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Why Do So Many Smart People Listen to Such Terrible Music?

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arete1952
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I think subject matter can be relevant. If a piece is about religion, god, jesus, or some other altruistic nonsense, then I think it has less value. Now that doesn't mean I like it any less. I think Faure's "Requiem" is great and I think Matchbox 20's "How Faw We've Come" is great, but they're both altruistic nonsense subject wise.

In my opinion, what always constitutes "great" music to me is the harmonies. Case in point, Matchbox 20s "How Far We've Come" has really cool harmonizing in the chorus.

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What made Roark's architecture objectivist was that it was simple and new. What made everyone else's altruistic was that it was ornate and complicated.

Um, no. If you actually *read* the book, you'll notice that Miss Rand disparages "modern" architecture that consists of four walls and a roof with nothing else to say for itself. The reason that Roark's architecture was "Objectivist" was that he approached it in a first-handed manner instead of mindlessly obeying the dogmas of the past (Classicism) or of the present (Modernism). It has nothing to do with whether his style was "simple".

- - - - - -

Oh, and West, architecture *is* art; it's one of the primary forms of art that Ayn Rand wrote about in The Romantic Manifesto. As for an explanation of *why* it is art, I relate you to her actual essays.

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arete1952: you are revealing yourself as little more than a classical music snob by the fact that you simply recite the famous old names. Anyone I've ever met who actually embraces music and has a useful opinion about it does not like Wagner AND Mozart AND Bach etc. The composers you mentioned have phenomenally different styles and I don't think it's *possible* to genuinely like *all* of them. Stravinsky was arguably a *hack*: his most popular work, the Nutcracker Suite, was written on spec and he detested it. It's also the only thing he wrote that I actually enjoy. :D

If you want to argue about music, stop discussing "types" of music with meaningless, nonessential definitions--there being more variation within types than there are between them.

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Right, and adding to this: the author, implicitly, is saying that what he is looking for from his music is the complexity of structure to it - i.e. for the piece to do something "clever," musically.

No, that's not necessarily what he's saying, and "clever" is just a sneer to deride an authentic position. Short songs are like short stories, longer works like novellas and novels. There can be great artistry in music or literature of both sizes, but the larger sizes require extra structure to support larger forms.

This is also the meaning behind the "smart people" thing - because it is required that one be smart to be able to enjoy a piece of music in this way.

No, now you're just playing with strawmen. The implication in the article is that smart people read novels of great complexity for pleasure ("someone with wide knowledge outside his field, good judgement, and refined tastes in many things"); why don't they do the same for music?

There's just one problem with that - not everybody wants to get that particular kind of enjoyment out of music. Some of us - yes, even smart people - aren't interested in the structural complexity and cleverness of a piece - we're interested in whether is sounds good (i.e. harmonious) or not. We're interested in the particular emotions that a piece expresses and accesses.

If I were to say "How Dionysian of you! All you want from your music is an emotional warm bath," then you could rightly charge me with erecting a strawman, yet that's exactly what you're doing in implying that people who love large-scale structure in their music are not interested in emotional response, only in a certain intellectual pleasure from contemplating form. It's as if you think everyone should be satisfied with well-crafted short stories and anyone who wants the large scale of a novel as well is a dessicated, effete esthete addled by "structural complexity."

In fact I would go so far as to say that it is only musicians who are entertained by a piece purely on the level of its structure (i.e. apart from its overall harmony), because they study and understand composure itself.

The word is "composition."

Music that is particularly concerned with that structure, often (but not always) to the exclusion of harmony, is generally referred to as progressive - and it exists in many schools of music including jazz, rock and roll, and even metal.

But who here is arguing in favor of nothing but structure? No one! (Not even the original author necessarily--nowhere does he mention any musical works.) That's another strawman. You're implicitly equating people who like art music of a higher degree of complexity than you enjoy with people who like nonsense like John Gaddis that is complex and difficult for the point of it and has nothing else to offer anyone. But the fellow who started this thread has mentioned some of the composers he's thinking of: "J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Wagner, Dvorak, Schubert, Stravinsky..." Those are all composers who used large-scale structures to create works of great beauty and emotional value; they have nothing to do with people spinning complex weaves of notes for the sake of it.

But the mistake I think people like the author (and his fellow musicians) make is that no non-musician has any reason to care about or appreciate music in that way. It's kind of a by-artists for-artists art. It doesn't make them smarter or more sophisticated - it is at best purely a professional interest, and at worst a form of pretentious rationalism that utterly misses the purpose of music - i.e. to be enjoyed emotionally.

But again, no one here is arguing for that position. What you have ended up doing is setting up your own strawman phrased in such a way as to insinuate that people who argue in favor of concert music favor structure over emotional response. And that insinuation is wrong: Rather, the structure adds another layer to the emotional response. I'm not a musician--hell, if I even sang it would scare animals--but I love music with large-scale and complex structure. In fact, I prefer a Bach fugue to Beethoven's Fifth any day (though there's lots of other Beethoven I love very much, such as his quartets and sonatas, even a peice as simple in its basic materials as the Fifth, like the Seventh Symphony).

So what if it's simultaneously working three levels of structure which switch on every third stanza or whatever. Does it sound good? What does it do on an emotional level? Is all that complexity acting in the service of harmony, or is it just getting in the way of it? Or worse, is there no harmony at all, with the complexity being there for its own sake? (which is not only useless, emotionally, but in the extreme could mean that there isn't even a song at all - just a bunch of cleverly composed noise!) Those are the questions that the end users of music are concerned with.

Well, consider the following composers: J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Wagner, Dvorak, Schubert, Stravinsky. Your implicit question is so easily answered with a vast range of counter-examples that even asking it is truly misplaced emphasis. And the way they use structure and large-scale form to unify their music (repeating the themes throughout to give unity, varying the themes in emotionally effective ways to add variety) affords an extra dimension of emotional response (one might even argue a more conceptually-based form of emotional response, much as the structure of a well-crafted large novel adds a dimension of emotional response a short story simply cannot have because of the inherent limitations of scale) that is well worth the effort involved in listening attentively to it.

So while you do have to be smart to appreciate progressive music, it doesn't make necessarily any better than anyone else for doing it, nor do all smart people have to do it. So to look down on people or get all worked up because they don't spend their time appreciating progressive-style music is erroneous.

Actually, no, I think you're wrong on this point. You don't have to be smart to appreciate music with greater complexity than a simple popular song; you simply have to be willing to listen and make the effort to follow the various lines in a piece of music. This might be too much effort for many people, just as there are many people who don't like novels because they're too large and complex, but that's no reason to sneer at people who do like the larger forms as snobbish, dessicated pedants who avoid emotion in art.

Edited by Adrian Hester
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arete1952: you are revealing yourself as little more than a classical music snob by the fact that you simply recite the famous old names. Anyone I've ever met who actually embraces music and has a useful opinion about it does not like Wagner AND Mozart AND Bach etc.

Well, I do. I like all of the composers he listed (though my patience for Wagner wears thin very easily), though not all of their works by any means, and it's certainly true that it took me a while to come to appreciate some of them--Palestrina and Bach, for example. Of course, I don't know if you'd say my opinions are particularly useful to you or others; they're useful enough to me, and that's what counts in my book.

The composers you mentioned have phenomenally different styles and I don't think it's *possible* to genuinely like *all* of them. Stravinsky was arguably a *hack*: his most popular work, the Nutcracker Suite, was written on spec and he detested it. It's also the only thing he wrote that I actually enjoy. :D

Do you mean Tchaikovsky? There I agree; most of his symphonies are second-rate or worse and I'm not a great fan of his ballet music either. But even the Fourth Symphony manages to be a fine enough work. As for Stravinsky, I don't care for The Rite of Spring, but I quite like much of his music (his concertos, Les Noces, the symphonies, and his lesser-known ballets, for example).

If you want to argue about music, stop discussing "types" of music with meaningless, nonessential definitions--there being more variation within types than there are between them.

I agree. Again, I think the basic distinction is in scale. Small-scale works of whatever genre have different detailed esthetic standards than do large-scale works and "scratch different itches," if you like, and I find I can't get by in the long run without both--large-scale classical and jazz pieces, or small-scale pieces of most genres (classical, jazz, or various kinds of popular music: Latin, blues, some rock, ska, reggae, African, even Portuguese fado).

Edited by Adrian Hester
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Firstly, music (especially pop culture music) is an entertainment business. Artists who sell their music do not write music for critics, they do not write music for their listener... they simply write their music for their own personal gain. They record music for the same reason architects build houses. Architects don't build houses because they want someone to have a place to live.

Furthermore, because it is a business, you may treat it as such. If music doesn't meet your standard, don't buy it (or don't download it). Take your business to another artist. That is how you, a free citizen, contribute to the music industry.

I agree, pop music (which includes rock, country, dance, and everything else marketed on commercial stations) has become formulaic and very simplistic. That is the fault of the listeners. The less we demand out of music the less the industry will produce. Why put so much thought and time into a song when it will sell just the same with much less. Maybe even sell better. It is my opinion that the majority of the world uses music for very specific reasons: 1. to make their car ride more enjoyable from point A to point B 2. to cure the awkward silences of a party 3. to provide a tempo to express their bodies. Obviously these are generalizations.. but you get my point. Those three reasons are why music is such a big industry. And if you look at those reasons... you can see why it doesn't take much to remedy a customer's need for music.

Why has the population come to demand so much less from song? I'm not sure. Perhaps it is because the public has lost their sense of adventure. No one explores music anymore. It is handed to them through the radio and mtv. One of my favorite bands is a British band called Muse. These men create an extremely intelligent form of rock. They use arpeggiations and soaring melodies to sell very interesting sci-fi theories of paranoia. It is a very unique form of musical entertainment. And I love them. They have just recently been sprinkled about the radio and television. But they have been around for over 10 years. Through those years I would introduce them to people (radio/mtv fans) who had no idea who they were.. and LOVE them. I say this because I disagree with the approach of comparing a person's intelligence to the type of music they listen to. A person's grades and successful ventures doesn't automatically heighten their standard of music. Unless their education is in music. Just as a highly talented musician would not walk into a skyscraper and admire the intricacies of the elevator that got him to the top floor, a music listener does not admire the invention of a song. A song is taken advantage of. A song is bought and used for whatever the customer sees fit to use it as. (back to the subject), it doesn't matter how smart the customer is... he won't buy what he doesn't knows exists. It's not about intelligence.. it's about the desire to explore. You have it or you don't. It seems most people are satisfied with what they have been hand fed by the industry since they were born. That is why the music some of you musicians are claiming have no real value is making billions of dollars.

We musicians then have a decision to make. We can make music that our standards acknowledge and hope that people appreciate the hardships and the intelligence that went into every progression and dynamic, or we can make music for their standards and know that it will sell to provide dinner. Unfortunately, while we deal with the quagmire, 100's of unqualified musicians made possible by the advancement of recording technology are making millions from hits aimed at doing just that. So then, who is to blame. Still the public? Or now is it the fault of genius musical engineers inventing products to make their job easier for others to loot and use for a quick dollar.

I apologize I'm not a highly educated writer... but i am a thinker... and these were my thoughts.

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So, here's one for everyone else to "not get":

Queensryche - Real World

I think that, objectively, this is a pretty impressive composition. It's not my personal style (I don't go in for ballads that much) but it has emotional depth and earnestness that I think are appealing. Granted, I know nothing about musical *theory* so I evaluate purely from an emotional *standpoint*--but since music is a primarily emotional *medium*, I think this is a valid standpoint for starting out, much like evaluating the *theme* of a novel before the *style*. Both are important, and someone with technical grounding could provide the style information that I lack and rate this against other pieces that fall within the same thematic category for overall quality, much in the same way that I can (sort of) evaluate literary technique *and* theme to provide an overall impression.

Since I evaluate for theme first and everything else afterwards, I prefer modern music (in most cases) to classical: a lot of classical music lacks a theme that I consider powerful or important. Vivaldi, for instance--the Rite of Spring makes me think of overgroomed domesticated deer stepping fastidiously through a manicured lawn. There's nothing *wrong* with that, but come on, is that the most significant thing you have to say? Whereas a lot of incredibly simplistic modern music is (thematically) about life, enjoyment, struggle, power . . . all very important and fundamental themes.

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This is the payment I demand. Not many can afford it. I don't mean your enjoyment, I don't mean your emotion--emotions be damned!--I mean your understanding and the fact that your enjoyment was the same nature as mine, that it came from the same source: from your intelligence, from the conscious judgment of a mind able to judge my work by the standard of the same values went to write it--I mean, not the fact that you felt, but that you felt what I wished you to feel, not the fact that you admire my work, but that you admire it for the things I wished to be admired.
From this we can see the point of art. For the author to display some set of values in some medium. In this case, we are talking about music. This is the purpose we should look for.

Again from Richard Halley in Atlas Shrugged:

...do you see why I'd give three dozen modern artists for one real businessman? Why I have much more in common with Ellis Wyatt or Ken Dannagger--who happens to be tone deaf--than with men like Mort Liddy and Balph Eubank? Whether it's a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one's own eyes--which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification--which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.
My boldination. This is the essence of objectivity. So don't lets talk about subjectivity in music. :D

Later, Dagny thinks to herself:

It was true--she thought, when she walked through the streets of the valley, looking with a child's excitement at the shop windows sparkling in the sun--that the businesses here had the purposeful selectiveness of art--and that the art--she thought, when she sat in the darkness of a clapboard concert hall, listening to the controlled violence and the mathematical precision of Halley's music--had the stern discipline of business
My boldinating. I find no wonder in the fact that classical music era came out of a time of science. As Ayn Rand says, art is the same as any other science in that it takes a logically consistent identification of facts.

From this knowledge, it seems apparent that one should be looking at music as a way to express one's values, and looking for what is objectively the best means of doing this. As my art teacher in high school said, one must first learn aesthetics before they can focus on any philosophical meaning--otherwise you end up with some modern art crap.

I think Arete was on the right path when he said it was about form. If one were to take chunks of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and randomly place them in a timeline, it would come out sounding poor. While the instrument playing might be good, the music would not flow--one part would not lead and prepare for another part correctly. If we were to take out certain layers from his music, if we were to limit the amount of instruments to 3 or 4, the melody might be preserved, and maybe the general flow of the music, but it would lack fulfillment. It would be like comparing a McDonnald's hamburger to my wonderfully thick bacon grease cooked burger. The same basic structure would be there, but it would be somewhat more boring, and less dramatic.

I don't keep up with pop music by any high degree, but what I have heard was very lacking. I could listen to it, but it would get dull fast, and it wouldn't catch my emotions or appeal to my values.

Why is it that a painting of a picture of some heroic being drawn very accurately with all the things in it having perfect detail, is better than a picture with a man's outline, with just enough to get the idea of the scene painted in. I think it is the same reason that a symphony of instruments all working together, creating multiple layers of music, all forming together to create one mood, is better than two guitars, a drum, and a signer.

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arete1952: you are revealing yourself as little more than a classical music snob by the fact that you simply recite the famous old names.

Ah, I have been labeled a "snob".....thank you JMS! And as for simply reciting famous old names: as a trained classical musician I have been listening to, studying and sometimes performing the works of those composers...I know much of their music intimately and appreciate it on both a technical and emotional level.

Anyone I've ever met who actually embraces music and has a useful opinion about it does not like Wagner AND Mozart AND Bach etc.

This is too funny! "Useful opinion"? You mean one that conforms with your own?

The composers you mentioned have phenomenally different styles and I don't think it's *possible* to genuinely like *all* of them.

Well I know many people who do like them all...they tend to be people truly knowledgable about music however.

If you want to argue about music, stop discussing "types" of music with meaningless, nonessential definitions--there being more variation within types than there are between them.

The definitions are "meaningless, nonessential" to you...but not to people who really know and understand classical music.

Edited by arete1952
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QUOTE (Richard Halley)

This is the payment I demand. Not many can afford it. I don't mean your enjoyment, I don't mean your emotion--emotions be damned!--I mean your understanding and the fact that your enjoyment was the same nature as mine, that it came from the same source: from your intelligence, from the conscious judgment of a mind able to judge my work by the standard of the same values went to write it--I mean, not the fact that you felt, but that you felt what I wished you to feel, not the fact that you admire my work, but that you admire it for the things I wished to be admired.

And remember: the one musician that AR presented as on the same level as Galt, Reardon, et al was a composer of classical music...not some pop music tunesmith.

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Oh, and West, architecture *is* art; it's one of the primary forms of art that Ayn Rand wrote about in The Romantic Manifesto. As for an explanation of *why* it is art, I relate you to her actual essays.

Architecture does not fit Rand's definition of 'art'. From page 16 of the Romantic Manifesto:

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a work of art (including literature) is that it serves no practical, material end, but is an end in itself; it serves no purpose other than contemplation

Per page 46 of the Romantic Manifesto:

Architecture is in a class by itself [i take this to mean outside of art, because fundamentally the essential definition of art would not include architecture], because it combines art [meaning it combines that which is art, with something that isn't in order to form the concept] with a utilitarian purpose, and does not re-create reality, but creates a structure for man's habitation or use, expressing man's values

Architecture is not an end in itself--it serves a purpose other than contemplation, and is therefore not art. Though it can be analyzed, it's primary purpose is function, not form--a building that was not to be inhabited or used for businesses or serve any purpose other than to be contemplated might be considered art, but then that would be in the realm of sculpture and not architecture.

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Since I evaluate for theme first and everything else afterwards, I prefer modern music (in most cases) to classical: a lot of classical music lacks a theme that I consider powerful or important. Vivaldi, for instance--the Rite of Spring makes me think of overgroomed domesticated deer stepping fastidiously through a manicured lawn.

That's a failing common to many performances on modern instruments with modern performance practice. "Spring" from The Four Seasons, for example (The Rite of Spring is by Stravinsky), is pretty tepid when played the way violinists are wont to play it--much too slow and like some sort of Romantic-era tone poem. Violinists trained in Baroque performance practice, however (a tradition that passed out of favor by the early Romantic period and was only re-established with the rise of the early music movement), like Monica Huggett, can show what a marvellous work it is. (In fact, it was only after I heard her performance of it that I ever really liked it--though it was "Winter" that was the greatest revelation.) Her performances tend to be half to three-fifths the duration of what you usually hear, and that makes a vast difference. (But then the same is true of a performance I heard of Brahms' Third Symphony conducted by Furtwangler. It's a joyous work, but Furtwangler slowed it down so much it was a dirge; I had to actually stop it, start it over, and hum the notes as he played them to make sure he was actually conducting Brahms' Third. And yet I gather some people consider him the conductor of the century, which I think is nonsense.)

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I don't think it's possible to say, with any accuracy, that new = bad or new = good. The age of something is irrelevant. However, "good" is a subjective term that is difficult to accurately define. So far, there have been arguments about the complexity of music, but complexity isn't necessarily a sign of quality. A simple, but pleasant melody is far better in my mind than a complex but horrible sounding noise that can't be properly called "music".

I want to make an important note here. "Good" is not a subjective term. :D The good is that which objectively sustains or furthers your life. The real question is in the case of music what is good? That's a tough question to answer.

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I think Arete was on the right path when he said it was about form. If one were to take chunks of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and randomly place them in a timeline, it would come out sounding poor. While the instrument playing might be good, the music would not flow--one part would not lead and prepare for another part correctly...I don't keep up with pop music by any high degree, but what I have heard was very lacking. I could listen to it, but it would get dull fast, and it wouldn't catch my emotions or appeal to my values.

Though I'm not sure that's a fair comparison; again, you're comparing one work crafted to three or four minutes with one that's quite a bit longer. I'd compare a pop song to a song from another genre of popular music, or to an art song. Even then, though, I agree that lots of pop music gets dull quite fast, and faster the more recently it's been written, roughly. (In that respect, compare The Beatles' "Bungalow Bill" to Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again." The latter rips off the theme from the Beatles' refrain, makes it rather less interesting, and puts it in an even less interesting musical context.) But then pop music seems to me to have evolved to fill a certain social purpose: Public background music inoffensive to the greatest number that can be piped over the airwaves without drawing too many complaints, usually with a mixture of certain distinctive musical elements from various genres (rock, R&B, earlier pop) that are subordinated to a distinctive (nowadays often not so distinctive) voice starting with (and often nowadays not going beyond) a fairly simple theme and refrain and a fairly simple (though often compelling) beat. At least that's what I think of for pop music, as opposed to popular music, which is a much broader category of many genres, many with excellent works. (This is an important point in this discussion, by the way. People taking the view that "pop music" has many fine pieces might well be taking "pop" to mean "popular," and others might be letting "pop" stand in too much for the best works of "popular" music. I suggest it's good to be more specific about which works or genres we're thinking of. For example, in my case I don't like hard/metal rock overmuch, but there's some I quite like, even certain cheesy speed-metal bands like Dragonforce; though I love a group like Big Lazy, who are a rock trio that plays what I think of as smoky surfer blues with a heavy rock tinge. Similarly, I can't stand most rap, but even there I've been surprised; and I abominate much country, but Lyle Lovett and Mary Chapin Carpenter are very much exceptions. But that's generally a response to the general sound and feel of a genre, not necessarily to whether it's complex or not.)

Edited by Adrian Hester
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Modern music is not crap. It's just that they hide all the good music where nobody ever gets to hear it.

Dredg - Ode To the Sun Incredibly uplifting piece

Opeth - To Bid You Farewell Beautiful, Powerful, Unforgettable

King Crimson - Level Five Haunting and compelling. The feeling of raw fear explained with a level of mathematical complexity rarely seen in music.

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No, that's not necessarily what he's saying, and "clever" is just a sneer to deride an authentic position.

Or an inauthentic one.

There can be great artistry in music or literature of both sizes, but the larger sizes require extra structure to support larger forms.

What, specifically, did I say that would contradict this?

No, now you're just playing with strawmen. The implication in the article is that smart people read novels of great complexity for pleasure ("someone with wide knowledge outside his field, good judgement, and refined tastes in many things"); why don't they do the same for music?

I'm not playing with strawmen - I'm saying, to put it simply, that music can be smart without being good. It can contain complexity at the expense of harmony. And the existence of such an animal accounts for a lot of the smart people who don't listen to smart music.

yet that's exactly what you're doing in implying that people who love large-scale structure in their music are not interested in emotional response, only in a certain intellectual pleasure from contemplating form.

It is you sir who have constructed the straw man here. I never said or even implied that all progressive music and any people who liked it are pursuing form at the expense of function - only that such music and people do exist.

It's as if you think everyone should be satisfied with well-crafted short stories and anyone who wants the large scale of a novel as well is a dessicated, effete esthete addled by "structural complexity."

I think you must be drawing that from other articles you've read on the subject, and extrapolating from their superficial (though inessential) similarity to mine, rather than from my commentary. Because half the people I had in mind when writing this are tattooed metalheads who would probably punch me in the face if I called them "dessicated, effete esthetes."

But who here is arguing in favor of nothing but structure? No one! (Not even the original author necessarily--nowhere does he mention any musical works.)

Who said I was addressing anyone here? I am simply saying that I've seen musicians who appreciate music on a purely structural level, and that I think that the author is one of the people who does that. Note that I didn't say it was wrong to appreciate music on a purely structural level, only that it was wrong to look down on non-musicians for not doing that - as if that made their tastes less "smart" or something.

Those are all composers who used large-scale structures to create works of great beauty and emotional value; they have nothing to do with people spinning complex weaves of notes for the sake of it.

So? I'm not arguing against him or them. In fact, I haven't really ever heard any classical music that I would consider to be spinning notes for the sake of it - I had in mind jazz, rock, and metal pieces, but I don't doubt you in the least that such a thing exists in the classical music world.

But again, no one here is arguing for that position.

And who said I was arguing against anyone here?

Actually, no, I think you're wrong on this point. You don't have to be smart to appreciate music with greater complexity than a simple popular song; you simply have to be willing to listen and make the effort to follow the various lines in a piece of music.

Well, you do have to be smart enough to be able to understand what is going on. I'm agreeing with the author on that point - it's just that I believe that he is under the impression that if you are smart then you will necessarily be interested in appreciating music on a structural level - or else why would he be so confused that all smart people don't automatically shun simple music?

Edited by Inspector
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I guess it depends on one's standards, one's "highest values". My highest musical values are J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Wagner, Dvorak, Schubert, Stravinsky....so using their music as my standard, I would answer your question:

"No"

Have you even listened to the artists I mentioned, or are you just name-dropping classical composers as an argument?

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Have you even listened to the artists I mentioned, or are you just name-dropping classical composers as an argument?

Yes, I have listened to them.

As for name-dropping, I will respond to you as I responded to someone else in this thread who leveled the same criticism:

As a trained classical musician I have been listening to, studying and sometimes performing the works of those composers for many years...I know much of their music intimately and understand and appreciate it on both a technical and emotional level.

Have you listened to the composers I mentioned...any or all of them?

And from one of my earlier posts, something for you to consider:

"...the one musician that AR presented as on the same level as Galt, Reardon, et al was a composer of classical music...not some pop music tunesmith."

Edited by arete1952
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This part of the article I found particularly revealing:

"If you love music, if you really love music, you'll appreciate all music, in some way or another, because ANY music is better than NO music."

I guess that's my answer to this question: not everybody loves music. I certainly don't think I do. People can get really defensive of their music choices -- as evidenced by this thread! -- and I've never quite understood those who almost seem to judge someone's merit as a person based on how "sophisticated" their music of choice is. Whereas I think musical choice is just that -- a choice. I think Kori really said it best here:

Each person has some kind of special connection with the music that they choose to listen to and enjoy (even if it's just a silly one).

To me, telling people what kind of music they "ought" to like or making value judgments on them based on their music preferences is a bit like saying that people who like to eat tangerines are shallow, unsubtle and unrefined. I can definitely understand the objective evaluations of the quality of a particular type of music, but I don't think that's the same thing as a preference. As Kori said, I don't like music from any technical appreciation: I like it because it makes me happy on a personal level, because of the associations I have with it, because of how I feel about the artist and what kind of message they're presenting, etc. And I don't think that's wrong; I think it means I'm not interested in the technical aspects of music. I certainly wouldn't judge anyone based on whether or not they liked watching medical documentaries as much as I do. Maybe they like history documentaries. I personally don't, most of the time, but that doesn't make either of us good or bad people. I think we can take others' music choices too personally sometimes.

With that in mind, I think pushing aside your love of a particular type of music just because it's not seen as the highest quality would be potentially dangerous self-denial. That said, I now proclaim myself a very big fan of Hannah Montana (but Maarten could tell you that!). Her music makes me happy, and that's much more important to me than whether or not someone else might think it's "terrible." I think we should be careful about how we phrase these kinds of judgments; sometimes they can sound a bit too much like telling someone what to think/feel/be, to me.

Hmm, yes, I think this topic has made me want to go fire up some Miley Cyrus. :P

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So far as classical composers go, I'm a fan of the more powerful stuff like Beethoven and Wagner. I also like Bach. But this makes up a very small amount of my musical library, and I do not think one has to worry too much about one listens to so long as it is not destructive. I can't imagine why any rational person could ever find a positive value in Grindcore ( It's like death metal, but without the musical ability ).

My favorite music, that is the music I listen to more often than any other, normally has a positive sound to it. It isn't very " complex " or sophisticated, but it evokes in me positive feelings about life. I'm a fan of early Pop/Power Pop/Doo-Wop and Rockabilly like The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers, The Ronettes, Frankie Lymon, The Stray Cats. From this, I enjoy a lot of " pop punk " tinged with surf and doo-wop like Screeching Weasel, The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, Beatnik Termites, The Methadones and of course The Ramones. The music relates to a mood I would like to have, and the lyrics are often very down-to-earth and relatable.

But as for the accusation that modern music is not complex or sophisticated, I suggest anyone who holds to this check out some Progressive metal of any sub-brand like power or speed. These guys are the 21st Beethovens. Not to mention old prog-rock like Rush takes a lot of musicianship.

So long as a person can find some positive value in their taste of music, it's fine. Just turn it down, you young punks

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Azelma extracted this quote from the article:

"If you love music, if you really love music, you'll appreciate all music, in some way or another, because ANY music is better than NO music."

This is not the case for me. There are many types of music which are not worthy of my appreciation and if given the choice between listening to a type of music which I hate, such as rap (which barely qualifies as music), and listening to no music, I will go with no music.

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There are many types of music which are not worthy of my appreciation and if given the choice between listening to a type of music which I hate, such as rap (which barely qualifies as music), and listening to no music, I will go with no music.

Me too, minus the "unworthy" bit because I think that might be too strong a phrase for me in this case. It may very well be worthy, as in some of the artists that have been mentioned in this thread -- but there are many that have been mentioned in the "worthy" category that I personally don't find very fun to listen to. But I'll take silence over someone else's favorite music that I just don't care for. Which has always been my difficulty with people who seem to take music preference too seriously/personally: they seem to make it their personal mission for me to like their favorites, and I don't know how to respond other than, "Thanks, it's very well done, but...I just wouldn't pick this out myself. Can I have my High School Musical soundtrack back now?"

I just think it's really tricky to assign value judgments to music choice, but then again, perhaps it's because I'm used to people balking at what I listen to and then being shocked that I'm not an idiot or a sniveling fangirl.

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To me, telling people what kind of music they "ought" to like or making value judgments on them based on their music preferences is a bit like saying that people who like to eat tangerines are shallow, unsubtle and unrefined.

I don't think the tangerine comparison is right. Tangerines aren't art. Tangerines affect your taste buds, not your value system. Art goes right to the soul of a person.

But, what is noteworthy about music is it works reverse to the way other art forms do, which is probably why I am much better at objectively evaluating literature, movies, paintings, etc, than I am music. I’m following this thread to see what people say about objectively evaluating music.

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I don't think the tangerine comparison is right. Tangerines aren't art. Tangerines affect your taste buds, not your value system. Art goes right to the soul of a person.

I'm curious as to how music affects your values system. It could be that I'm just a writer and don't particularly associate music with art. (Or writing, really, honestly -- but I've never been all that artistically minded.) I think the real problem is that music represents different things for different people, in different ways. I think my music choices definitely say something about me -- but so do my food choices, and for me it really is a better comparison. Who I am definitely affects what I'll choose to eat, but I wouldn't go as far as to say it reflects my "soul."

But, what is noteworthy about music is it works reverse to the way other art forms do, which is probably why I am much better at objectively evaluating literature, movies, paintings, etc, than I am music. I’m following this thread to see what people say about objectively evaluating music.

This is interesting -- what do you mean by reverse? And I freely admit that there are probably very good ways to objectively evaluate music. They're just not things I'm personally interested in, and I think insinuating that we all should be interested in them is kind of suspect. I think the brain is much more wonderful than any "art" we've created with it, but I won't be upset if others aren't quite as enamored with neurotransmitters as I am. :P

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