Bach to the Future – Why the 18th Century composer always makes my Spotify Unwrapped

My music tastes, as with anyone’s, change as time moves on. Well except for one thing, the continued and ever-reliable presence of Johan Sebastian Bach as my number 4 most listened-to artist of the year.  

Don’t panic, this isn’t going to be an article bemoaning how classical music is ‘true music’ and that we have all lost our way. Rather why Bach is an ever-reliable presence, in spite of, not because of my general music tastes. It also isn’t a guilty pleasure, it should always be a plural of music tastes and not music taste. In something as wonderfully subjective as music, we should be comfortable in our choices and not need to consider a genre a guilty pleasure. 

Music can be used as a tool to help build the environment we need

For context, what is Bach’s music if not just classical? While certainly being something you’ll hear on Classic FM, as far as I’m concerned to precondition to be a ‘classical’ piece, it is technically in the ‘Baroque’. Instead of the drama of Beethoven or the delicacy of Mozart, Baroque music is an element of the wider Baroque movement that passed through Europe between the 17th and 18th centuries, which is defined by an attention to ornate detail. For Bach, this showed itself in orchestral pieces where the inclusion of each instrument is crucial and complicated, whether that be the harpsichord, violin or even the recorder. It’s hard not to feel like an observer at a German royal court while listening to it. 

Now there is always a certain time and space when I listen to Bach, and that’s when I need to focus. It scales well with being played at a high volume and is perfect for blurring out other noise, whether it be other conversations or the distracting whir of a fan. The lack of any vocals also means I can focus on what’s in front of me rather than the music itself. In a sense of studying with the Brandenburg concertos playing in the background, I have conditioned myself to focus whenever I hear the first few notes. 

This isn’t to say we all need to listen to classical music in order to study, Lo-Fi is another genre which is hugely popular when focussing is required, or that you even need study music. More so certain genres of music can serve certain specific purposes in your life. Maybe you only listen to metal in the gym to really flush the anger out, or there’s a select artist that gives you that boost you need when the day has been particularly rough. Music can be used as a tool to help build the environment we need, and different environments are needed for different times. Joining the final dot, that means that different music is needed. 

Subjective is the only word that can accurately describe all music

You don’t need to have a specifically curated music taste that is consistent at all times. If anything, those that are obsessed with having the most popular or pleasing music tastes don’t embrace what music can really be used for on an individual level. Music also changes when used in different scenarios, as much as I wouldn’t want to study listening to my usual collection of progressive rock, I certainly wouldn’t put Bach on in the gym. Diversity and not homogeneity is the strength of music and it’s by embracing and exploring the varied genres that you can get the most out of the medium. 

Some genres won’t be hits to you regardless of the situation, and that’s fine. Subjective is the only word that can accurately describe all music. There are more popular genres, less popular genres, and some that make you just go ‘Huh?’, but there will always be someone who likes a given genre. Crucially, don’t stop listening to an artist, song, or genre because it doesn’t work for you in all situations or doesn’t fit your wider music taste. Music is subjective, diverse, and ultimately useful. So get out there and find your Bach! 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.