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What is "Good" Music?


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9 hours ago, john said:

what is good music? Is it a purely personal thing? Is it subjective and that is it? Are there universal musical truths?

 

Its personal and subjective. I might get drawn on a definition of music itself. eg. I've heard it said that Rap is not music.

 

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Are there universal musical truths?

 

I sounds different underwater.

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12 hours ago, john said:

Hey gang

 

The title says it all.... what is good music? Is it a purely personal thing? Is it subjective and that is it? Are there universal musical truths?

 

Cheers

 

John

 

 

It's a tricky question the way you put it. Maybe you could say what you think...and see whether others agree.

 

Different people will think different things are good.... but I reckon anyone who makes music to any extent is likely to appreciate the good even in songs which don't appeal to them personally.... but I'm not sure that appreciating the good is enough for someone to call a song 'good'. It's maybe the word 'good'... for example it wouldn't be unusual to say "Yeah it's a good song but not really my kind of thing" but it might be less likely to say "That's an incredible song but not my taste so I didn't really enjoy listening"....and many people just won't say a song is good if they don't enjoy listening. I suppose 'good' can just mean 'done well'. For me to honestly enjoy listening to music, I mean to the point where I'll want to listen more than once, I need to think it's better than good....but at that point beyond 'good' it is very much down to personal taste!

 

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I think it's bound to be subjective. A piece of music can be skillfully performed or recorded and yet one might disagree in calling it good music. And the other way around. Definitely a tricky thing to settle with a universally agreeable answer. 

 

 

On the phone right now and I'm travelling, so to put it short, I would consider good music to be something that I can relate to ie., to serve that purpose of expression. But that's not really an opinion from a very 'musical' standpoint if you know what I mean. 

 

Would love to know what you would consider good music John. 

 

 

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Guest Rob Ash

Monostone's answer seems to me to be over parsing the topic a bit. One can sometimes strive too much to reach for a deeper meaning, in my opinion.

 

What is good to an individual will always be subjective. To my way of thinking that is one of the purest, most beneficial powers of music. Two things are happening simultaneously right now somewhere in the world. 1: a person is right now in the midst of developing a whole new musical awareness that cannot be wholly fulfilled by any music currently available for listening. 2: Somewhere a musician is right now contriving new music that will perfectly suit and satisfy that other individual's new zeitgeist.

 

Music can be composed so that it seems good to any person's subjective ability to appreciate it. Of course, it is up to the individual to find that music. Creators of new and original music must be free to create in whatever way seems proper to them alone. But, if an individual seeks far enough, they will eventually come across music that seems good to them.

 

Perhaps that is why many scientists and most of the world's most adept musicians and composers all call music, which relates so closely to pure math; "the universal language"... Music can be composed to speak to any soul, any awareness... any emotional state. Music can reach any mind, no matter how troubled, as long as that mind retains some ability to parse music at all.

 

Not only is music wholly subjective, it easily holds the title of the most subjective aspect of the human condition. We are, so far as we know, the only sentient species in the entire universe that imposes it's will on sound so as to arrange it in ways that are, at the same time, intentionally patterned and both emotionally and aesthetically appealing. Music is intrinsic to the human experience. Music stands supreme as the single most subjective component of the human experience. This is part and parcel of what makes music so utterly amazing. More so than any visual art, music has journeyed with us through the history of man, helping us at every stage to define our experiences. When images are not available, and the chance to obtain them lost forever, music can still serve to help us relate to any occurrence... any experience, even if that music is created after the event unfolds. Visual depictions of the world may have come first (although coordinated rhythm, at least, and perhaps even rudimentary singing, may be even older than the first images ever rendered by human hands), but music has touched us all more deeply, more profoundly than any image ever could.

 

If you doubt this, turn the sound on your television off and see how long the pictures alone hold your interest.

 

I have my tastes. In my case, my tastes are broad, and many. I like classical. I like bluegrass. I like old school country, but not so much modern country. I love rock, hard rock and metal, from the 70's through to today. But, there are many sub genres of metal and hard rock I do not care for. I love hardcore jazz, especially improvisational jazz and jazz fusion. But I can only take that kind of music in short bursts. I like the raw, unbridled emotive power of some black gospel music. I dearly love all things Motown, from the 60's through the 80's. I hate rap and I hate hip hop. I despise pop music in all it's forms. That said, I have been thinking very seriously lately of covering "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears. My wife and I are also crazy over Christina Aguilara. I love Dean Martin, Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. But I hate Michael Buble'

 

Just think of what magic lies in music, that a simple soul such as myself, a veritable nobody, who's greatest accomplishments are a 30 year career as a pop illustrator and a couple of kids who grew up into relatively stable adults with reasonably good hearts, can, in his lifetime, build and enjoy such a broad, but also such a specifically delineated set of tastes in music. And every single human alive on the planet has the same right... if not, sadly, the same opportunity.

 

Music is magic... pure and beguiling.

 

 

Edited by Rob Ash
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Guest Rob Ash
32 minutes ago, MonoStone said:

Do you mean current pop music, or all 'pop' ever?

 

Mostly newer Pop. I like popular music from the 30's 40's and 50's... even the 60's is okay. By the 70's, pop music was becoming more and more programmed... My dislike of it then grew in combination with it's ever increasing artificiality and one track type of appeal. Pop music on the radio today is crafted to appeal solely and wholly to young, easily impressionable, easily impressed minds from the age of say, 15 through 25 or so. In that appeal, it always seeks the lowest common denominator.

 

Subject matter is limited and repeated annually. You can pick out the same riff's, rhythms and themes from year to year. The same is true for rap and hip hop, which I consider to be subsets of pop. Such was not always true, The earliest rap music was amazing. When rap first began it's climb, there was and had been nothing even remotely like it. Rap competed toe to toe with Heavy Metal as some of the most dramatic, emotionally impacting music you could listen to... in it's earliest form.

 

None of that is true now, though. Rap has been sanitized and commercialized. It has become as programmed and predictable as any form of popular music. As with common pop, rap now has a series of repeating themes, styles, formats, etc. that repeat year after year. If you have heard it one year, and bought the CDs you want in your collection, what is the point to listening to the same thing one year later, or spending one additional dime on rehashed ideas?

 

Popular music today is, to my mind, akin, in it's appeal, to the way a pedophile profiles his young targets, and then programs his entire approach, down to every action, to appeal to that target, and to place that target in a position of greatest susceptibility. Since I am no longer a teenager, or young adult in my 20's, what possible appeal could such music have to me?

 

 

Edited by Rob Ash
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As everyone is likely to have different views on what makes music "good," though some views might be similar, it has to be subjective. It is a  "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" kind of thing.  That being said, there are certain objective things that influence subjective opinions on whether a piece of music is good, such as:

 

1. Melody - is it catchy

2. Prosody

3. Skill and tightness of the performance

4. Quality of the lyrics

5. Quality of the recording (I am not a believer in the opinion that a good song trumps recording and production quality - I think they are almost equally important).  When I used to play a new song with a single track guitar and vocal into my cheap old cassette recorder, on playback I would think it was the worst piece of crap I ever heard.  However, when the same song is performed with a decent recording, it becomes the second worst thing I ever heard. :)

6. Dynamics (often overlooked, in my opinion, with respect to a "good" piece of music)

 

Basically, what makes music "good" is subective, but there are objective elements that influence that subjective opinion.  That is my opinion at least.

 

Dave

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On 9/8/2016 at 4:30 AM, john said:

Hey gang

 

The title says it all.... what is good music? Is it a purely personal thing? Is it subjective and that is it? Are there universal musical truths?

 

Cheers

 

John

 

 

What I classify as "good" music is solely my personal preference.  I personally think good music is music that appeals to my senses and affects me to the point where I would want to listen to it more than just once.  Sometimes, "bad" music sounds pretty good to me depending on what the instruments/melody/beats used in order to successfully appeal to my senses; I could even still not give this "bad", yet appealing music the "good music" tag.

 

Musical truths.....purely subjective, as some people also like dissonance.  Being as general as I could be, I'd say one of the universal musical truths is that music can be extremely diverse.

Edited by TripMX
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