There are many different types of music today. Is the traditional music of a country more important than the International music that is heard everywhere nowadays?

The distinction between “traditional” and “modern” music is essentially meaningless as music is a continuing tradition that cannot be neatly divided into two simple categories. Traditional music is usually defined as music from long ago that contains historic and cultural information and it is commonly believed that modern music does not possess these characteristics and will not possess them in future. In this essay the differences of what is commonly called traditional and modern music will be discussed.

Typically, when we think of traditional music we think of classical music or music that has its origins in ancient cultures. Cultures change over time and this music is familiar to us because it is part of our roots but different because culture changes. It is a reminder of how people thought and behaved in the past and particularly what was important to people at that time and therefore resonates with us in the present. However, much of the music of past times has disappeared out of common knowledge and what remains tends to be only the finest examples of music from past periods. This can give the incorrect impression that music of the past is superior to what is produced today.

Modern music is often viewed as containing little aesthetic or historic value. However, much of modern music will disappear leaving only a small number of pieces that will be considered reflective of the current time. It is extremely difficult to predict which pieces will survive but possible examples include Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones which tells of a young woman, whose freedoms were never enjoyed by previous generations and I Don’t Like Monday’s by the Boomtown Rats that tells of the terrible consequences of America’s gun culture.

In summary, the distinction between classical and modern music is a hazy one and of little importance. Music is a significant part of our culture and is part of a living history that continues in an unbroken line.

Essay Notes
The question provides a challenge for students because the question itself has unsound logic and requires students to think carefully about how they are going to respond. It is not possible to logically separate music into traditional music and International music because a piece may fall into both of these categories (e.g. classical Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – it is both International and classical) or neither (e.g. rock music that has local but not international appeal). For this reason, students must either deal with each part of the question and ignore the logical problems or redefine the question in a more logical fashion. The latter is the better choice as it allows the writer to present a more coherent response. This question is a reminder why students should carefully analyse questions and filter information from the question and is a reminder that writing a good essay is as much about good thinking as good language.
The logical problem in the question can be avoided by making different comparisons to those that are offered in the question. There are two obvious comparisons that can be made – between local and international music and between traditional and modern music. It is worth noticing that the first of these logically breaks down music by geography while the second breaks down music by time. The question itself fails to do either and this is done to avoid giving students the correct language.
In this essay the author has chosen to discuss differences between traditional and modern music as modern music is closest to international music in meaning but ensures that a logical answer can be provided. The opening sentence states the topic and frames the essay very clearly by stating that although it is possible to logically divide music in categories music gradually changes over time and it is not easy to divide the topic in simplistic forms. As a result of this the response is really about the nature of music but the topic continues to be referenced in the text to ensure a strong link to the question (traditional vs. modern music). The second sentence provides a definition of traditional music because different people will have very different definitions of what traditional music is. This sentence also presents the idea that the value of traditional music is that it contains cultural information and is the subject of the first body paragraph. In addition, the second sentence also presents the topic of the second body paragraph, which questions the commonly held belief that modern music does not contain cultural information. The thesis statement outlines the aim of the essay, which is to describe the differences between these two types of music.
The first body paragraph focuses on classical music and the generally accepted idea that traditional music contains a great deal of cultural information. The paragraph is developed by adding the key point that it is only the best examples of music that survive over long periods of time and gives the impression that traditional music is of higher quality than modern music. This idea is very important as it provides cohesion to the essay and links the two body paragraphs together with the similarities between the two types of music – they both form an important cultural function but modern music has not yet had weaker examples filtered out over time.
The second body paragraph focuses on modern music and the idea that there are many examples of high quality modern music that are mixed with lower quality pieces. Two examples of pieces that are reflective of our time are provided at the end of the paragraph.
The conclusion to the essay is focused on the explanation of the main point of the essay, which is that music is a continuing tradition.
This essay is a particularly strong example of an IELTS essay because of the quality of its ideas and the links that are made between the ideas.

Essay Vocabulary

Distinction – To make a distinction is to clearly define a difference between two or more ideas or objects.
Resonates – Resonates originally refers to sound or vibration. It refers to the continuing vibration after the cause of vibration has stopped. It is commonly used as a metaphor for an event that is no longer occurring but for which the consequences are still being felt.
Aesthetic – Aesthetic refers to beauty. It is difficult to use because it is not an acceptable substitute for beauty. It is most commonly used to describe something “aesthetically pleasing” or as referring to the general attractiveness of a place or an object. For example, “The architect failed to pay attention to the aesthetics of the design and therefore designed a building that most people think is ugly”. Aesthetics is also the study of beauty.
Hazy – Hazy originally refers to the sky and describes when it is not possible to see long distances because of smoke, heat, pollution, etc. It can also refer to ideas that are not clear.

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