GERMANY: In a groundbreaking study conducted in Germany, researchers shed light on the intricate nature of musical taste and the diverse preferences within different genres. The study challenges the notion of genre-based homogeneity among music fans and highlights the significance of subgenres in understanding individual tastes.
Led by Anne Siebrasse, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, the research involved surveying over 2,000 participants and examining their preferences across five genres: European classical music, electronic dance music (EDM), metal, pop, and rock.
The study aimed to capture the complexities of musical taste by considering broad genres and the various subgenres associated with each.
The findings revealed that people who identify with the same genre can have vastly different tastes regarding specific subgenres. Fans of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones may fall under the rock genre, but their preferences within that category can differ significantly.
This difference emphasises the need to recognise the diversity within genre-based groups, considering factors like age, gender, education level, lifestyle, and personality traits.
The researchers identified distinct taste classes by analysing preferences at both the genre and subgenre levels. Three of these classes exhibited similar levels of liking for subgenres, ranging from strong affinity to moderate or lesser liking.
However, two taste classes stood out by showing a preference for either more challenging or easier-to-process substyles. Across all genres, the observed candidates preferred mainstream variants over more challenging alternatives.
Furthermore, the study revealed that sociodemographic and personality variables, including age, milieu-related attitude, and openness, played a role in determining genre preferences and taste classes.
For instance, in pop music, the researchers found an age effect. Individuals’ preferred pop music correlated with the era in which they were around 20 years old, indicating a connection between nostalgia and musical preference.
This research provides a deeper understanding of musical taste and offers a more accurate representation of the German resident population’s preferences in comparison to previous studies.
While some findings may have broader applicability across countries and cultures, a genre’s historical context and its role within the music world of a specific region influence specific results.
The researchers suggest expanding the approach to encompass other genres and regions to refine our understanding of musical taste. Combining surveys with specific sound examples could be an exciting avenue for future investigations in this field.
By unravelling the complexity of musical taste, this study opens new possibilities for developing questionnaires and research methodologies, enhancing our comprehension of the diverse and ever-evolving landscape of musical preferences.