Audio Therapy — 6 Unique Ways The Music Influences Culture (Or Culture Influences Music)

Carl Rivera
4 min readNov 30, 2021


Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

That’s the kind of problem we run into when trying to decide if music influences culture or vice versa.

They interact and mesh together in often incredible ways, and it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Music is one of the oldest methods of human storytelling — and is still one of the most popular today.

One thing that stands out about the stories in our music is that they have to resonate with us at a much deeper level.

Music artists only have 3 to 5 minutes, on average, in which to tell their story.

They’re not writing a book, or filming a movie — but they can often have an equal or greater impact, in a much shorter time span.

The only time musicians have a chance to tell a larger story is usually at a music festival, and most modern music festivals aren’t designed to, or can’t achieve, that level of depth.

Some do, though — and in many ways, they live on forever, at least in the hearts and minds of those who were there.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Some define their culture almost by accident, and some set out to display and celebrate culture as their primary goal.

Here are 6 other ways music influences our culture… or our culture influences our music.

  1. Celebration

Most of the major celebrations of our lives involve music in some form — whether it’s singing happy birthday, or joining our voices for festive holiday songs.

There’s something about music that is tied to happiness, and one just leads to the other.

Besides, what kind of party doesn’t have music?

2. Connections

Music has been called the great connector — because it can bridge the gaps between people with a common cause or understanding.

Many people with no other similarities or connections in their lives will find themselves drawn together by the music they listen to and the stories it tells.

3. Timeless

Some people call music a time capsule, because it captures the feelings of the moment, what was going on in society (or in the artist’s life) when it was written.

I like to think of it as being timeless because it doesn’t lock those things up to be discovered at a much later date — it displays them to the world, and it’s always there to see.

Do you want to be transported back into 1969? Listen to the artists from Woodstock for one timeless vision of history.

Or check out the Harlem Cultural Festival to be taken back to the “Summer of Soul,” as it happened in Harlem’s Mt. Morris Park

Photo by Kylie Paz on Unsplash

4. Language Lessons

Listening to music can teach us about language in many ways, starting with when we’re small children and still learning to talk, and on into adulthood.

The way language is used in music is often much more organic and honest than the way it’s used in books, schools, or television.

It also gives us a glimpse into how other cultures speak — I bet you can remember a few lines of The Macarena, or Despacito if you’re younger, even if you can’t speak the language.

5. Fashion Follows

Music isn’t just about the songs and the stories, it’s about the people.

The artists who tell us their stories become icons, and they’re often seen as heroes of sorts.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that fashion follows the music, and these celebrities define what everyone’s going to be wearing for years to come.

6. Controversy Creation

Sometimes music creates controversy, and sometimes it highlights what’s already there.

Either way, it shines a big glaring spotlight on issues in our cultures and brings people together to make improvements that might otherwise never happen.

Music has a long history of leading the push for positive changes, and it’s almost impossible to separate any era from the boycotts, protests, and movements of the time.

Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

In the end, it may be impossible to say whether music influences culture or culture influences music.

They play off each other back and forth, both helping the other to constantly improve.

What we can say for sure is they’re deeply intertwined, and there’s perhaps no better way to understand a culture than through its music.

Events like the Harlem Cultural Festival bring people together in a way that no other form of storytelling can.

Of course, it helps that they’re almost always a ton of fun, and create the kind of experiences and memories that people will never forget.

After all, it is a celebration!



Carl Rivera

“Everything you don’t know is something you can learn.”