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Xanadu3737 View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Musical Interpretations and Opinions: Observations
    Posted: February 09 2009 at 11:37
This is an article in progress of sorts. Hopefully some of you are helped along your musical paths by it, hopefully upping the level of discourse and discussion, and at the same time hopefully your comments will be helpful in any re-working or re-writing, or future additions to it I make. :)  

=============

Nicholas R. Andreas

Musical Interpretations and Opinions: Observations and Criticisms

What makes you value one personís opinions over another? Is it that the person you value is more experienced in a certain field, or is it because the person you disregard is considered stupid? No matter what reason you give for trusting the opinion of one person over another, a very important thing to remember is that either there can be no truly right answer, or in some cases the stupidest, most inexperienced person could come up with the right answer while their counterpart may not. This all remains true when applied to the great subjective field of music. Battles rage over what is music and what is not, and what kinds of music are better than others, and within those genres which performer or band is king. I do not intend to crown anyone with my argument, I simply aim to show that you can not prove or disprove the opinions of myself or others, and there is a civilized manner in which we can all get along and discuss music in order to connect one another with what we wish to hear.

    Music plays a unique role in every one of us. In some it is a way of life, often times the means to live, in others the few notes an elevator plays while they descend a few floors is a noisy nuisance. Most people who read this will be the former, however to understand all that follows one must not criticize the latter. Like most other things people should primarily judge something like music in terms of how it affects their lives, and they should not overly concern themselves with how it affects others. Iím sure we all know someone who is caught in disbelief when a friend professes a love or hate or a certain genre of music, Iíve often caught myself wondering how someone can believe such a thing! However itís important to take a step back and examine a few key points. Firstly, one person does hold some absolute truth in what music is good or bad, and so you must always be open to the fact that the opinion in question has just as much validity as your own beliefs. Next it is important to remember that there is no reason other persons opinions on music have to be compared against your core beliefs. A fan of country who meets a fan of gangster rap probably should not even try to engage in a musical discussion. It is often best to recognize differences and leave well enough alone. Both fans will have little to gain from the other, and they would be best to simply realize that music obviously has different meaning to each of them, and continue on without additional need to argue. Is this to say there is absolutely nothing could be gained by conversation between the two fans? Absolutely not. Between any two genres common ground can be found, however there will always be a point when a threshold is reached and participants must realize that their fundamental approach to music will prohibit much further progress.

    But what about those who listen to all types of music? There are those who pride themselves in exploring as many different types of music as possible, and that certainly is a noble goal. One certain benefit is that you may truly find what you enjoy, the more diverse your experiences the more styles you will have to choose from. However it is important to be wary of a superiority complex that often develops from this type of exploration. Although a person may have experienced more bands or styles than another person, this does not make their opinion on a matter any more correct than someone far less experienced. I will show this using a proof that will be seen many times throughout the argument. Let us begin by saying there are three people, A, B, and C. Person A listens to two bands within two genres. Person B listens to those two genres, four bands, however he also listens to an additional band in each genre, and an additional genre with three bands, meaning he listens to three genres and three bands within each genre. Person C likewise listens to four genres and four bands in each genre, including all those person B and A listen to. Person B believes his opinions are automatically superior to person A because he has experienced more music. However person C says the same thing about person B and all three people hold different opinions about the bands and genres they have in common. Two rules can be taken out of this. First, there will always be someone out there who has experienced all the music you have and more, whose opinions will differ from yours, so by your own logic of superiority, you have just proven music to be completely subjective. Secondly, even on the bands that all three people hold common, opinions on the bands material will be different, despite the scope of their experience.

    This brings me to an interesting point, some peopleís need to compare music against other music in order to give it any value whatsoever. Now some reasons for comparison are valid, while I find others are of more use as observations than as a basis for rating music. I will use a classic case of a band recreating its own sound again and again. Often it is said that album D is bad because it sounds just like album A, B, and C which came before it. However this is a bad argument. When rating the music of album D one should not take into effect the albums A, B, and C, because you are rating simply the music on album D. This type of criticism should be reserved for the artists, not for individual albums. One should say that album D is very good, but that it is basically the same as the previous work from the artists. In other cases people argue that an album is bad because it does not sound like the earlier work of the band. I believe this is also a mistake, and that a listener should take a new album into consideration objectively, without pre-conceived notions about what it should sound like. I have found it has often been the case that fans of a band often overlook entire albums or sections of a bands career because a few songs on a record strayed from what they thought it should be. It is important to judge a new sound objectively, not automatically judge it bad because it is not what you expected or wanted. Comparing one piece of music to another should be for mainly analytical purposes, to help describe a piece of music. Kevin Martell makes two interesting points about the importance of being able to compare music in a good way when he says, ďMy natural reaction to, say, POW (Prophets of War, Dream Theater) is that the lyrics aren't very good, why shouldn't I be able to express that? I'm not saying that I could do better than JLB (James LaBrie), I'm just saying that in comparison to the thousands of other lyrics I've heard, I thought that his lyrics were not very good.Ē The first point is that it is certainly important to be able to compare music when describing what qualities you like and dislike in music, or in this case lyrics. The second point which I shall go more in depth on later is that one must not be a musician to criticize musicians. Not only is their opinion still subjective, but you can actively compare musicians to other musicians without yourself being a musician.

    Next we will discuss more in depth discussing music with different groups and types of people. The most common type of Ďelitistí one might encounter is a musician. Not to say all musicians are snobs or elitists, but many have a tendency to be. Many believe that because they play an instrument their opinion on a piece of music is worth more than someone who has never struck a single note. They are certainly wrong. It is fully understandable that playing an instrument, or multiple instruments can greatly influence how you perceive music, on how you rate music, or how much you like a certain piece of music, but that does not give that person a higher opinion on how good or bad a piece of music may be. Playing an instrument, or knowing how to write or create music may give a person a greater understand of what is going on within a piece of music, to more greatly grasp its composition, however it does not make their ears superior in detecting what is good or bad. In some cases it could even be argued that playing a particular instrument or instruments can bias a person when it comes to rating music. Many guitar players will rate the music of an average band with an amazing guitar player over that of a band with amazing music and an average guitar player. Their understanding of the guitar will lead them to side with the particular aspect of the music instead of their own subverted thoughts on the music as a whole. However one thing it certainly does give them a higher degree of credibility is rating the musicianship of a piece of music. As I said, the end sound is subjective to all ears, but the technical proficiency that went into creating that sound is better rated by musicians. Although I most go back to my opening comments and remind everyone that just because someone with higher credentials says something about the musicianship of an album does not make them correct, the odds are simply in their favor due to a better grasp of the concepts behind the music. 

    Have you ever met someone who is over-opinionated and confident about their opinions on music? Sure you have, because weíve all been guilty of it at one point or another. I know Iíve even been guilty of some of the other things Iíve railed against in this paper, as Iím sure most everyone reading it has. However on this point there are certainly those who are persistent in their ignorance. There are those who you approach with an opinion and they return with, ďHow can you *possibly* believe that?Ē They find it incomprehensible that someone could even think about holding an opinion so far off from their own. This could be when discussing genres within music, artists within a genre, albums within an artist, or songs within an album. They are a very odd bunch who often draws obscure lines in the sand, having perfect discussion when the opinions vary only slightly from their own, but when you vary farther they are aghast in disbelief. It is once again a case of self-contradiction. It would be one thing if you simply said that your points and opinions are right, and all others are wrong, a type of opinion exclusivism that would need an entirely different paper to counter, but one youíve opened to the possibility that other opinions are valid, you must consider that all other opinions on a piece of music could reasonably be valid.

    Next we will explore how we use other people to further our own musical expansion. Is it wrong to value the opinion of one person over another considering all opinions on music are subjective? Of course not. Assuming yourself as person A, and two friends as persons B and C, consider yourself in the market for buying a CD by a band completely new to you. B and C recommend you two different artists, how do you choose? I would argue it is logical to side with whomever youíve had best results with, and have similar tastes with. You may say, ďBut Nick, youíve spent several pages saying that all opinions should be treated equally. Yes, except when you choose the recommendation of friend B above that of friend C itís because you believe that friend Bís recommendation has a greater chance of giving you satisfaction, not because his opinion is worth more. You are not saying that you believe that the band in question for recommendation B is automatically greater than the band in question for recommendation B, you are simply stating that you have, based on prior experience and your own personally objective opinions on music, a greater chance of enjoying it. Although it is important to remember that opinions on music within a group are subjective, your singular opinions are still objective. There is nothing wrong with your personal opinions, or how you value the opinions of those around you, it is simply important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, that in an open musical discussion that all the opinions are valid, even if you donít agree with them.

    Now, some people use a valuable tool in furthering their music collection, while others use that same tool in much less effective and often counterproductive manners. This tool is of course genres. With thousands of bands out there itís hard to be completely against the concept of genres, grouping similar bands together under one banner, but there are certainly reasons some music fans are weary of them. Used properly, genres can be a valuable tool for exploring music, whether you are looking to expand within a genre or into new genres. I think the key to using genres properly is to allow them to be a series of observations about the music, while completely disregarding your personal preferences on those qualities. People can then use these descriptive properties to decide which genres they believe will interest themselves the most and can go on from there. A big problem arises in music discussion when genres are classified as simply good or bad for a multitude of reasons. First off even people who love a genre will generally admit to many bad acts within it, and the opposite is true, they will usually, though are less likely to, admit to good acts within genres they despise. Also people can use this good genre bad genre mantra to easily credit or discredit acts. Even if they donít fit typical qualities of a genre people are quick to throw bands into a genre they discredit if they donít like the particular act. Sometimes people even side so far with genres they limit themselves away from acts they would otherwise enjoy. If they feel some people may think an act is a certain genre which they have claimed is worthless, they will not explore that act, even if that particular act has many qualities which in fact they would enjoy. Personally I have had contact mostly with people we eat, drink, and swear by metal, and I find it sad that they take offense to something if you say it is not metal, because they automatically equate it with, ďnot goodĒ.

    One particular genre though, requires special attention, or as Iíll try to point out, no attention. Pop. Simply short for popular music this genre does not have a single underlying, unifying quality except that it is currently popular. This is not a genre, nor should it be an insult amongst fans of real genres that happen to be less popular. Itís important to note that pop can come from any genre and one must look past that superficial label in describing the label. Now I should note that something can have a ďpopĒ sound if using it as a synonym for catchy, but that is not what weíre dealing with here. It amazes me that someone will label something as pop if they want to discredit it. Pop is simply whatever the masses are following at any given time, and it can be in line with qualities you enjoy or those that you donít, what is important is that you look past that label to the music. Remember, your favorite band, you know, the one that you and a handful of other people are the only die hard fans ofÖ that band could take off tomorrow, become the most popular band in the worldÖ would that make them any worse in your eyes? It certainly shouldnít, youíd be a fool taking a bands popularity in account when analyzing the music. One might be surprised how often they themselves do this when taking into account bands or songs. Often it is done subconsciously; sometimes we say that we donít like a song because weíve heard it on the radio a billion times. Often it is the case that we enjoy the song, it is simply that we are tired of hearing it. Many people rule out a band because of its popularity or because of the type of fan-base it tends to attract. Why? Sure, most of Hannah Montanaís fans are teenage girls, but that alone is not a proper reason to dislike Hannah Montana, however much it might be our first reaction to do so we can not judge the quality of music in a definite sense without ever hearing it. We must hear Hannah Montanaís music, and then most people who are not teenage girls will decide that they do not enjoy her music. This may seem like an unnecessary step for some, saying that everything else they ever saw these girls flocking over was bad, but the point remains to form a proper opinion on the music itself, we must judge only the music itself, not its popularity, following, or genre.

All things previously discussed lead into one focal point of this paper, the concept of close-mindedness. There are many different definitions of it, usually fitting for whomever is currently slugging it around, and there are many situations in which people try to use it, but here now I will try and give my best interpretation of what it is to be close-minded when it comes to music. First I will say that we are all victim to it, there is absolutely no avoiding it at times, we are often consciously and subconsciously close-minded in many of our music related discussions and decisions, it is inevitable. Being close minded is judging music on something other than the music. It is judging a piece of music on the fans it attracts, it is judging a piece of music against your expectations, it is judging a piece of music against prior work of the band. Being close minded is many things, but basically, it is judging music on anything but the music itself. It is not an obvious outward hatred that many people view it is, it is on the other hand an internal struggle between relating what you know to what you are hearing. It would be incredibly difficult to clear your mind to a point where you could listen to a piece of music for the first time without any pre-conceived notions, without any ideas of what sounds good to you, and without any ideas about what you want, and because of that it is almost impossible to listen to a piece of music without some small degree of close-mindedness. Sure, as I have defined it some people are certainly guiltier of than others, if guilty is truly the word for this occasion. For is being guilty of it a bad thing? Not necessarily. I see a strong close-mindedness associated with someone in a time where they want to better explore what they know, what they are familiar with, and what they can expect. On the other hand I view someone who is more open-minded (or as I have defined it, less close-minded), as someone who is willing to simply take more chances, and to take the unexpected. Both these modes of exploration offer great reward, and there is little reason for bickering between those who claim to be one or the other, because at the end of the day both can probably say they are enjoying a great deal of music. Yes, the open-minded people will be enjoying a wider variety of music, there is little reason to try and argue this, but that does not mean that the more close-minded people canít be enjoying their less diverse music just as much if not more.

Close-mindedness, and its close sibling elitism are often discussed when the issue of growing out of music is brought up. I have found there are typically three types of people regarding the issue at hand. The first type despises everything they used to like. As they expand into new music, most often of different genres they look down upon the music they used to enjoy, and those who still like their old music, often calling them close-minded. A second group tends to be very balanced, expanding into new bands and genres while enjoying everything they had in the past. A third group finds it extremely different to find new sounds and music which can live up to the standard they are used to. Are any of these right or wrong? Inherently no, but there are generally faults to the two extremes. The first group usually suffers from elitism, thinking that if they are not constantly expanding, and finding music that is better than whatever they were listening to last year, they have somehow failed in their musical quest. They are also usually the quickest to offer up snobbery whenever a musical discussion is at hand. The third group usually has a small hard shell that is nearly impossible to break. Set on their style or styles of music it is incredibly difficult for them to gauge a band outside of their safe zone without heavy bias. I think it is important to come from the poles towards the center group. Donít feel a need to expand, but give new sounds and ideas a fresh and open-minded listen. Also realize that style does not necessarily determine quality, and on the other hand try to keep in mind that what you used to like should in some way be measured on the same scale as what you currently like.

Through all this one thing we should step back and realize is music is generally made to be enjoyed, in one context or another. Because of that there is certainly a time to sit back, relax, and simply enjoy music without analyzing it on a hundred different levels as this article has. Musicians are notorious for over analyzing things, but someone who has never touched an instrument can be just as guilty. There are times we all need to simply forget what we know, forgot what others think completely, and just see if we can enjoy a piece of music at its most basic level. If you can do that, you might just learn new things about music you have, and as an added bonus you might learn a thing or two about yourself.

In the end Iíd simply like to say that music isnít about telling people what the best is, and it is definitely not about telling them what they are supposed to like. Instead music should be looked upon as a journey, and all of those along that journey should look to help others along that journey in whatever way we possibly can. Your own personal opinions and preferences should not be disregarded, it is just that they should not be used to try and overrule the opinions of others. Instead they should be used to forge a common understanding on which both parties can benefit in their exploration. 


Edited by Xanadu3737 - February 22 2009 at 22:46
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2009 at 13:08
It will take me quite a while to read this huge post. But I read the first paragraph and would like to post a short intuitive answer to the question "What makes you value one personís opinions over another?":

I think the most basic mechanism is that you remember when you agreed with someone, for example when you follow their advice, purchase an album and enjoy listening to it. Of course you also remember when you follow someone's advice and end up not liking the music at all. An important extension of this mechanism is when someone comments on a piece of music that you already know - if you either strongly agree or disagree with the opinion, you will remember that.

Also there's of course the "community effect" ... the more users agree with an opinion, the more you'll trust it ... of course again influenced by your experience with those who comment on the opinion. In extreme cases you can even have a double negation ... like when someone with whom you rarely agree doesn't like an album, that may encourage you to check it out.


Edited by Mr ProgFreak - February 09 2009 at 13:09
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2009 at 03:40
Originally posted by Xanadu3737 Xanadu3737 wrote:


     The most common type of Ďelitistí one might encounter is a musician. Not to say all musicians are snobs or elitists, but many have a tendency to be. Many believe that because they play an instrument their opinion on a piece of music is worth more than someone who has never struck a single note. They are certainly wrong. It is fully understandable that playing an instrument, or multiple instruments can greatly influence how you perceive music, on how you rate music, or how much you like a certain piece of music, but that does not give that person a higher opinion on how good or bad a piece of music may be. Playing an instrument, or knowing how to write or create music may give a person a greater understand of what is going on within a piece of music, to more greatly grasp its composition, however it does not make their ears superior in detecting what is good or bad. In some cases it could even be argued that playing a particular instrument or instruments can bias a person when it comes to rating music. Many guitar players will rate the music of an average band with an amazing guitar player over that of a band with amazing music and an average guitar player. Their understanding of the guitar will lead them to side with the particular aspect of the music instead of their own subverted thoughts on the music as a whole.   

    


I largely agree with this and have encountered it. However, I believe that if the musicians in question were active in a band at that point of time, they would pay more attention to songwriting as a whole than just individual virtuosity because they would have been involved in writing songs themselves and hence would appreciate brilliant songwriting craft more.  My position is that I don't object to a musician saying ELP's musicians were more virtuosic than Genesis's but to saying that they are better simply because they are more virtuosic because virtuosity is not everything.  However, knowledge of music theory is a different ballgame and it is safe to say that people well versed in music theory would indeed be in a better position to judge some advanced forms of music.

About the last para, the important thing is to look at bands and their music.  The notion that because a few of your favourite bands are from one genre, you must explore that genre to its very depths is flawed because your liking depends not only on the band being from a genre you enjoy but also on the quality of ideas they present and whether you find them agreeable.  It is important to remember that music is for you to derive pleasure from and not a competitive game of listening to the most bands/genres/albums etc.  There is a point where the cold analysis stops and you sit back and enjoy the sound of music toying with your heart and it is important not to let that feeling go.  So, yeah, I broadly agree with your message to move to the center from the poles of two extremes.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2009 at 19:24
Originally posted by Mr ProgFreak Mr ProgFreak wrote:

It will take me quite a while to read this huge post. But I read the first paragraph and would like to post a short intuitive answer to the question "What makes you value one personís opinions over another?":

I think the most basic mechanism is that you remember when you agreed with someone, for example when you follow their advice, purchase an album and enjoy listening to it. Of course you also remember when you follow someone's advice and end up not liking the music at all. An important extension of this mechanism is when someone comments on a piece of music that you already know - if you either strongly agree or disagree with the opinion, you will remember that.

Also there's of course the "community effect" ... the more users agree with an opinion, the more you'll trust it ... of course again influenced by your experience with those who comment on the opinion. In extreme cases you can even have a double negation ... like when someone with whom you rarely agree doesn't like an album, that may encourage you to check it out.


I think it goes a bit deeper than agreeing or disagreeing. I believe you also have to look at why people are arriving at the opinions they have, and the situation surrounding it. I'll give two examples of what I'm trying to say:

A. You and a friend both like progressive rock, and you generally agree with his opinions. You ask his opinion on a rap album and his opinion varies greatly from yours. Even tho you usually agree on things you can probably expect vary different opinions on certain topics, like a rap album if you're generally on different sides about the genre as a whole.

B. Me and a friend both love an album. He loves it because it is headbanging and straight forward rockin', I however may like it mainly because of excellent musicianship. We both love the album, but if I ask him for a suggestion it probably won't be what I'm looking for because based on my love of that album he could suggest another headbanging album with poor musicianship.

Minor points, but just wanted to expand a bit. :)

Rogerthat - I certainly need to expand a bit on my feelings about pure and simple enjoyment of an album. I certainly think at times people tend to over analyze things to the point of unnecessary dislike. Thank you for pointing that out. :)


Edited by Xanadu3737 - February 10 2009 at 19:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2009 at 20:08
Originally posted by Xanadu3737 Xanadu3737 wrote:

With only twelve notes itís hard to believe that music could be so broad and controversial.
There's more than twelve notes.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2009 at 21:23
A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, and G# are what I was referring to. Of course there are multiple octaves, but at the base of it those are the 12 notes that make up music. And it was a general philosophical point, not a technical point. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 00:08
Originally posted by Xanadu3737 Xanadu3737 wrote:

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, and G# are what I was referring to. Of course there are multiple octaves, but at the base of it those are the 12 notes that make up music. And it was a general philosophical point, not a technical point. 
MICROTONES!
if you own a sodastream i hate you
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 04:34
^ yeah, microtonal music is quite the hit.LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 13:03
Heh, although I love music I will admit that my understanding of music theory is very basic. I honestly had never heard of a microtone before, so I researched it a bit and don't quite think they warrant changing that line, which was a broad philosophical statement like I said.   



Edited by Xanadu3737 - February 11 2009 at 13:05
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 15:55
Indian/Middle-Eastern music is based on a different musical system than Western music. Now, obviously you were using a rhetorical device in that line, but it is still incorrect because those two regions have more than 12 tones. I wasn't refering to microtones however that is still something legit. By saying that all music is based only on 12 tones is wrong...really wrong....and it kind of discredits the article when there's a mistake like such, not too much, but it gets in the back of people's minds.
 
But anyway, about the article. First of all, I think that musicians and people who listen to more music than someone else (like described in your person A, B, and C metaphor) do have more of a right to say what is good music and what isn't. Obviously, taste is subjective, however lets say there are two bands (A and B), both playing the same type of music. However, if band A's compositions are slightly less catchy and solid and the singer is worse than B's, then band A is pretty much seen as a worse band.

Now, the hard part of determining anything objectively is that different people like listening to music for different things. You can't rightly call any band objectively better unless you specify a category. Ex: band B is more catchy than band A....however, band A could be more technically sound than band B, however again, band B might have more emotional songs, etc etc etc. And also, if Person A only listens to two bands and says that Band A is really good because they are technically sound, person B could listen to three bands and say that Band C is actually better on the technically sound scale. So while the objective truth is impossible, you get closer to it the more you listen to music....my point ends up being that: if you listen to more music, your opinion is more valid than someone who is more "sheltered' because you know what else is there to compare it to.
 
Also, you can definately objectively determine if a band is better than another one if you do so in the vein of certain categories. Ex: band A is technically better than B, theremore objectively band A is technically better than B. Simple no?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 21:15
Originally posted by DJPuffyLemon DJPuffyLemon wrote:

Indian/Middle-Eastern music is based on a different musical system than Western music. Now, obviously you were using a rhetorical device in that line, but it is still incorrect because those two regions have more than 12 tones. I wasn't refering to microtones however that is still something legit. By saying that all music is based only on 12 tones is wrong...really wrong....and it kind of discredits the article when there's a mistake like such, not too much, but it gets in the back of people's minds.
 
But anyway, about the article. First of all, I think that musicians and people who listen to more music than someone else (like described in your person A, B, and C metaphor) do have more of a right to say what is good music and what isn't. Obviously, taste is subjective, however lets say there are two bands (A and B), both playing the same type of music. However, if band A's compositions are slightly less catchy and solid and the singer is worse than B's, then band A is pretty much seen as a worse band.

Now, the hard part of determining anything objectively is that different people like listening to music for different things. You can't rightly call any band objectively better unless you specify a category. Ex: band B is more catchy than band A....however, band A could be more technically sound than band B, however again, band B might have more emotional songs, etc etc etc. And also, if Person A only listens to two bands and says that Band A is really good because they are technically sound, person B could listen to three bands and say that Band C is actually better on the technically sound scale. So while the objective truth is impossible, you get closer to it the more you listen to music....my point ends up being that: if you listen to more music, your opinion is more valid than someone who is more "sheltered' because you know what else is there to compare it to.
 
Also, you can definately objectively determine if a band is better than another one if you do so in the vein of certain categories. Ex: band A is technically better than B, theremore objectively band A is technically better than B. Simple no?


I suppose your first point is certainly valid and technically will take some credit away from the overall argument, so when I revise this tonight I'll change that in some way.

As for the rest, it kinda runs counter to what I'm trying to get at. Who is to say one band is catchier than another, more emotional, or has a better vocalist? The thing I hope everyone can take from this is that one of the things that makes music amazing is that it can evoke such a wide range of opinions. And we should not look to overturn other peoples opinions based on what we think is good, but should instead treat music as a journey, a journey we hopefully wish to help others with in the best way possible.

In short don't try to rank bands, show them better than one another in one specific fashion or as a whole, but instead try and simply guide people to what they will enjoy. :)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2009 at 21:29
well of course helping people on their musical journey is something worth of praise, but not every band is equal and some listeners are more qualified to give reccomendations. so as for "who is to say" type of questions...the more experienced listener is to say. although, in the end, yes it is all down to subjective taste.

Edited by DJPuffyLemon - February 11 2009 at 21:30
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 12 2009 at 04:01
Originally posted by DJPuffyLemon DJPuffyLemon wrote:

Indian/Middle-Eastern music is based on a different musical system than Western music. Now, obviously you were using a rhetorical device in that line, but it is still incorrect because those two regions have more than 12 tones. I wasn't refering to microtones however that is still something legit. By saying that all music is based only on 12 tones is wrong...really wrong....and it kind of discredits the article when there's a mistake like such, not too much, but it gets in the back of people's minds.


I just came across an article which states that Indian music only uses 7 notes ... I'd be glad if you could point me towards some websites which shed more light on the subject. But maybe it would be best if you started a separate thread for that, since it's really off topic here.

About the other points that you and the original poster are discussing:

I thought about posting a lengthy answer, but IMO it boils down to this: Both experience as a listener and as a musician can add tremendously to one's ability to assess the quality of a piece of music. Granted, it can also bias you, but overall I still believe that knowledge and insight are inherently good things for experts in any domain. Having said all that, that still doesn't mean that experts can tell you whether you're going to like a piece of music or not. IMO there is no such thing as objectivity when it comes to musical *taste*. An expert can give you a list of things which objectively suck about a piece of music, and you might still love it ... or he makes some solid points about which a piece of music is objectively great (a "masterpiece"), and you might still hate it.

So, in a nutshell: if you seek musical advice, you obviously need to ask people who know many albums, and preferably many styles. If you specifically seek music which is well played, it helps if the people you ask are musicians themselves. If you want someone to give you recommendations based on personal taste, you're going to have to live with the fact that the recommendations might not always work.Smile


Edited by Mr ProgFreak - February 12 2009 at 04:20
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 18 2009 at 20:19
Wow!
 In my opinion and observation, that post was VERY poorly written. FULL of germane points, awkward, badly edited, convoluted and pretentious. We use language to express our thoughts. The more confused our language, the more confused the expression of those thoughts.I'd say you don't know what you're talking about , simply because your post expects us to 'figure it out' or 'fill in the blanks'.
 
Actually, it's kind of like most prog music after 75..lol.
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 18 2009 at 21:36
Thank you for your honesty 66. As I said, it's a work in progress (sorry it hasn't progressed with any edits since the rest of you helped, have just been VERY busy), but obviously no amount of editing will win you over. I can't deny that in my general push towards openness in discussion and expression of music I do come off as a bit pretentious, so I certainly won't argue your point there.

On the other hand I try to get things across clearly and I try not to have my reader figure it out or fill in the blanks in any great level, and my reviews (found mainly at www.wpapu.com reviews section (I'm Nick), or at www.dreamtheaterforums.org 's review section under Nick as well) have received praise from a variety of users for how well they were written. So I will have to respectfully disagree with your first point, while reserving that there are still many revisions needed.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 10 2009 at 13:30
Hi,
 
Here's my zen on this ...
 
This is an area that is tough for many people ... and I think (gonna re-word this ... T H I N K) that the main reason why is that it is difficult to separate something that one likes from something that is good.
 
In general, good would be in comparison to something else, since there would be no reason to say that something is good or right or wrong, without some kind of reference point.
 
To be honest with you, these are the least kind of people I take suggestions from, since ... I like to say it this way ... they have a book/thought/idea between them and me ... they are not telling me anything about the group itself, or the music as much as they are adding to their own feeling and throughts and in a way ... sort of validating their own belief ... the veritable "I believe, therefore I am" kind of thing.
 
I don't do this out of dis-respect at all ... I do this for a very different reason ... one that I think you want to talk about but academically you will be shot for it and will never TA or teach at that school, or even have a good shot at a degree at it! Been there ... done that, btw!!!
 
I learned as a child, in the very first time I entered the Monastery of Jeronimos that I could see things ... and one priest said that I was imagining things. Well ... I can tell you that he was the one imagining things!
 
It took me many years, a lot of music, a lot of writing and a lot of internal searching ... to finally see "something" in "art" that gave it the special glow that made people like it ... that third dimention ... and that attraction that we all have for it.
 
So here is a funny story for you ... when the first Tut exhibits hit LA, at least one of the sarcophagi was attracting a massive amount of attention ... and everyone was looking at it. Three years later the same exhibition came back ... and no one went to look at that sarcophagi ... it was as if it didn't exist anymore ... and you want to know the difference? When it first came through it had a "wail" or a "cry" that came with it, and people appeared to be attracted to it because of that "something" ... and 3 years later ... that "wail" or "cry" ... was gone! GONE ... and the piece, and probably others, lost some of the very strength that got people to look at them ....
 
Now ... in general, I think that the musics that have that "inner strength" tend to affect and last longer inside of us and will always be considered "better" than others because of it.
 
A lot of this has been broken down in history of music as various movements ... and you don't have to sit through "Tous Les Matins Du Monde" or "Un Couer en Hiver" or "Amadeus" or any other magnificent films dealing with music itself ... to learn that we always try to study and figure out what it is that we feel ... and WHY ...
 
So, skipping a few years, we arrive at today, and since most of the 20th century was about killing the symphonic styles and sonata styles of most music, the 2 things that influence rock and pop music the very most ... it has gotten to the point where things appear even more confusing, specially now that we have an Internet and you can hear everyone and everything there is ....
 
Well, what do we have ... we can certainly tell that Eric can play Layla better than you and I ... and that some kid in Bohemia ... mannnn he did it real nice too ... but the rest didn't cut the mustard and were sloppy, not on time, out of tune ... you name it ... all of which are conditions that lessen the "good" on anything.
 
So the next step is someone coming up and telling me that ... this band or that is good ... and they also like Rush ... a very "american" fan in my book ... as opposed to an european listener who has heard at least 3 or 4 other languages on the radio or tv ... which in America still are "taboo" ... so to speak  ... something with sub-titles on TV ... ohh my gawd ... pleople can't read!  Or better yet ... use the laugh track to tell you where to laugh ... and you lose the ability to think for yourself ... what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, and how to relate to it.
 
So, in the end I would think that this is culturally tied to what's around the folks ... and you might think that I am saying that someone in London has a better opinion on music/musics than someone in Montana or Vermont ... and that would be me being snobbish and not justified. The only thing I will say here is that those people in London are likely to have heard a lot more that anyone in Vermont or Montana ever will ... on the other hand, in London they might never have heard of Dollly either!
 
Take preferences aside ... what's left?
 
A naked skeleton and something ... a feeling ... and when people can describe that inner feeling they will always bring music to it, and friends as well ... without it there wouldn't be any ... well probably something else would be there called something else ...
 
Now comes the hard part ... one person, then one group, then a studio, then a company, then a store ... adn then the radio (generic sense) ... and then you ... and a lot gets lost in these translations ...
 
There is a better question ... for all this ... and it is why do you like it? And you will find that 9 out of 10 people are not usually capable of expressing themselves in clear terms ... and this is the barometer I use to find out if I want to llisten to something or not ... and I then can make up my mind on my own ... but in the process I caught something vital ... and far out ... that comes from the original ... and it is the reason why that person also loves it ...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 19 2009 at 15:46
If a band already made album A, what would be the point in making album B,C or D when those were just a rehashing of the ideas on A? Many people will look at album D as something less than album A because frankly it is lacking the novelty of the first. I have always been under the impression that if a band produced said album A, why release another that achieves the same purpose and does nothing that the previous did not achieve musically.
 
A prime example to my ears is Led Zeppelin II. The album essentially takes the heavy elements of I, getting rid of the eclectic elements and experimentation of the first, and makes a derivate and one dimensional album. Honestly, I cannot see how musical development cannot be taken into account when evaluating an album and the music on it

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 25 2009 at 03:38
I think the most basic mechanism is that you remember when you agreed
with someone, for example when you follow their advice, purchase an
album and enjoy listening to it. Of course you also remember when you
follow someone's advice and end up not liking the music at all. An
important extension of this mechanism is when someone comments on a
piece of music that you already know - if you either strongly agree or
disagree with the opinion, you will remember that.


Edited by Easy Money - July 26 2009 at 03:05
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 26 2009 at 03:07
^ Sorry tough guy, but I had to take out the 'match club' link, you're welcome to stick around, but no more of that please.
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