As part of better understanding what types of music fit my various mental states and moods, I have been trying to find music when reading or writing material that requires a little less cognitive load. For more intense tasks, I generally prefer non-lyrical electronic music or revert to eschewing sounds altogether. However, for medium load tasks that are typically less technical or layered in complexity, the unused load creates a void that seems to lead my thoughts astray over a period of time. Some types of music, physical activity, or other occupations with a limited burden seem to mitigate this effect. Non-lyrical music proves insufficient, but songs in languages I can partially understand prove too distracting, so for the past year or so I’ve settled on music in languages I don’t understand for these settings.
In doing so, I’ve explored music from several countries I’m not especially familiar with, and while I can’t honestly say that my cultural awareness was broadened by listening to songs I don’t understand, I also never felt that something was “missing” because of the unintelligible lyrics. It seems strange that popular music is still often limited to the endemic tongues, particularly in the English-speaking world. Taking a quick glance at current Spotify charts from the UK and the US, the rare non-English song can be found, and only then is in one of the very few other languages to have made any inroads into the mainstream. Things aren’t much rosier in many other countries where often only the local languages along with English are represented. In an age dominated by on-demand streaming services far more globalized than their predecessors, such as record shops, it’s not clear to me why we haven’t seen a stronger renaissance of music that defies linguistic borders. I’m not certain of the likelihoods here, but I would surmise that greater dissemination of global music would elicit more identification with foreign artists, and by extension empathy towards the populations they represent.