The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 1st

Column: Do you believe (in the power of music)?

<p>DTH Photo Illustration. A study conducted by UNC Ph.D. student Alex Kresovich revealed an increase in references to mental health in rap music over the past two decades.</p>
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. Many have discovered new artists to listen to over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Music has the power to bring people together. It’s something that can be shared even when two people are miles away. (In case you can't tell, my love language is making and receiving playlists.) 

Music has the therapeutic ability to help people cope with hard times. If you’ve read a few of my articles, you know that music has been monumental in helping me get through the past year. I’ve written about how the resurgence of Fleetwood Mac brightened a few of my days and how Pink Floyd helped me cope with the passing of my grandfather.

I recently spoke with a few people about their love of music and how their relationship with music changed through the past year from discovering new music, finding comfort in old favorites, occasionally not being able to listen to music at all and the excitement for live music to begin again.

Brielle Hassell was introduced to French Pop, Dylan Stickland started listening to a psychedelic punk band, Spirit of the Beehive, and Matthew Giangrosso discovered the classic rock treasure, The Grateful Dead.

Stickland, a singer, noted that finding new music really helped keep things interesting.

“It was music discovery that really pushed me through the past year,” said Stickland. “In general, though, jazzier, jammier, expressive music took the spotlight, with some more hardcore rock and punk thrown in for extra uplifting of the spirit.”

Giangrosso, a UNC law student and musician, went back and forth between new music and old tunes that he loved.

“Discovering new music, whether recorded or live, is like discovering a new adventure,” Giangrosso said. "I love that it can take me on a journey and allow me to live in the world it creates through its moods and lyrics."

One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people’s passion for music was dimmed at some points in the past year when things got really tough. 

Giangrosso said his relationship with music changed over the course of the pandemic — it felt repetitive after so many months of lockdown. 

“During the early fall, the only music I could occasionally stomach were lofi beats that mostly acted as background music," Giangrosso said. "Listening to music lost its sheen after it was often the only thing I was doing to distract myself from everything going on."

Hassell, a singer/songwriter, couldn’t listen to music for almost two months. 

“I found myself driving in the car with complete silence," Hassell said. "I think it may have had something to do with how discouraged I was at that time."

One thing we've all missed during the pandemic is live music. Many concerts have been postponed or canceled in the past year — including the Harry Styles concert I was supposed to attend last summer. (Fingers crossed I can finally see him perform in the fall.) 

“I miss sharing moments and conversations with those strangers, knowing we have at least one common interest,” Hassell said. “I miss the way that my favorite songs sound live; something recorded versions just can't ever quite capture.”

The culmination of music’s ability to connect is at its peak at a concert. There’s nothing quite like when the people next to you are complete strangers and yet you are bound by a love of similar music. 

Ultimately, music has played a huge role in helping people survive the past 12 months. Each person’s relationship with music may have fluctuated during the monotony of isolation, but ultimately, it helped them cope with their personal struggles.  

Once it's safe to do so, I think we'll all be ecstatic to make new memories and feel that sense of community that has been so sorely missed — hopefully to the sound of a rad playlist.


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