Your Criteria for 'Good' Music?

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ali jamieson
 
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2008 01:44 pm
@de budding,
jesus dan you've opened a can of worms here

good music is both ineffable

i generally agree with your thesis, however, each term can be argued.

de_budding wrote:
For me it must be original within its own frame of reference...


why should music be referential? and what do you mean by with it's own frame of reference? in terms of genre's, there enough out there that either sits so far to one side of a genre it's irrelevant, or is unorganizable.

de_budding wrote:
...must be technically sound (must include musical difficulty and player skill)...


there's plenty of good music written by people who cannot compete with clinicians or even those who blag it. also, what about the bed-room producers? they may not be able to play *anything* but create amazing soundscapes

de_budding wrote:
must have definitive intentions (e.g. to portray a certain message, or display creative exploration of a certain musical or recording technique)


why? i've written hours worth of intention-less music, and hours of music with intent. one should not disregard the other, as music is art, and should be accepted for what it is, not what it's supposed to be or what it's supposed to portray.

this said, i DO like to explain my music and my methods, but this is more from a journalistic p.o.v

de_budding wrote:
...and above all it must utilise the compositional skills of subtlety.


see point 2. listen to kid 606, he goes from beautiful ambient sound-scapes to bollocks-out dancefloor techno, back to flying lotus style glitchy weirdness to breakcore. there's little subtly.

your thoughts
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2008 12:27 pm
@ali jamieson,
Quote:
why should music be referential? and what do you mean by with it's own frame of reference? in terms of genre's, there enough out there that either sits so far to one side of a genre it's irrelevant, or is unrecognisable.


And that position- so far to one side of a genre it's irrelevant, is a very desirable position to me. I think music is never going to be free of 'influence' as a driving force, so the best display of originality is within ones genre, or frame of reference. The frame of reference is- I guess the 'this bit sounds like X' & 'this bit like Y' side of music listening and reflection. We use it to gauge a lot of things, and t'is derived from subtle references to other songs, something all music does... some times unconsciously so I've heard as well.

Total originality is a nonsense concept so I guess the wording of the original post was a way to handle the appreciation I feel is due for originality.

Quote:
there's plenty of good music written by people who cannot compete with clinicians or even those who blag it. also, what about the bed-room producers? they may not be able to play *anything* but create amazing soundscapes


Well this is a question of intention, if your skill is blaggin and thus a part of your compositional perspective, then I will be pleased when you show technical efficiency and skill in blaggin. Technical perfection and musical difficulty can be conveyed and tackled many ways, not just via virtuoso playability on an acoustic instrument.

Quote:
why? i've written hours worth of intention-less music, and hours of music with intent. one should not disregard the other, as music is art, and should be accepted for what it is, not what it's supposed to be or what it's supposed to portray.

this said, i DO like to explain my music and my methods, but this is more from a journalistic p.o.v


I differentiate between lateral compositional techniques- like combining random samples until a pleasing result is 'found', and those who simply don't know or understand what they are doing. What I think this rule of mine shows is that I have an issue with people NOT getting credit when credit is due. I want to know I am appreciating the true artist and not the unintentional discoverer. But as I stated, a intentional discover is a lateral composer- two different things in my opinion.

Quote:
see point 2. listen to kid 606, he goes from beautiful ambient sound-scapes to bollocks-out dancefloor techno, back to flying lotus style glitchy weirdness to breakcore. there's little subtly.


I probably won't enjoy them that much then. Razz

Get back to me on this Mr Fox.
Dan.
 
ali jamieson
 
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2008 03:07 pm
@de budding,
1/ music should not be defined or constrained by genre... something's either good or it isn't. for instance, i like dub step, but not all dub step, in fact it's getting worse from the spread of your archetypal 'how do i sound like [insert name here]' bunch of questions on forums. however, as a rule i'd say i don't like manufactured pop, but there's odd songs out there [names not to be mentioned] so although genre is something i use everyday to justify music i make [and i make music to try and un-justify genre...] as a point of reference it's fine, but it's irrelevant in terms of aesthetics IMHO

2/ i disagree with originality being a 'nonsense concept' but seeings as arts are subjective, the term can be diluted. i think xyz may be hugely original but person b may disagree, therefore even an academic argument is pointless. should somone's opinion count more if they're a musician or have studied music? [i can musically snobby which i am trying avoid]

3/ hearing a record and liking it tells you little of the player's skill. obviously if it's some virtuoso shred masterpiece then you're going to bet it's by some genius. but it can go either way. plenty of 'well played' music is dull, and something performed well can be done by a charlatan or something can be made to sound good by a total idiot. this should be removed from an argument into the quality of music

4/ credit given where credit is due - that's a funny one. this isn't PART of the composition though is it? the is linear notes? and the argument of having two arbitrary sounds can work either way. i bet you some of the [looking for word other than 'best'] most innovative music has engulfed this technique.

5/ "I probably won't enjoy them [him] that much then" - on the contrary... it's right up your street. what i like about kid 606 is there's none of the cliquiest bull**** associated with music. there's sarcasm an humour but also beauty and deep thought. i'll file-share an compilation with you later [oh **** please no-one tell the FBI!]


:detective:
 
CarolA
 
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2008 03:42 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
No effect!? you sure? In some respects, music (for the most part) is a sort of psychological exploitation where the mechanical utilisation and application of rules is the magic that pulls on your heart strings.
Music is a very deliberate and controlled thing, composition wise.

Regards,
Dan.

Sometimes I think Hollywood is responsible for the belief that musicians just stand up there and play and it all just works; the usual Hollywood movie scenario: Beethoven says " I just feel it, man!" and the latest symphony rolls out. No-one mentions the 10 hours a day practicing the piano for 15 years and the endless time studying harmony and composition. Charlie Parker, the great jazz alto saxophonist apparently used to practice just about every hour he was awake, no wonder he could just roll out endless mind-blowing improvisations when he played on stage. In order to get the emotional content to come alive you have to know your instrument almost as an extension of your own body.
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 3 Nov, 2008 12:26 pm
@CarolA,
CarolA,

You reflect my sentiments; I am most interested in the relationship between musician and instrument (albeit a computer, oboe or voice.) It is skill forged through familiarity, time and effort. That is perhaps most appealing of all to me.

Dan.
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 3 Nov, 2008 12:37 pm
@ali jamieson,
ali_jamieson wrote:
1/ music should not be defined or constrained by genre... something's either good or it isn't. for instance, i like dub step, but not all dub step, in fact it's getting worse from the spread of your archetypal 'how do i sound like [insert name here]' bunch of questions on forums. however, as a rule i'd say i don't like manufactured pop, but there's odd songs out there [names not to be mentioned] so although genre is something i use everyday to justify music i make [and i make music to try and un-justify genre...] as a point of reference it's fine, but it's irrelevant in terms of aesthetics IMHO

2/ i disagree with originality being a 'nonsense concept' but seeings as arts are subjective, the term can be diluted. i think xyz may be hugely original but person b may disagree, therefore even an academic argument is pointless. should somone's opinion count more if they're a musician or have studied music? [i can musically snobby which i am trying avoid]

3/ hearing a record and liking it tells you little of the player's skill. obviously if it's some virtuoso shred masterpiece then you're going to bet it's by some genius. but it can go either way. plenty of 'well played' music is dull, and something performed well can be done by a charlatan or something can be made to sound good by a total idiot. this should be removed from an argument into the quality of music

4/ credit given where credit is due - that's a funny one. this isn't PART of the composition though is it? the is linear notes? and the argument of having two arbitrary sounds can work either way. i bet you some of the [looking for word other than 'best'] most innovative music has engulfed this technique.

5/ "I probably won't enjoy them [him] that much then" - on the contrary... it's right up your street. what i like about kid 606 is there's none of the cliquiest bull**** associated with music. there's sarcasm an humour but also beauty and deep thought. i'll file-share an compilation with you later [oh **** please no-one tell the FBI!]




Well for me it is obviously a lot more contextual- the judging of music that is. I support a someone aesthetic approach when listening to music, but I think there is a lot of pitfalls there. If anything I think the constraint of genres comes into aesthetic appreciation more, as in your limited by what you know or are familiar with. I only pay respects to genre, as a contextual reference to how original some one is with in the frame work of their CHOSEN genre. I highlight CHOSEN because there is no restraint on the musician other than if they simply build upon other musicians work, they might have to put up with me disapproving.

I guess the long on short on my part is that, as a musician, I can not entertain a purely aesthetic/open minded approach. And as I am familiar with music I empathise with the artist's efforts. Perhaps I sit half way between artist and artisan; I see a lot of things in a psychological sense and as a result derive a more objective rule base (Shame Arjen got banned, I would have loved to see his response to 'rule base'.)

On that note (pun most defiantly intended), is anyone familiar with the psychology, evolutionary history or unconscious/symbolic operating of music?

Dan
 
ali jamieson
 
Reply Mon 3 Nov, 2008 12:43 pm
@de budding,
check those book references i sent you via that email from chris kennet
 
mattpresticom
 
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 10:33 am
@de budding,
my criteria is this:

a wave that moves you to feeling...if the cause is good, then so will be the effect. mp
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 10:46 pm
@de budding,
i must disagree, music is by definition the rythmical adaptation of poetry, and i personally dont care how many times you can cram the words darfur, draft, and aids into a song, if it is written in a manner more befitting a teenager, or unintentionally lacking in the melody section, or performed with no skill, it descends from the noble title of music into simple rythmic expression

yes i know the two sound similar but there are differences, but they are separated by one quality...skill
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 11:48 pm
@nicodemus,
de_budding wrote:
CarolA,

You reflect my sentiments; I am most interested in the relationship between musician and instrument (albeit a computer, oboe or voice.) It is skill forged through familiarity, time and effort. That is perhaps most appealing of all to me.

Dan.


It's a personal relationship requiring time and devotion. The instrument is a vital form of expression. Just as a writer studies language, the musician must study his instrument. Notes and mathematical rhythm break down at a certain point; through practice, they become natural and easily manipulated. Then the musician can focus on texture. That's what separates someone like myself, the hobbyist, from the good musician.

nicodemus wrote:
i must disagree, music is by definition the rythmical adaptation of poetry, and i personally dont care how many times you can cram the words darfur, draft, and aids into a song, if it is written in a manner more befitting a teenager, or unintentionally lacking in the melody section, or performed with no skill, it descends from the noble title of music into simple rythmic expression

yes i know the two sound similar but there are differences, but they are separated by one quality...skill


Music does not require poetry.

I agree, to some extent, with your argument regarding skill. But faced with so many examples of musical brilliance coming from remarkably unskilled musicians, the generalization loses significance. Sometimes the simplest rhythms are the most effective. Consider the first track on Sublime's 40oz to Freedom. Or just about every Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson song.
 
ali jamieson
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 06:29 am
@de budding,
i've just started this book

Amazon.com: This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession: Daniel J. Levitin: Books

i recommend it to anyone who's interested [spesh u de_budding]

i'll report back when i've read more
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:26 pm
@de budding,
in my defense, i bring up the current state of the country music industry

20-30 years ago, they had the desired passion needed to make music genuine, but they also had the kind of lyrical skill to express their passions in a manner that was genuinely pleasurable to hear, as well as the technical skill to add entertainment value to it, now it has deteriorated to the point where though there is still technical skill, lyrical value has deteriorated to the point that i must consume copius amounts of restricted substances before exposing myself to it, you bring up your specific examples, here are mine

Jonny Cash -> Carrie Underwood
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:39 pm
@nicodemus,
The fall of country has been horrible. No more Robbins, no more Frizzell. Country lost the blues, and promptly perished.

I say this and I'm sure there are great country artists out there, only I have encountered them. So if anyone has any suggestions, please, please let me know!
 
CarolA
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:40 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:



Music does not require poetry.

I agree, to some extent, with your argument regarding skill. But faced with so many examples of musical brilliance coming from remarkably unskilled musicians, the generalization loses significance. Sometimes the simplest rhythms are the most effective. Consider the first track on Sublime's 40oz to Freedom. Or just about every Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson song.


Not having formal musical qualifications certainly does not imply lack of skill! Many musicians from tribal backgrounds are extremely skilled, they often start playing at an early age and it is their major professionion. The two you quote were engaged in music making for most of their time, they were certainly skilled. However, music industry moguls who put together pop music bands from a few pretty faces are not creating "skilled" musicians. It is a marketed product like toilet paper (but not as useful).
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:47 pm
@de budding,
you misunderstand me, i was not implying that one needed a formal musical training or background in order to create music, i simply stated that it required a certain amount of technical skill with some instrument (be it guitar, clarinet, or your own voice), as well as a certain lyrical proficiency that is beyond most members of the society we live in. I am not claiming that all music has to be in elizabethan english and iambic pentameter, i simply note that music cannot subsist on melody alone and requires lyrical poetry
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:48 pm
@CarolA,
CarolA wrote:
Not having formal musical qualifications certainly does not imply lack of skill! Many musicians from tribal backgrounds are extremely skilled, they often start playing at an early age and it is their major professionion.


Oh, absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more. I've posted this elsewhere, maybe earlier in this thread: Art Blakey, a formally trained, top notch jazz drummer, the man, went to Africa to study tribal drumming. When he came back to the States, his new style of playing revolutionized jazz drumming, and all set percussion. It's great to see such players draw so much from people who's music lacks all formality.

CarolA wrote:
The two you quote were engaged in music making for most of their time, they were certainly skilled. However, music industry moguls who put together pop music bands from a few pretty faces are not creating "skilled" musicians. It is a marketed product like toilet paper (but not as useful).


Oh yes, Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson especially were skilled musicians. Buddy Holly was successful because it made the high school girlies swoon. Nothing against Buddy Holly, great songwriter. Robert Johnson - well, if you listen to his work, you know. It's timeless.

The music business has become far too large. Big corporations reducing art to the bottom line... again. This is why I'm sympathetic to the punk ideal - a record label on every corner. "Power to the people!"

nicodemus wrote:
you misunderstand me, i was not implying that one needed a formal musical training or background in order to create music, i simply stated that it required a certain amount of technical skill with some instrument (be it guitar, clarinet, or your own voice), as well as a certain lyrical proficiency that is beyond most members of the society we live in.


Yeah, but see, I disagree with that. Some technical skill is required, but not much. I do not think that music is something out of the reach of most people - I think nearly everyone can learn a few chords and play good tunes. Make art, decent art.

And the issue of lyrics - music does not need lyrics. If you are going to have them, well, I hope they are good lyrics, but lyrics are not necessary. Instrumental music, anyone?

nicodemus wrote:
I am not claiming that all music has to be in elizabethan english and iambic pentameter, i simply note that music cannot subsist on melody alone and requires lyrical poetry


Then you will have to explain music without lyrics. Metallica's "Orion" was a killer track.
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 09:55 pm
@de budding,
i dont doubt it, i myself grew up listening to lyric-less bluegrass music, and finer melodies are hard to come by, but yes, if one intends to blend Melody and lyric, one needs a balanced and preferably unique skill in both, in instances such as lyric-less music or rap, one can afford to be extreme to one side or the other, but my main target is the modern conception of a song, namely an amalgamation of melody and lyric arranged in a manner that is audibly pleasing
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Mon 15 Dec, 2008 09:36 am
@nicodemus,
I would argue that "passion" or a centrality of emotion, and exploration thereof, is absolutely crucial to good music; in addition, there ought to be lyrical and technical originality.

Take alternative rock, my favorite genre. What makes Radiohead good? Or U2? Or REM? (and so on) ...Listen to Pyramid Song, or Weird Fishes; to With or Without You or Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own; to Losing My Religion or Everybody Hurts--these are all examples of classic, excellent songs; they are all animated by a single, direct emotion (usu. love or loneliness), all possess superior technical skills (Yorke's super-high falsetto or the Edge's guitar playing), and all possess high-level, poetic lyrics (remembering a rock song allows for cliches poetry does not).

The same goes for classical music. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony appeals in a raw, direct way, straight to emotion, that other, perhaps more technically superior works, do not. So while you can make good music by appealing directly to emotion, even if you're only a so-so musician (Baby One More Time, anyone :sarcastic:?), you cannot make good music if you're only technically proficient and unable to connect with your audience emotionally.
 
Drummaster273
 
Reply Mon 15 Dec, 2008 02:30 pm
@de budding,
When the artist is honest with himself/herself in their lyrics. Brings about the music to show how they were feeling at that certain moment in time when the lyrics were written. The sound should be original to oneself as one is only best at what he or she does naturally, that is true expressionism in music as opposed to following a predisposed sound so as to please. It is then up to the listener or audience to decide if they like and can relate to the artist's music.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 10:12 am
@hammersklavier,
[quote=hammersklavier] So while you can make good music by appealing directly to emotion, even if you're only a so-so musician (Baby One More Time, anyone ?), you cannot make good music if you're only technically proficient and unable to connect with your audience emotionally.[/quote]

So in other words, you can be very talented at not just playing, but performing, writing, inspiring etc. But if you can not communicate emotionally to your audience you're wasting your time.
So could you describe this emotional-quality more in depth?
And is it the one and only skill required to make 'good' music? -in other words- Are all other skills interchangeable and fleeting except emotional communication?

What I think you're touching on is psychological/emotional exploitation- namely, knowing the buttons to press to provoke your audience. This 'skill' is something that seems to have a magical and eternal quality, but is it not just something that I can become technically proficient at, like anything else?

Moreover, what if someone got so good at this emotional exploitation that they didn't even have to attempt anything remotely talented or skillful to sell thousands of records? Essentially I think we are heading into Pop music territory where everything about a song is tailored to 'fit' the emotional trends of the masses.

A crude example to end with: Is it not a very high level of emotional communication to have a lot of naked woman on during my stage show? This will be a lustful provocation for a lot of men and will be pleasing to many people who will be in universal/emotional agreement about these fantastic women.

Dan.
 
 

 
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