Your Criteria for 'Good' Music?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Icon
 
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 10:25 am
@de budding,
Good music is that which inspires my creativity and enduces emotions which I consider to be beneficial to the act which I am dedicating myself to at that moment.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 01:08 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:


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.
Excellent questions. Ones I do not exactly have the answer to. I am young and only at the beginning of my philosophical journey, remember. But I do have a few ideas...

Basically, at the moment, I think emotional connection is the major difference between great art and good, or merely mediocre, or subpar, art. I'll have to work out a proof for this, but it's my intuition. But just because it's the most important skill doesn't mean that other skills aren't important. Technical excellence, too, can make an important contribution, but without the emotional quality you can't get better than merely good. My knowledge of classical music is a little fuzzy, but I think that while works by various Enlightenment Teutons are good, works such as the Fifth Symphony and Blue Danube are truly superb, precisely because they provide an emotional component that other musicians couldn't.

To answer your question about emotion trumping skill, I honestly don't know how you could tell the difference between them when they come out...Hume suggested a form of perfect critic, I think, but in reality that's impossible to do. Staying power would be the ultimate arbiter, that is, U2's '80s and 2000s pieces could be considered superior to their '90s pieces because, among other things, they have more staying power; the same could be said about Radiohead's OK Computer versus Pablo Honey--if a given work inspires multiple generations, instead of merely appealing to a single generation, it would be great.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 10:31 pm
@Icon,
I haven't read every post here, so I'm just going to answer the OP directly:

I don't feel there are any explicit criteria concerning my judgment on music. My perception in regards to music changes consistently, just as it does for other facets of aesthetics.

As I change, my judgment in music also changes. It becomes easier to distinguish what I like and dislike, but harder for me to set labels on what is "bad" or "good". That is, even if I don't enjoy a particular tune, I can still appreciate qualities, genuine qualities that I feel emanate from the sound.

My favorite band currently is Tool, yet 5 years ago I could barely stand listening to a song from them. As has been mentioned, the music simply stirs my emotions - all other senses are blocked, and I succumb to the sound. It is the time I am in, it is emotions I feel, it is the milieu with which I am surrounded that contribute to my perception of music I enjoy. But, again to clarify, what I consider "good" and "bad" music is much more complex and difficult. Sincerely, I don't feel I can even judge that. If it strikes someone somewhere, even in the slightest way, how can it be "bad"?
 
JLP
 
Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 10:24 am
@Zetherin,
I enjoy music that moves me. Tunes that lock tendrils into my consciousness and carry my mind to an Akashic realm of imagination. The genre is of no real significance, if the effect is there. An extremely technical composition of Bach, for instance, with its exacting contrapuntal layering, can evoke the same feeling as a song from my favorite band, Pink Floyd, which might feature a rather simplistic but still masterfully crafted arrangement.

In many cases, it is difficult to pin down precisely what makes me like a song, apart from the simple fact that it resonates with me.
Perhaps this is why my tastes are rather eclectic, ranging from Wagner to Mickey Newbury; Skinny Puppy to Jurassic 5; Angelo Badalamenti to Tool.

I do have a personal preference for minor chords.
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 10:35 am
@hammersklavier,
Well it would be nice to hear your thoughts on chapter 6 of Stephen Davies' Philosophy of Art; chapter 6.0 (pg 135) is available here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xDBFvTXhV1IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=philosophy+of+art#PPA135,M1
Also check out chapter 6.4 (pg 144) titled The Expression of Emotion in Music.

Also Last night I saw a sketch on Little Britain which reminded me of your post. It was a live hypnotist show in which the hypnotist comes on stage- every one's excited about the show- he tells his audience he is going to not only hypnotize a few of them, but ALL of them!
Crowd goes 'oooo'
He 'puts them under' with the usually "look into my eyes, not around the eyes, but into them." And then once his whole audience is 'under' he begins-
"When I click my fingers in a few hours you will all wake up, amazed by the fantastic show you have just witnessed you will applaud like mad; you will go home and tell your friends how great the show is and all come back WITH your friends!"
The hypnotist then, leaving his audience hypnotized, sits and reads a book on stage for the duration of the show, when he is finished he clicks his fingers, the audience awakes, cheers madly and all go home- coming back with friends for a second showing!

Ha, I think highlights the sort of negative light that can be shone on emotion in music. Honesty is important in music and I think pop music in some respects is no better than the knock-of-hypnotist: It locks into the trends and mediums of the public pretending that it is simply where it artistically-belongs; it coveys an emotional message or meaning that neither the 'artist' nor the label actually hold themselves- it lies to us for sales! In reality the planning and shaping of this 'music' has been in the pipe works for a while. Observing trends of behavior in us, the recording labels wait and then capitalize on what is 'popular'. Honesty in music is important.

One thing this thread has emphasised for me is that, to judge/listen/appreciate music is to 'support' music, it is a business like anything else. When we got to a bad restaurant we try our hardest not to go back to it, to inform our friends- to not support it. Fortunately in catering there is quality control (like everything else) insuring our food is clean, so we need not worry ourselves too much. But what of music? There is no quality control so we must rally together as the controllers of music-sales to implement our own quality control to prevent cheeky hypnotists from convincing us we had a good show when we were really unconscious; a touching, musical, emotional portrayal of personal experience when it really was a spiced-up-lie designed to push our emotional hot-buttons.

Dan.
 
JLP
 
Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 12:58 pm
@de budding,
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 04:36 pm
@JLP,
My pleasure JPL, glad I am of use Smile

'whether art imitates life or vice-versa'

Considering Erik Erikson's 'Childhood and Society' (and the 1st chapter of Philosophy of Art) I get the impression that music & dance fit, almost exclusively, in the world of religious celebration, taboo breaking, feasting & excess- in primitive tribes at least. The nature of these celebrations (in primitive tribes) to end in orgies, sacrifices or absurd self-mutilation gives us an insight into their significance- to break taboos; hence I would say music imitates life and the 'excess' of obscenity and licentiousness you mention exists because the same ritualistic force that drove so many feasts of food and music to end in bloodshed, violation and death.

Do you think music still embodies the old archaic, ritualistic nature that I have mentioned of breaking taboos and living, for a short time, in excess: breaking taboos, if only to remind ourselves that they still exist.

Also, I think it is always important to role with the punches, to take the good with the bad. To live in a utopia is to have no standards of discontent and therefore no standards for content- how can you know you're happy if you've never been sad; not in pain when you've never felt pain. Is it any wonder that, psychologically, we need to break taboos like the primitives, in celebration (binge is a horribly contemporary parallel)? Otherwise how would appreciate why they are there; the law 'not to murder' can only have been implemented after we had discovered the horror of murder, the horror of death.

Btw, if all this sex, death and taboo talk sounds interesting to any body I can recommend Georges Bataille's Eroticism. Childhood and Society, too, has quite a lot to say about taboos, especially socially implemented ones.

Dan.
 
autumnramc
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 08:34 pm
@de budding,
One criteria that must always be met for me is that the members or member of a band should either play their own instruments and write their own music or, if being done electronically, create their own beats and sounds. I have never considered pop bands like Britney spears, backstreet boys, nsync, lil wayne etc to be any good at all due to the fact that they are served materials on a platter. But, artists such as Danzig, Johnny Cash, Trent Reznor etc create everything from the core of their being. Their music has meaning.
 
averroes
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 10:18 pm
@de budding,
On account of one six to seven billionth of the population...
1. It has to have acoustic beauty (I can't really define that, it's particular to the person)
2. It has to be lyrically decent, especially if it's rap music. I can't stand rap that conssists of just pointless swearing and sexually degrading remarks. I have actually heard this kind of music (if you can call it that), consisting of somthing like "I like to f**kin smack 'dem b****es and hos" :nonooo:
3. I still like music if it doesn't have it, but a song is great in my eyes when it shows feeling and emotion. If you have ever heard the works of Vinnie Paz (rapper from the group "Jedi Mind Tricks") you particularly can feel the desperation and urgency in some of his songs.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:39 pm
@averroes,
de budding--The hypnotist analogy is a good one. The reason I say emotion--true emotion--is the most important quality in music is because it has the ability to move you, and the music you return to is the music you've been moved by. "I Know You Are But What Am I?" by Mogwai--a post-rock piece with no lyrics--is a good example of what I mean.

Pop music, especially idol-driven pop, on the other hand, uses a castabout cliche of what corporate perceives "emotion" to be to drive sales. It is indeed a lie* of the most heinous sort. This, I contend, is why pop music has no staying power (who remembers Avril Lavigne?). It is especially despicable when the lie is flat-out obvious (Daughtry).

Yet, sometimes we need the recording companies. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus, Coldplay, most Radiohead, Muse, Bloc Party, recent Death Cab for Cutie, and so on, were all produced under the same sorts of major contracts as Britney, Christina, Avril, Colbie Caillait, Daughtry, and so on.

Perhaps what we should be looking for is the amount of time a given artist spends perfecting his or her work. Indie music, for instance, is qualatatively somewhat better than major-label music because indie artists tend to need to spend much more time practicing, working venues, etc., not just during their formative period but also even after they become well-known. Bands, because they depend as much on the synergy of the individual members, and need to jointly practice and perform, also tend to be somewhat better than single artists--that is, Thom Yorke, while exceptional in his own right, is even better because his strengths are best brought out by his presence in a band, to wit, Radiohead; similar, while major-label ladies' singing abilities are superior, much of their energy, and possible real ability, is wasted by their lack of being in a band.

I shall read the chapter you posted soon, I think.

*Except when the surface lie belies deeper truths, i.e., if anyone's ever read Pratchett, what Death perceives a metaphor to be.
 
de budding
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 04:52 am
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier wrote:
de budding--The hypnotist analogy is a good one. The reason I say emotion--true emotion--is the most important quality in music is because it has the ability to move you, and the music you return to is the music you've been moved by. "I Know You Are But What Am I?" by Mogwai--a post-rock piece with no lyrics--is a good example of what I mean.

Pop music, especially idol-driven pop, on the other hand, uses a castabout cliche of what corporate perceives "emotion" to be to drive sales. It is indeed a lie* of the most heinous sort. This, I contend, is why pop music has no staying power (who remembers Avril Lavigne?). It is especially despicable when the lie is flat-out obvious (Daughtry).

Yet, sometimes we need the recording companies. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus, Coldplay, most Radiohead, Muse, Bloc Party, recent Death Cab for Cutie, and so on, were all produced under the same sorts of major contracts as Britney, Christina, Avril, Colbie Caillait, Daughtry, and so on.

Perhaps what we should be looking for is the amount of time a given artist spends perfecting his or her work. Indie music, for instance, is qualatatively somewhat better than major-label music because indie artists tend to need to spend much more time practicing, working venues, etc., not just during their formative period but also even after they become well-known. Bands, because they depend as much on the synergy of the individual members, and need to jointly practice and perform, also tend to be somewhat better than single artists--that is, Thom Yorke, while exceptional in his own right, is even better because his strengths are best brought out by his presence in a band, to wit, Radiohead; similar, while major-label ladies' singing abilities are superior, much of their energy, and possible real ability, is wasted by their lack of being in a band.

I shall read the chapter you posted soon, I think.

*Except when the surface lie belies deeper truths, i.e., if anyone's ever read Pratchett, what Death perceives a metaphor to be.


Thanks for your response, and sorry for my slow responses, I been a bit preoccupied with exams and an interview at University of Cambridge yesterday >.< but that's all out the way now, I can finally enjoy my Christmas holiday Very Happy.

I agree. And you would think that the amount of time (T) an artist invests in their work would be somewhat reflected in sales. We could also say the amount of emotion (E) that is invested and the amount of skill (S) required to recreate said artist's work... therfore: (T+E)S=G (goodness)
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 03:03 pm
@de budding,
I like that quasi-mathematical expression. I would also go further and say that it is these three elements invested in any work of art that transcends said work from a bad or merely mediocre work to a good or great work. That is, time + passion + skill = quality. Or is it skill multiplied by time and passion--S(T+P)? Or skill and passion multiplied by time--S+P(T)?

Note, de budding, that I am merely substituting passion for emotion and quality for goodness because they more closely reflect what I have in mind.
 
de budding
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 04:03 am
@hammersklavier,
skill and time should be multiplied by passion. Time can be used to hone skill and skill can be used to save time, so passion seems somewhat independant.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 04:58 pm
@de budding,
Good answer. So we shall now say that this expression Q=(S+T)P (quality equals passion multiplied by the result of skill and time) is...well...an equation from which we can derive the result of ultimate quality of a given work?

There are some interesting things to think about with this conclusion. One of them is that, since music is an art form, can this expression be used to identify quality in other art forms (e.g. literature and art)? Another is how can we identify passion? Technical skill is fairly obvious--listen to one of Slash's solos for an example thereof--as is time--we can glean this from a band's bio, usu. on Wikipedia these days--but what about passion? Can we logically indentify true passion from false passion without having to resort to intuition? Since in any case passion is the most important identifier for good music, how, then, do we identify passion?
 
CarolA
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 08:00 pm
@hammersklavier,
Sadly, I don't really know that good music with feeling always shows the real personality of the musician. From a long association with the music business (classical, jazz & rock) I have oftened wondered how some people who have the personality of a garbage disposal unit can produce divine music. It doesn't always happen of course, many fine musicians have intelligence, wit and a true love of their art, but then you get the rather horrible exceptions; selfish, unpleasant people lacking in any human feeling who can play or sing like angels. Perhaps they can just act well, actors can make us believe in a character. Maybe the music is beautiful in itself.
I know that last statement is going to produce some opinion, so to explain: perhaps music can tap into universal emotions, love, sadness, happiness. If the person making the music has the skill to make us feel those emotions, then it works. Rather like any beautiful work of art, it doesn't matter if the artist is a complete sod!
 
MuseEvolution
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 10:30 am
@de budding,
For music to be pleasing to me (read: good), it first must not be connected to experiences that have been harmful to me in the past, for if it is then I will recall those unpleasant experiences. It must be free of noticeable influence from aspects of human life that I don't wish to associate myself with (cowboys & gangsters). I'm not very subtle about my musical prejudices.

It doesn't require lyrics, but it certainly may include them. I find vocal distortions to be very pleasing. I find accurate tempo's pleasing, and of the tempo of one instrument doesn't match the tempo of another, I find it very disruptive. I don't need to understand the words of a song to enjoy it. I very much enjoy music from Asia, Gaelic areas, and the like and I don't know any of those languages.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2009 01:57 pm
@MuseEvolution,
It strikes me that, beyond the criteria we already discussed, another criterion, although one that can only be ascertained ex post facto, is the inspirational quality, i.e., has a given piece inspired another artist to follow in the original artist's footsteps? That is, this "inspirationality," capacity to inspire, is what sets merely good artists apart from the truly great ones--and although inspirationality is an effect of great music rather than a cause, an investigation into the pieces that possess it can help us ascertain the underlying causes.

Example of inspirationality: Radiohead--Muse, Coldplay, and Bloc Party were directly inspired by Radiohead; other bands in a more indirect fashion.
 
MuseEvolution
 
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2009 02:39 pm
@de budding,
Or even the idea of a "remix." I tend to thoroughly enjoy remixes, as I love to hear how an artist plays in the sandbox of another who inspired him/her. I don't find remixes to be any more or less "artistic" than the original.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Tue 20 Jan, 2009 03:11 pm
@MuseEvolution,
A remix could be considered a form of inspirationality, from the definition I gave.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Mon 9 Mar, 2009 04:58 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
As simply (and perhaps crudely) put as possible, what are the explicit criteria music has to meet for you to consider it 'good'?

For me it must be original within its own frame of reference (or genre), must be technically sound (must include musical difficulty and player skill), must have definitive intentions (e.g. to portray a certain message, or display creative exploration of a certain musical or recording technique) and above all it must utilise the compositional skills of subtlety.

Dan.

I consider music to be good when it showcases extraordinary talent. Instrumental or vocal. Also, I like music that showcases a persons talent relative to their story telling skills. Thats why I like people like Gordon Lightfoot, who writes his own songs. James Taylor. Janis Ian. Just to name a few. Each one has extraordinary talent in all three areas.
 
 

 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 09/16/2021 at 04:47:06