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Does music define us?

Gráinne writes about how different types of music has framed her thinking

Written by Grainne Hamill and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"Different music represents different things to different people"

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In a culture so taken with mainstream media, which a hundred percent promotes specific artists because of their looks and many would say their ‘brainless’ music, with ‘meaningless’ messages; I thought why not take a look back on my own journey through the field of finding oneself, with the help of some good old classics.

And as many people’s truly touching stories start in childhood, so did mine.

Years ago, when I was full of youth and still stuck in the good old days of primary school I didn’t have much love for music, I listened to whatever was on the radio (which wasn’t much because my mother only tuned into the stations that had competitions on, which she won a fair amount of). There was only one thing I was certain of back then, and that was that I HATED Westlife; funny how only a few years later I was to fall in love with the biggest pop boy-band in the world, One Direction. 

Skipping on a few years, after my minor (more like major) fangirling days were coming to an end (still not over) I decided to start actually listening to some ‘real’ music. By ‘real’ music, I mean the old classic music, which comes under a genre that isn’t just ‘Pop’, the fact is I don’t believe that any music is more ‘real’ than another. Different music represents different things to different people.

Anyways, that is when I got into Reggae, Rock, anything other than the stuff you hear on iRadio or whatever pop station is in your area. That is when I met the hero, the legend, my soul mate born too soon Bob Marley. Which became the first true artist to make me connect with music on both a spiritual and physical level, both at the same time. Making my heart feel the waves of emotions that he sang with while also making me want to move my hips in rhythm to the beat (which I’ve learnt over time I’m not very good at).

And it was with that, I realised how much music does define us. I grew from not really caring about music to the person I am now, where music plays a massive role in my life. I can’t play any instrument. I mean I tried one too many times to learn the skill of playing music, but along with being tone-deaf, my hands couldn’t seem to understand all those chord things that others do. I went to guitar lessons, piano lessons, clarinet lessons; I was just dreadful. My mother to this day begs me to pick up an instrument, but thankfully even my best friend has told her I haven’t a chance at learning how to play. But, over time I’ve learnt you don’t really have to play an instrument to love music, to love singing, to love dancing (you don’t have to be a good dancer to dance), you just have to find the right genre, the right vibe for you.

I believe music to be something which unifies the entire world, it is the ‘universal language of mankind’. It is a revolution within itself and no revolution can survive without it. You name a period of time in history and there is a song, a musical melody somewhere in relation to that time. It is music itself that has brought me closer to certain individuals. It is a conversation starter, a friendship beginner and an eye opener for many things in life.  

As I have grown, so has my taste in music. We have matured together, yes I still have the times where I sit in my room listening to One Direction, and anyone who knows me knows my love for those five boys (yes five, never four). When I fell in love (or became obsessed) with those boys it was for a reason, it was completely right for who I was at that period of time in my life and even though their songs are just love songs with different melodies but all kind of similar, they still played a role for my growth, for who I am now.

I have gone full circle. My lifestyle comes down to my politics, my politics come down to my morals and my morals a lot of the time reflect much of the music I choose to listen to. It all joins up and makes me the person I am today. Without music where would I be? Without music where would you be? Is it truly a painkiller (“When music hits you, you feel no pain”)? Does it define who you are right now? Those are the questions to ask oneself, and don’t do what I used to do, don’t judge a song, an artist before you’ve given them the chance. 

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Published April 4th2016
Last updated July 23rd2018
Tags music
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