS was not obligatory. Schools participating in the study
included: Bracken High School, Harvest Christian School, Jeppe High School for
Boys, Jeppe High School for Girls, Leshata Secondary School, New South Baptist
School, Nirvana Secondary School, Thamsanqa Secondary School and Waterstone
To stabilise to some extent the validity of the study, selection of schools was limited
to urban areas only. This was done for two reasons: 1. the differences between rural
and urban life in South Africa is in many instances vastly different. Thus, using
schools from both urban and rural settings could drastically affect study reliability and
validity; 2. James based her 2000 study on urban schools only. In qualifying a true
comparison between the studies, similar if not exact sampling should be employed.
The researcher, when approaching schools to request their participation in the study,
requested each school to allow one-fifth of the total school population (specifically
the entire grade nine set at each school) to participate in the study. The reason for
this was to allow for an incidental cross section14 of the school population
representing the current and true demographic15 make-up of grade nines at each
school. The only schools where this was not possible were Jeppe High School for
Boys and Jeppe High School for Girls where learners were told about the study and
then invited to participate in the survey outside of school hours one Friday afternoon.
In this instance, however, both schools provided a venue on campus to allow for
This meant that the independent schools sample were much smaller than the government schools’
The entire sample represented the various ethnic and racial groups within the South African
Every other school participating in the study made provision for the researcher to
carry out the survey during official educators’ contact time with learners during the
course of the school day. None of the schools participating in the study revealed
single race population; however, two of the schools, Thamsanqa and Leshata
Secondary, came close. In this instance, these schools were almost completely
black in their demographic build.
The typical age for learners in grade nine in South African schools is fourteen to
fifteen years old. While the bulk of learners participating in the study did fall into this
age category, some16 for various reasons did not. Adolescent learners between the
ages of fourteen and fifteen are at a critical stage at this age because individual
identity formation begins to be asserted and inferential thought is established. Also,
at this age, Sloboda (1986: 214) states that a progression from judgements based on
simple features from age six evolves into a complex judgement of multidimensional
aspects of style underlying language by the age of fourteen. This naturally affects
taste in music and thus the assertion of preference for various genres.
1.9.1 Instruments
The main instruments used in the study were 1. the Music Preference Questionnaire
(MPQ – see Appendix C) and 2. the music (fifteen pre-recorded music excerpts
representing the various genres each sixty seconds in duration). The MPQ involved
subjects indicating on a specially designed answer sheet their level of preference for
the specified genres based on a five-point scale. These included:
like a lot
not sure
dislike a lot
For each of the fifteen genres represented17 subjects could choose one of the above
categories for each genre, thus indicating preference. Written questions on the test
answer sheet allowed subjects to indicate vital variable information - for example
gender, age, home language and music training. Subjects were also asked key
This variable is affected by the enrolment of learners in grade one as well as the retention of
See chapter four for a comprehensive list of the excerpts used.
questions pertaining to LeBlanc’s model of preference to highlight key variables. For
1. What you makes you like a piece of music or influences your liking of that music?:
a. Your parents
b. Your friends
c. It is played often on radio or TV
d. Your teacher teaches it to you
e. Other (please list)
2. When you listen to the music, what aspect of the music makes you like it? (You
may choose more than one)
a. Fast tempo
b. Slow Tempo
c. Melody
d. Harmony
e. Lyrics
f. Instruments
g. Rhythm
While James employed the test/re-test method in her 2000 study, her findings
indicated that test measures between the test and retest were acutely marginal (less
than 0.2 and 0.4%) and therefore insignificant. Thus the test/retest method of
gathering quantitative data was not repeated in the Johannesburg Schools Survey.
1.9.2 Procedure
The actual listening test was fifteen minutes in duration because each excerpt was
sixty seconds long. In total, the entire questionnaire took approximately twenty-five to
thirty minutes from start to finish, which included the time verbal instructions were
given to the completion of the last two written questions. Subjects were encouraged
to indicate their preference for each genre while the relevant excerpt was being
played. This was done for two primary reasons. 1. To minimise the time used, and 2.
James indicated that the interval of fifteen seconds inserted between each excerpt of
her 2000 study for the purpose of allowing subjects time to indicate preference was
too long.
1.9.3 Qualitative data collection
The qualitative18 data gathered consisted of fifty-one music preference interviews19
conducted by the researcher. On average, interviews took approximately five to ten
minutes each20 to allow the researcher time to discuss with learners some of the
answers they had indicated with regard to their individual choice of preference.
In aiming to gather an interview sample of plus minus ten percent of the total sample,
interviews took place at the school at which the researcher worked. This allowed the
researcher, with the school’s permission, the use of time allocated to grade nine
academic support/non-academic teaching/life-orientation periods in which to conduct
interviews. This was done over a three week period.
1.10 Glossary, acronyms and abbreviations
Aesthetic experience
Intense subject and personal experience. Feeling reaction. Requires
perception, experience of feelings and reactions, and psychological
Affective response
Reaction involving feelings and emotions. Learned behaviour resulting
from a life history of interactions with musical stimuli; encompassing
mood - emotional, preference, and taste responses.
Selfless concern for the welfare of others, which leads to helping
In qualitative analysis, concepts and constructs should be interpreted in such way to allow the researcher to
gain a greater depth of insight and understanding into the subject material being investigated. Because
qualitative research often occurs in a non-structured manner it is open to the contextualisation of events,
attitudes and perceptions (Taylor & Bogdan 1998).
These were largely self structured.
One of the limitations listed by James in her 2000 study was the fact that the time allotted to her by
participating schools seriously hindered the number of total interviews collected (twenty in total). On
average, James spent approximately thirty minutes per interview.
Awareness of salient characteristics. May imply a deeper involvement,
understanding and/or familiarity. Sometimes used to express a liking for
or deeming worthy as expressed by seeking more.
A physiological and psychological state of being awake and reactive to
stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular system in the brain
stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system acting
together, which often leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure
and a condition of sensory alertness, mobility and readiness to respond.
Refers to the direction or performance technique which affects the
transition or continuity on single, or between multiple notes or sounds.
There are many different forms of articulation, each having a different
effect on how the note is played, whether short or long, hard or soft, or
varying. Some articulation marks include the slur, phrase mark,
staccato, staccatissimo, accent, sforzando, rinforzando, and legato.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
A learned predisposition reflecting the way one feels about a subject
while not in the presence of that subject, which is not directly
observable. Positive and negative evaluations, beliefs, and feelings
regarding phenomenon that may produce error in perception and recall.
Generally used synonymously with opinion: however, opinion is a verbal
reaction to a stimulus, and is directly observable. Defined by the use of
the attitude scale.
Auditory memory
A hobbyist who seeks high-quality audio reproduction via the use of
non-mass-produced high-end audio electronics.
The ability to remember what the ear hears.
Related to the ear and hearing.
The regular rhythmic pulse of music.
Behavioural intention
Opinion or stimulated preference expressed in the absence of a
stimulus object, but with contextual referents given.
Behavioural preference
Difference response for one stimulus as opposed to another.
Demonstrated choice through non-verbal actions, such as concert
attendance, recording purchase, choosing to listen to specific music.
Also called operant preference.
Big Four
Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music
Group, and EMI.
Broadcast Music Incorporated.
Canned music
Music prepared or recorded in advance for non-specific use or wide
distribution. It often lacks originality or individuality because it is mass
produced. Sometimes called muzak.
Clear Channel Communications.
Compact Disc.
Low uncertainty with incongruity, establishing expectancies that are not
followed. Information content, ranging from little information, and
therefore boring, to so informative as to be difficult to comprehend and
One’s ability to focus on more than one feature of a problem at a time.
A statistic characterizing human populations or segments of human
populations often broken down into categories by age, sex, race,
income, etc.
Department of Education and Training.
Perception of quantitative or qualitative differences. Detection of
similarities and differences.
Department of Education.
Digital Versatile Disc.
Degrees of loudness or softness.
Electrical Music Industries.
A general affective reaction encompassing the feeling states. Affective
To judge the relative worth, meaning, or significance.
Assumption of having heard it somewhere before. Predictability, as a
result of repeated exposure to same or similar music.
The physical structure or shape of a piece of music, its fundamental
elements being repetition, contrast and variation.
Formal operational
One of Piaget’s stage theories, which refers to mental operations
applied to abstract concepts, sometimes referred to as ‘abstract
Gauteng Department of Education.
A succession of sounds which achieve a distinct vertical line in music.
The unit of harmony is the chord.
Hedonic value
Reward value as judged by the capacity of a stimulus to reinforce a
response, and degree of preference or pleasure reflected in verbal
evaluations. A consequence of arousal-raising and arousal-reducing
stimulus properties; includes pleasantness and unpleasantness,
attractivenessrepulsiveness, and positive-negative incentive value.
House of Assembly.
House of Delegates.
House of Representatives.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Perceptions of certain novelties arise out of variations on the familiar. A
term used to measure in the affective domain.
Instrument playing.
Holds the attention of the listener. An attitude that a stimulus object is
significant, accompanied by selective attention toward that object.
A critical evaluation
The sense that provides awareness of movements of the muscles of the
body and position of the joints.
Mechanical Copyright Protection Society.
A succession of sounds which achieve the distinct shape of a horizontal
The ability to reason about one’s thought processes.
The ability to reflect on the use of language, which leads to playing with
language e.g. use of puns, riddles and metaphors.
The atmosphere or a piece of music creates.
Music Preference Rating sheet or score card.
Music Preference Questionnaire.
Musical Intelligence
According to Howard Gardner, musical intelligence encompasses the
capability to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and
rhythms. Auditory functioning is required for a person to develop this
intelligence in relation to pitch and tone, but is not needed for the
knowledge of rhythm.
A trademark used for recorded background music transmitted by wire or
radio to places of business on a subscription basis. Sometimes called
canned music.
National Curriculum Statement.
Operant preference
Difference response for one stimulus as opposed to another.
Demonstrated choice through non-verbal actions, such as concert
attendance, recording purchase, choosing to listen to specific music.
See behavioural preference.
Reaction to an idea or a stimulus while in its presence. An evaluation is
generally associated with the liking or disliking of a single phenomenon.
To be aware of, primarily through the senses.
The process through which sensory data are received by means of the
senses and the individual becomes aware of features. The way an
individual hears and interprets music.
How high, in a middle range or low music is.
Pertaining to physiology: relating to the science of the functions of living
A choice; liking of something over something else.
Performing Rights Society.
Of or relating to psychology: the study of human behaviour.
For the purposes of this study: a phonographic recording in either a
physical or digital sense.
Responsive Listening
When in listening to music or a sound source, the listener responds
kinesthetically, orally or instrumentally.
The organisation of music in relation to time.
Social constructionist theory.
Social identity theory.
Subjective complexity
Perceived complexity level of information content, which is mutable and
a function of the listener and past musical experience.
A person’s overall attitude toward collective music phenomena. Longterm commitment to musical preferences. A social matter that tends to
vary with varying groups of people, places, and times, and that gives
the impression that preference for one kind of music is better than
preference for another.
Transvaal Education Department, which included the now GDE,
although it encompassed a larger geographic area.
The pace of a piece of music i.e. fast, medium or slow.
The thinness or thickness of the sound of music, depending on the
number of instruments or voices used.
The individual quality of tone of an instrument. Sometimes referred to
as tone colour.
Time signature
The time signature specifies how many beats are in a measure.
Any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength,
source, etc.
Inability to distinguish differences in pitch.
What individuals consider good or beneficial to their well-being. Values
are not innate, but are acquired through experience.
Believing or knowing that a thing, phenomenon, or behaviour has worth.
The first question I ask myself when something doesn't
seem to be beautiful is, “Why do I think it's not beautiful?”
And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
John Cage
Chapter 2
Literary review
The relationship between music and preference is multifarious. Why listeners prefer
one type of music over another is elemental in investigating the factors that may
influence music preference. Coupled with this is the degree to which listeners may
like or dislike that music. Logic dictates that degrees of like or dislike may vary
considerably and might change over time. One constant, however, in music
preference research is the generally agreed notion that music, intrinsically, is able to
evoke and express emotion. This singular facet might well serve to attract listeners
to it (Schubert 2007: 500).
While various definitions for music preference, music taste or music attitude abound,
for the purpose of this study music preference shall basically be defined as an
indication of like or dislike by the listener for a particular type of genre or style of
music. This definition has been extrapolated from the various definitions of music
preference that follow.
Music preference decisions are based upon the interaction of input information and
the characteristics of the listener, with input information consisting of the musical
stimulus and the listener's cultural environment (LeBlanc 1982: 29). Hargreaves
(1986: 108) describes music preference as any reaction that any person might have
to a piece of music. Price (1986: 154) defines music preference as a differential
response for one stimulus as opposed to another, expressed through non-verbal
actions. Farnsworth (1969: 116) characterizes music taste as the overall attitudinal
set one has toward the phenomena which collectively comprise music. Radocy &
Boyle (1979: 22) classify music preference as an expressed choice of one musical
work or style over other available works or styles.
Research trends in philosophy, psychology, sociology, politics and education, etc.
often link music preference either to studies of human behaviour, intelligence and
identity formation or to aesthetics. These fields often account for music preference
primarily as an issue of cultural context affected directly by social and personality
parameters. Research trends in the field of music generally concur. Preference
ratings are thought to be directly proportional to the listener’s cultural affiliation or
cultural context (Teo et al 2008; Abril & Flowers 2007; Denora 2000; Morrison & Yeh
1999; Fung 1994; Killian 1990; Shehan 1985).
Music preference decisions are not isolated incidents. They occur continually on a
daily basis. Over time, various factors, both external and internal, function to alter or
maintain the listeners’ preference decision. There exists a basic triangulation of
factors that achieve this. They are 1. the music stimulus itself, 2. the characteristics
of the listener (personality) and 3. the listener’s cultural context. These three factors
occur incidentally in triangulation; they thus need not occur in a specific order for
music preference decisions to be made. Figure 2 below was designed by the author
to exemplify this.
Figure 2:
MPD Triangulation
It is interesting in the field of music preference that few studies exist on music
preference in multicultural societies. Apart from James’s 2000 study on the generic
music preferences of urban South African adolescents, there are two other studies
that deal specifically with music preference in multicultural societies. The first is that
of Teo, Hargreaves & Lee (2008) who highlight the differences in music preference
between adolescents in Singapore and the United Kingdom. The second is that of
Abril & Flowers (2007) who investigated the music preference of adolescents from
different linguistic backgrounds living in the United States of America. All of the
above researchers illuminate the strong influence that Western music has on nonWestern societies and thus stress the importance of adopting culturally diverse
music education programmes (Volk 1998; Floyd 1996; Campbell 1992). Abril and
Flowers go on to say that music is experienced in a sociocultural dimension that
includes complex interactions among the cultural connotations of a song, the social
context in which the song is experienced and the culture of the listener/performer
(2007: 205).
Because cultural context is a key aspect in music preference, South Africa’s broad
cultural and racial demographic make-up must be taken into consideration when
conducting studies on music preference. South Africa, often referred to as the
‘Rainbow Nation21’, is made up of a wide range of cultures22, religions23 and
Nelson Mandela is credited with coining the phrase “Rainbow Nation” when he used it in his
inaugural address on May 9th 1994: “We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which
all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without and fear in their hearts,
assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the
South Africa’s ethnic diversity is such that it is sometimes difficult to highlight or pin-point individual
groups or cultures. What follows is simply a few examples of the wide range of cultures represented
within SA: White English speaking, White Afrikaans speaking, Coloured (English and Afrikaans
speaking), Indian (various castes and languages e.g. Tamil and Gujarati), Asian (Chinese and
Indonesian, etc.), Black (Nguni: Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Ndebele and Xhosa; others include:
Venda, Tsonga and the Khoi-San).
Many religions abound and are given equal status by the constitution. E.g. Traditional African, Zionism,
Bahá'í Faith, Christianity, Gnosticism, Islam, Judaism, Rastafari, Unitarian, Universalism, Buddhism,
Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, Neo-paganism, New Age, Esotericism,
languages24. It is thus a good example of a multicultural, multi-faith and multilinguistic society.
Education plus the influences of one’s educators are also key factors in determining
music preference. Droe (2006: 8) states that at any level, music education and the
role of parent or teacher may influence preference. In the light of South Africa’s
troubled past, Primos (2001: 1) suggests that it is impossible to consider music
learning and development in Africa and thus South Africa without being drawn into
historical, cultural and political issues. Specifically within the South African context,
due to the gross fragmentation of education across colour lines during apartheid, it is
pertinent here to highlight the following.
Prior to 1994, systems of education in South Africa were largely Western in nature.
They were Eurocentric, content laden and racially divisive25. Cognisant of the various
atrocities of apartheid, the first democratic South African government implemented in
1997 a system of outcomes-based education. According to the Revised National
Curriculum Statement issued by the South African Department of Education in 2002,
music education falls within the Arts and Culture learning area, which includes the
four expressive arts: music, dance, drama and visual art, which form a compulsory
component of the revised curriculum (NDE 2002).
What must here be noted, however, is that one of the salient reasons for the
changes to the South African education system post 1994 was that previous systems
ignored the role of learning implicit in Indigenous Knowledge Systems26 and thus
South Africa’s constitution, which came into effect on 4 February 1997, recognises eleven official
languages, to which the state guarantees equal status. They are: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi,
Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Other languages spoken and mentioned in
the constitution are the Khoi, Nama and San languages, Sign language, Arabic, German, Greek,
Gujarati, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu. A few indigenous
creoles and pidgins are also mentioned.
This statement refers both to Christian National Education and Bantu Education.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems refer to intricate knowledge systems acquired over generations by
communities as they interact with the environment. These communities refer to groups having common or
corresponding interests in or through specific music aspects. It is important to note that these communities
are influenced by both cultural and non-cultural aspects. The term encompasses technology, and social,
economic, philosophical, learning and governance systems. It can further be defined as ‘the participants’
indigenous musical arts. The revised curriculum statement and subsequent policies
on education now emphasise the numerous benefits of indigenous knowledge
systems while negating the overbearing emphasis on written musical literacy (van
Heerden 2007: 13).
This study focuses on South African urban adolescents and their generic music style
preferences. It is interesting to note the substantial value and amount of time
adolescents place on music and spending time listening to music. Jaffe (1998: 13)
states that listening to music is highest on the list of adolescent leisure pursuits.
Listening to music is central in the lives of adolescents (Zillman & Gan 1997: 162)
and is an integral part of everyday life (Pavlicevic 2003; Tarrant et al 2002). Leisuretime activities comprise between 40-50% of an adolescent's life (Caldwell, Smith, &
Weissinger, 1992). It is easy to see then why listening to music and making music
preference decisions would impact greatly on adolescent identity formation.
Concepts of music preference
Music preference research finds its genesis in studies on attitudes toward music,
taste in music and music consumption, collectively expressed under the banner
“affective domain of music” (Abeles & Chung 1996: 312). The affective domain
defined by Power et al (2008:8) indicates the manner in which we deal with things
emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasm, motivation and
attitudes. The affective domain is one of three27 modes/categories of learning
originally identified and classified by Benjamin Bloom and other researchers in
cognitive psychology at the University of Chicago in the 1950s. Music is identified as
an affective art form because it has the potential to elicit a strong emotional response
in the listener and, according to Mullins (2008: 6-7), aesthetic judgements in music
attend to its elements such as mood, harmony, lyricism, resonance and
knowledge’ or their temporal and social space. As such, it not only refers to the knowledge of indigenous
peoples, but also to that of any other defined community (Odora-Hoppers 2001 in van Heerden 2007:14).
The other two are cognitive (mental skill) and psychomotor (manual or physical skill).
In the 1980s Albert LeBlanc proposed a theoretical model of the sources of variation
in music taste. LeBlanc, with the growing number of studies on the topics of taste
and preference, developed and published in 1982 a theoretical model with a primary
focus on music preference. This model was called ‘An Interactive Theory of Music
Preference’ (Cutietta 1992: 300). LeBlanc’s model of the sources of variation in
music preference is illustrated in the first chapter of this study and was used as the
point of departure for this research project as it is a key theoretical guide on music
Edwards (1992: 41) states that LeBlanc’s model has evolved from various studies on
music preference. It is constructed in such a way as to present the possible
influences that could lead a listener to a single music preference decision, which
could be either the acceptance or rejection of it. LeBlanc’s model reflects the
possible sources that could account for music preference, illustrating a number of
variables that cover the cognitive, affective and psychomotor dimensions of music
learning. LeBlanc’s model is based upon a hierarchical structure of variables, which
consists of eight levels. Level one is input variables, which include physical
properties and cultural influences. Level two, three and four cover physiological
enabling conditions, basic attention and current affective state. Level five consists of
personality, training and maturation influences. Level six, seven and eight determine
preference, brain processing, decision point and preference judgement.
Walker’s (1980) so called “Hedgehog model” of music preference investigates the
relationship between the complexity of music and preference (Droe 2006 :24). The
model likens the listeners’ behaviour of rejecting certain stimuli to that of the
hedgehog, who when over-stimulated tends to curl up and draw away from the
source. Walker’s core theory is twofold. His first premise is that psychological events
nearest optimum complexity are preferred because their incidence produces
simplification; and secondly that repetition of a complex stimulus produces
simplification (Walker 1980 :471). Individuals, according to Walker, possess an
optimum complexity threshold that yields an optimum preference. Both frequent and
infrequent stimuli result in low preference as well as either too little or too much
complexity, because the listener may give up processing the stimulus. Repetition of
a complex stimulus originally considered too complex will increase preference, while
repetition of a stimulus considered not complex/of too little complexity will decrease
preference. Droe (2006: 24) cites the following example:
This theory may explain the differences in preferences within
school ensembles for music being rehearsed. While one section is
performing complex music, another section may be performing
relatively simple music. For example, euphonium players tend to
like Sousa marches, while many horn players do not.
Madsen & Geringer (2008) developed a model of meaningful listening based on the
listener’s focus of attention. The model suggests that the listener’s attention must be
focused directly on the stimulus before any information concerning that stimulus can
be processed. The model accounts for situations in which listeners hear background
music and do not directly process the music as a stimulus. However, once the
listener’s attention is directly focused on the music stimulus, aural discrimination and
emotion will provide a basis for meaningful listening because, according to Madsen
and Geringer (2008: 42), discrimination and focus of attention affect the emotional
state of the listener. In turn, the emotional state affects the focus of attention and
subsequent discrimination.
While Madsen & Geringer rule out the possibility of music preference decisions as a
result of background music or muzak28 because it could be considered an indirect
stimulus, many theorists (Ritossa & Rickard 2004; Fredrickson 1999; Siebenaler
1999; Gregory 1994; Price 1986; Bradley 1971; Getz 1966) account for it through the
principles of ‘familiarity’ and ‘predictability’. Familiarity results as an assumption of
having heard the music somewhere before and predictability results in repeated
exposure to the same or similar music (Price 1986: 153).
Ritossa & Rickard in their 2004 study of elementary school children entitled The
relative utility of pleasantness and liking dimensions in predicting the emotions
expressed by music concluded that the emotions associated with music could be
predicted from ratings of familiarity, pleasantness and arousal, stating that familiarity
was found to positively affect the music preference of listeners (Ritossa & Rickard
2004: 22).
Please refer to glossary in chapter one for definition.
In 1966, Getz (1996: 192), after an intensive study of three-hundred and forty young
adolescents29, who for ten weeks were repeatedly exposed to forty examples of
classical music30, concluded that “familiarity”31 through repetition had an overall
positive correlation with preference. Getz cited the most frequently elicited reasons
for liking a particular piece of music as fast tempo and “familiarity” through repetition.
In a similar study by Bradley in 1971, young adolescents32 were repeatedly exposed
to contemporary art music for a period of fourteen weeks. He concluded that
'familiarity” indicated a significant gain in preference. Adding to this, Bradley also
states that “familiarity” correlates to the perception of emotion in music (Bradley
1971: 298).
Conversely, lack of familiarity and predictability act as an obstacle in music
preference decision making because they may be outweighed by pre-existing music
preferences, often influenced by factors such as peer approval, limited listening
experiences and lack of knowledge regarding different musical styles or genres
(Hash 2002: 1).
Reimer (2003: 132) states:
A great deal of music is meaningless to a great many people
because they are ignorant of the music’s style33; that is, they
cannot perceive and react to the aural events as being coherent,
interrelated, unified and sensible.
Grade sevens.
These were unfamiliar pieces by familiar composers.
While incidental listening is classified as ‘familiarity’ and repeated exposure to music as
‘predictability’, studies before 1986 often incorrectly use the terms ‘familiarity’ and ‘predictability’
interchangeably. It appears that only after Price (1986) distinguishes between the two in his study
entitled The effects of repetition on listening response does this change.
Grade sevens.
Or genre.
LeBlanc (1982: 29) lists three different categories34 of variables which affect music
preference. The first category relates to the music itself and includes structural
elements like style and tempo, complexity, referential meaning, performance medium
and performance quality. The second category revolves around the characteristics of
the listener. These include auditory sensitivity, musical ability and training,
personality, gender, ethnic group, socio-economic status, maturation and memory.
The third category revolves around the listener’s environment, which includes media,
peer group, family, authority figures and external conditioning.
Merriam’s ten functions of music
While Merriam’s (1964) ten functions of music are not directly aligned to studies in
music preference and identity, they serve to enlighten various aspects of both
because they endeavour, in the words of Radocy & Boyle (1988: 12), to account for
humankind in relation to music. Of Merriam’s ten functions, the first three serve to
illuminate some of the ways in which individuals identify with music. The rest serve to
highlight some of the ways in which individuals identify with others. Merriam
maintains that music is in a sense a summatory activity for the expression of values,
a means whereby the heart of the psychology of a culture is exposed (Merriam 1964:
Merriam’s functions of music can be utilised to explain the broader purposes for
which music is used. Merriam (1964) himself states that the functions are uniform
across cultures: however, their application, depending on the culture in question,
may differ. For example, teenagers in one culture may practise traditional dances as
entertainment whereas teenagers in another culture may visit dance clubs as a
means of entertainment. Merriam’s ten functions of music are as follows:
LeBlanc’s model of the sources of variation in music preference is outlined in detail on page 9 of
this study.
Figure 3:
Merriam’s Ten Functions of Music adapted from Radocy & Boyle
Ways in which we identify with music
with others
Emotional expression functions to provide a vehicle for the expression of ideas and
emotions which might not ordinarily be revealed in everyday social discourse.
Emotional expression works to convey either individual or group emotions. For
example, marginalised races in South Africa during apartheid sang songs of freedom
in an act of social protest. The function of emotional expression served to allow
these individuals a platform to express their displeasure with the prevailing political
situation through a socially tolerable medium such as song. Emotional expression
thus allows individuals a means of expressing their feelings towards subjects that
may be considered taboo.
Aesthetic35 enjoyment functions to fulfil humans’ physiological36 need to create and
enrich their sensory environment. While the notion of the subjective nature of what
one may consider to be aesthetic against the backdrop of another is not negated
here, aesthetic enjoyment simply substantiates humans’ need to see beauty in
music. Gaston (1968) states that creating and contemplating elements of beauty in
Introduced into the philosophical lexicon during the Eighteenth Century, the term "aesthetic" has
come to be used to designate, among other things, a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a kind of
attitude, a kind of experience, and a kind of value (Shelley 2009: 1).
This response is considered to be physiological in that the dispensation of reward and punishment
is a function related to the limbic system (Roederer 1975:164) because creating beauty and being
sensitive to what is beautiful comprise a basic need for humankind’s well-being.
music is evident in both Western and non-Western societies (Gaston 1968 in Radocy
& Boyle 1988: 11).
Perhaps music’s most notable function the world over is that of entertainment. Music
functions as entertainment in societies because it engages the attention agreeably
and amuses or diverts (Musselman 1974: 140). Music functions as entertainment in
a variety of capacities - for example, music in dance, music as background (muzak),
music as accompaniment, etc.
Merriam suggests that music’s function as communication is perhaps the least
understood of the ten major functions. He notes that music is not a universal
language; rather it is shaped in terms of the culture of which it is a part. It may
convey emotion or something similar to emotion to those who understand the
culture’s musical idioms, although it is doubtful that all individuals within a given
culture will receive the same emotional meaning. Farnsworth (1969: 80) notes that
the mood or emotion conveyed depends on a variety of factors external to the music
itself. A listener’s personality structure, the mood he or she holds just prior to a
listening period, the word meanings of the libretto/lyrics, if applicable, and the
listener’s attitudes towards music in general and the particular composition in
question all affect the mood or emotion perceived. Gaston (1968) maintains that
music’s ability to provide non-verbal communication reflects its potency and value.
He maintains that feelings or emotions can be conveyed non-verbally through music.
In connection with symbolic representation of other things, ideas and behaviours,
Merriam cites two essential attributes of a symbol. Firstly, a symbol must be different
in kind from that which it symbolises, or it becomes an icon. Secondly, a symbol
must have ascribed meaning. According to Merriam, symbolism in music can be
considered at four levels: 1. The symbolism evident in the song text, 2. The symbolic
reflection of affective or cultural meaning, 3. The reflection of other cultural behaviour
and values, and 4. The deep symbolism of universal principles.
Music’s function as a physical response is based on the fact that music does elicit
physical response. The use of music with dance is a part of all cultures. Music elicits,
excites and channels crowd behaviour, although the type and extent of the behaviour
is also shaped culturally.
Enforcing conformity to social norms is one of music’s major functions. Merriam
notes that songs of social control play an important part in many cultures by
providing either direct warnings to erring members of society or by indirectly
indicating what may be considered ‘proper behaviour’. Related to this function is the
function of validation of social institutions and religious rituals. Social institutions are
validated through songs which tell people what to do and how to do what it is they
should do. Religious systems are validated through recitation of myth, legend or
doctrine in song.
By providing a construct through which emotion can be expressed, aesthetic
experience and entertainment can be received, communication can occur, physical
response is elicited, social norms are reinforced and social institutions and religious
rituals are validated. Thus music also contributes to the continuity and stability of
culture (Radocy & Boyle 1988: 13).
Perhaps music’s greatest function is its contribution to the integration of society.
Music is a truly social phenomenon, inviting, encouraging and in some instances
almost requiring individuals to participate in group activity. Music is used as a signal
to draw people together or as a rallying point around which individuals gather to
engage in activities which require group co-operation and coordination. Music’s
ability to function in all of the above ways depends, of course, on a commonality of
experience with music in the appropriate functional contexts. Emotional expression
of taboo subjects is less meaningful to those for whom the subjects never have been
taboo. Music with powerful religious significance may lack any validation or ritualistic
function for persons who do not practise religion.
Identity, defined by the Oxford Dictionary (2008), is a ‘person’s individuality’, ‘unique
personality’, their ‘self’ or ‘being the same as’ or ‘associating with’ others. Schaffer
(1996: 482) defines identity as a ‘sense of who one is, where one is going and how
one fits into society’. Hine (1998) describes identity as the ‘quality or condition of
being a specified person or thing’. According to Ruud (1998), identity is ‘self-concept,
self esteem, ego ideal and a sense of my individual person’ as well as ‘what and how
I feel and think about myself’. Social psychologists Baron and Byrne (2003) refer to
social identity as ‘attributes that are shared with others’.
Ruud (1998), when explaining the differences between self-concept and self-esteem,
states that individuals’ self-concept is defined by the perceptions that they have of
their unique attributes or traits. Self-esteem is the evaluation by the individual of
those attributes or traits. Thus self-concept coupled with self-esteem aids in the
construction of one’s individual identity.
Regardless of who the definer may be, one common thread abounds in identity
research: identity exits as a dicotyledonous paradox in that it is all about ‘self’ in
relation to the ‘other‘. In other words, the individual perceives and evaluates
him/herself in relation to others. The individual thus reflects society and vice versa.
Reinforcing this concept, Bakhtin (1981: 287) states:
I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing
myself for another, through another, and with the help of another .
. . every internal experience ends up on the boundary. . . ‘to be’
means to communicate ... ‘to be’ means to be for the other; and
through him, for oneself. Man has no internal sovereign territory,
he is all and always on the boundary.
Mead (1934) places great emphasis on the interplay between self and society,
stressing that we cannot develop an understanding of one without the other and that
this is achieved through interaction with others. Jourdan (2005: 4) reiterates the
above notion, stating that one’s ‘self’ is not entirely private as one’s ‘self’ is
continually being shaped and informed by one’s ‘public self’ and that one’s ‘public
self’ is continually shaped and informed by one’s ‘private self’. Which of these
interactions occurs first, for the purpose of this study, is immaterial.
Therefore, when considering music identity formation, the process involves
combining the multifarious influences that society has on the individual. These strata
or identity formation characteristics then begin to shape not only the general identity
of the individual but also his/her music identity. This identity formation occurs both
consciously and sub-consciously. For the purpose of this study these influences
have been bracketed under four broad headings: 1. informal influences, 2. informal
music education, 3. formal music education and 4. the role of music domain.
2.4.1 Informal influences
Informal influences that contribute to identity formation include variables such as
social status; political background; physiological and psychological aspects; cultural
milieu; family setting and accessibility to formal music education. Also included under
the umbrella of informal influences are cognitive and affective influences as well as
music experienced in everyday life through media and retail and lastly through the
influence of music experienced at school such as incidental music-action song
games (Nzewi 2003; Grant 1999; Friedman 1994).
2.4.2 Informal music education
As mentioned above, because South Africa is a large multicultural society, and
because some ‘formal’ education occurs in a non-Western fashion within the context
of some rural areas and townships, it is necessary to consider the influences of both
non-Western and Western educational philosophies in the formation of music
identity. Smit & Hauptfleisch (1993) and van der Walt et al (1991) concur, saying that
because South African citizens are exposed to non-Western and Western
educational processes, they are thus shaped by both.
Herbst et al (2003) state that in many indigenous African cultures, informal music
education is the only way of transferring musical knowledge, often by means of oral
tradition. Informal music education also includes non-musical influences, such as
psychological, neurological, biological, social, cultural and financial aspects, that play
a role in the development of one’s music identity.
2.4.3 Formal music education
Regelski (1981: 33) defines music education as the invention and establishment of
musical and pedagogical environments, situations and events for the purpose of
inducing fruitful music actions. These music actions, often referred to as skills,
involve singing, listening to music, playing instruments, creativity, movement and
notation. Music knowledge is thus conveyed through active involvement in the
learning process, as participants gradually develop their skills. This reiterates Elliott’s
notion of praxis, which in essence claims that musical skill is gained through
practice. To further delineate, Elliott (1995:12) defines music education in four basic
categories. They are as follows:
• Education in music, involving the teaching and learning of music and music
• Education about music, involving the teaching and learning of formal
about music making, music listening and music history.
• Education for music, involving teaching and learning as preparation for
music, or becoming a performer, composer or music teacher.
• Education by means of music, involving the teaching and learning of music
direct relation to goals such as improving one’s health, mind and soul.
2.4.4 Musical domain
Musical domain is delineated as a specific field of study under the umbrella term
Music. It includes ethnomusicology, music performance, choral conducting, music
education, music psychology, music technology, music therapy and music theory
(van Heerden 2007: 11).
Identity in crisis
At the onset of adolescence or puberty, the adolescent learner begins to experience
radical physiological, cognitive and emotional changes. While the boys lag behind
the girls in the development of their secondary sexual characteristics, this phase in
the life of the adolescent child is one fraught with change. For most learners, puberty
or adolescence strikes in their final or penultimate year of primary school. These
learners are faced with many decisions: high schools, subject choices, possible
career paths, bullies, acceptance by new peers, girlfriends and boyfriends, peer
pressure, etc. It is a time period wherein individual identities continue to be forged
amidst mass confusion. The individuals’ yearning for belonging and acceptance may
cause them to ‘hide’, sometimes anonymously in the safety of the collective and the
collective’s identity.
In the field of science what is considered to be normal can often be explained
through investigating what is considered to be abnormal. For example, by
investigating why and how a child is deaf may explain how and why the ear
perceived sound originally. In a similar vein, by understanding the individual in the
context of his/her identity in crisis helps to formulate a better understanding of
continued positive identity formation.
In 1968 Erikson, through his studies on identity formation, coined the phrase ‘identity
crisis’. Tarrant et al (2002) define ‘identity crisis’ as the uncertainty and discomfort
that adolescents experience when they become confused about their present and
future roles in life. When an identity crisis occurs, Erikson (1963) suggested that the
individual would begin to resolve his/her identity crisis through the exploration of
other various possible identities, making a commitment to a particular identity.
Schaffer (1996: 483) notes four states which he believes characterise identity crisis.
They are 1. diffusion, 2. foreclosure, 3. moratorium and 4. achievement. Diffusion
occurs when the adolescent individual has not attached him/herself to a particular
identity. Diffusion also exists, however, when an individual has not yet begun to
consider his/her lack of identity and therefore his/her commitment to a particular
Foreclosure occurs when the adolescent individual makes a commitment to a
particular identity without having experienced an identity crisis. Moratorium occurs
when the adolescent individual actively explores alternate identities in order to attach
or make a commitment to a particular identity. Achievement occurs when the
adolescent individual has experienced an identity crisis, explores alternative
identities and makes a commitment to one of the actively pursued identities.
Identity crises may be exacerbated by what Louw (1998) refers to as adolescent
milestones or tasks, which include the following:
Acceptance of changed physical appearance
Development of sex-role identity
Development of strong emotional bond with another
Preparation for marriage and family responsibility
Development of intellectual skills and concepts so that the individual
will in due course be able to fulfil adult responsibilities
Selection of and preparation for a career
Achievement of financial independence
Independence from parents and/or other adults
Acceptance of the self as a person of worth and development of an
‘own’ identity
Development of socially responsible behaviour
Development of moral values and concepts that serve as standards for
Development of a value system based on a realistic and scientific world
Development of a world-view of life.
Listening to music, as is mentioned above, is rated highly on the list of preferred
leisure pursuits of adolescents. The palpable magnetism that music has for
adolescents lies in its ability to assist these young people in addressing various
developmental issues. North et al (2000) claim that music assists the adolescent in
fulfilling emotional needs, relieving tension and stress as well as assisting the
individual in expressing various emotions. More than this, however, music allows the
adolescent individual a medium through which he/she is able to explore various
identities and then present these to his/her peers and gauge their responses (Ruud
North et al (2000) further state that adolescents will deliberately listen to particular
styles or genres of music for three reasons: firstly, listening in order to project or
create a particular self-image; secondly, listening to be accepted or considered
popular, trendy or cool and thirdly, listening in order to please others such as one’s
peer group.
Sloboda (2005: 204), in analysing the cognitive content of the emotional responses
of listeners, highlighted the commonalities of sixty-seven listeners. These responses
appear to be on par with some of those listed by North et al (2000) above. They are
as follows:
Music relaxes me when I am tense and anxious
One feels understood and comforted in pain, sorrow and bewilderment
Involvement in music detaches me from emotional preoccupations
Through hearing emotions in someone else’s music, it is possible to
feel that emotions are shared and not your burden alone
Music motivates and inspires me to be a better person (e.g. more
agreeable and loving).
Another interesting component implicit within Sloboda’s study was that listeners felt
that music offered them an alternative perspective on various situations, allowing
them to construe things differently. Such emotional responses may then serve to
align listeners with one identity group over another, reinforcing achievement. Again,
some common responses were as follows:
Music releases emotions (e.g. sadness, joy, hope, etc.) that would
otherwise be bottled up
Music helps me discover what I am actually feeling
Music reconnects me to myself when my emotions are ignored or
Music makes me feel more alive, more myself
Music can provide a trigger for the outlet of my emotions concerning
memories of pleasurable or painful experiences in my past.
Social identity theory
Social identity theory (SIT) was conceived by Tajfel in 1978. SIT posits that all
human beings are members of social groups. These may be large-scale categories
such as gender and race to which the individual is ascribed automatically or they
may be smaller scale groups such as peers. However, in the instance of small-scale
categories, membership is usually earned. SIT further claims that individuals seek to
enhance and then maintain a high level of self-esteem by identifying with specific
social groups who have a positive self image (Jourdan 2005; Baron & Byrne 2006;
Hargreaves et al 2002; Vanbeselaere 1991; Tajfel & Turner 1986). Because the
individual chooses one group over another, a dichotomy is created whereby he/she
is able to make both personal and social comparisons.
The relationship between adolescents and their peers should never be minimalised.
Hargreaves et al (2002: 9) remind us that personal and social identity are inextricably
linked: this core notion is fundamental to SIT, which explains why adolescents revere
peer approval and acceptance so highly. Adolescents’ peers, in essence, are their
life-blood (Konopka 2005).
When adolescents align themselves with a particular identity group, they view that
group in a positive light and thus consider that group to be the ‘in’ group/crowd. This
means that individuals who belong to other groups assume the title of the ‘out’
group/crowd. When individuals attain ‘achievement’ like this, Tarrant et al (2002:
137) suggest that this categorisation instils a sense of social identity in the individual,
which in turn promotes a positive sense of self.
‘In’ crowds are perceived positively by the individual and are rendered ‘favourable’
whereas ‘out’ crowds are perceived negatively and are thus rendered inauspicious
(Baron & Byrne 2006). Hargreaves et al (2002) further this notion, stating that
individuals maximise the differences between the two groups by attributing
undesirable traits to those members of the ‘out’ crowd or group because this
improves the positive image of the ‘in’ crowd and thus uplifts the self-esteem of the
individual affiliated to the group.
When adolescents make group-based social comparisons, their actions function to
secure a positive evaluation of their peer groups, thereby maintaining a positive selfconcept. Positive identification with those who are perceived to have a positive selfimage allows the individual to maintain positive self-esteem (Dibben 2002;
Hargreaves et al 2002; Tarrant et al 2002). Josselson (1994: 39) states that
identifying positively with others is especially prominent during adolescence when
there is a constant editing, modifying, enriching and extending of themselves in
relation to others.
According to Davis (1999), Geter & Streisand (1995), Larson et al (1989) and Lyle &
Hoffman (1972), the most preferred form of media that adolescents engage in is
music. Music provides a means through which adolescents identify with certain peer
groups, disregarding others. This concept is called social discrimination. When an
adolescent identifies with a particular style of music, which is viewed favourably by
the peer group, he/she is able to distinguish him/herself from less favourable styles
of music. In doing so, the individual is able to maintain positive relationships with
his/her peer group.
Social constructionist theory
Until fairly recently, psychology taught that one’s personality was set in early infancy
and remained largely unchanging for life. However, research in the field of identity
formation now results in different teaching, in which it is claimed that personality and
the view of self is constantly being reconstructed and renegotiated according to
experiences, situations and other people with whom/which we interact in everyday
life (MacDonald, Hargreaves & Miell 2002; Josselson 1994).
Social constructivist theory (SCT) posits that individuals have more than one identity,
and even many identities, which are created and shaped through interaction with
other people. SCT thus opposes the notion of a unitary core identity (Hargreaves et
al 2002: 10). These authors state that an individual’s various identities may be
contradictory. For example, a learner at school may be withdrawn and introvert but at
home may be extrovert - outgoing and confident. In social constructivist terms,
identities are always evolving and shifting and each interaction may lead to new
Various researchers in SCT (Hargreaves et al 2002; Tarrant et al 2002; Bruner 1990;
Bakhtin 1981; Mead 1943) remind readers that language is a key aspect in
developing identity. Because language is core to SCT, Hargreaves et al (2002: 11)
hypothesise that Western theories pertaining to the ‘self’ have probably stuck to the
view of a single, unitary self for so long because most Western languages use words
such as ‘I’ and ‘me’ which imply that a consistent singular personal agent exists
which underlies our actions. To support this, Hargreaves et al (2002: 10) highlight
that in the languages of some non-Western and more collectivist cultures, like Japan,
the self is referenced very differently and is signified by many more words,
depending on the other participants in the interaction. This should be noted within
the South African context, considering that most black languages in South Africa
have extensive noun classes, extending to the pronoun. Furthermore, the notion of
Ubuntu: I am because you are supports both SCT and SIT.
Why music is important to SCT is obvious. Music is a fundamental mode of
communication. It is integral to our everyday lives and there are times when our
musical experiences become pivotal moments in both our personal and collective
lives (Pavlicevic 2003: 66). Music is thus a medium through which individuals
construct new identities and shift existing ones, which constitutes meaningful
discourse. Gergen (1994: 8) defines meaningful discourse as follows:
Meaningful language is the product of social interdependence. It
requires the co-ordinated actions of at least two persons, and until
there is mutual agreement on the meaningful character of words,
they fail to constitute language. If we follow this line of argument to
its ineluctable conclusion, we find that it is not the mind of the
single individual that provides whatever certitude we possess, but
relationships of interdependency... We may rightfully replace
Descarte’s dictum ‘cogito ergo sum’ with ‘communicamus ergo
sum’. We communicate, therefore I am.
Music identity
Music has always played a fundamental role in shaping the identities of individuals
and groups. This is so, suggests Folkestad (2002: 151), because music provides a
means of defining oneself as an individual belonging to and allied with a certain
group, and of defining others as belonging to other groups which are separate from
one’s own. He continues by saying:
The development of a musical identity is not only a matter of age,
gender, musical taste and other preferences but is also a result of
the cultural, ethnic, religious and national contexts in which people
live. Individuals forming their musical identities are part of,
influenced by and a product of several such collective musical
identities and these exist in parallel and on several levels including
the local, the regional, the national and the global.
2.8.1 Communicative musicality
The formulation and expression of identity begins at a very early age through what
researchers often refer to as ‘communicative musicality’. Communicative musicality
explores the intrinsic musical nature of human interaction. The theory itself explains
how through mother/infant communication noticeable patterns of timing, pulse/beat,
timbre and gesture exist. Without intending to, the exchange between a mother and
her infant follows many of the rules of musical performance.
Communicative musicality focuses on the rhythm and sympathy of musical
expression in human communication, from infancy. It demonstrates how speaking
and moving in rhythmic musical ways is the essential foundation for all forms of
communication, even the most refined and technically elaborated, just as it is for
parenting, good teaching, creative work in the arts and music therapy (Malloch &
Trevarthen 2008: 1).
Through communicative musicality humans begin to assimilate cultural conventions
and meanings
are communicated intuitively
(Trevarthen 2002).
Communicative musicality is beneficial in that we begin to identify with those around
us, formulate our own identity within our immediate family group and communicate
this through musical behaviour (Hargreaves et al 2002, Trevarthen 2002). Pavlicevic
(1997: 101) states that this intimate emotional relationship is critical for the infant in
developing a sense of him/herself as a social being and part of a human community.
Researchers (Hargreaves et al 2002; Malloch 1999; Pavlicevic 1997; Papaeliou &
Trevarthen 1994) argue that infants are musical in forms of song and dance before
they are verbal and that musical forms hold the basic motives of human
communication, these being language and inter-subjectivity. Language can be
defined as the systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or
conventional symbols. It is language that largely sets humans apart from animals.
Inter-subjectivity suggests that people can reach consensus about knowledge or
about what they have experienced in their life-world, at least as a working agreement
if not a claim to objectivity.
Humans have an intrinsic need for companionship. Through this companionship a
sense of identity is gained by sharing actions, feelings and experiences with those
who are willing to participate. Trevarthen (2002: 34) states:
Even in the first half year ... an infant exhibits a powerful and
growing sense of self, a self-consciousness that is intensely aware
of the regard of others, and therefore a moral self, not an isolated,
intending, object-conceiving and problem-solving ego.
Trevarthen (2002: 32) compares the early formation of identity to the search for
identity in early adolescence. He notes that psychological abilities for recognition are
enhanced at two periods of life, in toddlers and in early adolescence. Konopka
(2005: 4) echoes this, saying that adolescence could be viewed as a time of rebirth
as this period in life is as significant for the development of the total personality as
are the first years of childhood.
Music identity begins to take shape long before the onset of adolescence. After birth,
infants display what researchers call ‘innate psychological foundations’ of musical
behaviour and awareness. These innate musical behaviours and the awareness of
musical qualities such as rhythm, pulse, timing and timbre are unique to human
beings and are referred to as ‘musicality’. Musicality can be observed through the
way in which infants respond to or interact with those around them and also through
how they express themselves.
Musicality incorporates both bodily gestures and vocal expressions that contain the
power to communicate. Trevarthen & Malloch (2000) refer to this as communicative
musicality. Communicative musicality is displayed by infants and parents who
synchronize their responses to each other through the regulation of pulse, vocal
quality and narrative form. As the parents ‘attune’ to the infant’s expressions they are
able to communicate without spoken language, using the above mentioned
The influence that music in general has on human beings and the context in which
music is listened to greatly affect the shaping of music preference and identity. This
is not to negate the characteristic nuances of any particular genre of music, because
in actual fact listening to music through various modes in a variety of contexts only
serves to augment these. It is a generally agreed notion that music in whatever form
has the capacity to penetrate to the very core of individuals. Whether or not the
individual is consciously aware of the physiological effects on his/her brain and body
is neither here nor there in relation to this study. What is interesting, though, is that
human beings cannot help but react to music as a stimulus. It does not matter if the
listening experience is pleasurable or non-pleasurable; the music will elicit some kind
of a response from the listener.
Storr (1992: 84) has documented some of the physiological changes experienced by
the individual as he/she listens to music:
… (Musical) Arousal manifests itself in various physiological
changes, many of which can be measured. The electroencephalogram shows changes in the amplitude and frequency of
the brain waves, which it records. During arousal, the electrical
resistance of the skin is diminished; the pupil of the eye dilates;
the respiratory rate may become either faster or slower, or else
become irregular. Blood pressure tends to rise, as does the heart
rate. There is an increase in muscle tone, which may be
accompanied by physical restlessness. Recordings of muscle
‘action potentials’ on another instrument, the electro-mygraph,
showed an increase in the electrical activity in the leg muscles
whilst listening to music even when the subject has been told not
to move.
Van Niekerk et al (1995: 1) state at the outset of a South African high school music
education guidebook published by the then Transvaal Education Department (TED)
Music arises from and functions within a rich variety of life
experiences. Life experiences are sometimes so personal or
entrenched that certain kinds of music become part of different
people’s identities. This is why learners react favourably to some
music and not others.
In the same vein Gaston (1968: 15) states: music is the essence of humanness, not
only because man creates it but because he creates his relationship to it. Mithen
(2005) in his book The Singing Neanderthals notes that human beings spend a great
deal of time, effort and often money to listen to it [music]. Many people practise hard
to perform it [music] and we admire and often idolise those who perform it [music]
with expertise, originality and flair. Mithen (2005: 1) continues saying:
The explanation has to be more profound than merely invoking
our upbringing and the society in which we live, although these
may largely account for musical tastes. The appreciation of music
is a universal feature of humankind; music-making is found in all
societies and it is normal for everyone to participate in some
We may then assume that the general physiological effects of music on the
individual, coupled to the context of their life experiences within the circumstance of
wanting peer approval and acceptance, is what actually makes one genre of music
more appealing than the next.
Music identity and preference are inextricably linked. Most, if not all, people admit to
having definite tastes in music: likes and dislikes. Hargreaves et al (2002: 11) state
that even those who might proudly (and erroneously) label themselves as being
tone-deaf are likely to have clear cut preferences. Individual patterns of preference
are an integral part of one’s self-concept but it appears that the importance of
definitive preferences is most acute during adolescence (Kemp 1996; Hargreaves
1986). As is pointed out earlier in this chapter, there are various factors which affect
preference. Because some of these factors change constantly, like mood and social
situations or contexts, fundamental to music, preference is not only ‘what’ music
individuals listen to, but also ‘how’ they listen to music.
The last three decades in particular have seen extraordinary advances in the music
industry, especially when considering the progress made specifically in technology
and commercialisation. Consequently more and more people have greater access to
music. This is largely a result of changed modes of listening. For example, listeners
today have relatively inexpensive access to music through a variety of different
listening modes: IPods, MP3/4 players, cell phones, Midi interface, note books, radio
and television, etc. Hargreaves et al (2002: 1) state:
The ways in which people experience music as consumers, fans,
listeners, composers, arrangers, performers or critics are far more
diverse than at any time in the past, as are the range of contexts
in which this takes place.
To further this notion, Martin (1995: 1) has the following to say:
In advanced industrial societies music is all around us, a major
element in our culture, in contrast to the situation in preelectronic times when it was a much less pervasive medium, and
a much smaller part of most people’s experience. It is this
contrast, though, that may serve to arouse our sociological
curiosity: instead of just taking music for granted, we might begin
to ask why it has come to occupy such a prominent place in our
A direct consequence of the advances of the music industry is that it has a greater
impact on identity formation. Hargreaves et al (2002: 1) go on to say that we not only
use music as a means to regulate our everyday moods and behaviours, but also can
use music to present ourselves to others in the way we prefer. This is because the
individual’s music preference or taste can function to make important statements
about his/her tacit values and attitudes.
Cook (1998: 5) phrases it as follows:
In today’s world, deciding what music to listen to is a significant
part of deciding and announcing to people not just who you want
to be but who you are. Music is a very small word to encompass
something that takes as many forms as there are cultural or subcultural identities.
2.8.2 Music preference and gender identity
When considering concepts of the gender of music, Western cultural notions often
structure it according to the mind-body split, assigning it to the feminine. McClary
(1991) states that feminist scholars have argued that male musicians have
compensated for this by emphasising the rational in music, claiming objectivity and
transcendence for it and prohibiting female participation, whereas Richards (1998:
165) argues that one should not essentialize music as feminine or physical, but
should rather consider it as a phenomenon which is remade with divergent meanings
in its inscription within particular discourses. While each of the above reflects true
concepts of the various notions or theories attached to the gendering of music,
Dibben (2002: 121) states the following in regard to preference and the gendering of
Generalised cultural polarities are useless in understanding taste
choices, or the gendering of musical participation; specification is
needed of the social relations of particular contexts. It is therefore
necessary to look at the way in which gender is enacted in
particular musical, historical and cultural contexts.
Within Western society and culture, musical taste or consumption is viewed as an
important personal manner in which individuals define themselves and others
because music is culturally positioned as an expressive and affective medium.
Because preference is not considered ‘natural’ or ‘innocent’ (Dibben 2002: 123), due
to the central capacity it has in defining the individual in regards to identity
construction, one should not make the mistake of viewing music consumption as
purely utilitarian in notion, but rather as a means by which social distinctions are
made (Richards 1998; Shepherd 1991; Bourdieu 1984; Frith 1983). It must also be
noted that adolescents, in an on-going act of social identity construction and
maintenance, appear to keep their music preferences and identities mobile.
While the above is true, studies in preference generally indicate clear patterns of
gender as well as age-based genre preferences (Dibben 2002; Russell 1997; Zillman
& Gan 1997). Thornton (1995: 103), as an example, states that American and British
studies (conducted in the seventies and eighties) in music consumption revealed the
importance of dancing (at clubs) for women as opposed to men. In this example,
dancing was viewed as the only out-of-home leisure activity that women engaged in
more than men, whereas men were more likely to attend sporting events, live
concerts and visit the cinema.
McRobbie (2000, cited in Dibben 2002: 124) states that preferences for love
songs/ballads, popular romantic music and dancing exhibited by young girls were
attributed to an emphasis within female culture on finding a husband and
establishing a home. What is particularly interesting is that, while the music
preferences of male and female adolescents do differ, it appears that a large portion
of this differentiation takes place in the discourse around the individuals’ actual
engagement in music as opposed to the type of music they listen to, which lessens,
to a degree, the importance of the formal characteristics of music in preference
decisions. To support this Richards, in his study of the music preferences of
adolescents (1998: 172), states the following:
Both girls and boys were unwilling to invest in fixed taste positions
and were only willing to engage in fixing when it was to avoid
being attributed with musical tastes which interrupted traditional
gender roles.
Various studies underscore the way in which a sense of self is born from social
interaction through music. Logic dictates that the social context in which various
individuals find themselves will differ to varying degrees. One needs only consider
obvious factors like social context and language to emphasize this point.
Researchers (Dibben 2002; Koizumi 1999; Richards 1998; Finnäs 1989) have shown
that preferences expressed by young people change according to the particular
social context they are in at any time, thus highlighting the inappropriateness of
attributing any sort of fixity to notions of identity in music. Dibben (2002: 130),
commenting on the ‘gendering of identity through music’, states that it is problematic
to attempt to draw conclusions regarding the way music is used in relation to gender
identity alone, because it intersects with other aspects of identity such as generation,
socio-economic status, socio-historical context and ethnicity.
2.8.3 Music preference and the role of gender in music collecting
Richards, in his 1998 study of the music preferences of adolescents, indicated that
music collecting behaviours between boys and girls differed to the point where
distinct patterns in gender emerged. As an example, Richards (1998: 173) noted that
adolescent boys report spending more money on recordings and sound equipment
than do girls and that boys, to a larger extent, enjoy opportunities to display the
quality and range of their music collections.
Thornton (1995: 104) states that collecting recorded music may function as a way of
marking out an individual identity in the context of family and friends as well as acting
as a form of remembering. But it is also suggested that music collections serve to act
as a display of one’s earning power or economic status, which Richards (1998)
qualifies as an attribute of the masculine work ethic, thus affirming masculine
Music collections for adolescent boys and girls appear to effect empowerment and
status in regards to identity construction in that choosing and building one’s music
collection allows them to rationally discriminate between items in and outside of their
preference, thus affecting choice and control. These three factors: discrimination,
choice and control continually feed into the ongoing construction of one’s identity.
When it comes to qualifying distinctive characteristics of gender in relation to music
collections, girls more often than boys suggest emotional reasons for choosing,
whereas boys more often than girls suggest ‘sound’ and ‘quality’ as reasons for
choosing (Richards 1998: 155).
Interestingly, the music one stops listening to is also significant in the construction of
one’s identity, because the listener may remove this music from his/her collection
and may even go as far to deny previous tastes (DeNora 2000: 73).
2.8.4 National, ethnic and cultural identities
South Africa today is considered to be a ‘new nation’. This is as a direct result of the
country becoming a democracy in 1994 in which people of many cultures,
languages, religions and ethnic backgrounds were re-grouped together under an allinclusive new banner often referred to as the ‘rainbow nation’. Thorsén (1997: 91)
states that because South Africa now finds itself in a state of constant change, the
formation of a music education system on a national level necessitates (for obvious
reasons) decisions on multiculturalism. Because South Africa is an intricate example
of a multicultural society, but also because the country has a history of segregation
and apartheid, it is beneficial to distinguish between the concepts of national, ethnic
and cultural identity.
National identity encompasses the various cultural and ethnic identities attached to
particular regions in a country (Smith 2005: 1). In its simplest conceptualisation the
term broadly refers to geographical demarcations of land defined in accordance with
the language, religion, culture and ethnicity of a particular territory or region. As an
example, one might speak of the ‘Zulu’ or ‘Afrikaner’ nation. This is, however, largely
problematic considering South Africa’s political history. Therefore, where the ‘old’
South Africa may have been stipulative37 in nature, describing its demographics as
many ‘little, individual’ nations encompassing one or several countries or homelands,
the ‘new’ South African example is ostensive38 in nature, defining all South Africans
as ‘one’ united nation, one region, one people, one country. This does not negate the
nation’s multicultural, multilingual or multi-religious diversity but, rather, serves to
augment it.
Interestingly, a group of people using the blanket term ‘nation’ to describe
themselves may not necessarily be confined to a particular geographical region; they
may in fact be dispersed over a number of geographical regions, but may continue to
subscribe to the notion that they belong to one or more nations due to various
shared factors with a common people such as language, culture and religion. A
South African Jew, for example, may then ascribe him/herself as belonging not only
to the South African nation but also to the Jewish nation.
Nationality, according to Folkestad (2002: 153), is the cement which causes different
people in different regions to stay together despite their reciprocal cultural and ethnic
differences. Nationalism as defined by Ruud (1996: 100) is the doctrine which states
that the legitimate political unit is identical with the ethnic and that nationalism
essentially is the marriage between culture and state.
Ethnicity, defined by Banerjee (in Microsoft Encarta 2007), is:
A system of definition of people who consider themselves or are
considered by others to share common characteristics that are
different from other people in society. Ethnicity, based on the
Greek term ethnos, is frequently distinguished from race, although
ethnic groups may share racial characteristics. However, there
may exist different ethnic groups within the same race.
Attachment to ethnicity, as distinct from attachment to race, may
arise in several different ways. First, culturally patterned forms of
behaviour by which individuals satisfy their needs may bring them
closer to some people rather than others. Second, the similarities
between members of an ethnic group may be based on physical
characteristics as much as cultural characteristics, to create a
‘consciousness of kind’. Third, similarity of cultural behaviour may
be seen as a sign of cultural relatedness.
Proposing how the term should be used.
Defining it by illuminating examples.
Folkestad (2002: 154) states that ethnic identity and ethnicity are porous concepts,
because in some contexts, ‘ethnic’ is synonymous with the ‘national’ and with
‘nationality’ but in other contexts it may refer to folklore, describing close links with
popular culture. Folkestad also points out that various agents incorrectly use the
terms ‘ethnic’ and ‘cultural diversity’ synonymously. He suggests that to prevent
grave misrepresentations of the above concepts, they be defined explicitly in relation
to the context in which they are used. Ruud (1997: 165) states that ‘ethnicity’ is
about cultural and personal intrinsic value about identity and dignity. One’s ethnicity
or ethnic identity is a distinctive characteristic of the individual and should, therefore,
be presented in such a way as to positively attain respect for one’s differences.
Culture defined in the social anthropological sense of the phrase refers to the beliefs,
behaviour, language and/or way of life of a particular group of people at a particular
time. Cultural identity is defined through the customs, ceremonies, works of art,
inventions, technology and traditions attached to a particular group of people (Weiten
1995: 94). Cultural utterances, like music, typically originate from popular forms
developed either long before national boundaries were drawn or among groups of
people sharing the same musical preferences, despite their national and/or ethnic
affiliations. Thus cultural identity has a direct bearing on music itself and the musical
context in which it exists. It also means that individuals can have more than one
cultural identity, to the extent that the global multicultural individual is characterised
by the possibility and ability to chop and change between several cultural identities
(Folkestad 2002: 154).
2.8.5 Youth culture
In anthropology, youth culture is viewed as the collective cultural practices of groups
of young people, typically between the ages of 15 and 25. Such collective cultural
practices serve to set these groups apart from what might be considered as
dominant or mainstream society (Weiten 1995: 95). Psychologists like Weiten
distinguish youth groups by their distinctive forms of dress style and shared musical
tastes. In consumer-based cultures, which encompass those societies affected by
notions of Western culture (which include developed and developing countries), most
youth cultural groups are identifiable by a shared name, recognised by members of a
given group as well as those outside the group. Such names are generally
associated with the musical genre, taste or style of a particular group; for example,
rockers, punks, grungers, ravers and rappers.
Music listening
Apart from the actual biological process of listening to or perceiving patterned sound
through the auditory faculty, listening is a key aspect in both identity formation and
preference because the manner in which individuals listen to or experience music
serves to reinforce preference, thus affecting identity. Listening can generally be
divided into four broad categories: 1. auditory perception of patterned sound, 2.
social listening, 3. emotional/personal listening and 4. analytical/musicological
listening. Each of these is briefly dealt with below.
James (2000: 22) defines ‘music listening’ as the process of hearing the sounds of
music from a particular source. In other words, the ear, by virtue of its anatomical
function, perceives deliberately patterned sound (music) as a physical stimulus from
a particular source. The brain, through the sense of hearing, interprets the stimulus
and it is at this crucial point, being guided by the subjective nature of the human
psyche, that the individual classifies that very same stimulus as either aesthetically
pleasing or not. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “sensorial” listening.
2.9.1 Auditory perception of patterned sound
Auditory perception is the ability to identify, interpret and attach meaning to sound.
The study of sound perception is called psychoacoustics. For every sound the earbrain system processes, the individual processes information regarding:
Pitch (high/low)
Loudness (soft/loud)
Phase (the brain’s sensitivity to sound's increase/decrease cycle)
Direction (which sound reaches our ears first. Was this the first sound
Distance (near/far)
Timbre (Does the sound contain multiple frequencies?).
Music in one of its simplest definitions is “organised or patterned sound”. Music
listening occurs when the individual hears organised sound or the “sounds of music”
from a particular source. Auditory perception is the subjective sensation that each
person hears when listening to organised sound/the sounds of music. The listener,
as defined by Lipscomb (1996: 134), is an active participant in the musical
experience. He/she constantly generates expectations based on past experiences,
which include multifarious variables like culture, gender, experience and expertise of
each listener.
2.9.2 Social listening
The music one chooses to listen to positions one inside a certain social group,
excluding others. This is especially evident when considering adolescents and the
importance of music in developing and expressing their identity. In adolescence,
musical preferences are modified to those of the social group to which the
adolescents belong, or want to belong (Tarrant 2002).
Mutual music preference groups individuals together and assists them in
constructing their identity in the world. This process is highly complex and other
external factors influence the groups belonged to.
2.9.3 Emotional listening
Emotional listening, sometimes referred to as personal listening, is characterised by
the referential meaning music has for the listener, either as an individual or a
member of a group. Through emotional listening, the listener attaches aesthetic
value to the music due to the referential meaning implicit within the context of the
actual listening. For example, White Afrikaans speaking South Africans may attach
referential meaning to Bok van Blerk’s De La Rey, thus finding it aesthetically
pleasing. The same may be said for members of the ANC Youth League, who find
President Jacob Zuma’s Umshini Wam equally pleasing for similar reasons. In a less
radical example, however, it is the love ballad playing that reminds the couple in their
dotage of first falling in love, etc.
Dibben (2002: 125) states that one of the primary uses of music which people
engage in is for memory retrieval: to remember key people in their lives, using an
associated piece of music to relive an event or emotionally critical moment from the
past, often a relationship, but more generally using music as a means of self
recording (as with photographs, diaries, souvenirs and collecting).
Sloboda (2005: 324), referring to emotional/personal listening, states that the use of
music as a cue to reminiscence was the single most frequently reported function of
music in a study conducted on two hundred and fifty respondents between 1995 and
1998. Fifty percent of the sample indicated that activities which self-chosen/personal
music accompanied were predominantly domestic and solitary. Sloboda, in the same
study, endeavoured to gauge in numbers the percentage of listeners who attached
value to any of the five general functions listed under ‘personal uses of music’.
These general functions were:
1. Memory (reminder of a valued past event: 50%);
2. Transcendent (spiritual experience: 6%);
shivers/source of pleasure and enjoyment: 18%);
4. Mood change (to put in a good mood and/or moves to tears and/or
catharsis and/or release and/or excites and/or motivates and/or source
of comfort and/or healing and/or calms and/or soothes and/or relaxes
and/or relieves stress: 46%); and
5. Mood enhancement (to match current mood: 6%).
2.9.4 Analytical/musicological listening
Analytical or musicological listening is described by Cook (1990: 152) as listening to
music by perceiving and analysing its physical properties as well as the
compositional techniques used in the structure of the music. For this to take place,
the listener requires some degree of musical training. Kofi Agawu (1997: 307), during
his tenure at Yale University, commented on analysis saying:
Analysis plays an even more central role in the discipline of music
theory. Traditionally defined, theory undertakes to codify "the
various materials of a composition" and to exemplify their
functioning in a range of works; it insists that its methods meet
explicitly stated criteria of coherence; and it often proclaims
aesthetic preferences, though not always directly. Reading
notation, for example, requires "an analytical act"; analysis is "the
prerequisite for an adequate performance", and aesthetic theories
on music are "inconceivable without analysis."
2.10 Hearing material
The concept of hearing material was introduced by Gaver in 1993. In his hypothesis,
Gaver suggested that listeners hear music in terms of material rather than sound.
Gaver qualified his study stating that only two modes of listening existed: 1. “musical”
listening in which the listener attends to the acoustic characteristics of sound and 2.
“everyday” listening, in which the listener attends to the sources specified by sounds,
such as the way in which the sound specifies the size and material of the object that
produces it, and the manner in which it has been produced.
Dibben (2003), expounding on Gaver’s theory, states that the actual question behind
Gaver’s “hearing material” should be: when and why do listeners hear sounds in one
way rather than another? Dibben qualifies this question through the notion of what
she refers to as “affordance”. Affordance, primarily, is the way in which the meanings
of things are a function of the mutuality of organism and environment and it captures
the way in which the meanings specified by sounds are always meanings for
someone rather than being properties of an object. Secondarily, affordance
differentiates the extension of source specification to include not only physical
sources of sounds but also the cultural and historical meanings of material and their
compositional functions (Dibben 2003: 196).
Why ‘Hearing Material’ is important in studies of music preference and music identity
is that listening studies indicate that listeners are acutely sensitive to the cultural and
historical meanings of musical material (Krumhansl 1998). In 2001 Denora,
emphasising the above notion, conducted a study in which participants were
presented with forty-eight short sound examples of musical and non-musical sounds.
They were asked to describe what they were hearing. Responses referred to:
acoustic attributes; physical source; genre; compositional function; physical space;
proximity of the sound to the listener; performance skill; emotional character and
social context. What Dibben found interesting was that listeners described sounds in
terms of their physical and cultural sources more frequently than in terms of their
acoustic characteristics which indicated the following:
For listeners, listening to music involves more than listening to its
acoustic attributes; it involves hearing meanings specified by
sounds ... It also shows that listeners are sensitive to the physical
and cultural sources and associations of sound, contrary to
constructions of Western music, and of the Western listening
aesthetic as one in which listeners pay attention to pure39 sounds
(Dibben 2003: 198).
2.11 The music industry
When considering the music preference of adolescents, the mode or manner in
which adolescent individuals listen to and purchase music plays a major role in how
they ‘hear’ music. Due to swift technological advances in the music industry over the
last decade, the mode in which most adolescents currently listen to music is vastly
different to the manner/mode in which they did so ten years ago.
One key factor to be considered in modes of listening as well as the buying and
selling of music is digital downloading. Presently the world over, the sales of digital
downloads have sky-rocketed while physical recording sales are plummeting. To
understand this better, the following sections explain how the music industry
currently operates, but also explain how it operated in the past.
2.11.1 The function and working of the music industry
The following paragraphs summarise an article written in 2004 by Frith, Simon,
Marshal and Lee entitled Music and the Media. The article was published in the
second edition of Music and copyright.
The music industry itself is comprised of various players or agents, including
individuals, companies, trade unions, not-for-profit associations, rights collectives
and other bodies. Professional musicians, including band leaders, rhythm section
members, musical ensembles, vocalists, conductors, composers/arrangers and
sound engineers create sound recordings of music or perform live in venues ranging
from small clubs to stadiums. Occasionally professional musicians negotiate their
I.e. without overtones.
wages, contractual conditions and other conditions of work through musicians'
unions or other such guilds.
Composers and songwriters write the music and lyrics to songs and other musical
works which are sold in print form as sheet music or scores by music publishers.
Composers and performers receive part of their income from writers' copyright
collectives and performance rights organisations such as the ASCAP (The American
Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) or
MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) and PRS (Performing Rights
Society) respectively for the UK. These societies and collectives ensure that
composers and performers are compensated when their works are used on the radio
or TV or in films. When musicians and singers make a CD or DVD, the creative
process is often coordinated by a record producer, whose role in the recording may
range from suggesting songs and backing musicians to having a direct hands-on role
in the studio, coaching singers, giving advice to session musicians on playing styles,
and working with the senior sound engineer to shape the recorded sound through
effects and mixing.
Some professional musicians, bands and singers sign with record labels. In this
instance, record labels often finance the recording process in return for part or full
share of the rights to the recording. Record label companies manage brands and
trademarks in the course of marketing the recordings. They can also oversee the
production of videos for broadcast or retail sale. Labels may comprise a record
group: one or more label companies, plus ancillary businesses such as
manufacturers and distributors. A record group may be, in turn, part of a music group
which includes music publishers. Publishers represent the rights in the compositions:
the music as written, rather than as recorded, and are traditionally separate entities
from the record label companies. The publisher of the composition for each
recording may or may not be part of the record label's music group. Many publishers
are wholly independent and are owned by the artists themselves.
Record labels that are not part of or under the control of the "Big Four" music groups
are often classified as independent or "indie" labels, even if they are part of large,
well-financed corporations with complex structures. Some music critics prefer to use
the term indie label to refer to only those independent labels that adhere to criteria of
corporate structure and size, and some consider an indie label to be almost any label
that releases non-mainstream music, regardless of its corporate structure.
Record labels may use an A&R (Artist and Repertoire) manager not just to seek out
bands and singers to sign, but also to help develop the performing style of those
already signed to the label. A&R managers may organize shared tours with similar
bands or find playing opportunities for the label's groups which will broaden their
musical experience. For example, an A&R manager may decide to send an
emerging young singer-songwriter with little live playing experience on a major tour
with an established act from the same label, so that this person will gain more
A record distributor company works with record labels to promote and distribute
sound recordings. Once a CD is recorded, record distribution companies organize
the shipping of the CDs to music stores and department stores. When CDs sell in
stores or on websites (such as the iTunes Store), part of the money obtained by the
record label for the sales should be paid to the performers in the form of royalties. Of
the recordings which generate substantial revenues for the labels, most do so only
for a short period after they are released, after which the song becomes part of the
label's back catalogue or library. A much smaller number of recordings have become
classics with longstanding popularity such as CDs by the Beatles or the Rolling
Stones. These albums have continued to generate revenue for the labels and often,
in turn, royalties for artists, long after their original release.
Successful artists may hire a number of people from other fields to assist them with
their career. The band manager oversees all aspects of an artist's career in
exchange for a percentage of the artist's income. An entertainment lawyer assists
them with the details of their contracts with record companies and other deals. A
business manager handles financial transactions, taxes and bookkeeping. A booking
agency represents the artist to promoters, makes deals and books performances. A
travel agent makes travel arrangements. A road crew is a semi-permanent touring
organization that travels with the artist. This is headed by a tour manager and
includes staff to move equipment on and off-stage, drive tour buses or vans and do
stage lighting, live sound reinforcement and musical instrument tuning and
maintenance, etc.
2.11.2 The ‘BIG Four’ – the world’s largest recording companies
Frith (2010), a lecturer in Law at Edinburgh University, cites the four major corporate
recording labels (aka The ‘Big Four’40) as: 1. Universal Music Group, 2. Sony Music
Entertainment, 3. Warner Music Group and 4. EMI (Electrical Musical Industries).
Each of these labels consists of many smaller, subsidiary companies and labels
serving different regions and markets. The live music industry is dominated by Live
Nation, the largest promoter and music venue owner. Live Nation is a former
subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications (CCC), which is the largest owner of
radio stations in the United States. Other important music industry companies
include Creative Artists Agency (a management and booking company) and Apple
which is stated as of 2009 as running the world's largest Internet based music store:
the iTunes Store (Frith 2010: 5).
2.11.3. A brief history of the global recording industry and its current
status quo
Sheet-music publishers dominated the music industry in the United States and
Europe in the 19th century. The late 19th century saw the invention of the phonograph
by Thomas Edison in 1877. The birth of radio communication forever changed the
way music was heard. Opera houses, concert halls and clubs continued to produce
music and perform live, but the power of radio through the late 19th century and well
into the late 20th century allowed even the most obscure bands to form and become
popular on a nationwide and sometimes worldwide scale (Frith 2004: 189).
The record industry quickly superseded sheet music publishers and an array of
record labels rose and fell. Some noteworthy labels of the earlier decades of the 20th
By the mid 1980s, six large recording labels dominated the global recording industry. They were known as
the "Big 6". The “Big 6” consisted of EMI, CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), BMG (Bertelsmann Music
Group), PolyGram, WEA (Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp) and MCA. (Sony bought CBS Records in 1987 and
changed its name to Sony Music in 1991. In 1998, PolyGram was merged into the Universal Music Group
(formerly MCA), dropping the leaders down to a "Big 5". They became the "Big 4" in 2004 when BMG merged
with Sony.
century include Columbia Records, Crystalate, Decca Records, Edison Bell, The
Gramophone Company, Invicta, Kalliope, Pathé and Victor Talking Machine
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI41) states that
consumers in the beginning decades of the 21st century spent far less money on
recorded music than they did in the 1990s in all formats. Total revenues for CDs,
vinyl, cassettes and digital downloads in the world dropped 25% from $38.6 billion in
1999 to $27.5 billion in 2008 (IFPI 2009). Similar revenues in the USA dropped from
a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $10.4 billion in 2008 (IFPI 2009).
Arango (November 5th 2008), writing for the New York Times, states that the
downward trend in sales of recorded music is expected to continue for the
foreseeable future. Forrester Research42 (an Australian based research company
quoted in a New York Times article November 2008) predicts that by 2013, record
revenues in the USA may drop as low as $9.2 billion. The dramatic decline in
revenue has caused large-scale layoffs inside the recording industry, driven retailers
(such as Tower Records) out of business and forced record companies, record
producers, studios, recording engineers and musicians to seek new business models
(Arango 2008).
Frith (2010: 6) states that in the first few years of the 21st century, the record industry
took aggressive action against illegal file sharing. In 2001 it succeeded in shutting
down Napster (the leading on-line source of digital music); it also threatened
thousands of individuals with legal action. This failed, however, to slow the decline in
revenue based record sales and proved a public-relations disaster. Legal digital
downloads became widely available with the debut of the iTunes Store in 2003. The
popularity of internet music distribution has increased dramatically and in 2009,
IFPI represents the recording industry worldwide, with a membership comprising some 1400 record
companies in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 45 countries. IFPI's mission is to
promote the value of recorded music, safeguard the rights of record producers and expand the
commercial uses of recorded music in all markets where its members operate. It has its headquarters
in London, UK, with regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami, Moscow and Peru.
Forrester Research is an independent technology and market research company based in Sydney,
according to IFPI (2010), more than a quarter of all recorded music industry
revenues worldwide now come from digital channels.
Arango (2008) further states that the turmoil currently being experienced in the music
industry has changed the twentieth-century balance between artists, record
companies, promoters, retail music-stores and the consumer. As of 2010, big-box
stores43 such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy retail more music than music-only stores,
which have largely ceased to function as players in the industry. Recording artists
now rely largely on live performance and merchandise for the majority of their
income, which in turn has made them more dependent on music promoters like Live
In order to benefit from all of an artist's income streams, record companies
increasingly rely on the "360 deal44", a new business relationship pioneered by
Robbie Williams and EMI in 2007. At the other extreme, record companies can offer
a simple manufacturing and distribution deal, which gives a higher percentage to the
artist, but does not cover the expense of marketing and promotion. Many newer
artists no longer see any kind of ‘record deal’ as an integral part of their business
plans. Inexpensive recording hardware and software has made it possible to record
professional quality music in a bedroom and distribute it over the internet to a
worldwide audience. This, in turn, has caused problems for recording studios, record
producers and audio engineers. Olivarez-Giles (2009), writing for the Los Angeles
Times, states that as many as half of the recording facilities in Los Angeles have lost
revenue, substantially scaled down operations and/or closed.
Knopper (2009) in the Digital Age states that despite various changes in the music
industry, consumers now more than ever have greater access to a wider variety of
music at a price that gradually approaches zero. He further states that while
‘traditional’ record sales continue to plummet, consumer spending on music-related
Big-Box stores are large merchandising shops.
A 360 deal is a business relationship between artist and music industry company. The company
agrees to provide financial support for the artist including direct advances as well as funds for
marketing, promotion and touring. The artist agrees to give the company a percentage of all of their
income including sales of recorded music, live performances and any other income.
software and hardware has increased dramatically over the last decade, providing a
valuable new income-stream for technology companies such as Apple.
The following pie chart (Figure 4) indicates USA music market shares, according to
Nielsen SoundScan45 in 2005, highlighting the “Big 4” and Independent labels.
Figure 4:
Music market shares as per Nielsen SoundScan in 2005
Nielsen SoundScan
reported in 2005 that
the big four
accounted for 81.87%
of the US music
market in 2005.
Universal Music Group (France based) — 31.71%
Sony Music Entertainment (Japan based) — 25.61%
Warner Music Group (USA based) — 15%
EMI Group (UK based) — 9.55%
Independent labels — 18.13%.
Nielsen SoundScan is an information and sales tracking system created by Mike Fine and Mike
Shalett. SoundScan is the official method of tracking sales of music and music video products
throughout the United States and Canada. Data is collected weekly and
and made available every
Wednesday to subscribers, including executives from all facets of record companies, publishing firms,
music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV, and artist management. SoundScan is the sales
source for the Billboard music charts, making it the official source of sales records in the music
According to the IFPI, more than 95% of the total revenue from record sales in 2003
was derived from the thirty major countries in the proportions shown below (Figure
5). These have been positioned roughly by geographic location. It is commonly
accepted that the three major music markets are the United States, the United
Kingdom and Japan.
Figure 5:
Geographic representation of top thirty record sales in 2003
The following table (Table 1) shows physical singles sales in the world in the 1990s–
2000s and digital single sales in 2005 according to the IFPI.
Table 1:
Physical versus digital single record sales
Physical Sales
Digital Sales
New Zealand
Republic of Korea
United Kingdom
Album sales share and share of world market value for 2005 is represented in the
table below (Table 2).
Table 2:
Album sales shares and share of world market in 2005
Sales Share of World
Approximately 21% of the gross CD revenue numbers in 2003 can be attributed to
used CD sales growing to approximately 27% in 2007. This growth is ascribed to
increasing on-line sales of used product by outlets such as The growth
of used music media is expected to continue to grow as the cost of digital downloads
continues to rise.
Table 3:
Interim physical retail sales in 2005 - all figures in millions
−22.90% −11.80%
−19.20% −2.40%
−13.40% −15.70%
Netherlands 1.2
−31.30% −19.80%
−20.40% −16.50%
−13.80% −8.90%
−19.70% −10.40%
−29.00% −20.30%
Apparent within the configuration of the music industry is a minor collapse46 of
traditional infrastructure due to loss of revenue with regards to plummeting record
sales. Those companies, however, who have kept abreast of technological advances
like the iTunes Store, continue to flourish and boom.
When examining the current status of the music industry, an age old paradox
applies: ‘history repeats itself!’. At the turn of the 20th century, a mere three decades
after the invention of the phonograph, advances in technology dramatically changed
the face of the then music industry. What was then the music industry’s largest
seller: sheet music was superseded by physical record sales in various forms but
largely by radio, which made music more accessible to the average, everyday
(wo)man. Now, a century later, physical record sales have quickly been overtaken by
digital downloads. And thus the mode and manner in which people listen to or hear
music and purchase it has once again changed and will continue to change.
One thing remains constant, however; music is played and listened to in varying
capacities, through varying modes the world over. Regardless of the rapid
technological advances in the music industry, human beings have always delighted
in and will continue to delight themselves in music.
In some instances this relates to a major collapse and complete bankruptcy.
Who is there that in logical words
can express the effect music has on us?
A kind of inarticulate, unfathomable speech,
which leads us to the edge of the Infinite
and lets us for moments gaze into that.
Thomas Carlyle
Chapter 3
South Africa’s demographic build and a
summary of James’s 2000 study
This chapter is divided into two main sections: the first serves to briefly highlight
South Africa’s demographic profile while the second serves to summarise the
findings of James’s 2000 study.
3.1 South Africa’s demographic make-up
Due to the nature of the study a brief overview of the demographic make-up of South
Africa is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, it assists the reader in contextualising
certain variables that pertain to and affect music preference. This includes variables
such as: ethnicity a brief overview of the demographic make-up of South Africa is
necessary for, socio-economic status, cultural affiliation, age, gender, etc. Secondly,
due to demographic imbalances which occur as a direct consequence of the
legislature that governed Apartheid, demography consequently plays a prominent
role in public policy47.
The following information has been adapted from the country’s 2001 census
published by Statistics SA, South African communities survey administered in 2007
(published by Statistics SA 2008), facts pertaining to South Africa’s demographics,
published by Médecins Sans Frontières (2010) as well as the CIA (Central
Intelligence Agency) World Fact Book’s section on South African demographics
Public policy is the body of principles that underpin the operation of legal systems in each country,
province/state. Public policy addresses social, moral and economic values that tie a society together.
These values vary in different cultures and may change over time.
South Africa’s demographic make-up has an uncommon profile. As a whole it stands
out as a marked heterogeneous population. However, should one concentrate
specifically on smaller, isolated rural communities (with low rates of wealth
distribution), demographic samples in these areas tend to be largely
largely homogeneous
e.g. the former ‘homelands’ and self-governing territories. Irregularities within South
Africa’s demography occur largely as a consequence of social issues brought on by
the legacy of Apartheid: the deliberate division and subjugation of differing ethnic
groups. Variables that dramatically affect the country’s demographic build include
illness (HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, etc.), emigration and immigration.
3.1.1 Racial build of South Africa
Dominant population groups in South Africa.
Indian or Asian
Black 79%, Coloured 8.9%, Indian / Asian 2.6%, White 9.5%
Black Africans compose about 79% of the population and represent different ethnic
groups, including Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, Tswana, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, etc. Known
immigrants from other parts of Africa include Zimbabweans, Mozambicans,
Batswana, Congolese, Ugandans and Nigerians.
White people compose approximately 9.5%-11% of the population. White South
Africans are comprised largely of the descendants of Dutch, French, British, German
and Portuguese settlers. Coloureds at 8.9% of the country’s demography are ‘mixedrace’ people primarily descended from the earliest South Africans48, slaves at the
Cape, white settlers and the Nguni. The remaining 2.4% are categorised as Indian or
Asian. This population group is comprised of the descendants of Indian indentured
The Khoi-Khoi and Khoi-San.
sugar estate workers and traders who came to South Africa in the midmid-19th century
(particularly around KwaZulu Natal), as well as a small Chinese49 population of
approximately 100,000 people.
3.1.2 Population density
South Africa’s total population is estimated at forty-nine million, fifty-two thousand,
four-hundred and eighty-nine (49 052 489) (CIA World Fact Book 2010).
Population density in South Africa
<1 /km²
1–3 /km²
3–10 /km²
10–30 /km²
30–100 /km²
100–300 /km²
300–1000 /km²
1000–3000 /km²
>3000 /km²
3.1.3 Black South African demographics
Black people as a proportion of the population
The 2001 census indicated that there were approximately 35 416 164 Black Africans
and 8 625 050 Black African households in South Africa. The Black South African
population density is 29/km² and the density of Black households is 7/km². The
Cheap Chinese labourers brought to South Africa in 1904 to work the gold mines as well as many
recent immigrants.
percentage of all Black African households that is made up of individuals is 19.9%
and the average Black household size is 4.1 members.
In South Africa, the Black population is spread out with 34% under the age of 15,
21.6% between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, 28.3% between the ages of
twenty-five and forty-four, 11.8% between forty-five and sixty-four and 4.3% who are
65 years of age or older. The median age of a Black African is twenty-one years. For
every one hundred Black females there are 91.1 Black males. For every one
hundred Black females aged eighteen and over, there are 86.2 Black
Black males.
3.1.4 White South African demographics
White people as a proportion of the population
40–60 %
South Africa’s 2001 census indicates that there were 5 265 300 Whites and over
1 500 000 White households in South Africa. The White population density is 4/km²
and the density of White households is 1.16/km². Whites make up between 9 and
11% of the total population. The percentage of all White households that is made up
of individuals is 19.1% and the average White household size is 3.05 members.
The White population is spread out with 19% under the age of fifteen, 15.1%
between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, 31.0% from twenty-five to forty-four,
23.8% from forty-five to sixty-four
-four and 11.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The
median age of a White is thirty-five years. For every one hundred White females
there are ninety-four White males. For every one hundred White females aged
eighteen and over there are ninety-one White males.
3.1.5 Language
Dominant languages in South Africa
None dominant
South Africa’s constitution, which came into effect on 4 February 1997, recognises
eleven official languages, to which the state guarantees equal status. They are:
Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, Pedi, Sesotho, siSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana,
Tshivenda, IsiXhosa, and IsiZulu. Other languages spoken and mentioned in the
constitution are the: Khoi, Nama and San languages, Sign language, Arabic,
German, Greek, Gujarati, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Swati, Tamil,
Telegu and Urdu. A few indigenous creoles and pidgins are also mentioned.
59.1% of White residents speak Afrikaans at home, 39.3% speak English and 0.1%
speak an African language at home. 1.1% of the White population speaks a non-
official language at home.
Of Black residents 0.7% speak Afrikaans at home, 0.5% speak English, 2% speak
Ndebele, 22.3% speak Xhosa, 30.1% speak Zulu, 11.9% speak Northern Sotho,
10.0% speak Sesotho, 10.3% speak Tswana, 3.4% speak Swati, 2.9% speak Venda,
and 5.6% speak Tsonga. 0.3% of the Black African population speaks a non-official
language at home.
3.1.6 Religion
Many religions abound and are given equal status by the constitution, for example
Traditional African, Zionism, Bahá'í Faith, Christianity, Gnosticism, Islam, Judaism,
Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, Neo-paganism, New Age, Esotericism, Mysticism.
Stats SA estimate that Zion Christians make up 11.1% of the total population.
Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed
6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, other Christian 36%, Islam 1.5%, Hinduism 1.2%, Judaism
0.3%, other 2%, unspecified 1.4%, none 14.9%.
86.8% of White residents are Christian, 8.8% have no particular religious affiliation,
0.2% are Muslim, 1.4% are Jewish and 2.7% have other or undetermined beliefs.
76.9% of Black residents are Christian, 17.5% have no religion, 2% are Muslim.
Approximately 2.3% have other or undetermined beliefs. There exists in SA a
fractional Black-Jewish following as well as a fractional Black-Hindu following.
3.1.7 Formal education
With regard to education, 22.3% of Blacks aged 20 and over have received no
schooling, 18.5% have had some primary school, 6.9% have completed only primary
school, 30.4% have had some high school education, 16.8% have finished only high
school, and 5.2% have an education higher than the high school level. Overall,
22.0% of Black Africans have completed high school.
With regard to education, 1.4% of Whites aged 20 and over have received no
schooling, 1.2% have had no more than some primary schooling, 0.8% have
completed only primary school, 25.9% have had no more than some high school
education, 40.9% have finished only high school, and 29.8% have an education
higher than the high-school level. Overall, 70.7% of Whites have completed high
3.1.8 Socio-economic status
The median annual income of Black working adults (SA Statistics community survey
2007) aged fifteen to sixty-five is R12 073. Black African males have a median
annual income of R14 162 versus R8 903 for Black African females. The median
annual income of White working adults aged fifteen to sixty-five is R65 405. White
males have a median annual income of R81 701 versus R52 392 for White females.
The annual income distribution of Whites in South Africa is R62 360 000 per capita.
The annual income distribution for blacks is R7 283. The unemployment rate of the
Black population aged fifteen to sixty-five is 28.1%. The unemployment rate of the
White population aged fifteen to sixty-five is 4.1%.
3.1.9 Age distribution across races
0-14 years: 32.1%
male 7.17 million/female 7.21 million
15-64 years: 63%
male 18.00 million/female 14.74 million
65 years and over: 4.9%
male 0.8 million/female 1.39 million) (2001 est.)
0-14 years: 28.9%
male 7 093 328/female 7 061 579)
15-64 years: 65.8%
male 16 275 424/female 15 984 181)
65 years and over: 5.4%
male 1075117/female 1,562,860) (2009 est.)
3.1.10 Gender ratio across races
At birth:
1.02 males to every female
Under 15 years:
1 male to every female
15-64 years:
1.02 males to every female
65 years and over: 0.69 males to every female
3.1.11 Literacy rate
Of the total population aged fifteen and over, SA Statistics estimated in 2003 that
86.4% of the total population were literate. Of that, 87% of the total male population
were literate and 85.7% of the total female population were literate52.
3.1.12 South Africa’s largest cities
The following table (table 4) is a list of the five most populous cities/municipalities in
the country. Population estimates were based on the 2001 and 1996 census. Some
of these cities indicate white majorities; however, their neighbouring townships
(designated places for non-whites during Apartheid) have non-white majorities, but
are still included inside the city municipality even though some might be as far as fifty
kilometres away from the city centre53. See table 4 below.
Can read and write.
Like Orange Farm to Johannesburg for example.
Table 4:
Five most populous cities/municipalities in South Africa (1996 & 2001)
Ethnic group
from 19962001
3 225 812
2 639 110
3 090 117
2 751193
2 893 251
2 563 612
Black, White
2 480 282
2 026 807
1 985 984
1 682 701
Cape Town
Western Cape
East Rand
3.1.13 Miscellaneous facts affecting preferences (as per the 2007
SA Stats community survey)
The percentage of White housing units having a telephone and/or mobile phone in
their dwellings was 95.4%. The percentage having access to a nearby public
telephone was 4.4%. 0.2% indicated that they did not have nearby access or any
access at all to public phones.
The percentage of White households having flushing or chemical toilets was 98.7%.
Refuse was removed from 90.8% of White households by the municipality at least
once a week. 0.5% indicated no rubbish disposal. 87.2% of White households
indicated that they had running water inside their dwelling. 95.6% had running water
on their property and 99.4% had access to running water.
The percentage of White households using electricity for cooking was 96.6%, for
heating 93.2% and for lighting 99.2%. Radios were owned by approximately 94.7%
of White households. 92.6% indicated having a television/s. 46% owned computers,
97.6% had refrigerators and 74.6% had one or more mobile phones.
The percentage of Black African housing units having a telephone and/or mobile
phone in the dwelling was 31.1%. The percentage having access to a nearby public
phone was 57.2%. 11.7% indicated that they did not have access or nearby access
to public phones.
The percentage of Black African households having flushing or chemical toilets was
41.9%. Refuse is removed from 45.3% of Black African households by the
municipality at least once a week but 11% indicated no rubbish disposal. 17.9% of
Black Africans had running water inside their dwelling. 51.7% had running water on
their property and 80.2% had access to running water. The percentage of Black
African households using electricity for cooking was 39.3%, for heating 37.2% and
for lighting 62%. Radios were owned by 68.7% of Black African households. 44.2%
had televisions. 1.8% owned computers and 40% had refrigerators. 24.6% had one
or more mobile phones.
James’s 2000 study
The results of James’s 2000 study indicated that Reggae was the most preferred
generic style of music amongst South African urban adolescents, with Western Pop
as the second most preferred style. A common pattern emerged between the two
types of data presentation, where Reggae, Western Pop and Gospel were the three
most liked generic styles of music, while Western Choral, Western Classical and
Indian Classical were the three least liked music styles. The middle four styles, SA
Pop, Jazz, Rock and Traditional African, tend to change in order of preference
between the two types of data results. See table 5 below.
Table 5:
Preferred genres in order of preference indicated in percentages
Western Pop
SA Pop
Traditional African
Western Choral
Western Classical
Indian Classical
Figure 6:
Generic music style preferences of South African students in %
Figure 7:
Line graph representing generic music style preferences
In her findings, James indicates that there was approximately a 50% difference
between the most preferred style, Reggae, and the least preferred style, Indian
Classical, in the choices of her sample. This difference in preference represents a
wide continuum.
James’s quantitative data indicates the top two preferences yielding a difference of
10.5%, which indicated that Reggae was by far the most preferred generic style
among urban junior secondary students in South Africa. James’s qualitative data
indicated that both the last two, least liked styles of music, Western Classical and
Indian Classical, had a 13.6% gap between them. This indicated the extent to which
Indian Classical was the least liked style of music of all.
The percentages calculated from James’s qualitative data reinforced that Reggae
was the most preferred and Indian Classical the least preferred genre. The
comparative results between the quantitative and qualitative data were similar in
respect of the top three and bottom four generic styles of music presented in tables 6
and 7. These two sets of data complemented each other and were indicative of a
strong reliability in terms of music preference responses and ratings.
Table 6:
Music style preference from highest to lowest percentage
Style of music
1 Reggae
2 Western Pop
3 Gospel
4 Rock
5 SA Pop
6 Jazz
7 Traditional African
8 Western Choral
9 Western Classical
10 Indian Classical
James indicates overall that Pop music generally was the most preferred style of
music found in her study, which was also the case in similar preference studies
conducted toward the end of the twentieth century by Van der Walt et al (1993),
Herbinger (1987), LeBlanc (1979) and Greer et al (1973).
3.2.1 Sample descriptions
James’s study spanned three major urban city centres: Johannesburg, Cape Town
and Durban, and targeted six demographically representative high schools in each
urban city centre. Eighteen schools in total were used in the study, targeting one
grade nine class in each school. James selected students in major urban areas as
her primary target group to rule out the possibility of racial bias. Rural areas in the
country tend not to be demographically54 representative in that, during Apartheid,
some racial groups were forced to live in areas outside the cities (James 2000: 16).
3.2.2 Sample sub-categorisations according to city
The first sub-categorisation of the total urban student
student sample (N=548) was according
to the three cities in which the field work was carried out (see table 7 below).
Learners selected to participate in the study were more or less equally spread with
31.4% from Johannesburg, 35.2% from Cape Town and 33.4% from
from Durban.
Table 7:
Figure 8:
Sample sub-categorisations according to city
Cape Town
Student sample according to city
Schools were selected that represented the four major race groups: Blacks, Whites, Coloureds and
Indians respectively. The choice of schools used in the study reflected a racial make-up that is typical
of South Africa.
The second breakdown of James’s sample occurs according to the segmentation of
the former departments of education. While these separate departments of
education no longer exist, their legacies with regard to separate education for the
different races is evident in the racial composition of classrooms during James’s
study (see table 8 below).
Table 8:
Segmentation of former Education Departments
Education Department
Figure 9:
Student sample according to the former departments of education
3.2.3 Sample sub-categorisations according to the former departments
of education
An even spread of students among the former departments of education is seen in
table 8. Most of the former HOD schools existed largely in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal,
with a marginal representation in the other cities.
cities. For this reason, James combined
the former HOD schools with the former HOR schools in the total sample. This
combination did not imbalance student numbers because James did not use the
former departments of education as a variable but rather as a device to lead to a
specific racial distribution.
3.2.4 Sample sub-categorisations according to race
The racial distribution55 of James’s 2000 sample occurs as a direct outcome of the
former departments of education. Table 9 shows the spread according to African,
White, Coloured and Indian. The African group represents 51.3% of the sample. The
Coloured and White proportions are somewhat higher than was the actual case in
their distribution of the population at the time (12% and 14.2%). James qualifies this,
claiming that nevertheless these samples fall into accepted interpretations of
divisions of the South African population in 2000.
The highly disproportionate number of Indian students reflected in the sample occurs
for two reasons: firstly as a result of the shift in South Africa’s demographic spread
due to the end of Apartheid in 1990, and secondly, a large number of Indian students
chose to attend former HOA schools under the perception that the education offered
there was of a higher standard. Consequently, Indian students were located in both
HOA and HOD schools. This accounts for the high percentage (22.5%) of their
occurrence in the sample.
The former DET schools reflect less (if any) integration across the different
departments at the time of James’s study. Reasons that account for this could be 1.
Geographic, in that mostly Africans lived in township areas and 2. The standard of
education received by students under the Department of Education and Training was
of such a poor standard that students were desperate to leave schools affiliated to it
and few were really willing to enter DET schools. Table 9 below indicates student
samples according to race.
Table 9:
Sub-categorisation according to race
Ethnic group.
Figure 10:
Student sample according to race
3.2.5 Sample sub-categorisations according to music training
James points out in her study that, where possible, she chose schools that offered
some music training to their learners. Schools in the sample that did offer music as a
subject were single-sex schools56. James selected three such schools to ensure that
some of the sample was musically trained. According to the Musical Training
variable it is evident that only a small percentage (9.5%) of musically trained
students existed in the sample, as shown in Table 10. Students who indicated ‘a
little’ music training usually had primary school experience of playing the recorder
and/or singing and/or learning the rudiments of the theory of music. Only 35.6% of
students fell into this category whilst the majority
majority of students (54.9%) had no musical
training whatsoever. See Table 10 below.
Table 10:
Sample according to music training
Music Training
A Little
In this instance all three were girls’ schools.
Figure 11:
Student sample according to music training
3.2.6 Sample sub-categorisations according to gender
James’s decision to include single-sex (female) schools had an effect on the gender
distribution of the sample. It created larger female samples (67.2%) compared to
much lower male samples (32.8%). This percentage difference was not typical of the
general population in 2000 in which statistics of females within the South African
population showed marginally higher numbers of females to males. See Table 11
Table 11:
Sample sub-categorisations according to gender
Figure 12:
Student sample according to gender
3.2.7 Sample sub-categorisations according to age
Based on the poor quality of education and educational administration during
Apartheid in DET schools, many of the learners in the sample did not attend school
until they were much older than the official school-going age. This is evident in the
existence of a wide range of age groups in grade nine. There are five categories
depicting age levels in the sample of junior secondary students in urban schools in
South Africa (see Table 12 below).
There exists in James’s sample a small percentage of learners (1.3%) who were
either below the average age of students in grade nine or well above it (0.9 and
6.6%). The majority of the sample group belonged to the fourteen to fifteen year age
group, which was the appropriate and official age for this grade level in 2000. Almost
66% of the students in the fourteen to fifteen year-old age category made up the
sample. The slightly older students (sixteen to seventeen year-old age group) made
up 24% of the sample. The existence of various age levels in grade nine in the
sample allowed for further inquiry relating to certain variables of the (expanded) Age
variable in the study.
Table 12:
Student sampling according to age
Frequency %
12-13 yrs
14-15 yrs
16-17 yrs
18-19 yrs
20-21 yrs
Figure 13:
Student sample according to age in grade nine
3.2.8 Sample sub-categorisations according to language
Language as a social aspect bracketed under the Ethnic Group variable in LeBlanc’s
Model is an important indicator in defining and delineating preference. Students in
James’s study were requested to indicate their home language on the music
preference rating survey. Some students indicated two languages, which
demonstrated the existence of bilingualism within the student population. The
following figure depicting the home language of students includes four African
languages, two European languages, one Indian language, Afrikaans and English.
The bar graph below is presented in order of highest to lowest frequencies occurring
in the sample of students.
Figure 14:
Sample of interviewees according to chosen variables
3.2.9 Sample sub-categorisation according to selected variables
Interestingly, vocal pieces57 which were ranked highly indicated a trend in preference
for ‘songs with words’ among South African students. The majority of the student
sample was made up of African students and their preference for traditional music
under the umbrella of ‘ethnic’ styles
styles of music was placed seventh out of ten in the
order of their preferences. As mentioned above, the most disliked excerpt under the
umbrella of ‘ethnic’ styles of music was Indian Classical music. James qualifies this
low statistic, based on the findings of her interviews that students experiencing
Indian Classical music for the first time experienced the sound and timbre to be
‘most foreign’ or ‘different’.
The results from both sets of James’s qualitative and quantitative data confirmed that
grade nine students have a typical and clear-minded set of attitudes and taste for
Pop music. This was reinforced by the existence of the Peers variable which
students indicated significantly influenced their preferences for music. Inglefield’s
1972 study concluded that peer influence was high on the youngsters’ music
Sloboda (1986: 18) states that most universal of all music forms is the song, where words and
music are intimately combined.
James’s study specifically revealed the following pertaining to each genre of music:
in both her general surveys, 61.1% indicated a preference for Reggae music above
other styles of music presented to them via a listening test. The next highest genre
after Reggae was Western pop, which measured 50.6%. Gospel music ranked third
followed by South African Pop, Jazz, Rock and then Traditional African (represented
in table 13 below).
Table 13:
Interviewees’ preference in %
Style of music
1 Reggae
2 Western Pop
3 Gospel
4 Rock
5 SA Pop
6 Jazz
7 Traditional African
8 Western Choral
9 Western Classical
10 Indian Classical
Figure 15:
Music style preferences of interviewees in %
Of the twenty students who were interviewed at length in James’s study, 65%
indicated a preference for Reggae and Western Pop. Gospel was the third highest in
terms of students’ liking. Rock followed by SA Pop then Jazz were placed in the
middle range of the students’ verbal responses to liking the music. The Classical
examples, together with the ethnic or Traditional examples, were not favoured by the
interviewees who indicated strongly their dislike for these genres.
Students’ preferences from the three urban centres Johannesburg, Cape Town and
Durban in James’s study indicated similar results: Reggae at the top and Indian
Classical last (see Table 14 below).
Table 14:
Student preferences per urban centre
Music Style
Cape Town
Music Style
Music Style
1 Reggae
20.6 Reggae
21.6 Reggae
2 Gospel
18.6 Western Pop
19.9 Gospel
3 SA Pop
16.6 Rock
10.2 Jazz
4 Western Pop
16.4 Western Choral
9.8 SA Pop
5 Jazz
12.1 Gospel
9.3 Western Pop
6 Traditional African
10.4 SA Pop
9.3 Rock
7 Rock
9.2 Western Classical
9.2 Traditional African
8 Western Choral
7.9 Traditional African
8.4 Western Choral
9 Western Classical
6.3 Jazz
8 Western Classical
3.5 Indian Classical
4 Indian Classical
10 Indian Classical
Table 15:
Preference according to rank and urban centre
Cape Town
Western Pop
SA Pop
Traditional African
Western Choral
Western Classical
Indian Classical
Reggae in all three cities had closely related percentages, vacillating between 19%
and 21.6%. Gospel music was highly preferred by Johannesburg and Durban
students whose ratings were 18.6 and 18.2 respectively. Cape Town students rated
Gospel with a low 9.3%. SA Pop was rated in the top five for Johannesburg and
Durban with ratings of 15.2% and 16.6% while Cape Town students showed a low
rating of 9.3%.
While Cape Town students rated Western Pop at 19.9% it still emerged as one of the
upper three most preferred music styles for all three urban areas. The general
proportion of percentages of liking shown by all three cities was evenly distributed
with little indication of difference in liking between each style of music. In other
words, there are no extreme measures to indicate unusual liking or disliking of any of
the selected genres of music in James’s study except in the instance of the Indian
Classical music.
Figure 16:
Preferences as per city
James notes in her study that differences in the preferences of students of varying
ethnic groups was noticeable. She claims in explaining this that under the Ethnic
Group variable the influence of media played an important role in shaping
preference. Specifically, the music played over
over different radio stations, to people
living in differing ethnic communities, may have placed strong emphasis on certain
styles of music.
Using ‘Fisher’s Exact Test’ (‘Like’ and ‘Like very much’) ratings for both the Test and
Retest data, James indicates that the only significant changes in students’
preference ratings over a short-term period were with three out of ten styles of music
that were used in the study. SA Pop preference ratings were lowered in the Retest.
Jazz and Rock ratings were raised in the Retest situation. Ratings of the other seven
generic styles of music did not change over the short-term period of four to five
months. James states that she used the Test-Retest design to gauge as accurately
as possible the differences in music preference. The results revealed that over a
short-term period of four to five months, South African students’ preferences were
largely consistent.
Herberger (1987 in James 2000) states that the music preferences indicated by
secondary school students are usually consistent and that their liking for Pop music
is also consistent. Stable levels of consistency in attitudes towards Pop music are
evident in the Test-Retest data of James’s study.
James claims that Listener variables/Music variables may have accounted for subtle
but significant changes in students’ preferences for SA Pop, Jazz and Rock.
Intervening variables that could have been catalysts to these changes could be
accounted for under the Environmental variables umbrella. For example, subtle
changes may have occurred as a result of the Retest procedure itself.
Table 16:
Test/ retest values
of 584)
of 471)
2 Western Pop
3 Gospel
Generic Music
1 Reggae
Z Value
P Value
4 SA Pop
5 Jazz
6 Rock
7 Traditional African
8 Western Choral
9 Western Classical
10 Indian Classical
Three styles of music showed evidence that South African students change their
preference and liking for music. These three styles were SA Pop, Jazz and Rock.
The other seven styles of music presented to them showed that over a period of four
to five months, students’ preference for those styles remained consistent. A visual
presentation is evident in table 16 showing the difference in music preferences after
a period of four to five months.
Figure 17:
Test and retest results
James indicates in her findings that Music Ability was significantly related to
preference decisions where the listener had performed music of that particular style
or had taken part in some activity related to that style of music. In other words,
dancing or having already danced to a particular style of music in some instances
resulted in enjoyment causing preference for that music. James cites Boyle,
Hosterman & Ramsey (1981) who claim that some students are influenced by the
‘danceability’ of music, which may directly determine their preference for that style.
The table below (Table 17) indicates the actual music excerpts used by James in her
2000 survey.
Table 17:
Music excerpts used by James in her 2000 survey
Peter Tosh
Mama Africa
Peace Treaty
Western Pop
Beach Boys
Surfin’ USA
Surfin’ USA
The Swan
26 Grandes
Classiques du
Basic Quietness
SA Pop
Yvonne ChakaChaka
Be Proud to be
Hayi Fanbeni ‘Let
Him Go’
Dollar Brand
African Dawn
Hard as Rock
Traditional African
Kolenso Abafana
Choir of Kings
CPE Bach
College, Academy of
Magnificat WQ 215
St Martin-in-the-fields
Quartet no. 6 in F
Dvorak American
Opus 96
Western Choral
Western Classical
Indian Classical
Ali Akbra Khan,
S. Chaudhuri,
Shefali Nag
Rare Artists,
Rare Ragas
Et Miseri Cordia
Ma non troppo, in
quartetto Italiano
Mishra Gara
James concludes her study by stating that significant relationships were found to
exist between students’ preference decisions and race, home language and age.
Musical training and gender were significantly related to three generic styles of
music. Reggae, South African Pop and Western Choral were significantly linked to
the musical training variable (usually learners had performed these styles) while the
relationship between gender and preference was significant for four styles of music:
South African Pop, Traditional African, Western Choral and Indian Classical.
Preference for performers of the same sex was significant in relation to Reggae,
Gospel, Western Pop and Traditional African.
Lyrics and rhythm were indicated as the most influential physiological properties of
music in students’ liking of music. Fast tempo, slow tempo, instruments, melody and
harmony had a decreasing influence over students’ preference. Media was the
largest preference influence cited by students. The second largest influence cited by
students was their peers. Educators and family were listed as minimal influences
with regard to preference.
An ear for music is very different from a taste for music. I have no
ear whatever; I could not sing an air to save my life but I have the
intensest delight in music, and can detect good from bad.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Chapter 4
Johannesburg Schools Survey
4.1 Introduction
This chapter serves to summarise the results of a music preference study conducted
by the writer in the form of a music preference survey. The study involved five
hundred and sixty-eight urban adolescents who completed a music preference
survey encompassing fifteen genres of music. The study aimed to identify the
dominant music style/s preferred by junior secondary students being schooled in
urban South African schools within the Johannesburg metropolitan district while
simultaneously investigating the possible variables affecting music preferences:
peer, parental and educator influence on preference; media as agent in preference
and the effects of physiological properties of music on preference as well as some
sort of indication of current modes of listening. The study shall hereafter be referred
to as the JSS (Johannesburg Schools Survey).
4.2 Johannesburg Schools Survey
The JSS spanned nine demographically representative schools falling within the
Johannesburg metropolitan district. Five hundred and sixty-eight learners (N=568) in
grade nine participated in the study. Schools participating in the study included:
Bracken High School, Harvest Christian School, Jeppe High School for Boys, Jeppe
High School for Girls, Leshata Secondary School, New South Baptist School,
Nirvana Secondary School, Thamsanqa Secondary School and Waterstone College.
A detailed description of the learner groups who participated (age, gender, home
language, race, etc.) and the study findings follow later in this chapter.
4.3 Music samples
LeBlanc (1979) suggests when selecting music for preference research that generic
styles are used. “Generic style” defined by Leblanc (1979: 256) is broad stylistic
categories used to specify identifiable types of music within the concert and popular
music traditions. For the purpose of this study, music falling within the categories of
concert, popular and indigenous music traditions were used.
Generic styles of music used in the study falling into the popular music tradition were
R & B, Western Pop, Kwaito, House, Hip-Hop, South African Pop, Rock, Metal,
Gospel and Jazz. Generic styles falling into the concert music tradition and used in
the study were: Western Choral and Western Classical. Generic Styles falling into
the indigenous music tradition and used in the study were: Traditional African and
Indian Classical.
Music choices for each genre were selected in two ways. Firstly, as the top selling
single for a particular genre according to the RIAA58 or secondly, as a definitive
example59 of a particular genre.
4.4 Listening excerpts
The table below (Table 18) indicates the genre, music, label and relevant artist used
in each genre/sub-genre for the Johannesburg schools music preference survey.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trust that represents the recording
industry distributors in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which
the RIAA state: "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate sound
recordings produced and sold in the United States".
The RIAA participates in the collective rights management of sound recording. The association is
responsible for certifying diamond, gold and platinum albums and singles in the USA.
In other words, the salient, physiological music properties which align one piece of music to a
particular genre.
Table 18:
Listening excerpts for JSS
South African
Artist/ performers
Brenda Fassie
Hotel California
The Eagles
Western Pop
We are the
Beethoven’s 9th
Symphony, 2nd
Buffalo Soldier
Live Haiti Charity
Concert (2010)
Seattle Symphony
conducted by Gerard
Bob Marley and the
Take Five
Dave Brubeck
Mahalia Jackson
Move On Up A
Little Higher
Raga Kausi
Poker Face
Lady Gaga
Enter Sandman
Cathedral Choir and
Orchestra (2008)
Rappers Delight
I Will Always
Love You
Ravi Shankar
Sugar Hill Gang
Abomma Be –
Kameelrivier Stadium
(featured on the
album African
Whitney Houston
(released by
CCP in SA)
Warner Bros
Warner Bros
Columbia /
Warner Bros
Streamline /
One Studios
Music Inc.
Sugar Hill
This includes ‘best of’ albums, cover versions by other artists and boxed sets.
One official original recording but countless cover versions exist.
American Record Company
The following paragraphs give a brief context of each music excerpt used in the JSS,
indicating in most instances the salient characteristics attributing it to a particular
genre; the name of the group or performer; revenue generated from the music/single
at the time it was considered to be most popular either as a top selling single or as a
number one billboard single (i.e. played over the radio). Where the above criteria
may not apply to a particular piece, such as traditional African music, which in this
regard is neither a top selling single nor a top billboard charts single, then the
example selected will be considered a ‘pure’ example of a particular genre due to the
physiological properties of the music serving to align it to a particular genre.
4.4.1 South African Pop – Memeza
Pop music or popular music is defined by Arnold (1983: 1467) as:
Music belonging to any number of musical genres having wide appeal
and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music
industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music,
which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller
local audiences.
Musicologists (e.g. Hatch and Millward 1987: 1) identify the following characteristics
as typical of the pop music genre:
appealing to a general audience rather than to a particular sub-culture or
an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities;
an emphasis on recording, production, and technology over live performance;
a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments;
much pop music is intended to encourage dancing, or it uses dance-oriented
beats or rhythms.
South African Pop is thus music considered to be widely appealing to South African
audiences, to which it is distributed through the South African music industry. In this
particular example Memeza happens to be a South African pop tune written and
performed by a South African artist in IsiZulu.
Form in most popular music is sectional, with the most common sections being verse,
chorus/refrain, and bridge. The verse and chorus are considered the primary
definitive elements of pop music. Each verse will have the same melody but the lyrics
for each stanza will often change. The chorus/refrain, however, has a repetitive
melodic phrase and key lyrical line. Music composed in the verse-chorus fashion is
said to be strophic. Pop songs may have an introduction and coda (tag) but these
elements are not essential to the identity of pop music (Tagg 1982: 41). Other Pop
music forms63 include thirty-two-bar form and twelve bar blues.
Memeza, performed and written by Brenda Fassie, was the top selling single in the
genre South African Pop in 1998. Fassie was the top selling artist in the category
South African Pop in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 (EMI 2010). Memeza the album
was also the top selling solo album for the same genre in 1998. The single and
album were recorded by CCP (Clive Caulder Productions), a subsidiary of EMI.
Kergan in his 2007 Biography on Brenda Fassie states that as a South African pop
singer, Fassie was known for her outrageousness and was widely considered to be a
voice for disenfranchised blacks during apartheid. She was affectionately known as
the queen of African Pop. Her nickname “MaBrr” given to her by fans means ‘Ma’ as
in ‘mama’ and ‘Brr’ a shortening of Brenda. In 2001 Time Magazine (December 17th
edition) hailed her as the ‘Madonna of the Townships’.
Fassie contributed to Mandoza's album Tornado (2002), Miriam Makeba's album
Sangoma (1988), and Harry Belafonte's 1988 anti-apartheid album Paradise in
Gazankulu. She also performed Yizo, Yizo the soundtrack for Yizo, Yizo the SABC
education television drama series. Fassie was awarded the South African Music
Awards (SAMA) prize for Bestselling Album four times in a row. She was also the
Thirty-two-bar form uses four sections, most often eight measures long each (4×8=32), two verses
or A sections, a contrasting B section (the bridge or "middle-eight") and a return of the verse in one
last A section (AABA). Verse-chorus form or ABA form may be combined with AABA form, in
compound AABA forms. Variations such as A1 and A2 can also be used. The repetition of one chord
progression may mark off the only section in a simple verse form such as the twelve bar blues.
recipient of a Kora64 award (the All African Music Awards) for best female artist in
1999. Memeza is a Zulu phrase meaning “shout out!”.
4.4.2 Rock – Hotel California
Rock is a generic term for styles of music that evolved out of rock and roll, which fall
into the genre of popular music. Rock has its genesis in 1940s and ‘50s rock and roll,
rhythm and blues and country but in some instances may also draw on folk music,
jazz and classical. The sound of rock often revolves around the electric guitar, bass
guitar, drums, and keyboard instruments such as Hammond organ, piano or since
the late 60s, synthesizers.
Rock music typically uses simple unsyncopated rhythms in 4/4 metre with a
repetitive snare drum back beat on beats two and four. Guitar solos feature
prominently in rock music; however, keyboard, saxophone and blues-style
harmonica are also sometimes used as solo instruments. In its simplest form, Rock
has three basic chords, a strong insistent back beat, and catchy melody (Shuker
1994: 41).
Hotel California is the title song from the Eagles album of the same name. It was
released as a single in February 1977 and is according to Rolling Stone magazine
(2004) one of the best-known songs of the Rock era. The Eagles original recording
of the song features Don Henley singing lead vocals and concludes with an
extended section of electric guitar interplay between Don Felder and Joe Walsh.
Hotel California topped the Billboard Hot one-hundred singles chart (USA) for one
week in May 1977. Three months after its release, the single was certified Gold65 by
the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In 1978 the Eagles won the
Kora was founded in 1994 by Ernest Adjovi. It is the first pan-African music awards, which is
internationally recognised. It was first broadcast in 1996 to 45 countries. Today Kora is the only nonsporting event broadcast live in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Kora's objectives are manifold: 1. to promote African artists and their work on an international level; 2.
to unite Africa and its Diaspora through music and the arts; and 3. to produce a world-class television
show that portrays a positive image of Africa.
I.e. More than one million physical records were sold.
‘Record of the Year’ Grammy Award for Hotel California at the 20th Annual Grammy
Awards in 1978. In 2009, Hotel California was certified platinum66 in the category
‘Digital Sales Award’ by the RIAA.
In 2001 the TV network VH1 named Hotel California number thirty-eight on onehundred Greatest Albums of all time. The song is rated highly in many rock music
lists and polls. Rolling Stone (2004) magazine, for example, placed it as the 49th
greatest song of all time. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's fivehundred songs that are considered to have shaped Rock and Roll. The song's guitar
solo is ranked eighth on Guitar Magazine's Top one-hundred Guitar Solos. Hotel
California was ranked 13th in a 2005 survey held by British television's Channel 4 to
determine the one-hundred greatest albums of all time.
4.4.3 Western Pop – We Are the World
We Are the World was originally recorded by Supergroup USA in 1985 as a charity
fund raiser for famine relief projects in Africa but specifically Ethiopia. It was written
by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and co-produced by Quincy Jones and
Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. Following Bob Geldof’s Band Aid
project ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’ project in the United Kingdom an idea for the
creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from Harry
Belafonte and Ken Kragen. The drive was entitled USA for Africa.
The actual version used as the music excerpt in the JSS entitled We Are the World
25 for Haiti, is the most recent recording/remake of the song to date released as a
single in early February 2010 performed by popular vocalists as a fund-raiser for
victims and survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, recorded by Supergroup. This
rendition of the song differs slightly from its original arrangement in that a rap section
has been added; apart from this the song retains its original integrity.
Soloists in order of appearance on the We Are the World 25 for Haiti album included:
Justin Bieber, Nicole Schezinger, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Nettles, Josh Groban,
Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson (stock footage), Janet Jackson,
Barbara Streisand, Miley Cyrus, Enrique Iglesias, Jamie Foxx, Wyleff Jean, Adam
I.e. More than one million copies were downloaded digitally.
Levine, Pink, BeBe Winans, Usher, Celine Dion, Orianthi (guitar), Fergie, Nick
Jonas, Toni Braxton, Mary Mary, Isaac Slade, Lil’ Wayne, Carlos Santana (guitar),
Akon, T-Plain, LL Cool J (rap), (rap), Snoop Dogg (rap), Nipsey Hussle
(rap), Busta Rhymes (rap), Swizz Beats (rap), Ivaz (rap), Mann (rap) and Kanye
We are the World was originally released on 7 March 1985 as the only single from
the album with the same name. It was considered an instant worldwide commercial
success. In the USA it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on the
seventeenth of April 17 1985 and remaining there for four weeks. It immediately sold
out its initial shipment of 800,000 copies, and sales reached 1.5 million shortly
afterwards. It topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastestselling American pop single in history (RIAA 2010). We are the World is to date the
first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, receiving a four-time platinum
certification by the RIAA (RIAA 2010).
We are the world was awarded three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award
and one People's Choice Award. The song was promoted with a music video, a
home video, a special edition magazine, several books, posters and shirts. The
promotion of the song through merchandising aided to its dramatic success, which
was eventually named by the RIAA as the biggest-selling single of all time. As of
2009 the song had sold more than twenty million units and raised over sixtythree million dollars (US) for humanitarian aid in Africa and the USA.
When first recorded the following solo artists appeared on the album (in order of
appearance): Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James
Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick,
Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl
Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan and Ray Charles.
4.4.4 Western Classical – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 2nd
Western Classical music is the art music produced in or rooted in the traditions of
Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the
11th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition became codified
between 1550 and 1900, which is known and referred to as the common practice
period (Kennedy 2007).
The form of the second movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is a scherzo in D
minor. The opening theme bears a passing resemblance to the opening theme of the
first movement, a pattern also found in the Hammerklavier piano sonata, written by
Beethoven a few years earlier. It uses propulsive rhythms and a timpani solo
(Westrup & Harrison 1991: 65).
Beethoven had been criticised for failing to adhere to standard forms for his
compositions. His ninth symphony in particular was used to answer his critics
(Westrup & Harrison 1991: 65). Scherzi sections were traditionally written in triple
time and while Beethoven did write this section in triple time, he punctuated it in a
way that when played a tempo it sounds as though it is in quadruple time. While
adhering to the standard ternary design of a dance movement (scherzo-trio-scherzo,
or minuet-trio-minuet), the scherzo section has an elaborate internal structure in that
it is a complete sonata67 form. Within this sonata form, the first group of the
exposition begins with a fugue. The contrasting trio section is in D major and in duple
time. It is in the trio that the trombones play for the first time in the symphony.
Beethoven is considered to be one of the world's most famous and influential
composers of classical music (Green 2010: 1). His symphony no. 9 in D minor, Op.
125 is his final symphony and was completed in 1824. The symphony according to
the Cambridge Music Handbooks (Cook 1993: 24) is one of the best known works of
Western classical repertoire and is considered by many to be one of Beethoven's
masterpieces and possibly one of the greatest musical compositions ever written.
Sonata/first movement form consists of three sections: 1.the exposition with two themes in the tonic
and dominant respectively; 2. a modulating development of both themes; and 3. a recapitulation of
both themes in the tonic. Sonata form is considered either ternary (ABA) or sometimes open binary
(AB) form with an extended development and recapitulation. In the exposition, two musical ideas are
presented: the first subject (in tonic) and the second subject (in dominant/relative major) linked with a
bridging passage and a closing group at the end. In the development, musical ideas are extended,
detailed and developed, usually with the exploration of new keys but staying away from the tonic and
it is here that new material may be introduced. In the recapitulation both subjects and the original key
return (double return). The second subject is now in the tonic minor instead of its relative major, which
allows for modification of the bridge. There may be a coda (addendum/rounding off) at the end
(Kennedy & Bourne 1996).
At the time that Beethoven wrote the symphony, it was the first example of a choral
symphony (Hill 1949: 114). The words were taken from the poem Ode to Joy, written
by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803.
Notable recorded performances according to Taruskin (1989: 242) include those
conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler in 194268, 1951 and 1954; Herbert von Karajan’s
1963 and 1976 recordings. The following conductors’ recordings of the symphony
are also highly regarded: Fritz Reiner, Leonard Bernstein, George Szell, and John
Eliot Gardiner. Beethoven’s Ninth has frequently been incorporated into film scores,
music for television as well as being fused into popular music. The following is a
partial list of such adaptations (Buch 2003).
The second and final movements are featured prominently in the Kubrick film
adaptation of Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange. The finale of Herbert von
Karajan's 1963 Deutsche Grammophon recording is played over the final
scene in the movie.
The beginning of the second movement, the scherzo, is used as the theme of
Keith Olbermann's program Countdown on MSNBC69.
The final movement was adapted by Carter Burwell for a bluegrass tune in his
score for the 1987 Coen Brothers' motion picture Raising Arizona (It was used
as a reference to A Clockwork Orange).
The final movement was used by Michael Kamen in his score for the 1989
thriller Die Hard.
A portion of the final movement was used in Alan J. Pakula's movie Sophie's
Choice in 1982.
The opening measures of the second movement were used as the theme
music for an American news broadcast in the 1960s: the Huntley-Brinkley
This was a special performance for Hitler on the eve of his 53rd birthday.
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States but available on most satellite
television networks around the world. The name MSNBC comes from the blending of "Microsoft" (the
Microsoft Corporation) and "NBC” (The National Broadcasting Company). Both these companies own
substantial shares in the network and hence the name.
Satoshi Kon used the fourth movement in his anime film Tokyo Godfathers in
Billy Joel used the last several measures (the prestissimo) to open his
Millennium Concert in 1999 at Madison Square Garden.
The symphony was also used in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's album
Beethoven's Last Night in 1998.
A portion of the 4th movement is used in the opening of Michael Jackson’s
song Will You Be There on the 1991 album entitled Dangerous.
Portions of the first and second movements were used in Don Hertzfeldt's
animated short film Rejected in 2001.
A portion of the choral finale was used in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society
during the scene on the lawn.
The first movement is played in the 2002 film Equilibrium.
The fourth movement is used as the primary opening theme of the U.S. game
show Win Ben Stein's Money (1997-2002).
Ode to Joy is sung in the 1965 Beatles film Help!
Ode to Joy is also used at the end of the 1986 movie The Money Pit.
The fourth movement's main theme was used in the Canadian milk
commercial series Drink Milk, Love Life in the 1990's.
Other more recent adaptations or uses include:
The fourth movement is used in The Simpsons, episode 14, season 17, Bart
Has Two Mommies (2006), in the scene where Rod and Tod Flanders
discover the joys of the see-saw.
The second movement has been used as a sample by Microsoft in its
Windows XP operating system (2002-2007).
The first recording of the symphony was conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler in
1923. The performing soloists were Ethel Hansa, Eleanor Schlosshauer, Eugen
Transky & Albert Fisher, with the Berlin State Opera Chorus and the New Symphony
Orchestra of Berlin. It was issued on Grammaphon70 (69607-69613). The first stereo
recording was with Ferenc Fricsay conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1958.
While Beethoven's Ninth is popular for various reasons, its political affiliations are
numerous. Buch (2003), in his book Beethoven’s Ninth: A Political History, cites
among others several of the examples below:
This symphony was introduced to Japan by German prisoners of war held
in Japan during World War I. Japanese orchestras, notably the NHK
Symphony Orchestra, began performing the symphony in 1925. During
World War II, the Imperial government promoted performances of the
symphony to encourage allegiance to Japanese nationalism. The
symphony was considered appropriate in this regard because Nazi
Germany was an ally of Japan. After World War II, during the
reconstruction of Japan, performances of the piece around New Years Eve
were particularly encouraged because of the popularity of the music with
the public. In the 1960s, performances of the symphony at New Years Eve
celebrations became more widespread due to the participation of local
performances of the symphony by various major orchestras and choirs in
Japan (Brasor 2010: 20).
During the division of Germany in the Cold War, the Ode to Joy segment of
the symphony was played in lieu of an anthem at the Olympic Games for
the Unified Team of Germany between 1956 and 1968.
In 1972 the musical backing (without the words) was adopted as the
Anthem of Europe by the Council of Europe which later became the EU.
The European Union in 1985 chose Beethoven's ninth as the official
anthem for the European Union.
The last movement was adopted as a national anthem by the UDI
(Unilateral Declaration of Independence) regime of Rhodesia in 1974 and
was set to words.
Ritchie Blackmore's band Rainbow used the final Ode to Joy movement for
their 1980 album Difficult to Cure, renaming it to be the title track.
This recording was recently re-issued at
In 1989 students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square broadcast the symphony
through loudspeakers as a statement against tyranny.
Leonard Bernstein conducted a special rendition on 25 December 1989 in
celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this particular rendition “Freude”
(joy) replaced “Freiheit” (freedom).
4.4.5 Reggae – Buffalo Soldier
Reggae originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. It is characterised by heavy accents
on the off-beat, referred to in the context of rhythm guitar as the “skank”, and mid to
slow tempo. The rhythm guitar emphasizes the third beat while the chord is held on
the second beat until the fourth is played and the bar is ended. It is mainly the third
beat, its tempo and the use of complex bass lines, which differentiate Reggae from
Ska71 and Rocksteady (Johnston 2004: 72).
Buffalo Soldier72 was co-written by Bob Marley and Noel G. Williams (King Williams).
It appeared on the compilation album Legend in 1984. The song became a hit in the
UK (No. 4); Buffalo soldier was one of two73 songs published posthumously. The
RIAA claims it is one of Marley's best-known songs, has to date sold more than
twelve million albums and was classified ten times diamond. In 2004 Rolling Stone
magazine ranked him number eleven on their list of the one-hundred greatest artists
of all time.
4.4.6 Jazz – Take Five
Jazz is characterised by 1. improvisation; 2. intensely rhythmic playing; and 3. an
individual approach to instrumental and vocal tone as well as rhythmic articulation.
While improvisation may be a total aspect of jazz it relies on a simple framework to
give it form (Westrup & Harrison 1991: 289).
Other Jamaican genres.
The term ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ refers to the black USA cavalry regiments who fought in the American
Indian wars after 1866 (Bogues 2003:182).
The other was Iron Lion Zion.
Take Five was written by Paul Desmond and performed by the Dave Brubeck
Quartet on their 1959 album entitled Time Out. Take Five was first recorded by
Columbia/Legacy Records in 1959. Take Five became a signature tune for the Dave
Brubeck Quartet. The piece is famous for its distinctive saxophone melody and use
of the unusual quintuple (5/4) time signature from which its name is derived (Doyle
2004: 90).
Storb (2000: 129) states that while Take Five was not the first jazz composition to
use this metre, it was one of the first in the United States to achieve mainstream
significance, reaching number twenty five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number five
on Billboard's Easy Listening survey in 1961 (the precursor to Adult Contemporary
On his death in 1977, Desmond left the rights to royalties for performances and
compositions, including Take Five, to the American Red Cross.
Take Five was re-recorded and performed many times by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
throughout the group's career and has been used in many movie and TV sound
tracks. In addition, there have been many cover versions, some featuring lyrics.
Notable cover versions include:
1962 – Monica Zetterlund – Swedish singer
1963 – Antonio Diaz - Chocolate Mena: Eso Es Latin Jazz...Man!
1967 – Trudy Pitts - Introducing The Fabulous Trudy Pitts
1968 - Val Bennett - The Russians Are Coming
1973 – Chet Atkins - Take Five
1974 – Augustus Pablo - Ital Dud: The Big Rip Off
1977 – Al Jarreau - Look To The Rainbow
1979 – George Benson - Take Five
1983 – Quincy Jones - Take Five
1986 – George Benson - Live from Montreux
1991 – Acoustic Alchemy - Reference Point
1992 – Grover Washington, Jr. - Take Another Five
1996 – The Specials - Take Five
1996 – Moe Koffman - Take Five
1997 – Aziza Mustafazadeh - Jazziza: Take Five
1998 – Eric Singleton - 'XL'
1999 – The String Cheese Incident - Carnival '99
2002 – Rodrigo y Gabriela - Take 5
2002 – King Tubby (a dub version released posthumously)
2008 – New York Ska Jazz Ensemble - Step Forward
2009 – Bugge Wesseltoft – Playing: Take Five
2010 – Indigo - Stay Together: Take Five.
4.4.7 Gospel – Move on Up a Little Higher
Gospel is music written to express either personal and/or communal spiritual beliefs
concerning the Christian lifestyle. It finds its stylistic origins in Negro spirituals and
Christian hymns. Gospel is characterized by dominant vocals, often with a strong
emphasis on harmony, which is usually rudimentary. Most gospel songs have a
refrain and a signature syncopated rhythm. In some examples the lower voices in a
chorus may rhythmically echo a motive sung by the soprano or lead. Several forms
of gospel employ the use of choirs, piano and/or electric piano and/or Hammond
organ, drums, bass guitar and, increasingly, the electric guitar.
Written by the Reverend William Brewster, Move on Up a Little Higher was first
recorded by Mahalia Jackson in 1947 and released early in 1948. The single
became the best-selling gospel record of all time, selling in such quantities (eight
million copies) that record shops could not meet demand (Koster 2002: 271).
The song literally speaks of heavenward ascent by Christians on the ladder of life but
figuratively was a protest song, cloaked by Christianity, encouraging upward black
mobility and reflecting post war Afro-modernist sentiment. Brewster, during the
struggle for black equality in the USA, opposing the government’s policies on
“separate but equal”, is quoted by Ramsey (2003: 51) as saying:
The fight for rights here in Memphis was pretty rough on the Black
church ... and I wrote that song Move on Up a Little Higher ... We'll
have to move in the field of education. Move into the professions and
move into politics. Move in anything that any other race has to have
to survive. That was a protest idea and inspiration. I was trying to
inspire Black people to move up higher. Don't be satisfied with the
mediocre ... Before the freedom fights started before the Martin
Luther King days, I had to lead a lot of protest meetings. In order to
get my message over, there were things that were almost dangerous
to say, but you could sing it.
Mahalia Jackson, hailed as the “queen of gospel”, was played widely on traditional
gospel and Christian radio stations throughout the USA. Her music was heard for
decades on family radio. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
created the Gospel Music or Other Religious Recording category for Jackson
(singing Move on Up a Little Higher) making her the first Gospel Music Artist to win a
Grammy Award. In 1998, Jackson was honoured by being posthumously inducted
into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2005, the Library of Congress honoured Move on
up a Little Higher by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It was also
included in the list of Songs of the Century (RIAA) and the National Endowment for
the Arts in the USA. The song is also featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as
one of the 500 songs that shaped rock. In December 2008, Jackson was inducted
into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
4.4.8 Indian Classical – Raga Kausi Kanhra
Indian Classical music is based on the system of scales or modes known as
raags/ragas. A raag is broadly defined as a series of musical notes which are
systematically organised within a scale (Sadarang 2006). Each raag has a certain
set of notes which are adhered to. The ascending order and grouping of musical
notes is called the “Aaroh” and the descending is known as the “Avrohi”. Raags can
use both flattened and sharpened notes and the number of notes within each scale
may vary.
Raags will typically repeat a key note/s known as the “vaadi”. The note which
supports the vaadi is known as the “samvadi”. A raag may be characterized by
phrases of notes called “pakar” which specifically denote or characterise the
movement (“chalan”).
Ravi Shankar’s Raga Kausi Kanhra is a modern Carnatic74 composition written in the
style of the raag. It is performed on the sitar, which Shankar is famous for playing.
While originally known for his dexterity in the lower register of the sitar, Shankar’s
Hindustani Classical music.
more recent compositions tend to fall in the mid to high register. He is notably
famous for his unusual style and asymmetrical rhythms.
4.4.9 House – Poker Face
House is mid-tempo (118-135 beats per minute) electronic dance music. It is
believed to have originated in Chicago in the early 1980s. It was popularised in the
mid-1980s by discothèques catering to African-Americans, Latino-Americans and
gay communities, first in Chicago and later in Detroit, New York City, Los Angeles
and Miami. By the early 1990s, House was accepted into mainstream Pop music in
the USA and UK in the category of dance (Creekmur & Doty 1995: 440).
House finds its stylistic origins in Boogie, Soul, Disco, Funk, Electro-pop,
Synthesised-pop and Jazz. It generally mimics disco's percussion with the use of
prominent kick drum on every beat, usually generated by a drum machine,
synthesizer or sampler. The kick drum sound is augmented by various kick fills and
extended dropouts. The drum track is filled out with hi-hat cymbal patterns that
frequently include a hi-hat on quaver off beats between each kick and a snare drum
or clap sound on beats two and four of every bar. This pattern comes from "four-onthe-floor" dance drumbeats of the 1960s and disco drumming from the 1970s.
Producers commonly layer sampled drum beats over one another to achieve a more
complex sound. They also tend to tailor the mix for large club sound systems, deemphasizing lower mid-range frequencies where the fundamental frequencies of the
human voice and other instruments lie in favour of the bass and hi-hats (Fikentscher
2000: 45). This is done to increase the danceability of the music.
Poker Face, written and recorded by Lady Gaga, appears on her debut album
entitled The Fame. The Fame was produced by Red One and released as the
album's second single in 2008. Her fist single was Just Dance. The song attained
worldwide success, topping the billboard charts in twenty-one countries (Australia,
Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland,
Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America). To date Poker
Face is considered the most downloaded song in British chart history. It is among the
best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 9.8 million copies (UK Singles
Charts: 2009).
Gaga performed the song for the eighth season of the television show American Idol
as well as the Fame Ball and Monster Ball tours. The live performances included an
electronic version and an acoustic version, which she played on the piano. It was
nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 52nd Grammy
Awards. Poker Face received the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording (2010).
Rolling Stone ranked it number ninety-six on their list of 100 Best Songs of the 2000s
Poker Face entered the Billboard Hot 100 (USA) at ninety-two but by the second
week of March 2009 it reached third place where it stayed for two weeks. The song
topped the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 2009. Because Poker Face was Lady Gaga's
second consecutive single on the Billboard Hot 100 it marked the first time a new
artist had his or her first two singles achieve number one status on the Billboard Hot
100s since Christina Aguilera with Genie In a Bottle and What a Girl Wants in 1999
and 2000. Poker Face also peaked on the Hot Dance Airplay, Hot Dance Singles
and Hot Dance Club charts and became the first single since Madonna's 2006 single
Sorry to top all three dance charts in a single week. The song to date has sold more
5.84 million
Soundscan2010), rendering Gaga the first artist in digital history to top the five
million mark in paid downloads with two songs: Poker Face and Just Dance.
4.4.10 Kwaito – Nkalakatha
Kwaito emerged in South Africa during the 1990s. It takes its name from the
Amakwaito, two gangs in Johannesburg: one in Sophiatown during the1950s and
another in Soweto during the 1970s and ‘80s. The actual word “Kwaito” comes from
the Afrikaans word “Kwaai” meaning angry. The word “Amakwaito” means “the angry
ones” or “the wicked ones” (Ballantine 2003: 35). In the streets of South Africa, the
word “Kwaai” has come to mean “cool”.
Kwaito is dance music. It is a combination of House, Hip-Hop and Traditional African.
Distinctive in its characteristic elements, Kwaito is performed at slower tempi
(plus/minus 100 beats per minute), contains catchy melodic and percussive loop
sections and deep bass lines and lyrical lines that are often shouted, blabbered and/
or chanted (Impey 2001: 45).
Nkalakatha written by Mandoza (Mduduzi Tshabalala) was released in 2000 as the
title track for the album of the same name. The song quickly reached multi-platinum
status and is considered to be the first Kwaito “crossover hit”, being popular with
both black and white South African audiences. Nkalakatha was awarded Song of the
Year for 2001at the South African Music Awards of the same year. At the 2001 Metro
Music Awards, Mandoza received awards in the categories Best Kwaito Artist, Best
Male Vocalist, Best Album, Best Styled Artist and Metro FM Song of the Year. Also
in 2001, Mandoza was awarded Best Artist: Southern Africa, at the Kora All Africa
Music Awards. In 2006, Mandoza shared the Channel O Music Video Awards: Best
Collaboration with Danny K.
4.4.11 Metal – Enter Sandman
Metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. Metal has its stylistic origins in
blues-rock and psychedelic rock. Metal typically has a thick texture characterized by
highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats and overall
loudness (Berelian 2005).
Enter Sandman was released as the first single from Metallica’s 1991 eponymous
fifth album, Metallica. The music was written by Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield and
Lars Ulrich. The lyrics written by Hetfield centre around the concept of a child’s
In 1991, the single achieved gold certification (RIAA 1991) for more than 500 000
copies shipped in the United States. Since then the album Metallica has attained
platinum status with over 2.5 million copies being sold. In 1991, Enter Sandman
reached number one on the Norwegian and Canadian Singles Charts, number five
on the UK Singles Chart, number ten on the Australian Singles Chart and number
sixteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. Enter Sandman is featured in all of Metallica's
live albums and DVDs released after 1991 and has been played live at numerous
live aid benefit concerts.
4.4.12 Western Choral - Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus
Handel’s Messiah (HWV 56) is considered to be one of the most popular works in
Western Choral literature (Mosteller 2008: 242) The libretto by Charles Jennens is
drawn entirely from the King James version of the Bible and interprets the Christian
doctrine of the Messiah.
Composed in London during the summer of 1741, Handel completed the Messiah in
twenty-four days (August 22–September 14). Mosteller (2008: 242) suggests that
Handel wrote the piece while staying as a guest at Jennens's country house, Gopsall
Hall, in Leicestershire. It premiered in Dublin in April 1742 as part of a series of
charity concerts in Neal's Music Hall on Fishamble Street near Dublin's temple bar
district. Handel led the performance from the harpsichord with Matthew Dubourg
conducting the orchestra. Dubourg was an Irish violinist, conductor and composer
who had worked previously with Handel.
Messiah is divided into three parts, which encapsulate: 1. The Annunciation:
prophesies concerning the birth of Christ; 2. The Passion: Christ’s suffering and
crucifixion; and 3. The Aftermath: promise of redemption, judgement, victory over
death and the glorification of Christ. The Hallelujah Chorus ends the second section
of the oratorio and is possibly the most well-known work within Messiah.
While the work itself was conceived by Handel for secular theatre, it has become
common practice since Handel's death to perform Messiah during Advent, Lent and
Eastertide. Christmas concerts will often feature only the first section of Messiah plus
the Hallelujah Chorus. At Eastertide, some performances will contain the selections
emphasising only the Passion.
The text for the Hallelujah Chorus is drawn from three passages in the New
Testament book of Revelation:
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of
many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the
Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6)
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and
of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15)
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, king of kings, and
lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
The rendition used in the JSS was that of the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra, which
is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra, in whose repertoire Messiah is very
4.4.13 Hip-Hop - Rappers Delight
Hip-Hop music as a genre grew up alongside Hip-Hop culture. Key elements within
Hip-Hop are DJ-ing, MC-ing (rapping), B-boing and Graffiti. DJ-ing is done by the DJ
who lays down the beats and basic melody, over which the MC will rap. He/she uses
vinyl records on a turntable to produce the required music. MC-ing is the action of
speaking or rapping over what the DJ does. The MC uses a lot of rhyme and poetry.
He/she must think on his/her feet and will sometimes have a conversation or
argument with another MC while performing.
B-boing is the Hip-Hop dancing style much like break-dancing. B-boing incorporates
wide, swift movements on all space levels and uses the entire body, like spinning on
one’s back or head. B-boing relates to the dance component of arts and culture.
Graffiti is the visual art side of Hip-Hop music. The action of putting graffiti onto a
wall or surface is called ‘bombing’. Hip-Hop artists have ‘tags’. These tags are
identifying labels or symbols. The graffiti artist is sometimes referred to as the ‘verbal
The 1970s is saturated with examples of Hip-Hop tunes like Chick’s Good Times and
the Fatback Band’s King Tim III (Personality Jock). The ultimate Hip-Hop breakthrough, however, is believed to have occurred in October 1979 when a new record
label called Sugar Hill Records released a single entitled Rapper’s Delight.
The song was performed by a trio known as the Sugar Hill Gang. Rappers Delight
was an instant success. By January of 1980 the song was at thirty-six on America’s
pop charts and at number four on the Billboard R & B charts. Brewster & Broughton
(2006: 252) suggest that it was due to the lyrics of Rapper’s Delight that the term
“Hip-Hop” was coined in referring to rap music.
Salient characteristics that align Rappers Delight to Hip-Hop are its distinctive
breakbeat and rhyming lyrics, which are rapped and not sung over a rhythmically
repetitive melodic accompaniment. The chorus section of the song Rapper’s Delight
is as follows:
I said a hip hop
The hippie the hippie
To the hip hip hop and you don’t stop the rock it
To the bang bang boogie, say up jumped the boogie
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
(Greenberg 1999: 23)
4.4.14 Traditional African – Sikhulele Emahlathina
Performed by Abomma Be (a group of married Ndebele women) this was recorded
at the Kameelrivier Stadium. The song formed part of a series of songs and dances
for the South African75 Ndebele society’s annual first fruits celebration called “luma”
(Levine 2005: 107). While Sikhulele Emahlathina is performed in the style of
traditional African music by Abomma Be, the words of the song in this performance
have been altered or re-arranged by S. Masilela for the first fruits festival mentioned
above. The form of song is call and response.
In traditional African music, call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases
sung by: 1. a soloist (in the case of the song above an older married Ndebele
woman) and 2. a chorus (a small group of married Ndebele woman). The second
phrase is heard as a direct response to the first.
Listeners hearing Sikhulele Emahlathina will note the use of a whistle employed
intermittently during the performance. Whistles among the Ndebele are called
“ifengwana76” and/ or “ipembhe”. The whistle is played at various intervals as either
a legato phrase over one and then later several bars and then in short staccato
Not Zimbabwean.
Traditionally these whistles were made from animal bone and had two holes. Nowadays they are
made from plastic and have one hole (Levine 2005: 105).
bursts of plus minus five repeats on the off-beat and usually beginning on the last
off-beat of the preceding bar.
4.4.15 R & B – I Will Always Love You
R & B combines the stylistic elements of Hip-Hop, Soul, traditional R & B, Pop and
Funk. While the abbreviation “R & B” is derived from traditional rhythm and blues
music, which grew out of the 1940s and was considered a pre-cursor to Rock and
Roll, the term R & B today is most often used to describe a style of African American
music originating in the 1980s. As a delineating marker, modern R & B is referred to
as Urban Contemporary R & B (Ripani 2006: 131).
Urban Contemporary R & B has a polished record production style characterised by
smooth vocal arrangements, drum machine-backed rhythms and the occasional
saxophone (or other instrument) solo (saxophone solos occurred more frequently in
R & B music prior to 1995). Urban Contemporary R & B vocalists are known for their
use of melisma77, popularized by vocalists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder,
Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
I Will Always Love You was written by Dolly Parton in 1973. Parton released the
song as a single in 1974 where it achieved number one status on the USA Billboard
Hot Country Songs and number four on the Canadian Country Songs Chart. Parton
re-recorded the song in 1982 to include it on the soundtrack of The Best Little
Whorehouse in Texas, the film version of the Broadway musical of the same name.
This version also reached number one on the USA Billboard Hot Country Songs78.
The 1982 version also saw limited crossover pop success reaching number fiftythree on the Billboard Hot 100 and number seventeen on the Hot Adult
Contemporary Tracks. In 1995 the song peaked at number fifteen on the USA
Billboard Top 100 in December of that year79, making it the third time the song was a
hit for Parton.
Ornamental phrases of several notes sung to one syllable of text as in plainsong or blues singing.
This was the first time in USA Billboard history that the same song reached number one on the
same chart twice by the same artist.
This re-recorded version was sung as a duet by Dolly Parton and Vince Gill.
In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded the song for the soundtrack The Bodyguard,
which was Houston’s film debut. This version was a massive worldwide success,
selling over twelve million copies. It became a regular on countdown lists: appearing
at number eight on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years"; number four
on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" and number one on VH1's "100 Greatest
Love Songs." The song also lists at number sixty-eight on Billboard's "Greatest
Songs of All Time."
The single spent fourteen weeks at the top of the USA Billboard Hot 100 where it
became Houston's longest run at number one, beating her previous record of three
weeks with the Greatest Love of All in 1986. It is also to date the longest running
number one single from a soundtrack album80. The song stayed at number one for
five weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and for eleven weeks on the Hot
R & B Singles chart, becoming the longest running number one on the R & B charts
at the time and remained in the top 40 for twenty-four weeks and became Arista
Records' biggest hit.
The single had massive international success peaking at number one on many other
singles charts around the globe including: Eurochart Hot 100 Singles where it spent
thirteen weeks at number one. It reached poll position for ten weeks in Australia, five
weeks in Austria, seven weeks in Belgium, eight weeks in France, six weeks in
Germany, eight weeks in Ireland, two weeks in Italy, six weeks in the Netherlands,
eleven weeks in New Zealand, nine weeks in Norway, six weeks in Sweden, eight
weeks in Switzerland and ten weeks in the United Kingdom.
Houston's ten week reign in the UK set the record for the longest run at number one
by a solo female artist in the history of the British singles chart. It was also the only
single to have ever topped the USA, UK and Australian singles charts for ten weeks
consecutively. In the United Kingdom the single sold over 1 450 000 copies,
becoming the tenth best-selling single of 1990s, and was certified twice platinum by
the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on January 1, 1993. It was certified Platinum
for shipments of over 500 000 copies by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI)
in Germany. In Japan it sold over 810 000 copies, staying for twenty-seven weeks on
The Bodyguard.
the chart, and became the best-selling single by a foreign female artist in Japan at
the time. I Will Always Love You won the Record of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal
Performance (female) at the 36th Grammy Awards in 1994.
According to Nielsen SoundScan (2009) the single has sold 4 591 000 copies, and is
the second best-selling physical single in the USA alone, only behind Elton John's
single Candle in the Wind (A tribute to Princess Diana) in 1997. In 2003, CMT
(Country Music Television) ranked it number 16 on their 100 Greatest Songs in
Country Music. A year later, CMT ranked it number 1 on their 100 Greatest Country
Love Songs. The most recent release of the song appears on Parton's 2008 album
Backwoods Barbie, which features a live version.
JSS findings
Learners participating in the JSS indicated R & B (68.4%) as their most preferred
style of music. Second was Western Pop (60%). Kwaito (59.4%) was indicated as
the third most preferred genre, very closely rated behind Western Pop with only a
0.4% difference. There was a 1.8% difference between Kwaito and Reggae (57.6%),
which was indicated as the fourth most preferred style and House (56.8%) with a
2.6% difference, which was indicated as the fifth most preferred style. The three
least preferred styles indicated were Indian Classical (20.5%), which was least, then
Western Classical (23.2%), liked second least, and Traditional African (24.9%) liked
third least.
Table 19:
JSS generic music styles listed in order of preference
Music style
Preference Percentage
Western Pop
Hip Hop
South African Pop
Western Choral
Metal Rock
Traditional African
Western Classical
Indian Classical
Figure 18: JSS generic music style preferences in relation to each other
JSS generic music style preferences in
relation to each other
Traditonal African
Gospel 5%
Indian Classical
Western Pop
Hip Hop
Sout African Pop
Figure 19:
JSS generic music style preferences in order of preference
JSS generic music style preferences in order of preference
4.5.1 Sample descriptions
Schools participating in the study included: Bracken High School, Harvest Christian
School, Jeppe High School for Boys, Jeppe High School for Girls, Leshata
Secondary School, New South Baptist School, Nirvana Secondary School,
Thamsanqa Secondary School and Waterstone College. Six of the nine are
government schools, the other three, Harvest Christian, New South Baptist and
Waterstone College are independent schools.
Table 20:
Schools surveyed
Learner Numbers
Bracken High School
Harvest Christian School
Jeppe High School for Boys / Girls
Leshata Secondary School
New South Baptist School
Nirvana Secondary
Thamsanqa Secondary School
Waterstone College
Figure 20:
Schools surveyed
4.5.2 Sample according to gender
Of the total student sample, 257 were male and 311 were female. One possible
reason why female participation superseded that of male participation was that JSS
was a voluntary survey. The researcher thus noted that more girls chose to
participate in the survey than did boys. The survey may have held more interest for
girls in grade nine than it did for boys.
Figure 21:
Sample according to gender
Sample according to gender
4.5.3 Sample according to age
Most learners participating in the survey (453) fell into the 14 to 15 age category.
There were, however a few learners in the 12 to 13 (6) category as well as the 16 to
17 (101) and 18 to 19 (8) categories. The six learners who fell into the 12 to 13 agegroup celebrated birthdays in the latter part of the year (from June through
December), which meant that they were four turning five when commencing grade
one. This in turn placed them in the 12-13 age category for grade nine. The eight
learners who indicated their age in the 18-19 category were either: 1. multiple
retention candidates (having failed81 more than one grade twice) or 2. older
candidates who were, allowed by some loophole, to register for grade nine.
Technically learners in South African government schools may not repeat a grade in the same
phase twice.
Table 21:
Figure 22:
Learner age groups in grade nine
Age group
Learner age-groups in grade nine
Learner age-groups in grade nine
13 yrs
14-15 yrs
16-17 yrs
18-19 yrs
Table 22:
Learner sample according to age and gender
Age group
Figure 23:
Learner sample according to age and gender
13 yrs
14-15 yrs
16-17 yrs
18-19 yrs
It is interesting to note that the six learners who fell into the 12-13 age category were
female. There were no male learners in this age-group who participated in the
survey. Considering the survey was voluntary, reasons for this include: 1. the survey
may have been considered of more interest to the girls and 2. considering that in
some instances the survey took place outside of the academic timetable after school,
more of the boys may have been participating in extramural activities, which may
have prevented them from participating. However, at the other end of scale, the eight
learners who fell into the 18-19
-19 age category participating in the study were male.
There were no females in this group.
4.5.4 Sample according to home language
Learners participating in the survey were asked to indicate their home language.
These are highlighted in table 23 and figure 22 and 23 below.
The five most
frequently occurring languages indicated in order of frequency were English (36.1%),
Zulu (23.1%), Sotho (20.1%), Xhosa (4.2%) and Tswana (4.0%).
Table 23:
Sampling according to home language
Figure 24:
Language frequency
Figure 25: Proportionate indication of home languages
4.5.5 Sample according to race
Out of a total sample of five-hundred and sixty eight learners 57% were black, 32%
were white, 9% were Indian/Asian and/or Chinese and 2% were coloured.
Table 24:
Sample according to race
Sample according to race
Figure 26:
Sample according to race
4.5.6 Music training
Out of a total sample of five-hundred and sixty-eight learners, 65% indicated that
they had no music training whatsoever. 19% indicated “a little” music training and
16% indicated that they did have music training.
Table 25:
Music training
Music training
A little
Figure 27:
% of learners with music training
When asked to inidcate whether or not they studied music at school, 91% indicated
“no” while 9% indicated “yes”.
Table 26:
% who study music at school
Study music at school
Figure 28:
% who study music at school
% who study music at
When asked to indicate whether or not they would like to study music at school, 72%
indicated they would while 28% indicated they would rather not.
Table 27:
Figure 29:
% who would like to study music at school
Study music at school
% who would like to study music at school
4.5.7 Aspects that influence preference
Learners were asked to indicate which influences most affected their preference.
Choices included:
played often on TV and/or radio, and/or
other (in this instance learners were asked to indicate on their MPQ).
The aspect indicated as mostly affecting preference was “played often on TV and / or
radio” (47%). The second most frequent
ly occurring aspect was that of peer
influence (24%). 14% of the total sample cited other reasons as “influences affecting
preference”. Some of these included danceability, having performed the piece
vocally or instrumentally, the performing artist, and mood.
mood. Parental influence, while
nominal for this age-group, was 14%. Teacher influence was the lowest occurring
factor affecting preference at 1%.
Table 28:
Influences affecting preference
Influences affecting preference
Friends (peer influence)
Teacher /s or teaching
Played often on TV and / or radio
Figure 30:
Influences affecting preference
The music aspect most indicated as affecting preference was rhythm (25%). The
second highest aspect of music affecting preference indicated by participating
learners was lyrics (20%) followed by instruments (13%) and fast tempo (13%).
Other aspects of music influencing preference are also indicated below.
Table 29:
Figure 31:
Music aspects affecting preference
Music aspects affecting preference
Fast Tempo
Slow Tempo
Aspects of music influencing preference
4.5.8 Modes of listening
When asked to indicate modes of listening, 73.1% of learners indicated a preference
for listening to music on their cell phone/Iphone, IPod or MP3 player. 47% indicated
that they listened to the radio while travelling (taxi, car or bus); of this 40% indicated
that they chose the radio station while travelling, while 39% indicated that they were
obligated to listen to what the driver had chosen. 39% indicated that they listened to
the radio at home. 38% indicated listening to music on television, listing Trace, MTV
and Channel O as examples.
Table 30:
Modes of listening
Modes of listening
Cell phone, IPod, Iphone or Mp3 Player
Radio at home
Radio in car/ taxi/ transport
Music channel on TV (Trace/ MTV/ Channel
% of learners who choose the radio station
they listen to while travelling
% of learners who listen to what the driver
listens to
Figure 32:
Modes of listening
Interviewee responses
Out of a total sample of five-hundred and sixty-eight learners, fifty-one
(approximately 9% of the total sample) completed music preference interviews.
These interviews allowed the researcher greater insight into the variables affecting
Of the fifty-one learners who completed interviews, 6% were thirteen years old, 48%
were fourteen years old and 46% were fifteen years old.
Table 31:
Figure 33:
Interviewee ages
Interviewee ages
13 years old
14 years old
15 years old
Interviewee ages
Interviewee ages
13 yrs
14 yrs
15 yrs
Of the fifty-one learners who participated, 47% (24) were female and 53% (27) male.
Figure 34:
Interviewee gender percentages
Question one asked learners why they liked the piece of music they chose as their
most preferred or number one genre. Among others, responses82 in no particular
order, other than the genre referred to, included:
I play an Indian classical instrument. This music fascinates me. It is relaxing.
(Indian Classical)
It was calm and relaxing. It made me feel happy and imaginative. (Indian
I liked the singer’s voice and the language it was sung in. (Traditional
It is my cultural song. (Traditional African)
It was inspiring and the collage of different artists made it different. (Western
It has powerful words. (Western Pop)
• Because it spoke to my heart and the words of the song always inspire me.
(Western Pop)
I liked it because the words are really nice and touching. (Western Pop)
• Because I like the song and how they put the different artists together to sing.
(Western Pop)
Because it’s calming and has a positive influence. (Western Pop)
I like this music because it’s slow and Michael Jackson was one of my
greatest pop singers. (Western Pop)
The beat was really enjoyable. I often listen to this type of music so it was
sort of comfortable. (Metal)
The way it builds. The power it holds. Loud and powerful. (Metal)
This piece of music stood out with guitar and it was just nice and raucous.
Suits my personality. (Metal)
I simply like the guitar. (Metal)
It had a really nice acoustic feel to it. It was very simple yet it was enough to
move you. Not a lot of instruments to distract you. (Rock)
The preferred genre is indicated in brackets after each response.
I enjoy songs that start with a single instrument or solo – in most cases guitar
- and I enjoy songs that build from softer to louder and more powerful. (Rock)
It has a nice beat. It’s catchy. It is a nice song. (Rock)
Because of the guitar. I play guitar and enjoy Rock music. (Rock)
It’s a classic and has an awesome guitar intro and solo. (Rock)
Because I like the sound of the instruments. (Rock)
It’s just such a chilled song it makes you feel relaxed. (Rock)
I love the band that sings it. (Rock)
The words to the song. (Rock)
The solo saxophone piece. (Jazz)
I like jazz music. (Jazz)
It flowed nicely and it was calming. (Jazz)
Liked the sound of the instruments. (Jazz)
It’s good music and helps me to relax. (Jazz)
It is chilled and relaxed and great stuff to listen to on a Sunday afternoon.
Easy to sing. (Reggae)
I like it for its beat, rhythm and vocals. It is easy on the ears (Reggae)
It’s so soothing and reminded me of my childhood. (Reggae)
I liked it because when I was young my dad used to play it all the time so I
grew up knowing the lyrics and beat. (Reggae)
I liked this piece of music because it is nice to listen to. (R & B).
Because I enjoy listening to R & B. (R & B)
I like the rhythm and soul and comfort. It’s so nice and soothing. (R & B)
It’s easy to listen to. Makes me dance and get very happy. I grew up with this
type of music. (R & B)
Because I like R & B music. (R& B)
The beat is catchy, the piano is striking and the voice unusual. (Gospel)
I like the combination of instruments and voice. (Gospel)
It was vibey and has a nice beat to dance to. (House)
Because she (Brenda) sings with her life and about the past of her life.
(South African Pop)
It is a very calming form of music. When it reaches its climax it excites me.
(Western Classical)
I liked this piece of music because it has a soothing effect on me and calms
me down when I need to be. This is not my favourite type of music but is
enjoyable when I feel like it. (Western Classical)
The intro is striking. The orchestra (different
(different instruments) all piece so well
I like this piece of music because I used to listen to it with my friends.
I like this piece of music because it is not too slow or too fast and I always
listen to it. Genre??
Liked it because it relat
es to the type of genre I listen to which is Hip-Hop.
The music has a nice rhythm and tune to it which I mostly enjoy. (Hip-Hop)
It’s Powerful. (Western Choral).
Question two asked interviewees what it was about the music, in relation to its
physiological properties, they liked. Learners mostly indicated rhythm (32%), melody
(35%) and tempo (20%), but when asked to cite other properties affecting their
preference, “volume”, “texture”, “lyrics” and “artist” were cited.
Figure 35:
Physiological properties of music affecting interviewee preference
Physiological music properties
affecting interviewee preference
Question three asked interviewees to indicate whether their preferred genre was
simple or complex to listen to. 80% indicated that it was simple and 20% complex.
As is suggested by various researchers on aspects of music preference, there
appears to be a direct relationship between familiarity and preference. The
researcher noted that when listeners were familiar
familiar with a particular piece or excerpt
they tended to suggest it was simple to listen to as opposed to complex. This was
illustrated in the case of Western Classical, Indian Classical and Traditional African
where learners hearing these excerpts for the first
first time more often than not indicated
they were complex to listen to.
Figure 36:
Simple vs. complex listening
Simple vs. complex listening
Question four asked interviewees if they had heard their preferred genre or music
like it on television, radio and/or recording83. Of a total sample of fifty-one
interviewees, 76% indicated television; 64% radio and 56% recording.
Figure 37:
Listening mode of preferred genre or music similar to it
This was any recording, digital or physical.
In question five, interviewees indicated whether their families influenced their
preference decision. 65% indicated “no” and 35% “yes”.
Figure 38:
Family influence on interviewee preference
Question six asked interviewees if they would like their
their teachers to use music
indicated in their preferred genre or music similar to it in their teaching. 70%
indicated “yes” and 30% “no”.
Figure 39:
% who would like their teachers to use preferred genre
or music similar to it in their teaching
Question seven asked interviewees to indicate the extent to which their friends liked
the same genre. 57% indicated “yes” and 43% “no”.
Figure 40:
Percentage of friends who prefer the same genre
Percentage of friends who
prefer the same genre
Question eight asked interviewees if they had performed
performed their indicated preferred
genre. 47% indicated that they had. 53% indicated that they had not.
Figure 41:
Percentage of learners who had performed their preferred genre
Question nine asked interviewees to indicate whether they liked the language their
preferred genre was written in, if applicable. 86% indicated “yes”, 2% indicated “no”
and 12% indicated “no language”.
Figure 42:
Language preference of preferred genre if applicable
Question ten asked interviewees to indicate if they buy a recording (digital or
physical) of their preferred genre. 84% indicated “yes” and 16% “no”.
Figure 43:
Percentage who would buy a recording of preferred genre
Question eleven enquired of interviewees if they would go to a concert of this style of
music. 82% indicated “yes”; 18% indicated “no”.
Figure 44:
Percentage of interviewees who would attend a concert of preferred
style of music
Question twelve asked interviewees to indicate the mode through which they most
frequently listened to music. 30% indicated cell phones; 16% indicated iPods; 16%
indicated MP3 players; 16% indicated CD; 13% indicated DSTV; 6% indicated radio;
and 3% indicated TV (SABC and e). A small portion of learners indicated their
laptops and/or computers.
Figure 45:
Most frequent mode of listening
Most frequent mode of listening
Cell Phone
Question thirteen asked learners to indicate on which television channel they most
frequently watched music videos. In order of frequency, interviewees listed Trace,
other (VH1), MTV and Channel O.
Figure 46:
Most frequently viewed television channels for music videos
Most frequently viewed television
channels for music videos
Channel O
Significant relationships were found to exist between students’ preference decisions
and language, gender and age.
Musical training and gender were significantly
related when learners had performed those genres. The relationship between gender
and preference was significant for four styles of music: R & B, House, Rock, Metal,
Jazz, Gospel and Traditional African.
Rhythm, melody and tempo were indicated as the most influential physiological
properties of music in students’ liking of music. Media was the largest preference
influence cited by students. The second largest influence cited by was students’
peers. Educators and family were listed as minimal influences with regard to
Listening test observations
As in James’ 2000 study, the listening test in the context of each school was never
without some sort of overt behaviou
ral reaction from learners toward the various
music excerpts. Some general observations included:
Change in facial features and posture: raised eyebrows and change from
more relaxed posture to rigidity (usually leaning toward rigidity) often
indicating surprise, especially in the instances of Traditional African, Indian
Classical and Western Classical;
Finger tapping or rapping on desk or chair;
Foot tapping;
Keeping the beat on knees, legs or thighs;
Mimicking instrument playing, especially amongst the boys, of the guitar or
Mouthing the words;
In a few instances whistling.
On almost every test occasion except in the instance of Jeppe Boys/Girls when the
reggae excerpt was played, subjects more often than not launched uninhibited into
singing along with the excerpt. This was usually accompanied by movement of the
upper body to the off-beat. Interestingly, when the Kwaito example was played,
subjects would often indicate approval by exhibiting some sort of gesture before
beginning to speak (more than sing) the words. On one occasion some learners
stood to their feet and began to dance to it (two male learners at New South Baptist
In the instance of the Hip-Hop excerpt some learners (more often than not the boys)
began to replicate the song’s strong percussive backing (beat-boxing) with their
hands in front of their mouths in a typical Hip-Hop gesture. Some other learners
(more often than not the girls) began to speak or rap the words during this example,
usually before the actual words had begun in the recorded example of the piece.
Through the JSS, South African urban adolescents living in Johannesburg indicated
over and above the other fourteen generic styles of music used in the study a
general preference for urban contemporary Rhythm & Blues. As mentioned above,
Urban Contemporary Rhythm & Blues combines the stylistic elements of Hip-Hop,
Soul, traditional R & B, Pop and Funk. The fact that R & B has been popularized by
vocal artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Mariah
Carey may also contribute to the genre’s overwhelming popularity.
Music aspects most often indicated as affecting preference were rhythm and fast
tempo. But learners also rated highly the value of the influence of lyrics and
instruments. Where The Music variable was considered, the Referential Meaning of
the Stimulus played a major role in affecting the listeners’ preference. This was
particularly so with regard to R & B.
Music has the power of producing a
certain effect on the moral character of
the soul, and if it has the power to do this,
it is clear that the young must be directed
to music and must be educated in it.
Aristotle 384 – 322 BC
Chapter 5
Findings, conclusions and reflections
This chapter discusses the findings related to this study. It describes and explains
these by using the salient research questions posed in Chapter 1. The study is
comparative in nature in that it was based on the Johannesburg sample of James’s
2000 music preference survey carried out on South African urban adolescents, and
draws parallels.
The research is valuable in that it attempted to identify the current listening
preferences of adolescents living in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa
and third largest city in Africa. The study has far reaching implications and should be
considered within the context of further music preference research in South Africa.
The findings add scope to both general and music education in that they illuminate
the function of music with regard to preference in terms of individual and collective
identity formation and assertion.
With its potential for further research on music preference, it is hoped that
government agencies, educators and researchers alike will utilise this study in an
endeavour to better understand the changing music preferences of South African
urban adolescents and use this as a point of departure in shaping future curricula
and learning programmes.
The aim of this study was to ascertain the current generic music style preferences of
urban South African adolescents. At the outset, the researcher commented on the
intrinsic capacity music seems to possess in wholeheartedly consuming its listeners.
But not all music woos the listener; some music may violently repel listeners. And
logic dictates that not everyone likes the same type of music.
People the world over listen to music. Researchers concur: music in its multifarious
forms and modes is highest on the list of leisure pursuits of human beings. So
important is the function of listening to music that various individuals and groups of
individuals choose to use music as well as the manner in which they listen to it to
express their identity and values. This is particularly so with adolescents. When
adolescents begin to employ the use of specific genres of music as a means of
identity assertion and formation, they automatically attach themselves to one
collective group over another. These groups, for various reasons beyond the
assertion and formation of identity, will often choose to listen to similar genres of or
the same music. The converse, however, also applies. Some individuals may
deliberately attach themselves to one collective group over another whose
categorical claim it is not to listen to specified genres of music. There are also those
individuals who align themselves to neither of the above groups.
A range of questions pertaining to preference or taste in music fascinated the
researcher and conceived this study. The critical underlying question was why
individuals and groups of individuals choose to like the music they listen to. Various
suppositions were then used as a point of departure into the study. For example, to
what extent could preference and the multifarious variables affecting preference be
measured with specific regard to South African adolescents living in urban areas?
Could one simply isolate the music, break down its physiological components and
use these findings to account for preference? Or rather, is it the listening experience
itself that determines preference? Perhaps the environment in which the listener
finds him- or herself determines preference? The definitive question, however,
sufficiently substantiating this study’s critical research question, could be phrased as
such: to what extent does the subjective nature of the environment, coupled to the
specific contexts in which the listener finds him/herself in relation to the physiological
aspects of the music, affect preference?
The subjective nature of listening to or hearing music is dependent on a myriad of
factors, many of which can be, to an extent, quantified. Qualifying the extent to which
the individual or group of individuals choose to like the music they listen to is a much
more difficult task. Logical deduction points to the answers through empirical
research, which can launch many other such studies.
How the study’s results fit into LeBlanc’s Model of the
Sources of Variation in Music Preference
As in James’s 2000 study, LeBlanc’s model was used in this study as a frame of
reference in the delineation and conceptualising of the multifarious variables
affecting the current music preferences of South African urban adolescent learners.
James states that the theoretical framework based on LeBlanc’s model served to
guide the methodology of her study, which ultimately led to the choice of research
questions relevant to the South African context (James 2000: 124). This study, in a
similar fashion, focuses specifically on the variables in levels 4 and 8 of LeBlanc’s
model84. Levels 4 and 8 are specifically operational when processed through levels 2
and 1. The multifarious variables pertaining to levels 4 and 8 were thus individually
delineated in direct relation to levels 2 and 1.
Level 4:
Music Ability; Music Training; Sex (gender); Ethnic Group;
Socio-economic Status; and Age
When the variable, Music Ability was coupled to Preference Decision in level 2, the
outcome was Acceptance in level 1. Learners who indicated that they had performed
a particular genre whether vocally, instrumentally, through dance or choreographed
movement more often than not expressed preference for that genre. Seven generic
styles of music reflected a significant relationship between Music Ability and
Acceptance: Indian Classical, Western Classical, Western Choral, Metal, Rock,
Kwaito and Western Pop. While the bulk of learners in the sample were not musically
trained in the sense of having either private music tuition, or music as a subject at
school, many of them indicated that they had performed various genres of music
through their exposure to choir, school concerts, eisteddfods, local music
competitions and/or arts upliftment community projects/programmes through extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
LeBlanc’s model of the sources of variation in music preference is outlined in detail on page 8 of
this study.
The relationship between Sex (gender), Preference Decision (level 2) and
Acceptance (level 1) was significant in some regard for most generic styles of music.
While trying not to stereotype listeners, the following idiosyncratic observations were
revealed through the study. Male listeners, more often than not, indicated
instrumentation as a factor in determining preference. A direct relationship between
gender, instrumentation and preference was significant in Rock, Metal, Jazz and
Gospel. Male listeners over and above female listeners often indicated “volume” and
“quality of recording” as factors influencing preference. One may then posit that
technical aspects, including the volume at which an excerpt is played, hold
significance for male adolescent listeners.
Female learners were more inclined to indicate preference for performer of the same
sex, specifically in the generic styles of R & B, House, Gospel and Traditional African.
When hearing Western Pop, the second most preferred genre in the study, female
learners, more often than not, were inclined to indicate “artist” and “lyrics” as reasons
for preference. This perhaps indicates that the popularity of certain artists may be
considered more important to adolescent female learners than to male adolescent
learners. Lyrics (dealt with in level 8) appear to hold greater significance with female
listeners. In this instance, female listeners cited referential meaning of the stimulus
with regard to lyrics as a factor largely influencing preference.
The Ethnic Group variable within the South African context was only significant in the
context of the study in relation to race, language and culture with regard to
Traditional African and South African Pop (two genres out of a possible fifteen). This
was in direct contrast to James’s 2000 study wherein nine genres out of ten exhibited
significant relationships between race and preference (Reggae, Western Pop,
Gospel, South African Pop, Jazz, Traditional African, Western Choral, Western
Classical and Indian Classical).
James completed her music preference study four years after South Africa became a
democracy. Substantiating the link between the Ethnic Group variable and
Preference, James states that the racial divisiveness of Apartheid reflected in South
Africa’s historical and political past were not surprising factors influencing preference
(James: 2000: 127). While this appears, to a large extent, not to be the case with this
study, the researcher still takes into consideration that the racial divisiveness of
Apartheid reflected in the country’s historical and political past may to some extent
continue to indirectly (and in some instances directly) affect the listening preferences
of urban South African adolescents. This is particularly so, however, with regards to
social context and socio-economic status.
The Socio-economic Status variable was significant in the context of the study in
relation to most genres of music. The JSS spanned schools falling into the low
economic category (township schools: Thamsanqa and Leshata Secondary Schools
in Orange Farm) through the middle to low economic category (Bracken High School,
Nirvana Secondary and Jeppe Boys and Girls) to the upper-middle to middle
economic category (Harvest Christian School, New South Baptist and Waterstone
It was apparent throughout the study that most if not all adolescents participating had
access to or owned one or more than one of the following: cell phone, IPod/Mp3,
Radio, CD, TV, DVD and/or computer. Learners coming from areas where there was
greater distribution of wealth (middle to upper-middle economic categories) more
often than not showed higher preference for non/less-familiar genres of music (Indian
Classical, Traditional African, Jazz, Gospel and Western Classical).
The researcher posits that reasons for this include: 1. learners from more affluent
economic strata have greater access to a variety of differing genres and are thus
more likely to indicate preference for them, 2. learners from affluent backgrounds are
more likely through family leisure pursuit activities to be exposed to a broader variety
of genres and thus may indicate preference for them, and 3. learners from more
affluent backgrounds who attend schools with greater access to resources (books,
internet, quality teaching, etc.) may be exposed to a larger variety of genres and are
therefore more likely to indicate preference for them. Interestingly, learners from all
socio-economic strata more often than not indicated preference for Western Choral.
In fact, more learners indicated a preference for Western Choral than did so for Rock.
The Age variable was significant in the context of the study in relation to most genres
of music. While the sample was only constituted of grade nine learners, the ages of
learners in this specific sample, for various reasons accounted for in chapter four,
ranged from twelve to nineteen years old. The study findings thus yielded a number
of choices of Acceptance and Rejection for preference indicating that Age and
Preference were inextricably linked for all but three generic styles of music: Indian
Classical, Traditional African and Western Classical.
Level 8:
Physical properties of stimulus; Complexity of stimulus;
Referential meaning of stimulus; Performance quality;
Media; Peer group; Family; Educators and authority figures
Learners listening to music excerpts during the Johannesburg Schools Survey heard
each excerpt for only sixty seconds. Most excerpts had lyrics85. The importance of
understanding the lyrics was vital in learners’ decision making when indicating
preference. Because most South Africans are not first language English speakers,
the lyrics, while not considered a physical property of music (Cutietta 1992: 300),
may nonetheless have impacted the learners’ decision to mark an excerpt largely in
favour of or against their preference.
Female learners participating in the JSS often cited the lyrics of a song as an
influence affecting preference. This was specifically noted with female learners’
responses to R & B, Western Pop and South African Pop. The value of the meaning
of lyrics in this regard appears to play a role here. Some learners, for example,
indicated that the lyrics of the above excerpts were: “uplifting”, “meaningful” and
When lyrics were conveyed in a language the listeners were familiar with, it
appeared to affect their preference positively. For example, learners who indicated
preference for Traditional African music often indicated that they liked the language it
was written in.
Lyrics in and of themselves are not directly linked to any of LeBlanc’s variables for
music preference (LeBlanc et al 1981: 144). They can, however, be indirectly
House, Hip-Hop, R & B, Reggae, Kwaito, Western Pop, Gospel, SA Pop, Traditional African and
Western Choral all had lyrics while Rock (the first sixty seconds of Hotel California comprise a guitar
solo and excerpts were only sixty seconds in duration), Jazz, Western Classical and Indian Classical
did not.
connected to LeBlanc’s sources of variation in music preference if they are
bracketed under the referential meaning of stimulus variable. As in James’s study
and the JSS, learners who heard lyrics in their mother tongue indicated a strong
preference for that music. This phenomenon thus demonstrates a pivotal link
between the referential meaning of the stimulus (level 8) and ethnic group (level 4).
The above relationship is significant for two reasons. Firstly, the referential meaning
of stimulus (level 8) coupled with ethnic group (level 4) led to a definite preference
decision (level 2). Secondly, considering physiological enabling conditions (level 5),
for example the physiological ability to hear and perceive patterned sound and the
cognitive ability to understand and interpret language, coupled with basic attention
(level 6), also led to a preference decision (level 2).
An interesting factor that affects both the referential meaning of stimulus (level 8)
and ethnic group (level 4) variables when considering attitudes toward language in a
spoken context as well as language in the context of songs is that language barriers
negatively influence music preference (Abril 2005: 37). As mentioned above,
listeners often indicate a stronger preference for music performed in their vernacular.
Abril (2005: 52) states that listening to songs in languages that are “foreign”86 may
prime listeners to more strongly identify with their own linguistic background.
Stafford et al (1997: 255) substantiate the above claim, stating that attitude
judgements toward the particular language of a performer are made not on the
phonetic properties of a language but rather on the social connotations of that
language. This may explain why black adolescent listeners may indicate a negative
preference decision for songs performed in Afrikaans.
Researchers over the years, Morrison & Yeh (1999), Fung (1994), Killian (1990) and
Shehan (1985), claim that preference ratings are directly linked to the listeners’
cultural affiliation in that the further removed the music from their culture, the lower
the preference rating. This may substantiate why Indian Classical music was rated
as the least liked genre in both studies. It may also explain why Traditional African
Or not in the mother tongue of the listener.
music received such a low rating in both studies (the second least liked genre in the
JSS and fourth least liked genre in James’s 2000 study).
The Traditional African excerpt selected for the JSS was an Ndebele call and
response song. Out of five-hundred and sixty-eight learners only one percent of the
total sample indicated that they spoke Ndebele. This far removed the other South
African language and culture groups from them, which may explain learners’ dislike
for this genre. The same reason may account for the response to James’ 2000 study
wherein a Zulu call and response song was used. In that instance, however, a larger
portion of James’s sample were in fact Zulu speakers, which accounts for Traditional
African music receiving a slightly higher ranking in James’s study.
Abril and Flowers (2007: 206) claim that adolescents were positive in indicating
preference when it was perceived that the musical performers were of their own race
and gender. Interestingly, McCrary (1993: 210), who investigated the effects of
listeners and performers’ race on music preference, suggests that black listeners
gave stronger preference ratings for music they perceived to be performed by black
musicians while white listeners’ preferences were no different for either black or
white performers. McCrary goes so far as to say that formalistic elements of music
like instrumentation and style may be more powerful influences of preference for
white listeners, whereas sociocultural elements like the performer’s ethnic
background87 and language may be more powerful for black listeners. The above
factors relate to levels 4 and 8 of LeBlanc’s variables for music preference under
Ethnic Group (level 4) and the referential meaning of stimulus.
Learners in the JSS indicated Rhythm, Lyrics, Instrumentation, Fast Tempo, Melody,
Slow Tempo and Harmony as the physiological properties of music affecting
preference. These are listed in order of decreasing influence on preference for
different styles of music. This indicates the concatenation of Physical Properties of
Stimulus in level 8 coupled with learners’ Age, Musical Ability, Musical training and
Gender (Sex) in level 4, leading to Preference (level 2).
Morrison (1998: 208) rightly speculates and logic dictates that it is more difficult to ascertain the
ethnicity of a performer if the music is instrumental rather than sung.
A large number of learners expressed a dislike for complex music, indicating
rejection of the Stimulus while fewer learners, who had some musical training,
preferred this type of music, indicating acceptance of the Stimulus. This shows that
the Complexity of Stimulus variable (level 8) coupled with Musical Training (level 4)
led to a preference decision (level 2). Koelsch et al (1999: 105) state that Musical
Training leads to enhanced cognitive processing as well as significantly stronger
mood responses in individuals while listening to classical as compared to popular
music. Davidson & Edgar (2003), Abeles & Chung (1996), Brennis (1970), Winold
(1963) and Sopchack (1955) concur.
When listeners hear the physical properties of [a] stimulus (music excerpt) woven
together in a ‘tapestry of sound88’ what they actually listen for is the nuance/s that
attach(es) that particular music excerpt to a specific style or genre of music that they
are familiar with. This listening experience is unavoidable. Learners thus prefer
styles of music that are familiar or popular over those that are less familiar (Abril &
Flowers 2007, Brittin 2000, Fung et al 2000 and Flowers 1980). Researchers
suggest that adolescent learners and specifically learners at middle school (grades
six through eight) take comfort in listening to music that is familiar because they
perceive themselves to understand it and thus identify with it (Abril & Flowers 2007:
As in James’s 2000 study, Media has been grouped with the Environment. However,
according to LeBlanc’s model, media is usually positioned between the music and
the environment. This is because LeBlanc (1982) interprets media as drawing music
stimuli from the music variables and then addresses sociocultural issues from the
environment variable. Interestingly, due to the racial and cultural diversity inherent
across the South African population demographic, it appears that South African
learners in this study tended to listen to radio programmes89 that appealed
specifically to their ethnicity and mother tongue. Media coupled to ethnic group, for
example, explains why black learners preferred what they perceived as South
Adapted from Coplan’s 1985 definition for style of music.
This was not the same for TV music channels where learners across the colour line indicated a
general interest in Trace, MTV and Channel O, etc.
African ”black” pop radio stations over South African “white” pop stations - i.e. Y or
Khaya FM over Radio 5, Jacaranda or Highveld Stereo. Equally, the converse was
true for white learners. It thus makes sense within a South African context that Media
coupled with the Environment variables attempts to better explain music preference
because this combination of variables deals directly with sociocultural issues and
In relation to the influence of their peers on music preference, learners in this study,
as in James’s 2000 study, indicated a 10% difference between the influences of their
peers (24%) as opposed to the influence of their families (14%) on preference
decisions. This result is consistent with Jaffe’s (1998) predictions for peer
The low 1% of Educators’ and Authority Figures’ (Level 8) influence over learners’
music preference decisions indicates that general educators in South Africa use few
music examples if any in their teaching and classroom practices. It is thus surmised
that general South African educators have little influence over their learners’ music
preference decisions. However, where learners indicated preference for specific
genres, which included music that may have previously been considered unfamiliar,
due to having performed those genres of music, this suggests that the role of
specialist music educator is indirectly fundamental in influencing learners’
Regardless of whether or not a learner indicated preference for the various genres
used in this study, most indicated that they would accept their teachers’ use of
various styles of music within the classroom context. Radocy & Boyle (1988: 261)
state that music preference can be altered through education. Being a music
educator, the researcher wholeheartedly concurs. Teachers, music and/or arts
teachers, individual instrument tutors, band leaders and choir conductors through
their function and role as teachers have ample opportunity to expose their learners
to a variety of styles of differing music, thus not only raising awareness of the music
of other cultures and sub-cultures and people but also expanding preference.
While the Performance Quality variable was not directly explored in this study with
specific regard to preference, it did indirectly play a role. Because listeners were
played from CD small excerpts of music exemplifying the fifteen generic styles of
music explored in the study, the quality of each recording was enhanced90 slightly for
the purpose of the listening test.
Answering the research questions
The JSS was based on the following main, critical research question: To what extent
have the generic music style preferences of urban South African adolescents
changed over a ten year period?
Ten years ago James’s 2000 study revealed that Reggae was the most preferred
genre amongst South African urban adolescents living in Johannesburg. In order of
decreasing preference after Reggae the other genres were: Western Pop, Gospel,
South African Pop, Jazz, Rock, Traditional African, Western Choral, Western
Classical and Indian Classical. Ten years later, the Johannesburg Schools Survey
indicated that R & B was the most preferred genre of South African urban
adolescents living in Johannesburg. In order of decreasing preference after R & B
the other genres were: Western Pop, Kwaito, Reggae, House, Hip-Hop, South
African Pop, Western Choral, Metal, Rock, Gospel, Jazz, Traditional African,
Western classical and Indian Classical.
The most consistent genres throughout James’s 2000 study and the JSS were:
Western Pop, which ranked as the second most preferred genre in both studies;
Indian Classical, which ranked as the least preferred genre in both studies; Western
Classical, which ranked as the second least preferred genre in both studies;
Traditional African, which was ranked as the fourth least preferred genre in James’s
2000 study but was ranked third least in the JSS; and South African Pop, showing
levels of consistency in both studies, being ranked fourth in James’s 2000 study and
sixth in the JSS.
The researcher felt it necessary to have a sound technician re-master each excerpt to improve the
overall quality of sound.
The following sub-questions functioned to embellish the critical research question.
Each one is discussed after the question:
5.3.1 What are the current preferences for different generic styles
of music among South African urban adolescent learners
living in Johannesburg?
Highlighted in the critical research question above, the current preferred generic
styles of music among South African adolescents in order of preference were: R & B
(68.38%), Western Pop (60.04%), Kwaito (59.37%), Reggae (57.57%), House
(56.83%), Hip-Hop (48.35%), South African Pop (46.83%), Western Choral
(34.75%), Metal (33.56%), Rock (32.64%), Gospel (30.85), Jazz (30.18), Traditional
African (24.93), Western classical (23.20) and Indian Classical (20.46).
5.3.2 Through which mode/s do urban adolescents living in the
Johannesburg area listen to/ hear music? How do these
listening modes differ?
Urban adolescents living in Johannesburg most frequently listened to music on their
cell phones or Mp3 players/IPods. When asked how music content was downloaded
to their cell phones and or Mp3s/IPods, learners cited digital downloads, swapping
music files with friends by Bluetooth, text filing, CD or USB data exchange, etc.
Interestingly, when learners asked if they would purchase a CD of the music they
showed preference for, just less than half indicated they would. Reasons that
accounted for low interest in buying physical CDs of a preferred genre included: CDs
being cited as too expensive especially since one could download from various sites
on the internet almost any song in Mp3 format for a small fee (pay per song
download) or for free. Some learners indicated that they preferred watching the
music videos attached to their preferred genre on TV but also frequently cited
The second most frequently listed mode for listening was the radio. 47% of the total
sample indicated that they listened to music on the radio while travelling in the car of
their parents and/or on public transport. 39% of the total sample indicated that they
listened to the radio at home, while 38% indicated listening to music on TV.
To what extent do important social and cultural variables
affect the listening preferences of adolescent learners?
The largest cultural variable affecting preference and dealt with above was that of
language. Most South Africans are not first language English speakers. It is thus a
vitally imperative aspect to be considered when researching or conducting studies
into the preference decisions of South African adolescents.
The largest social variable affecting the listening preferences of South African urban
adolescents and dealt with above was that of socio-economic status. To a small
degree, ethnicity also affected preference but not nearly as much as was reflected in
James’s 2000 study. This is encouraging for various reasons. 1. It demonstrates to
an extent a lesser focus on race where the ethnicity variable is concerned. This is
perhaps a good thing for post-Apartheid South Africans who are overtly aware of
race; 2. It suggests that the influences of apartheid with regard to the influences of
segregation and isolation of the different race groups is vastly diminished; and 3. It
demonstrates an awareness of African culture on the whole not in terms of race, i.e.
Black, White, Coloured, Indian/Asian, etc. which emphasises the positive effects of
integration through naturally occurring and not forced processes.
5.3.4 Which physical properties of music account for the music
preferences adopted by adolescent learners?
As is mentioned above, the physiological properties of music accounting for the
music preferences of South African adolescent learners, listed in order of decreasing
influence, were: rhythm, lyrics, instrumentation, fast tempo, melody, slow tempo and
5.3.5 Which environmental factors influence the music
preferences of adolescent learners?
The environmental factor most affecting the preference decisions of South African
adolescents was the media. In particular, radio and television were indicated as the
highest contributing environmental variables in shaping preference (47%). Second to
radio and television, subjects indicated peer influence at 24%. The parental and/or
family influence variable measured a low frequency (14%) of effect on preference
decisions, which while considered as minimal was not nearly as low as the teacher
and/or authority figure variable, which measured a meagre 1% .
Study limitations
Most studies will be limited in one regard or another. This study was limited by the
Due to the nature of the study not all of Leblanc’s variables pertaining to music
preference could be investigated. These included variables such as Incidental
Conditioning, Personality, Music Ability and Memory. I believe these variables to be
important, playing a significant role in the delineation of preference. Further studies
into these variables and the extent to which they affect preference of specifically
adolescents would benefit music preference research.
Due to the time factor, the Music Preference Interviews were completed by learners
from one school only. While the interviewee sample was true in its demographic as
well as gender representative nature, through purposive sampling, the study could
have been broadened had more learners from the other schools been used to
complete music preference interviews.
Recommendations for future research
Due to the subjective nature of preference, the researcher encourages further
qualitative research into the music preferences of urban adolescents. Perhaps
comparative studies on the preference of learners living in rural and urban areas
could be measured and then compared.
Further, more detailed studies into the modes of listening of adolescent learners
could give researchers greater insight into and possibly account to some extent for
the trends of declining record sales around the world. A study in the same vein would
also benefit socio-anthropologists studying youth culture in South Africa. This, with
particular regard to music sharing amongst adolescents at school, would also benefit
music research.
Implementation recommendations
With regard to music education practice, the possibilities for using music to expand
preference in the classroom are endless. Both music and general educators could
enhance learning in their classrooms and simultaneously expand the preference of
their learners when using various generic styles of music. Possible teaching and
learning platforms include:
Illuminating a point
Enhancing a context (cultural, racial, political, language, historical, musical,
Delineating the physiological properties of music into individual elements
Investigating musical form
Encouraging presentations around the music of other cultures and/or
countries. This is particularly so with world sporting events, for example
soccer world cups, cricket world cups, summer and winter Olympics,
Commonwealth games, etc.
Encouraging the presentation of the preferred genres of different people
directly linked to learners. For example siblings, family members, parents,
grandparents, great-grand parents, etc.
While some researchers suggest a move away from the use of Western classical
music in the classroom, perhaps a move toward using a balanced selection of
examples from the classical, popular and indigenous music traditions around the
world would serve our learners better.
With the country presently finding itself at a crossroads with regard to change of
curriculum, curriculum authors and educators could employ the study findings when
The revision of the NCS in regard to arts and culture curricula but specifically
curriculum development in music education in South Africa
Techniques, concepts and teaching strategies for teaching arts and culture
and specifically music to learners
Approaches to music instruction in the South African classroom.
Concluding remarks
While the value of music preference and its profound effect on the identity formation
and expression of values of adolescent learners is duly noted in this study, the
researcher concludes by emphasising the fundamental role of educators (music
and/or general) as agents for expanding and to a degree shaping the preference of
learners in their classrooms.
In most instances where various genres of music were indicated as unfamiliar, for
whatever reasons, learners listening to these styles of music more often than not
rejected it. However, where learners had previously been exposed to unfamiliar
styles of music, often by their music and/or drama and/or dance teachers who had
encouraged performances of these styles in some capacity or another, they often
cited preference for these genres later on.
In agreeing with Hugh (2010), the researcher posits that educators who encourage
and inculcate the expansion of learners’ music preferences within their classrooms
may incidentally encourage tolerance for other cultures, languages and races. In
other words, expanded music tolerance leads to social tolerance (Hugh 2010: 1).
Music educators, through their teaching, should aim to expose learners to as large a
variety of music genres as is possible. In so doing they will inspire their learners to
become music omnivores. Apart from the multifarious music benefits of a broad
exposure to different genres of music, expanded music preference augments the
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Appendix A
Contact details of study leader
Prof. C. van Niekerk
Tel: 012-420 2600
e-Mail: [email protected]
Department of Music
Faculty of Humanities
University of Pretoria
Dear Grade Nine Learner
I would like to invite you to participate in a study which I am currently undertaking on
the music preferences of adolescent learners in South Africa. Through this study I
hope to find out which types of music (music genres) grade nine learners such as
yourself prefer to listen to.
It is important to the integrity of this research project that, should you choose to
participate, you answer all questions as honestly as possible. Keep in mind that
there are no right or wrong answers to any of the questions.
Please take note of the following:
1. Should you agree to participate in this survey, you will be doing so on a
completely voluntary basis.
2. This is an anonymous survey and your name and surname is therefore not
Thank you for your time.
Robert Matthews (researcher)
Prof. C. van Niekerk (supervisor)
Signature of learner: ………………………………………………….
Contact details of study leader
Prof. C. van Niekerk
Tel: 012-420 2600
e-Mail: [email protected]
Department of Music
Faculty of Humanities
University of Pretoria
To: The Provincial Director General for Education for FET for Gauteng,
Mr Lucas Mosuwe
Dear Mr Mosuwe
Thank you for your telephonic communication on October 4th 2009 with regard to my
Masters research into the generic music style preferences of urban South African
adolescents in grade nine.
The aim of this research project is to identify the current generic music style
preferences of urban South African adolescents in grade nine. What is of particular
interest is the way in which the learners’ own music preferences and musical
identities are shaped and developed by what they listen to and consider a preferred
genre. Other interesting factors will include modes of listening or how these learners
are currently listening to music as well as the extent to which their peers, educators
and parents assist in the shaping of their prefernces.
In order to identify the current listening preferences of South African adolescents
living in Johannesburg, questionnaires and interviews will be used as a key method
for gaining information. However, other methods, including an extensive literature
review, will also be used. The data collected through the above measures will be
used in the refinement and interpretation of data obtained primarily through
questionnaires. Thereafter, conclusions and recommendations will be based on the
data collected. A comparative analysis of the findings of a similar study completed
ten years previously by a doctoral student at the University of Durban-Westville will
be included.
No risks or discomforts are foreseen. Interviewees will participate voluntarily, and
without any financial compensation. They will be informed about all implications of
this research programme before participation. Once schools, parents and learners
have granted permission, learners will be invited to complete and sign a consent
form prior to being interviewed. They may at any time have the right to withdraw from
the proceedings.
As this study may impact the views of arts education in South African schools,
should you declare an interst in the final findings of the research project, access may
be granted to it through the University of Pretoria. At present, for ethical reasons, the
only persons to gain access to the data and records of the participants will be myself,
the researcher, Mr R. E. Matthews, and my supervisor, Prof. C. van Niekerk. On
completion of the study, the initial research data will be kept in storage for the
required fifteen years according to international guidelines.
While I understand that permission from the provincial Directors General for the
concerned regions is not strictly necessary, this letter is simply a gesture of courtesy
and goodwill to inform you of the of the above mentioned research project.
Should the need arise, please find below comprehensive contact details at your
Yours in the spirit of education
Robert Eric Matthews
MMus student/researcher
Student No.
Student address
Email address
Tel. No. of student
Title of the study
Prof. C. van Niekerk
Study leader/Supervisor
Robert Eric Matthews
P.O. Box 990070
Kibler Park
[email protected]
011 943 2682/ 084 534 0206
Generic music style preferences of urban South
African adolescents: a follow-up study including
additional genres of Hip-Hop, Kwaito, House, Metal and
Rhythm & Blues
To: The principal and Governing Body of participating school
Dear Sir/Madam
I am currently busy with a Masters Dissertation in music (MMus) at the University of
Pretoria, under the supervision of Prof. Caroline van Niekerk. My research project is
entitled: Music style preferences of urban South African adolescents: a followup study including additional genres of Hip-Hop, House, Kwaito, Metal and
Rhythm & Blues.
The aim of this study is to determine the current listening preferences of adolescent
grade nine learners in three major urban settings within South Africa and then
compare and contrast it’s findings to a similar study conducted ten years previously
by Dr. Jennifer James Singh, the then head of music education at the University of
I request permission to use your school and one or two class of grade nine learners
in this research project.
The actual research involves one class of grade nine learners completing the
attached music preference questionnaire based on the following fifteen genres of
music: Jazz, Reggae, South African Pop, Gospel, Western Pop, Rock, Metal, Indian
Classical, Western Classical, Western Choral, Traditional African, Hip-Hop, Kwaito,
House and Rhythm & Blues. Ten percent of this sample would then be required to
complete a ten minute interview with the researcher.
Yours faithfully,
Robert Matthews: Researcher
I, ……………………………………..…… have read and understood the contents of
this letter and give permission to the researcher to use the above mentioned school
and grade nine learners in this research project. Provided that parental consent is
given for learners to participate.
Signed: ………………………………………
Dear Parent/Caregiver
I am currently busy with a Masters Dissertation in music (MMus) at the University of
Pretoria, under the supervision of Prof. Caroline van Niekerk. My research project is
entitled: Music style preferences of urban South African adolescents: a followup study including additional genres of Hip-Hop, House, Kwaito, Metal and
Rhythm & Blues.
The aim of this study is to determine the current listening preferences of adolescent
grade nine learners in three major urban settings within South Africa and then
compare and contrast it’s findings to a similar study conducted ten years previously
by Dr. Jennifer James Singh, the then head of music education at the University of
I request permission to use your school and one class of grade nine learners in this
research project.
The actual research involves one class of grade nine learners completing the
attached music preference questionnaire based on the following fourteen genres of
music: Jazz, Reggae, South African Pop, Gospel, Western Pop, Rock, Metal, Indian
Classical, Western Classical, Western Choral, Traditional African, Hip-Hop, Kwaito,
House and Rhythm & Blues. Ten percent of this sample would then be required to
complete a ten minute interview with the researcher.
Yours faithfully,
Robert Matthews: Researcher
I: ____________________, parent/caregiver of: _______________________ have
read and understood the contents of this letter and give permission for my child to
participate in the abovementioned research project.
Signed: ________________________ Date: ______________________
Appendix B
Did you study music before coming to UDW?
I) Please listen to each excerpt of music and match each one to one of the following styles of music
that are written below:
i. Classical Indian
ii. Gospel
iii. Reggae
iv. Rock
vi. South African Pop
vii. South African Traditional
ix. Western Classical
x. Western Pop
v. South African Jazz
viii. Western Choral
{Nos 1 to 10}
II) Immediately after writing (1) above, use an “X” to cross out whether the length of listening time
was sufficient or not. {on the “a” of each number}
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Did you study music before coming to UDW?
i). Please listen to each excerpt and write down what you think is the name of the musical style that
each represents.
[Nos 1 to 10]
ii). Immediately after writing (i) above, use an “X” to cross out whether the length of listening time
was sufficient or not. [on the “a” of each number]
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
Too Long
Long Enough
Too Short
No. .............
1. NAME .......................................................
BACKGROUND INFORMATION – Please Cross “X” the relevant blocks
4. AGE
If NO – Would you like to study music at school?
15 seconds in
Listen to the following musical excerpts and after each example you have
which to answer whether you like or dislike it
All you have to do is put a “X” on your choice.
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
No. .............
1. NAME .......................................................
15 seconds in
Listen to the following musical excerpts and after each example you have
which to answer whether you like or dislike it.
All you have to do is put a “X” on your choice.
Choose one of the five choices.
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Like very much
Dislike very much
Please put a cross “X” on the appropriate blocks.
a) What makes you like a piece of music or influences your liking of that music?
i Your Parents ii Your Friend iii It is played often on Radio & T.V iv Your Teacher teaches it to you
b) When you listen to music, what aspect of the music makes you like it?
i Fast Tempo ii Slow Tempo
iii Melody iv Rhythm
v Harmony
vi Instruments vii Lyrics
Appendix C
Music Preference Questionnaire
Do you
music at
Would you
like to
music at
A little
Listening Test
like a lot
not sure
dislike a lot
like a lot
not sure
dislike a lot
1. What makes you like a piece of music or influences your liking of that music?
a. Your parents
b. Your friends
c. It is played often on radio or TV
d. Your teacher teaches it to you
e. Other (please list)
2. When you listen to the music, what aspect of the music makes you like it?
You may choose more than one.
a. Fast tempo
b. Slow tempo
c. Melody
d. Harmony
e. Lyrics
f. Instruments
g. Rhythm
Music Preference Interview
Preferred Genre ____________________________Age: ____________________
School: ___________________________________________________________
1. Why did you like this piece of music?
2. What was it about the music you liked? (tempo, rhythm, melody)
3. Was it simple or complex to listen to?
Simple / Complex
4. Have you heard it, or music similar to it on radio, TV or a recording?
5. Do you think your family may influence your decision?
Yes / No
a. Do your teachers use it or music similar to it in class?
Yes/ No
b. Would you like them to use it in their teaching?
Yes / No
7. Do your friends like it?
Yes / No
8. Have you performed this music?
Yes / No
9. Did you like the language it was written in?
Yes / No
10. Would you buy a recording of this type
of music?
Yes / No
11. Would you go to a concert of this
style of music?
12. Through which mode do you most
frequently listen to music?
13. On which Television channel do you most
frequently watch music videos?
Yes / No
Radio / TV / MP3 Player / CD
Trace / MTV / Channel O
SABC / Other (please list)
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