Tracing a Musical Linguistic Virus in the Internet Age
The other day, I was listening to the radio and I heard something that has set me off in the search of a Musical Linguistic Virus. The idea comes from Neal Stephenson's novel, Snow Crash. In Snow Crash there is a bio linguistic virus which ends up getting spread via virtual worlds. It seems to be a pretty virulent science fiction virus, but it seems like the idea isn't really all that far from reality.
Ideas, snippets of music, and memes have been spread from one person to another for ages. Perhaps a good example is an ear worm. Even without the Internet, ear worms can spread quickly. For people my age, I could simply mention, "Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton, and many of my friends would not be able to get the tune out of the head.
Yet perhaps musical linguistic viruses in the Internet Age are more complicated. It wasn't a simple ear worm that I heard on the radio that I haven't been able to get out of my head. Instead, the host of the radio show was talking with guests from a band. They talked about key musical influences, bands from the eighties, and reusing samples. Perhaps they are taking musical DNA from the eighties and mutating it into new ear worms or musical linguistic viruses.
They mentioned Brian Eno, so I started to listen to some of his ambient music series on Spotify. This is a new avenue where musical linguistic viruses can spread. A thought came to me listening to a radio show. I pursued the thought on Spotify by listening to the music. Spotify posted to my Facebook Timeline that I had listened to Brian Eno and friends commented on it.
Steven L Johnson said, "That's what I listen to when I want to nap. :-)".
I responded, "Well, I've had a LONG week, and I'm actually going to crash soon." In fact, I did head off to bed soon after that, but my mind continued to turn about this. How does music affect what we think? How much does it reflect the current culture? Can we culture jam spreading different musical linguistic viruses via the Internet?
Perhaps an interesting project would be to create word clouds of the lyrics to the 25 songs of each year and tracking how it has changed.
So, what are you listening to? Why are you listening to it? How is it changing you? Perhaps most importantly, can we change what we listen to and how we talk about it to change our country and our world?