Friday, 5 June 2020

Enterprise: The Music Edition

The Beginning

Your Wealth is a custom Enterprise briefing for people just like you: Executives, entrepreneurs and builders who know that time isn’t money, but that time and money are feedstock for the one thing that matters most in life: Your family, however you define it.

Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to editorial@enterprise.press.

The Sound of Music

For the vast majority of us, music is a major part of our daily lives. We’re not just talking about the perfect playlist you curated for your workouts, or the songs that get you dancing in the car even in the middle of the world’s worst commute. Chances are, you hear some music in an elevator, inside a store, or blasting out of your neighbor’s apartment. It sometimes fades into the background and goes unnoticed, but music consistently has an effect (usually positive) on people, animals, and even plants.

And while the sounds of different cultures vary greatly, the human response to music is largely universal. One study found that the range of emotions we experience while listening to music and the way in which it improves our cognitive functions are more or less consistent across countries.

The Musical Effect

Music can dramatically change how you feel — likely for the better: Listening to music has been known to alter moods and fend off negative emotions linked to anxiety, depression, and stress. One study found that specific genres like classical or designer music — which have been created to have very specific effects on the listener — can be used to promote caring, relaxation, and mental clarity, while reducing negative sensations like fatigue, hostility. or sadness. Although the same study also found that other genres like grunge rock could have the opposite effect, instead promoting feelings of hostility and reducing empathy and mental clarity, the particular impact certain genres can have on people remains mixed and largely dependent on a person’s personal preferences, according to Time.

Why does music make us feel good? Our brains process a good chunk of our musical experiences through the same pleasure centers as food, intimate physical relationships, and drugs that release dopamine into the brain, according to Psychology Today.

Some types of music are even used to alter consumer patterns and our perception of time. Songs played at retail outlets, for instance, are often carefully selected to spur consumption by obscuring a sense of time, making sure shoppers remain in stores for longer periods and in a generally positive mood, according to Psychology Today.

The cool thing about music is that it can have a profound impact on our brain functions without us even noticing. Apparently, it doesn’t even matter what genre you listen to: Your personal preferences don’t really make a difference on the benefits you reap for your brain by listening to music, according to Science Daily and University of Central Florida’s Pegasus Magazine.

In her book, The Power of Music, Elena Mannes argues that music has such a profound effect on our brain that it could even be used to treat patients suffering from major nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s.

But it can also be used much earlier on in life to develop children’s neurological development: Exposing babies to music from a young age stimulates their auditory and prefrontal cortical regions, which improves their ability to detect patterns in complex sounds and benefits their speech development, according to Medical News Today. For older children, particularly those with language or mental impediments, music can be a vehicle for self-expression. And it’s often used as a method of therapy to enhance the development of children’s cognitive, social, and physical abilities, or to help parents engage with their children.

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And it’s not only humans who enjoy music: The plants in your terrace enjoy the tunes that accompany your morning cup of coffee as much as you do. Although they lack the same ears as humans, several studies indicate that sound waves can help boost plant growth (watch, runtime: 12:04). Your plants aren’t picky and are far less likely to complain about your taste in songs than your parents: One study that exposed plants to music for 6 hours per day showed they grew better than the control group (no music), but other plants that “listened” to non-musical sounds also showed stronger growth than the control group. Although the exact science behind it is not yet understood, some scientists believe that since plants can more or less communicate via vibrations, sound waves may be a source of comfort for them. Others believe that their response to the vibrations can be a mere defense mechanism.

Animals, however, are a tough audience to please: In one study that looked at how music can affect animal physiology, behavior, and welfare, the authors concluded that laboratory animals were affected by the species of the animals and the type of music they are exposed to. Animals in captivity seemed to enjoy music up to 60 decibels, contributing to enhancing their welfare. In another study on dogs, those who listened to classical music slept better, while body shaking (indicating nervousness) was observed in those who were exposed to metal music. In keeping with their overall attitude, though, cats couldn't care less about what you listen to, but can still enjoy songs made especially for them.

It’s not just your household pets: Cows can produce more milk when listening to music and elephants can enjoy and even play their own.

Your top 5

Your top 5 pieces of business and economic news in May:

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Through CIB’s internet banking platform and mobile banking app (available on the App store here and on the Google Play Store here), you can:

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For more information, visit the registration guide here.

Music in Film

The evolution of the film soundtrack: It’s incredible to think of how far music has come in over 100 years of film. In the 1900s, an organist would sit under a reel with no sound and improvise in front of a live audience. A sea of composers from the US’ east coast and Europe flooded into Hollywood in the 1920s and ‘30s to score classics, underpaid then and still largely anonymous. By the ‘50s, songs took on a central role in films — and, more importantly, in the pop charts, boosting the sales of vinyl and original celluloid to which they belonged. In the ‘60s, savvy producers began releasing hit-packed soundtracks ahead of the movie in what has proved to be an enduring marketing strategy.

We’ve since arrived at the age whether music supervisors have to source scores and hire composers, or both, and bang their heads on walls trying to secure rights for fitting tracks from notoriously temperamental songwriters and musicians (read how Randall Poster works with Wes Anderson). In an instant, music can take back to a moment in our lives, or on film. It’s unforgettable not just because it heightened the experience but the music made it visceral.

A handful of our favorite film scores and soundtracks:

Music Through the Decades

If the 1940s sound like any other decade in the 20th century, that’s because it is: One distinctive feature of 40s music (also known as two decades before the Beatles came around) was that it gave a flavor of the pain of World War II, while at the same time attempting to be upbeat and optimistic toward the future ahead. In the US, jazz, big band, and country were the leading genres and Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were the big household names.

The birth of rock and roll in the 1950s marked a cultural turning point that started unraveling the segregated and conservative sound that had come to define American music in previous decades. Imbued with youthful energy and easily accessible to the many young Americans who owned automobiles outfitted with radios, rock and roll was a sharp departure from the dominance of country and R&B music. It simultaneously spoke to marginalized segments of society and captured the attention of suburban white America. The new style proved revolutionary in its infectious appeal to teenagers, as did its accompanying energetic and often controversial performances. Little Richard ripping his clothes off on stage to an audience of white teenage girls came to exemplify a racial anxiety that didn’t quite clear over the decade. At least not until black musicians who pioneered the genre like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard were strategically replaced by near-identical-sounding (but more marketable to a wider US audience) white faces — like Elvis Presley.

The genre really took flight in the 1960s after a grueling decade-long birthing. In the late ‘50s, the airwaves were playing the likes of Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra, thinking they had laid to rest the disruption of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and their peers. Then the Beatles happened, and they broke through in the US. It wasn’t long before Bob Dylan, already a folk poet who had tapped into an alienated and disaffected youth, picked up an electric guitar and changed music forever. Rock and roll was no longer just a sound, but a youthful cultural and political force to be reckoned with. The floodgates opened, convention learned to coexist with rebellion, and every taboo was broken in the decade considered modern music’s most influential.

Here at home: Umm Kalthoum’s epic Inta Omri blessed the regional music scene in 1964. The legendary singer was one of a few who could roll out an hour-long song and keep listeners engaged for its entirety — but then again who can’t appreciate a melody this beautifully executed? Listen for yourself (runtime: 58:18).

After shaping the previous decade, the Beatles’ breakup in the 1970s marked the end of an era in the music business. The ‘70s also saw the passing of the legendary Louis Armstrong and Abdel Halim Hafez. But every end is a chance for a new beginning — and the 1970s were no different. The decade saw the industry giving people a taste of every genre and with equipment finally giving artists, from David Bowie to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, more space for their albums, some of the finest tunes were released. The late 1970s also marked the birth of a then-new genre: Hip hop.

The decade was, in many ways, transformative for the music industry. In a then-bleak and desperate New York City, entrepreneurs were literally inventing new music, including modern disco and club mixing. Others were fusing Cuban music into salsa, and jazz players were almost everywhere spinning new tunes. Although the world still relied heavily on trends in the absence of on-demand services, these small developments spawned movements that have since shaped the global music scene.

A time of new political, social, and economic conservatism peaked during the 1980s while materialism and consumerism finally reflected on global pop culture. The era of 1960s music hippies ended and that of professionals that indulged in the comfort of modern life — the yuppies — began. The new music of the previous decade finally flourished in the ‘80s, including electronic music, rap, and hip hop, while technological advancements, such as the Walkman and CDs, leveled up the industry. But the most significant game changer was the launch of MTV in 1981 to become the world’s first dedicated cable network for music videos, which meant that the audience and artists will have to put more effort on the fashion and histrionics fronts.

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Enter MJ, Madonna, and Queen: Michael Jackson kicked off his career in the late ‘70s as part of the Jackson Five but finally became his own act in the 1980s. Jackson’s 1982’s Thriller album will be his first to take up a spot in the best-selling albums of all time. Madonna managed to break into the then-male-dominated industry during the same decade, rising to fame and selling over 300 mn records around the world to become the best-selling female artist of all time. Her Like a Virgin album of 1984 would be nominated for MTV’s first Video Music Award for Best Cinematography. Across the pond, British band Queen, led by Freddie Mercury, was at its peak after releasing We Are the Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody.

Here at home, Amr Diab’s rise to stardom began in earnest during the 1980s. El Hadaba’s iconic songs Mayal and Shawakna Aktar were released in 1988 and 1989, paving the way for a singing career that is (somehow) still going strong some 30 years later.

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I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want: A moment for the millennials among us to bask in the glory that was 1990s music. Between TLC’s No Scrubs, Destiny’s Child’s eternal Say My Name, Britney Spears’ debut album …Baby One More Time, Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle, and pretty much everything good The Backstreet Boys released, the 1990s will forever be a nostalgic soft spot for many of us here at Enterprise. So much so that we previously dedicated an entire issue to the decade (including its music).

YouTube and the rise of instant stardom: The early 2000s were marked by the internet becoming common in every household. People were becoming more adept at using the world wide web and pushing its boundaries. In 2015, YouTube emerged and with it the global sharing of videos and music. The Rolling Stone argues that new faces started to gain traction and already established artists had to jump on the trend to remain relevant. It gave the younger generation a way around the existing ‘studio and recording deal’ way of going into music. Many teen pop stars showed up on YouTube first with an existing audience base before getting picked up by labels. Some of the notable examples are Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, or Charlie Puth who rose to instant stardom on YouTube and continue to be popular today(watch, runtime: 4:51).

2010s and the globalization of music: The digital era pushed a myriad of different music styles and languages into the playing field like never before. English-language music emerging from Hollywood-like locations was no longer king, and instead pop music from Africa, Latin-America, and Asia began to gain popularity all over the world, according to BBC. K-pop saw unprecedented success, established singers began to use Latin and African styles in their music, and collaborations of different languages became common. Club culture traded the club for the radio as EDM or Electronic Dance Music saw DJs become big music influences in the past decade.

Egypt’s Contemporary Music Landscape

We have a confession to make. At least one of us here at Enterprise has admitted to listening to mahraganat as we hurtle towards our publication deadlines in the wee hours of the morning — much to the horror of one of the olds among us. The electro-pop genre may be the bane of Musicians’ Syndicate head Hany Shaker’s existence, but its roots are grounded in folkloric culture that long predate the generation it is now linked to.

What really brought the shaaby genre to the fore was arguably Ahmed Adaweya in the 1960s and ‘70s, particularly after Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 Six Day War, whose lyrics were a form of social and political commentary. From Adaweya all the way to Hassan Shakoosh, there is a “common denominator” between original shaaby music and contemporary mahraganat: “They all seem to deliver a message. The message can be a complaint, preaching morality, a state of being or it could just be inane, but regardless, it is always culturally specific and/or socially relevant.”

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Fret not — it’s not all mahraganat and shaaby music. Egypt’s contemporary music scene is full to the brim with talent across multiple genres, all of which have been influenced by different events or cultural trends. For example, the 2011 uprising brought fame to Cairokee, which was previously little-known, after the release of their song “Sout El Horreya” (The Sound of Freedom). The band has since released several songs couched in revolutionary themes, but also sing plenty about unrequited love and social issues. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen some Western influence seeping into the music scene here with the rise of Egyptian rappers such as Wegz and Marwan Pablo. One of our personal favorite musical talents to come out of Egypt is soprano opera singer Fatma Said, who has performed in multiple concerts and operas around the world since she began her singing career in the mid-2010s.

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Songs Enterprise have loved for a while

On your way out: An abridged roundup of the songs we at Enterprise have loved for a while — and have no problem listening to again and again:

Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is a 1964 song that to this day effortlessly captures the American rights movement. The song is a tribute to the many African Americans who lost their lives, and is considered one of the gems of soul music — a genre that became a universal symbol of civil struggle and the black experience in the US. The man behind the lyrics, who also gave us the catchy What A Wonderful World and the groovy Twistin' The Night Away, rose to prominence despite a short life and became known as the King of Soul.

Astronomy by Blue Öyster Cult: Astronomy was first released on BOC’s 1974 album Secret Treaties, and was the first of a group of songs that strung together a fictional story about a man given superhuman powers, which he uses to play a part in the events of World War II. The band is one of the early inspirations for many of the well-known rock bands still around today. Metallica covered the song for their 1998 album Garage Inc.

Purple Rain soundtrack by Prince and the Revolution. The title track hasn’t aged since 1983, as proven by how much it was overplayed (and enjoyed) when the legend passed away in 2016. Its true birth was when Prince and the band took a break from filming the movie to record a benefit gig, and the capper was a slow 10-minute track that begins on acoustic guitar and breaks out into an epic rock ballad. The album is also packed with other classics like When Doves Cry and Let’s Go Crazy — classics that refuse to die. Great music poured effortlessly from the man who gave us more than 30 albums over 40 years. Stick the movie on too for some cheesy uplifting 1980s nostalgic — you know at least the music will be good.

Summertime by Big Brother & the Holding Company (1968): Janis Joplin’s raspy voice cast over the sound of a solitary wailing guitar in the final stretch of the 1960s spells a mournful ode to a fleeting sense of optimism and an out-of-reach yearning for something better — summer, perhaps? In what would otherwise be the final stretch before the summer season kicks in, the band’s cover of George Gershwin’s Summertime feels as appropriate now as it might have been at the time of its 1968 release, as uncertainty remains the defining feature of both then and now. While Big Brother & the Holding Company fell short of widespread notoriety after the release of their 1968 album Cheap Thrills, which features Summertime, the band’s front woman Janis Joplin saw her brief career take flight shortly afterwards, which makes the track a gem in the relatively limited discography Joplin has left behind.

If you’re looking for something different, try listening to the ambassador of the Kabyle culture of Amazigh: The Algerian Hamid Cheriet, better known as Idir, recently passed away in Paris after a life full of achievements, including introducing the rich Kabyle culture to the world. His career maintained a sense of Algerian pride, which saw him team up with Cheb Khaled in the 1990s in a Paris concert to promote peace. Idir also sought to bridge the two sides of the Mediterranean in duets with European artists and addressed his African heritage with the help of artists from North Africa, Mali, and Uganda. Check out some of our favorite songs of his: A Vava Inouva and Zwit Rwit.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.