Why do listeners move on as they get older?

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
It seems for all the nostalgia most listeners like my parents don't really listen to those older songs, and prefer to listen to newer compositions and recordings. I wonder why this is? One of the reasons is fairly obvious, improved recording and listening technology. Another it seems that older listeners enjoy having better access to music that appeals to them. I remember being into the Beatles briefly, and it seems my parents thought they were trivial sell outs. Another fairly obvious observation is that their tastes have changed.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'm 66 and if you could see the variety on my iPod you may change your mind. I could also be the exception, or your parents could be. The generation before mine seemed to get stuck in 30's and 40's music and never really liked anything from the 50's on.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
Contrary to the belief that newer recording technology is better, it isn't. Listening conditions have even gotten worse.

Since nostalgia can only be felt after the fact, there is always a need for novel experiences to establish a new base for nostalgia.

Music causes pleasurable brain activity and those reactions need complexity to establish newly acquired tastes.

The flavor of a piece of candy does not give me the same sense of nostalgia from my childhood as the flavor of a Lambic beer gives me the sense of nostalgia from my trip to Belgium.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What I don't get is people who liked band A for instance, and many years later, they don't like band A anymore. If I liked them then, I still like them now. Musical taste can be a funny and illogical thing sometimes. Like I love The Archies "Sugar Sugar". Go ahead, laugh away. Complete bubble gum pop but there's parts I really like about it. MJ's "I Want You Back" is in my top 5 all time favorite songs. I love that song. Once I like something, I like it for life. But not everyone is like that. It's all good.
 

Retrovertigo

Senior Member
Contrary to the belief that newer recording technology is better, it isn't. Listening conditions have even gotten worse.
No and no. care to back any of those claims up? Recording technology is much better. we are currently able to reproduce and store music with insane accuracy. weather you like current output is subjective. and listening conditions have also gotten much better (and more affordable). you dont have to buy Beats headphones if you don't want. you can buy a pair of Grado's or the like. also how can "listening conditions" have gotten worse? all the options of years past are still available. also, I'll take an mp3 over AM any day.

anyway, back to the OP, people's taste change. the music i listened to in middle school/high school I now find to be trite and horrible. 311, Korn and Incubus just sound terrible to me now.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Listening conditions for some may have become less ideal because of the levels of noise pollution that is around with traffic, etc but the technology has definitely improved. Modern playback systems are much more reliable and easier to configure.

My sound system comprises of my laptop (but any device will work), a turntable, a cassette player, an audio interface, a pair of monitor speakers and two pairs of monitoring headphones. The total cost is probably around £1,000 if I ignore the laptop but you could quite easily create a good playback system if you went all-digital (and bought decent headphones) for about £350.

Digital is much, much more accurate than analogue formats in general. In theory an analogue system could reproduce sound more accurately than a digital system but to do so you'd have to have very accurate analogue gear (not common) and spend literally hours configuring it. That's not taking into account playback medium wear and production quality. Digital playback is far, far more consistent and 99.9% (at high quality) more accurate. The preference for analogue is to do with learned expectations of a particular sound (including the distortion) and the more limited frequency spectrum, it can definitely sound 'nicer' or 'more pleasant' but that doesn't necessarily mean 'accurate'.

Case in point (accuracy vs. subject pleasure), monitor speakers. I use monitors for practically all of my serious listening and they expose much more detail than typical home audio systems. Typical home audio systems attempt to make the material sound 'pleasant', monitors try to make the material 'accurate'. It just so happens that I'm used to accurate reproduction so I enjoy that.

I use analogue formats frequently. I'm listening to a record I've just bought right now. I bought a new (yes, they're still made) cassette the other day. I like the way they sound, the physicality of the mediums and the use of them but I won't pretend that they're 'better', they're just different and less convenient.

Plus. Beats headphones are *%&#.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
anyway, back to the OP, people's taste change. the music i listened to in middle school/high school I now find to be trite and horrible. 311, Korn and Incubus just sound terrible to me now.
The three bands you mention were high-energy club bands that made it out of the clubs. None of them really had an epic hit. I still like seeing bands like this... in clubs. Some of the bands from that era still play out from time to time, and they're a riot to go and see. Sloan, The Muffs, Red Kross, Dinosaur Jr... They're all still around. All put on great shows.

The only thing that has changed with age is that I've grown more eclectic as I enter middle-agedom. I think that a person only has so much passion, and the measure we feel for each individual band diminishes in proportion to the number of artists we listen to.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
It seems for all the nostalgia most listeners like my parents don't really listen to those older songs, and prefer to listen to newer compositions and recordings. I wonder why this is? One of the reasons is fairly obvious, improved recording and listening technology. Another it seems that older listeners enjoy having better access to music that appeals to them. I remember being into the Beatles briefly, and it seems my parents thought they were trivial sell outs. Another fairly obvious observation is that their tastes have changed.
What you describe doesn't sound like moving on, it sounds like ADDING on. Most people enjoy new experiences, whether it is a trip to a new city or listening to new music. It doesn't mean you've forgotten or discarded the old.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
There are a few bands that I used to listen to when I was but a wee bairn that I cannot stand now. In the last few years my listening tastes have significantly widened. My collection of music consists of everything from Beethoven to Britney. Not all of it I like (I don't like Britney!) but it's there to be enjoyed.

I don't know about other people but my listening goes around in phases. For a while, I'll listen to nothing but (say) Stravinsky and after that it'll be Kraftwerk or Radiohead for a week or so. I have a few stalwarts that I re-visit frequently (I always listen to Nick Drake in October/November) but most of the time I'm listening between a lot of different things. Right now I'm in an avant-garde phase, listening to a lot of noise.

Does anybody else do this?
 

Macarina

Silver Member
There are a few bands that I used to listen to when I was but a wee bairn that I cannot stand now. In the last few years my listening tastes have significantly widened. My collection of music consists of everything from Beethoven to Britney. Not all of it I like (I don't like Britney!) but it's there to be enjoyed.

I don't know about other people but my listening goes around in phases. For a while, I'll listen to nothing but (say) Stravinsky and after that it'll be Kraftwerk or Radiohead for a week or so. I have a few stalwarts that I re-visit frequently (I always listen to Nick Drake in October/November) but most of the time I'm listening between a lot of different things. Right now I'm in an avant-garde phase, listening to a lot of noise.

Does anybody else do this?
I do.

My tastes have evolved... or maybe matured. For me, it's the massive amount of repetition over the years. I'm just tired of hearing this stuff over and over again. I've maintained my fav's over the years, but rarely listen to them. I'm always on the search for new, fresh material.

I was the the world's biggest fan of REO Speedwagon. As time went on, they changed. I changed. On occasion, I like to hear their early material.

There will always be a place in my rocking soul for the artists I know and love, but my desire for new sounds is far stronger.

PS: I'm 56
 

rustyfingers

Senior Member
I'm 54...

I flip flop around about what I listen to mostly. Last week it was Crash Test Dummies and this week it's Beatles and The Dixie Dregs.

I think for my particular age group the radio wore out a lot of really good songs. A person can only listen to "Stairway to Heaven" and "Aqualung" so many times before it's just ... UG. I like a lot of the new stuff but I have to pick it up off of late night TV because most of the stations where I live play Classic Rock or Contemporary Christian. Not much in-between around here and defiantly nothing fresh. I've been jonsing for some 5th Dimension and Three Dog Night lately, good stuff.

Dennis
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
No and no. care to back any of those claims up? Recording technology is much better. we are currently able to reproduce and store music with insane accuracy. weather you like current output is subjective. and listening conditions have also gotten much better (and more affordable). you dont have to buy Beats headphones if you don't want. you can buy a pair of Grado's or the like. also how can "listening conditions" have gotten worse? all the options of years past are still available. also, I'll take an mp3 over AM any day.
I can agree with that! It's the current output that I take issue with.

My subjective opinion comes from a statistical sampling of just one. Me.
I don’t believe auditory quality can properly be quantified on a mass scale. However, in my experience there are less non-compact home stereos in peoples’ homes, playing more lossy compressed music with less information being heard (signal to noise notwithstanding). That’s not to say many of us here don’t listen to uncompressed fodder, but maybe many do.

Comparing AM to MP3 is not a particularly accurate analogy because the two are different mediums. One is broadcast and the other is storage. If we compare just FM from three decades ago to the present, there is increased compression of the broadcast signal and a louder, but worse sound.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war


I guess that’s my opinion. I’ll try to hold back the cognitive dissonance if everybody proves me to be a crackpot, but for a good lot of musicians, we tend to listen critically and we may not be average.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
What you describe doesn't sound like moving on, it sounds like ADDING on. Most people enjoy new experiences, whether it is a trip to a new city or listening to new music. It doesn't mean you've forgotten or discarded the old.
I think this is true to some extent. However, it's kind of like reading a book or watching a TV show many people don't care to experience more than once.

Furthermore, some people seem to place more emphasis on new experiences than others. In particular some older people seem especially deprived and yearning for new experiences(having seen most of it before).
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
I find myself moving on backward as I get older. I'm 40 and last night I was listening to some Buddy Rich stuff from the 50's. I have no idea why, but I'm gravitating toward the old stuff both in terms of artist playing styles and recording styles.

I love the sound of analogue recordings and playback. There's a meat and warmth to analogue that I enjoy.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I keep seeing the OP's thread title and think - why *wouldn't* listeners move on as they get older?

I know there are a lot of people who were rabid fans of whatever back in high school, but then never evolved after that. I've never really understood this, except that it seems like a drag to stay stuck in one era.

Music itself is an ever-evolving art form, and personal music tastes also evolve. Most of my favorite bands have gone through long periods of evolving. The Beatles were probably the best example of this as they always seemed to stay focused on what was new and interesting in the moment rather than resting on their laurels. Lots of bands have reached some breakout success with a record and spent the rest of their careers trying to replicate it while falling into self-parody in the process. I know which model appeals to me more!

There's still a lot of stuff from my teen years that I still listen to and love, but more often I'm getting turned on to newer stuff (or at least new to me). New is inherently more interesting just by virtue of not having heard it before. Some if it wears off pretty fast, and other stuff takes a little getting used to, but it's good for the soul to remain open to the unfamiliar.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
I remember being into the Beatles briefly, and it seems my parents thought they were trivial sell outs. Another fairly obvious observation is that their tastes have changed.

A comprehensive essay on the Devolution of modern music would explain a lot.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
I find it increasingly difficult to move on.

I was born in 1965, so I grew up with my parents' music - Beatles, Stones, Joplin, Creedence and all the usual 60's/early 70's suspects. As I grew older, I discovered Roxy Music, Dire Straits, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Clapton, Queen, Tom Petty and 80's acts like Prefab Sprout, Pat Benatar, The Pretenders, U2, The Police.

Then there's blues-based stuff I listen to...ZZ Top, SRV...

By the 90's my "acquisition" of new artists slowed dramatically, and since 00 I've had to make an effort to expose myself to new music, rather than stay in my comfort zone.

Why? Because I now have 5 decades of music to select from, and there's a huge amount of good music there that I haven't explored, as well as the nostalgic pull of music from back when I was very nearly cool.

On top of that, my tastes have become increasingly eclectic. This week I discovered a guy called Pokey La Farge...acoustic blues/ragtime/rootsy stuff that's just brilliant.
 

Starship Krupa

Senior Member
Interesting thread.

I think that for many people, and I am one, music is "the soundtrack of our lives."

As my life circumstances and outlook change, so does my preferred soundtrack. More jazz these days.

In college, I was all about Steely Dan and what is now called "yacht rock," then found that punk and post-punk spoke to me a lot more directly.

Cultural context has always been a factor in music tastes; younger people, especially, use it as tribal identification. Are you a hesher, geek, skater, popular kid, jock, cheerleader, intellectual, art weirdo, gay, etc.

This carried on in a larger sense as I got older; I was very dissatisfied with the mainstream political and cultural environment in the United States in the '80's, so I recoiled from anything that seemed to support the status quo, and embraced music that I perceived as subversive.

With that context removed or dissipated, I find that I can go back and appreciate music that at the time I wrote off as reactionary or passive. I've seen it happen with people who were on the "other side" back then; at the time they thought that punk and new wave were total crap, music for idiot degenerates but 30 years on, can appreciate it.

Of course, pretty much everything that was once scary and transgressive will eventually become cuddly. I was at Red Robin last night and I am pretty sure that I heard The Misfits on the piped-in music.

As far as finding new things to like, I still do it, although not as much. I rely on radio, either my local college station, or curated Internet radio stations. I mention "curated," because part of the fun of radio for me is hearing what an actual person thinks is a good flow. I have friends who really like Pandora, but I am resistant to having an algorithm feed me tunes.

I discovered Brant Bjork via one of my favorite stations, Turn Me on Dead Man, which is dedicated to vintage and modern psychedelic music.
 
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