Social and Musical Norms

After focusing on The Stranger and then how various other works of writing and even films took inspiration from it, I began to think about music. If Meursault goes against social norms by doing things such as not participating in the systems of marriage, love and religion, what does music that doesn’t follow social (or musical) norms look like?

Music, like all things, has been put in a system, especially in the United States. Most ‘mainstream’ music sticks to a few keys, is played on certain instruments and due to other musical laws, has a certain sound. Therefore, bands that do not do these things stick out in a very unique way. One band that stuck out to me was the Dirty Projectors. On their early albums, the Dirty Projectors fight against many musical norms. Strange harmonies, instruments that don’t seem to go together and weird lyrics. Many found the music annoying , jarring and hard to follow. The truth is, by breaking many laws of mainstream music, the Dirty Projectors were bound to offend many listeners. Just as Meursault was driven out of society, seemingly inevitably, music that doesn’t fit the norm is hated on to an extreme.

3 thoughts on “Social and Musical Norms

  1. Katie G.

    The fact that mainstream music could be considered to be a sort of social system is very interesting. While I have never thought of musical norms before, you make really interesting points about how people turn away from music that they are not used to and how this relates to the othering of people like Meursault.


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