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Op-Ed: Give Music in a Language You Don’t Understand a Try

There are generally two kinds of music listeners, those who listen to lyrics first and the sound second and those who do the opposite. This rule doesn’t usually cross genre and taste, if you’re committed to liking hip-hop a country singers’ poetic lyrics are unlikely to get you into their music. If you’re more interested in the way a song sounds, you probably catch on to what the singer is actually saying after a few listens. Whichever kind of music fan you are, listening to music in a language you don’t understand can be a liberating experience.

Often when we do listen to the lyrics of songs, whether it’s on the first time or the fifth, they change our perception of a song. Songs can be about anything: a breakup, a great love, a family member, death, even simply just a story. Lyrics are an essential and beautiful part of music, however when you don’t understand the lyrics it changes the listening experience entirely.

Lyrics in a way can be distracting from the music itself and knowing the emotions of the singer because they have explained it to you, takes the challenge of hearing it in their voice away. Emotions, good or bad, can be heard through the tone of voice even if you cannot understand everything, and removing words from the song can help you to feel the music on a different level.

Listening to music that is not in a language you understand also opens the doors to so many other artists and bands. There is an endless amount of music in the world, and by confining your taste to just one or two languages you could be missing out on discovering artists you love. If you are trying to learn a new language, listening to its music is a great way to expose yourself to it and different cultures at the same time.

The lyrics are just one small part of music, and in my opinion one of the least important ones. If I truly wanted to be moved by just words, I would read some poetry. This is not to say that lyrics are entirely unimportant, but music is an experience of sound. Listening to music you don’t understand allows you to experience exactly that, without the distraction of someone else’s thoughts.


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