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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pinning down your personal taste!
    Posted: June 17 2008 at 10:42
I’ve been thinking a lot about musical taste recently.  By which I don’t mean ‘discernment’ or ‘judgement’ or ‘liking the (so-called) right things’ or something like that…  But more like particular, specific, personal, individual preference.

I’m not talking about such broad matters as ‘pop v prog’ or ‘commercial v serious’.  I’m talking about the moment when you suddenly pin down what it is that links all the things you love together – the aspect that you have been instinctively seeking out, probably subconsciously, when going about your everyday listening/music acquiring activities.

For myself, it hit me only very recently: my key phrase would have to be ‘flamboyant and disciplined’.  My two musical favourites are Frank Zappa and – duh, no, really?! – Magma.  And who else does ‘flamboyant and disciplined’ like those two?  (If you can think of anything, please alert me, because I’m in wide-eyed music discovery mode at the moment, and I’m composing an epic shopping list that you are welcome to help me add to… Big%20smile)

It occurs to me also that I tend to like things that not everybody else in the universe likes or has even heard of.  I’m rather picky about music – not one of those people who can boast that they ‘like everything’!  For a while I was a bit worried that I was being unintentionally snobbish… but you know what, it’s not so much that I won’t listen to ‘normal popular music’, more that I won’t pay money for it.  I will happily pay money to be amazed, but it doesn’t seem worth it to feel – how can I put this? – pleasantly indifferent.  My music collection is, for that reason, small, but is pretty much ‘all killer, no filler’ (well, I think so... LOL).  I’m kind of an ‘all or nothing’ person with music, although not usually obsessive (I’ll make an exception for my untreatable Magma addiction!  HugHeart ).  I’ve got a reasonably high tolerance for weirdness, but I put that down to repeated exposure to ‘Trout Mask Replica’ during late adolescence. Confused LOL

My usual yardstick of quality: if ‘I could have done that’, it’s probably not worth paying money for…  If it makes me wish I could play [instrument name] just like [musical genius], or – even better – has me gibbering in soundbite-metaphors and turning into an amateur music journalist (of the most irritatingly verbose kind), then you can lead me by the ear to the nearest cash register.  (I’m opinionated, not to mention fond of writing, so anything that unleashes my ‘inner columnist’ will probably have me enthralled from the word go.)

The final thing that’s important to me is ‘mode of discovery’.  I’m always glad to get recommendations, at least in part because any excuse to talk to other people about a shared love for music – beyond-the-valley-of-the-top-40 music especially – is worth taking, in my book!  But most of the things that I love best sort of fell into my lap almost, rather than being introduced to me.  (Has anyone else had any of those spooky experiences where you can look back and trace your inexorable, unknowing progress towards something that you were made to love…?  I know, that sounds witlessly pretentious, but perhaps you know what I mean…)

So now I’m interested to find out what governs others’ musical habits.  Especially: have you got a neat phrase that sums up the essence of your favourite music, however diverse it might be?  I’m also quite fascinated by the range of musical attitudes out there.  Presumably music is a passion to you or you wouldn’t be looking at this site, but musical passions come in such a wide variety of flavours!  What are the facets that make up your particular appreciation for music?

Wow, hmm, I ask a lot of questions, don’t I! Tongue  Well, if any of this strikes a chord and you feel like writing a little bit about this stuff – I realise it’s rather a large subject, but don’t let that put you off! – I’d be genuinely interested to read your thoughts… Big%20smile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 11:03
Excellent post, very thought provoking.  I started to make an attempt to describe my personal tastes, then discovered I had a very hard time doing so.  Hate to do this, but I'll need to get back to you - which, again, means your thread is already a success.
PROG ROCK SUCKS IT DIED A LONG TIME AGO AND WILL NEVER COME BACK. ALL OF YOU OLD ASS MOTHERf**kERS GET A LIFE
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 11:07
for me I would say "weirdness with a magic". plain old weirdness is not enough. some examples:

for movies: "The Holy Mountain" by Alejandro Jodorowski, "Rashomon" by Akira Kurosawa, "Don't Look Now!" by Nicholas Roeg
for paintings: Hieronymus Bosch, many surrealists
for music: Johann Sebastian Bach, Mahler, Stravinsky. you may ask what is so weird about Bach, but I find his high complexity extremely weird. and he was definitely weird for his time (which is why he had to be rediscovered in the 19th century)


Edited by BaldJean - June 17 2008 at 11:20


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 12:32
Most music I enjoy because it spirals around in deeper cerebral levels that are difficult to access otherwise.  I can always tell how much I enjoy an album by how many layers I can jump between and still maintain a level of entranced mindf**k (no other word describes it quite like "mindf**k").  For example, last night before I went to bed I listened to Van der Graaf Generator's Still Life for the first time in a while and every song I could shift between focusing on a certain instrument or Peter's vocals while still paying attention to the others, just there is so much to uncover if you pay attention to different aspects.  I usually don't pay much attention to lyrics, but vocals are important, but if I'm in the right mood, following along to the music with the lyric sheet can add even more dimensions to already dense music (varies depending on the quality of the lyricist, of course).

Music is basically a drug to me, if I am in a certain mood and want to amplify that, I'll listen to a certain genre (heavy, relaxed, complex, minimalist, instrumental, etc.).  Experimenting while listening to certain music in certain moods sometimes produces strange, but almost always positive, feelings.  A recent example of this was listening to Cocteau Twins's Treasure late at night, being tired and ready to go to bed.  A few minutes after putting on the album, not sure what triggered this, but I ended up feeling very airy, or "high" if you want to call it that.  Of course the music is very airy and beautiful, but so far only that one time produced the floating feeling.  I've had several mystical experiences by listening to music completely sober chemically, but they usually seem to be random, or at least produced only at a certain unique mood that you cannot replicate simply by listening to the same music at a later time.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 12:50
I'm attracted to music I find playful and what I mean by zat is zat I enjoy it when an artist or group experiments in ways zey enjoy - think of The Residents (or Mr. Bungle's!) plundering, overt nonsensicality and grotesque interpretation of rock music, or else Gentle Giant's (or After Dinner's!) jaunt anachronism. Maybe that is enough to draw a circle around most of what I enjoy but it's not to say I don't like more serious bands - Magma, KC and Henry Cow are/were very purposeful groups (no matter what Belew thinks) but they all have an obvious whimsy of their own, whether it's histrionics and apparent profound belief in quite an absurd story, relentless self-referentialism or just sheer inaccessibility to the casual. Bands with quirks, shall we say? Outside of prog I like plenty of music, but I find the most remarkable singers most memorable too - Bjork, Gruff from the Super Furry Animals and so on. That scene is good pretention.

What I don't like (and what is abundant in the prog of 2008) is when a band is serious without really meriting it, IE, any band responsible for one of the ~30 albums I've heard which rip-off straight-faced the foundations of their genre, sprinkle on contrived lyrics and make no real attempt to advance the form. That scene is bad pretention.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 13:24

Pinning down your personal taste?

I have no idea what so ever all i know is if i like what i hear i like it and then will more than  likely  buy it
that would explain that i am the opposite  to you  in that i have huge  collection of Music spanning  many different   genres  ,  though i would say most of it being Prog Rock(ha ha what ever that means ?) , Jazz and Folk Roots (English and Celtic)
So if my Ears Like it then thats good enough for me . 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 15:27
[QUOTE=BaldJean] for me I would say "weirdness with a magic". plain old weirdness is not enough. some examples:

for movies: "The Holy Mountain" by Alejandro Jodorowski, "Rashomon" by Akira Kurosawa, "Don't Look Now!" by Nicholas Roeg


Lol, yes The Holy Mountain was a rather interesting movie, not neccessarily wierd, nothing is really wierd for me, just funny, interesting, moving, whatever......I think the best example of what a advant-garde would look like if it was a movie, would have to be Eraserhead by David Lynch. Check it out! Wink

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 15:35
 Hey man..I understand what you mean by not wanting to put money towards something that isn't really goin to "BLOW" you away. So here are a few different suggestions I have for you....

If you like Frank Zappa, but don't particularly find the extreme advant-garde of albums Like Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart...I HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest you get "Shiny Beast" by Captain Beefheart. At times It reminds me so much of albums like Hot Rats...its highly melodic even for Beefheart, but the wierdness and fun is still there.

Since you claim to like music thats flamboyant and Diciplined, and also seem to enjoy the more Yang side of prog. (Magma) I suggest you try out some stuff by Van Der Graaf Generator. Godbluff is their best in my opinion, it may not hit you at first, but the band is really quite melodic, and very diciplined and structured. The phylosophic lyrics of Peter Hammil are extremely orgasmic, so yes you should try it out ;) afterwords, if you like that, you should try Still Life, or even go a step back, and pick up Pawn Hearts.

How could I have forgoten? Perhaps the most diciplined band of them all.. CAN! This krautrock band was seriously ahead of its time, with the dark atmospheres and the solid drum patterns, this band is top notch. I would HIGHLY recommend picking up TAGO MAGO. expectially if you like Magma...these bands share a certain dark approach..if thats even the appropriate turm for it.....

Well I hope these few things help you out...;)

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 15:48
I like quirky. I like "weird". I like experimentation. I like diversity within music (not just across genre lines but within the same song/album). I like the willing to do the unconventional. I like the unexpected. I like to be surprised...to an extent at least. I like smart. I like emotion...to an extent again. I like fun. I like energy.
 
Theres probably more...and I might augment this list later. But quirky, weird, energy, and diverse are big. Thats certainly something about a certain modern genre (no names here, don't want to corrupt a good thread...but its not metal!) that kinda puts me off. Everything is similar to a degree and its just not exciting after awhile. There are also small nuances to the above, such as bands don't need to radically change their style from album to album for me to keep enjoying them (but direct clones are obviously bad). Example to make it clearer: KC's first two. Very similar to me. Love both of them though, and still love KC. If a band has a winning formula theres no need to get crazy and rewrite the book so quickly.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 16:00
1. spaciness, wide open space-evoking, warm, sometimes distant music (early Porcupine Tree)
2. strong chord progressions, synths maybe, emotional but interesting (Neo Prog)
3. electronic, spacey, futuristic, (electronic prog)
4. heavy, complex, perhaps somewhat medieval, very strong on catchiness (prog metal, power metal)
5. fun things! (Gong, Flaming Lips)

lots more, hard to pin down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 16:10
Originally posted by NaturalScience NaturalScience wrote:

Excellent post, very thought provoking.  I started to make an attempt to describe my personal tastes, then discovered I had a very hard time doing so.  Hate to do this, but I'll need to get back to you - which, again, means your thread is already a success.

Hehe, thanks! Smile  I've not put anything on the 'blog' section before, so even this much of a reply was nice to have!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 16:13
Originally posted by BaldJean BaldJean wrote:

for me I would say "weirdness with a magic". plain old weirdness is not enough. some examples:

for movies: "The Holy Mountain" by Alejandro Jodorowski, "Rashomon" by Akira Kurosawa, "Don't Look Now!" by Nicholas Roeg
for paintings: Hieronymus Bosch, many surrealists
for music: Johann Sebastian Bach, Mahler, Stravinsky. you may ask what is so weird about Bach, but I find his high complexity extremely weird. and he was definitely weird for his time (which is why he had to be rediscovered in the 19th century)

Ah, 'weird with magic' - that's a great combination!  Weird-for-weird's-sake... not so interesting.

I'm with you on Bosch and Surrealism, too.  I love that combination of macabre and silly! Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 16:42
Originally posted by Bluesaga Bluesaga wrote:

Most music I enjoy because it spirals around in deeper cerebral levels that are difficult to access otherwise.  I can always tell how much I enjoy an album by how many layers I can jump between and still maintain a level of entranced mindf**k (no other word describes it quite like "mindf**k").

Oh goodness, you've put your finger on it with that phrase!  "Entranced mindf**k"...  Yes, oh yes, that feeling you get when one layer of meaning slides across another... meaning-friction... oooh....  Stop, I'm getting carried away... LOL

Er, um, seriously, yes, that thing with the complexity, the multiplicity, et cetera... I really like that. Big%20smile

And re. 'music as a drug':

Myself, I'm always sober chemically (she said smugly Tongue) but I totally agree on the psychoactive effects of music!  I think with me it tends to occur most when my sense of time is thrown out of joint (usually by something contradictory in the rhythm).  A bit like the sonic equivalent of looking at flashing lights!  My theory is that if you confuse your brain enough, eventually it gives up and leaves you in this sort of fugue state, 'between the notes'...  Like being 'between the dots' in a printed picture...  The emotional content is important as well, of course.  I notice these effects a lot more if I'm very tired/drained.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:11
Hm... a few key factors:

1. Atmosphere and imagery. If it doesn't handle either of those, I usually don't get that interested in something.
2. Lyrical content and delivery. As a pretentious banker with a w who occasionally puts his own poems onto paper (or, worse still, the internet), I find a lot of interest in cleverly phrased, interesting, atmospheric and intelligent lyrics. Van Der Graaf Generator, thus, were love from the instant I heard Arrow. Not to say I won't listen to music with bad lyrics, but lyrically strong material usually gets the biggest reaction.
3. Constant movement. If a bass-line is completely sterile throughout a piece, I usually won't like it. Same sort of thing with drums, guitar, etc. I also don't particularly like instances of random repeats (Rush are guilty of this, I think) to get a theme into your head without developing it. I want music to have the right space to develop, but not to overstay that space.
(4. GOOD pop-length prog songs. Get me every time. Catchy themes, clever variation, stunning soloists, clean vocals, decent lyrics)

Don't care about heaviness, jazziness and style overmuch. I find it sort of difficult to take metal seriously, though. Very fond of more 'psychedelic' improvisations.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:14
I guess (!) I'd pin my tastes down to dark-eclectic. I really love the dark stuff. The blacker the better - anti-heroes in a dystopian nightmare - the melancholic romantic - lost love - a morose by any other name would sound as sweet - the unhappy endings - the modulation to a minor key - a dissonance - the augmented forth - diabolus in musica. Once they invent Prog-Goth I'll be a happy bunny (there is a breed of Goths who are perpetually happy - they are called Perky Goths and think everything is peachy keen - they are as depressing as they sound).
 
But then I'd never try and pin it down my tastes, it would be like a mounted butterfly in a collectors' display-case - pretty, but dead and unable to fulfil it's ultimate purpose.
 
Ermm what I'm trying to say is I like a broad spectrum of music - more because I love 'discovery' as much as I do 'reflection' - I never tire of what I've got, but I do like finding new things, in new directions, in new flavours, colours and hues.
 
- that spooky experience? Serendipity - the lucky discovery that has little to do with luck. Do we find what we are looking for because we are more receptive to the unknown? Are we able to recognise what we've found more readily because an open mind lets things in, not out? Do we filter the wheat from the chaff, then notice fractal patterns in the discarded chaff as being of more interest, simply because we look beyond what is in our hands? Are we drawn to what we like by some strange attractor or is it just instinctive? Happenstance is just being in the right place at the right time - the skill is choosing the right time to be in the right place. (Sorry, not attempting to answer your question, more musing over why I like what I like - the journey is as informative as the destination)
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:16
Originally posted by laplace laplace wrote:

I'm attracted to music I find playful and what I mean by zat is zat I enjoy it when an artist or group experiments in ways zey enjoy - think of The Residents (or Mr. Bungle's!) plundering, overt nonsensicality and grotesque interpretation of rock music, or else Gentle Giant's (or After Dinner's!) jaunt anachronism. Maybe that is enough to draw a circle around most of what I enjoy but it's not to say I don't like more serious bands - Magma, KC and Henry Cow are/were very purposeful groups (no matter what Belew thinks) but they all have an obvious whimsy of their own, whether it's histrionics and apparent profound belief in quite an absurd story, relentless self-referentialism or just sheer inaccessibility to the casual. Bands with quirks, shall we say? Outside of prog I like plenty of music, but I find the most remarkable singers most memorable too - Bjork, Gruff from the Super Furry Animals and so on. That scene is good pretention.


Sheer bravado, doing something completely quixotic, being silly about the serious and serious about the silly... sincerely eccentric, rather than self-consciously so...  I very much agree with this sort of thing!  "Good pretension" - that's an interesting concept.  Sort of... taking IDEAS to the extreme, but without getting all po-faced and pompous about it.  Or maybe, on the other hand, musicians being brave enough to keep a straight face despite the inherent ridiculousness of whatever it is they're doing, rather than doing it 'ironically'...


Edited by song_of_copper - June 17 2008 at 17:17
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:19
Originally posted by Hawkwise Hawkwise wrote:

Pinning down your personal taste?I have no idea what so ever all i know is if i like what i hear i like it and then will more than  likely  buy it
that would explain that i am the opposite  to you  in that i have huge  collection of Music spanning  many different   genres  ,  though i would say most of it being Prog Rock(ha ha what ever that means ?) , Jazz and Folk Roots (English and Celtic)
So if my Ears Like it then thats good enough for me .

Haha, that's put me in my place! LOL  Of course, that's the only real criterion: do I like the noise it makes...?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:36
 After giving it some serious thought....I have come back now to describe why it is that I truly like what I listen to.  I've come up with the theory that people base their music tastes mainly on how the music reflects upon ourselves......let me explain...
 
When you listen to music...I come up with a few different things that people think about while listening to it
 
1: to picture the band playing, with their instruments, perhaps live, simply visualizing the guys...
 
2: Imagining yourself perhaps performing the peace,....playing the instrumets, singing, whatever, and imagining what the audience's reaction would be to you....
 
3: picturing an image or scene that has nothing to do with say a live performance or the musicians at all...this is were people let the music make them have a "cosmic" experiance or whatever....
 
Basically though..music is a translation for people to express their own feelings where words simply can't. This is why people like to share their music with other people, they hope that people will understand them better...which often works.
 
One of my favorite film directors, Stanely Kubrick, once said that words were a terrible straitjacket. By this he means it is extremely difficult to ever say something you REALLY mean...some emotions simply can't be turned into vocabulary.  However...he did also say that some things can express emotion to another dimension that words can't, and one of these was music.
 
So when I don't feel like trying to explain something with everything coming out as a mumbly mess, I use the music to help sort my thaughts...for myself and others.
 
And than of course some poeple listen to music cause it sounds good and they want to dance :P
 
Share your thaughts.....forgive me for any bad spelling :P  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 17:38
Originally posted by MikeDupont MikeDupont wrote:

If you like Frank Zappa, but don't particularly find the extreme advant-garde of albums Like Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart...I HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest you get "Shiny Beast" by Captain Beefheart. At times It reminds me so much of albums like Hot Rats...its highly melodic even for Beefheart, but the wierdness and fun is still there.

Well, you picked a good 'un - I absolutely love 'Shiny Beast'!  Probably my most-played Beefheart.  (And always my personal recommendation for anyone who's looking for an entry point to Beefheart...)  But I LOVE 'TMR' as well!  In fact, without that record, I wouldn't be listening to half the stuff I like now.  Train your ears up on that and you're equipped to listen to pretty much anything...

Originally posted by MikeDupont MikeDupont wrote:

Since you claim to like music thats flamboyant and Diciplined, and also seem to enjoy the more Yang side of prog. (Magma) I suggest you try out some stuff by Van Der Graaf Generator.

And you read my mind again!  I've been thinking that might be my next experiment, although it'll have to wait its turn (the Zeuhl/RIO/Avant Shopping List now begins to rival War and Peace for length...)!

Originally posted by MikeDupont MikeDupont wrote:

How could I have forgoten? Perhaps the most diciplined band of them all.. CAN! 

Another very perceptive suggestion...  I have to say that I've rather avoided Krautrock up till now - there seems to be so much of it, and I get weary thinking about the vastness of it...  Still, at least now I know where to start, if the urge takes me! LOL

Originally posted by MikeDupont MikeDupont wrote:

Well I hope these few things help you out...;)

Thanks indeed! Smile


Edited by song_of_copper - June 17 2008 at 18:36
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2008 at 18:00
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Hm... a few key factors:

1. Atmosphere and imagery. If it doesn't handle either of those, I usually don't get that interested in something.
2. Lyrical content and delivery. As a pretentious banker with a w who occasionally puts his own poems onto paper (or, worse still, the internet), I find a lot of interest in cleverly phrased, interesting, atmospheric and intelligent lyrics. Van Der Graaf Generator, thus, were love from the instant I heard Arrow. Not to say I won't listen to music with bad lyrics, but lyrically strong material usually gets the biggest reaction.

Hmm... yes... an ebb and flow of imagery, brought on by the music and the words... engaging your imagination, not just your sense of rhythm... all pretty essential, I'd say!

Normally I can't bear to hear 'bad' lyrics (the 'bad' is a matter of opinion, of course...) unless they're 'endearingly bad'.  Moments of Sixth Form poetry and 'tortured artiste' pomposity can occasionally be forgiven, if I like the perpetrator well enough... (this means you, Todd Rundgren...!)
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