This research explores the possible social functions of music today by investigating the ritual character of commercial music events. My approach focuses on the examination of the common ritualized elements that all professional music events share regardless of genre and artistic or aesthetic qualities. More specifically the social function of music rituals is explored in relation to the audience’s participation in the events and what this might signify both on a social and a personal level. The exchange of social symbols, the genre codification behind each ritual, and their role in the construction and affirmation of identities are the starting points of the study.
One of the aims of this approach is to explore whether music rituals and the social context that surrounds music and musical taste could be functioning as a stratifying mechanism, which is not based on matters of class or economic status but on the ritualized projection of socially constructed cultural identities. Alternatively, the willingness of audiences to self-classify themselves musically and socially is examined in relation to the spiritual character of music rituals, which could suggest another function of music, that of spiritual and emotional catharsis through ritualistic practices.
The dipole of spirituality and social division is not studied with the intention to finally situate the function of music on one or the other side but rather serves as a broad area of reference for the investigation of both directions as well as the of links between them.