MUSIC PREFERENCE AND THE ISSUES OF SOCIAL CHALLENGES AMONG NIGERIAN YOUTH
IMPLICATIONS FOR MORAL DEVELOPMENT
Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria.
Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria.
Abiodun, Femi. 2017. “Music Preference and the Issues of Social Challenges Among Nigerian Youth: Implications For Moral Development.” Accelerando: Belgrade Journal of Music and Dance 2:6.
Music makes or mars the youth. This hypothesis is re-assessed in this study through a survey and analysis of preferred music items among the Nigerian youth and this is discussed reflecting on the interactionist uses and effect theory. This theory gives an insight into the process of socialization, which helps to explain what influences adolescent moral development in terms of attitudes and values transmitted to youth. In part, the media effect theory will be used since the youth uses media channels to access the music and media contents have psychological effects on youth. (Giles, 2003). Music in all its ramifications at all levels apart from the entertainment it offers, performs a function and is concerned with the development of a complete being. Practitioners and consumers of music are culturally bond to exhibit certain reasonable socio- cultural behaviour accepted within the social constraint of Nigerian society. The song-text content and not the vehicle (the musical genres) determines this social behaviour. This means that the melody and the instrumental accompaniment may drive the music, little studies have proved that they affect moral. This study therefore is a survey of the type of music listened to by Nigerian youth and what moral and cultural message the music passes on to the youth.
We listen to music consciously and unconsciously because music is prevalent all the time around us and our listening opportunities are numerous. The first exposure is the music made at home by especially the nursing mother, who in Africa provides the first rhythmic pattern and many times teaches the basic dance steps (Abiodun, 2005). Social activities (funeral, marriage, naming ceremony, festivals and court music (music played to entertain the king in his palace) also provide opportunities to listen to music. However, the fast growing glut of high-quality music devices and outlets that play a seemingly endless catalogue of musical functions have widen the musical choices all over the world. What to choose from therefore has become numerous that confusion may arise.
An individual who enjoys the music he hears is at least passing through the process of soaking it up or imbibing it in time. He/she may translate the experience and react in some overt way. This becomes a social challenge. While in some, strong rhythmic content may arouse emphatic gesture and in others, the reaction may be passive or active. Definite measurement in terms other than those of factual information is a difficult task and there is no accurate means of measuring the inner response of individual listeners other than the information elicited from respondents. Information relating to culture, identity, moral and emotional (psychological) issues can also be derived from the song texts. The paper relies on the latter for its analysis. This paper is therefore meant to find out the types of music one prefers listening to irrespective of different responses it arouses from different individual. Since measuring the inner response of a listener is almost impossible, a textual analysis of the music is however paramount in determining the content validity, possible reaction and responses it may arouse and what it offers in terms of morals.
The term listening is used here to describe an activity in which an individual is listening to music performed on transistor radio, television, internet, mp3/4, iPod and so on. One expects an individual to exhibit a somewhat “passive demeanour” while listening to music, at times there are physical reactions borne out of emotion and often involuntary. Listening and reacting to music are a physical activity that arouses in individual a muscular response like dance or body movement. Roe (2013) notes that music has intruded more and more into public space… today, most seven olds have probably come in contact with more music than those living before the age of electronic media. Mueller (2007) reiterates that “the age of youth is a time of uncertainty that’s filled with questions. Music meets them right where they are to provide guidance and direction.” Studies in the past and now confirm that underlying a passive or active listening attitude, there are definite reactions to music heard. This is may be an immediate passive action, over reaction such as a rhythmic response in terms of movement (music and dance in Nigeria cannot be treated in isolation), a comment or a question about the music heard. The reactions are not necessarily an indication of a good listening experience but may be an overt response to the music. The outcome of listening activity depends on the listener’s total previous experience such as access to music on media devices. Since individual’s interpretation of pitch, rhythm and timbre varies significantly, reactions and responses will also vary. (Andrew 1951, Dunn 1997 & 2002, Asabe 2006 and Beynon 2016).
Scholars of note have explored different areas of music preference. The American Academic of Pediatrics notes that some argued that children and adolescents use music only for entertainment, that little or no attention is paid to the words. The study also reveals that preference for certain types of music could be correlated or associated with certain behaviour. Human beings are not predictable. The results may be different in Nigeria because of cultural issues, economic peculiarities (the current recession in Nigeria for instance) and political climates. Rentfrow, Goldberg and Levitin’s five factor model (Rentfrow et al. 2011) may not be appropriate for any study in music preference in Nigeria because the terrain and premise for measurement are noble and novel. Many of the musical styles are not African. The emotional response to a musical performance in a festival is characteristically different from the same music on radio. This is because performance practice will be different from the recorded version. Music in the shrine of Sango (god of thunder) may move the performers to transits but a recorded version of the same music will not. What is emotional in Nigerian context may not be such in Europe and America. Nigerian musical scene is full of all sorts of musical genres inherent within and without our cultural context. Three musical genres are identified in this study: traditional, popular and classical music. These three genres co-exist in Nigerian society and each has its own listening audience and fans. Each of the musical genres has general roles and performs some functions within our socio-cultural life. These functions vary from ritualistic to social, psychological, educational, communicative, ceremonial, entertainment, therapeutic and recreational functions. This study finds out which of these functional roles do youth desire while listening to music. Which of them provide moral lessons?
Listening to Music on radio, mp3, phones has more impact on youth than television, movies and computer. Roberts and Christenson provide comfort for parents in their book” It’s not only Rock and Roll’’ (1997) when they provide information on how to monitor issues about the contents of pop music like graphic sex, morbid violence, overt racism and challenges to authority in popular music lyrics and video. Lyric contents of popular music in Nigerian music may not be significantly different from what Roberts and Christenson listed. However their position that music alters and intensifies youth’s mood, furnishes much of their slang, dominates their conversation and provide ambiance at their social gathering is universal and paramount in the usage of music by youth. But how this is differently related to Nigerian youth is verified in this study.
Music of all times apart from the emotional gratification it gives has some concern for the development of our moral life. It is an agent of social change with ability to see through the social circumstance of a time in question. Idowu (1986) describes behaviour problem of adolescent student as norm violation and deviation from age appropriate behaviour which interferes with the students’ growth and development. He equally identifies its causal agents as heightened anxiety, nervous disorder, psychosis and socio-economic status which in this case may be as a result of music listened to. Attitudes shown after listening to some form of music may be a result of emotional response which may be physical, intellectual or imaginative. Attitudes are relatively synonymous with emotions. Moul (1968) describes it as emotionally toned ideas. Every human being has emotions; the degree of emotional responsiveness however differs in individuals. Rohmer (1980) defines emotional responsiveness as an ability to express emotion like feelings of warmth, affection and other positive emotions freely and openly. Nonetheless, ability to be creative is innate and listening to music may set off a chain reaction of creativity in the mind and emotions of the listener. Seashore (1988) observes that: ‘’The bearing of music is a response to stimulus. The idea and feelings which constitute the response are the creation of the listener in his own image (ibid., 188). Andrews (1953) listed four main classifications of the listeners’ response. In this study, these four types are adopted and used for measuring responses from music listened to: (a) emotional response often brought about through the establishment of a mood (state of mind and feelings); (b) physical response through the listeners reaction in term of bodily movement (dance); (c) intellectual response through the ability to analyze the component parts of the music and develop technical knowledge (structural appraisal); (d) imaginative response through the ability to project into music in terms of creative ability (music making).
Music is a communicative culture and its power of communication cannot be over- emphasized. Dorothy et al note that music as a communicative arts provides a mans by which people can share emotions, intentions and meanings.(Dorothy et al. 2012) Since instrumental structures are closely related to the musico-phonological structures of the song, both instrumental and local music perform communicative functions. Music in this sense is conceived as an integral part of oral mode of communication. Some distinctive factors affect the choice or the type of music listened to. This includes too much parental control or lack of it and this often has been identified as one of the causes of unacceptable behaviour patterns. Obayan (1991, 133) reiterates that ‘’perceived maternal acceptance/ rejection is significantly related to positive or negative emotional stability’’. How parent’s intervention determines choice of music is verified in this study.
Many other factors influence musical taste. Roberts and Christenson (1997) note that ”differences in music taste are not idiosyncratic but shaped by social background and other environmental influences.’’ Such environmental factor in Nigeria will include urban-rural factor, economic factor and access to music. Those youth in the rural areas do not have access to urban music and vice-versa. This factor is significant in determining music taste in under-developed and developing African countries. The position of this statement is verified in this study.
The subjects were a total of 450 students randomly selected from the students of Kwara State College of Education, The Polytechnic and University of Ilorin representing the three main tertiary education systems we have in Nigeria. The subjects were made up of 204 female and 245 male students. The instrument used for this study was a three- part questionnaires developed, validated and administered for the study. Part A was designed to elicit personal information such as sex and year of study. Parts B elicited information on music most preferred while part C sought information on reasons why respondents listen to such music. The subjects were from the South West Nigeria (Yoruba). The texts of the songs are in Yoruba and English language. Three categories of music were analyzed: the traditional music which in this study represents such indigenous music that has no Western influence like Dakakuada of Ilorin, Kiriboto music of Oyo, Ogbele music of Ekiti, Iregun music of Yagba people, ege music of Abeokuta and other oral musical genres like Ijala, Iwi Egungun, Ekun Iyawo, to mention a few (vocal). Others include instrumental ensemble like Bata ensemble, Dundun ensemble (Membranophonic), sekere ensembles (Idiophonic), Kakaki ensembles (Aerophonic). Instrumental music was analyzed because Yoruba drums talk. The popular music often referred to as pop music is the music generally accepted by the people. It has a broad, immediate and implicit universal and transient appeal to all especially the youth. Okafor. (1986, 64) describes it as such music that do not require guided listening because people are familiar with their idioms. Initial study (Abiodun 2002) identifies fuji and hippop as the most accepted pop music in Nigeria. This justifies the choice of the two pop music for this study. The religious musical genres are the Islamic and Gospel music where the doctrines of the religions are sung. The last category is the Western classical music which is the music understood and practiced by the academia. These are the people trained in music theory and applied music. It is a music to which serious application and thought has been given and music written with the background of proper musical training.
The questionnaire was administered through research assistants who distributed and collected accordingly. The collation involved counting the number of subjects that responded to the various questions and finding the percentages.
Traditional music in this context and as spelt out in the questionnaire includes Nigerian music: Bata, dundun, were, dadakuada, ogebele, ege, gelede music of the Yoruba. From the Table 1. 29 (6.4%) prefer traditional music. This number shows the trend in which traditional music – its practice and its performance has seriously declined.
The second column feature two popular music (hip-pop and fuji). Hip Hop music has the higher percentage of 56.2% to its credit. The third column on the table shows that 120 (26.7%) prefer fuji music. The fourth column on the table indicates that 45 (10%) have flair for religious music. Religions music covers all music used by Christians, Muslims and traditional worshipers (ogun, sango, oya) The last column on the table shows that only 3 (0. 7%) prefer Western classical music. This is a type of music put together and arranged with serious artistic intentions.
Table 2 above shows different information sought while listening to music. For historical facts only 13 (2. 9%) listen to music to gather historical facts. 66 (14. 7%) listen to music for educational purpose while 14 (3.1%) listen to music for informational purposes.
Majority listens to music for entertainment purpose. As many as 343 (76.2%) listen to music to entertain themselves or their guests. Only 14 (3.1%) listen to music for moral instruction.
Moral issues as they are related to song texts in the four musical genres studied in this paper are analyzed within a central theme model. It is equally analyzed within the ambiance of the philosophy guiding the social, religious and cultural principles of the South Western Nigeria (Yoruba). The people believe in the Almighty God who is the supreme being of the Yoruba people. The songs analyzed are in Yoruba language.
Theme 1: Moral/ Religious Issues (Fuji music)
Theme 2: Religious Crisis (Waka music)
The type of songs in themes 1 and 2 often shows that people do not have respect for God. Despite the fact that Nigerians are religious, there are several crimes in the country. These highly immoral situations have caused religious crisis. Muslims use Ijab as part of religious obligation. The use of ijab has caused troubles in some states in Nigeria. Singing about it may fuel crisis.
Theme 3: Sexual Activities (Fuji)
Singing songs that have to do with sexual activities corrupts the mind of the youth who are expected to be educated about sexual activities. Many of the popular musicians play around these issues.
Theme 4: Entertainment (Skelewu)
Theme 5: Entertainment (Shekini)
It is good to entertain. It is good to dance. Music for many ages has been doing this. New dances
from recent albums erode the traditional dances. The dances are entertaining but ridiculously not
polite for public consumption.
Theme 6: Song of abuse
Songs as we have in theme 6 emanate from envy among the different fans of similar genres. Fans are grouped in empathy or sympathy for a musician. For example between juju musicians (Sunny Ade versus Ebenezer Obey), or between two Fuji Musicians (Kollinton and Barrister). When this happens, the two musicians will “sing” each other that will result to public abuse. Youth follow these trends and got indulged in it.
Theme 7: Historical (Apala)
Music in Nigeria as we have it all over the world, teaches history. How many of the history are sung by the musicians? Are the youth interested in historical facts? The result that follows shows this.
Theme 8: Drug Abuse (Apiiri)
Drug abuse is a global phenomenon. Singing it around the youth does three things: propagate the use, misuse or disuse of it. The song above seems positive and may bring about positive rethink about use of drugs.
Theme 9: Education
This song is positive. It narrates the experience of someone that has good education and the other without good education. It teaches the youth to be serious about going to school.
Theme 10: Information
Information is good when they are meant to accomplish the message sent. The song above gives information about forthcoming election in Nigeria. It advises the youth to run away from thuggery and violent activities. It also warns the parents to caution their adolescents about violence.
Discussion and Cultural Implications
Of all arts, music tends to show more representation of our daily living than other arts. It features prominently in all aspects of life. An average individual starts to build his musical experiences from rhythm of dances and songs rendered by his mother to lull her child to sleep. This musical experience continues through life until various environmental variables bring about different reactions to even the same form of music. The reactionary behaviour of individual to different form of music is the musical preference predetermined by family background, exposure and maturity of individuals.
That only 29 (6.4%) prefer traditional music is an indication of negative attitude towards our tradition – a turn from our culture. Contact with other cultures – western and Islamic culture – has brought a total assimilation and acculturation of those cultures. Atimes enculturation may take place. Enculturation is defined in this paper within the definitive terms of Melville Jean Herskovits (1938) who first defined the term – enculturation as the process of socialization, a process of learning one's own culture, a construct and a process in a behavioral sense, that delineates transmission (acquiring the existing culture, moral, values, language, etc.) and transmutation of culture throughout human growth (cultural transmutation is a process of psychosocial mutation, which involves innovation and pluralism). All this has changed our musical taste, physical outlook, mental reasoning, social priorities and moral values. Our traditional music is a victim of this circumstance.
Nigeria is a very religious country but her religious practices have not influenced the type of music listened to in Nigeria. One would expect that majority would prefer religious music but only 45 (10%) have preference for religious music. This form of music rather than the Hip Hop music which is the most preferred is capable of building moral character and instilling discipline in younger generation. Abdulkareem (1989) identifies religions as one of the agents of moral instruction.
Many listen to music generally for the entertainment it offers. 342 (76%) indicated that the purpose of listening to music is for entertainment. The study shows that other vital factors like deriving historical facts (2.9%); information (3.1%); education (14.7%) and moral purpose (3.1%) are less significant.
Among the list provided under popular music, it is shown from the study that hip pop and fuji are the most preferred. Semantic analysis of some of the song texts of fuji and hip-pop music shows that the song texts have more of entertaining texts than morals. Implications of this on moral value is the prevalence of behaviour problem in Nigeria society. Quay (1966) identifies four behaviour dimensions:
The type of music listened to may bring about conduct disorder; that is physical and verbal aggression, fights and disobedience. This is evident in the song text of a popular fuji musician “ Emi o ni gba yeye” (I will not take nonsense). This result is in line with the findings of the Council on Communications and Media, the official Web site of the American Academy of pediatrics, the primary recourse for pediatricians who work in the media. The result of the study shows that lyrics have become more explicit in their references to drugs, sex and violence, "which may produce significant changes in behaviours and attitudes in young listeners."
Another behavioural dimension is immaturity which is evident in the song of abuse rendered by the popular musicians. Every pop musician wants to prove that his music is the best and would want to destroy others to gain fame. This we found to affect the thinking of the youth which as a result of emotional response to the feelings of the pop singers often facilitates the establishment of a mood (state of mind and feelings). This finding is not found in most of the studies we reviewed.
Personal disorder is another behavioural dimension which is evident generally in pop music like fuji. While female youth are more likely than male youth to use music to reflect emotional feelings, male will turn such emotion to physical and personal display. Male youth are unnecessarily hypersensitive to other music and may have the feelings of inferiority or superiority challenged in a way that may bring violence. This may also degenerate to stealing one- else’s show (copyright lawlessness).
The socialized delinquent dimension has to do with the behaviour that is not in accordance with accepted social standards. This is evident in the case of pop musicians who are in one secret cult or the other for probably protective disguise or to perpetuate one evil or the other and be involved in one social vice like drug trafficking, aiding and abetting. This is evident in their song texts which reflect secret cult songs. This we equally found out is critically determined by environment. Within the environmental indices, parent’s intervention in choice of music is found to be highly significant too.
Further analysis shows that some of the song texts are capable of re- ordering the social standard of the youths in some positive ways. They are informative, educative, palliative and entertaining. Instrumentation reflects African drumming and exhibits distinctive identity of a Nigerian community. The youth experience much knowledge about Nigerian music. They can tell in a moment what the music contains in terms of musical structure: melody, rhythmic pattern and form. This establishes intellectual response through the ability to analyze the component parts of the music and develop technical knowledge (structural appraisal). They dance to these musicals. This also is evident in physical response through the listeners’ reaction in terms of bodily movement (dance). What is significantly lacking that this study has found out is that they are not suitable for moral development.
Listening to a piece of music establishes a mood, creates emotions, brings about negative or positive responses and establishes a behavioral pattern in individual which becomes part and parcel of such an individual. Every human being has feelings or emotions which hearing or listening to a piece of music can make either negative or positive. To this end, it is necessary to train the emotional responsiveness of our youth through guided listening. Unrefined music which has been the agent of behavioural problem in our society and has brought about conduct disorder, needs a total overhauling and re-ordering in order to foster emotional stability’ which Rohner (1980) defines as “ability to express emotion especially positive emotions freely and openly”.
A guided listening is a vital tool in the process of rightful thinking skills, stable emotion and more importantly in building a nation and solving Nigeria’s multifarious social, political and economic problems.