How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy
t3knomanser

More on Bad Taste in Music

As I was watching a few of those videos, someone started to defend their "opinion" that the band in question didn't suck. It essentially summed up as "this is what we like, so fuck you."

Myth: What makes music, art, or literature good is a matter of opinion.

What you like is a matter of opinion, but what denotes quality is not. Mankind has been making music for about as long as we've been sapient, and in that time, we've discovered a great many things that "work", and a great many that don't. We've developed a pretty well documented and understood specification of what constitutes music. This is not to say that an innovator won't come along and change those rules- think about the reactions the first time Jimi Hendrix broke out a fuzz box and hit the crowd with face melting distortion. That changed the rules.

There's an entire area of study called "Music Theory". My, isn't that a scientific sounding name? Let me tell you a little secret. It is science. Music Theory is a branch of applied mathematics, colored with some physics that can be used to quantify and analyze the structure, tonality, and other elements of music composition in a piece. That's the quantitative aspect. But based on those quantities, there is also a qualitative decision that can be made.

Some music puts the elements of theory together in an inventive, compelling, or dramatic way. This is "good" music. This requires originality; this requires talent. Other music lacks those elements; it becomes repetitive, homogenous, and corpselike.

Now, some people lament the state of music, but I must say- you're overstating your case. Yes, there's a lot more shitty music than there used to be. There's also a lot more music than there used to be. Every once in a while, a good artist opens up a new genre, pushing past a boundary. A short time later, a flood of people wanting to cash in on this virgin territory will follow. These people don't have the talent, foresight, or vision to originate, and so they imitate. Imitation is always a sign of bad music.

This is not to say that imitating someone else is bad, but Weird Al, who only imitates, adds in a layer of his own origination. Some, like PDQ Bach use unusual instrumentation. You can imitate and originate at the same time, but without that breath of creativity, without doing something that hasn't been done before and yet adheres to the established structures of music theory.

(That last bit there is important- originality without structure is no better than raw imitation. This is why I don't like noise bands. While I appreciate the innovation that they bring, to do it divorced of musicality is at best a gimmick.)
Subscribe

  • Strange Things People Say About Me (to my face)

    Recently, I've been at the center of a trend. That trend is complete strangers asking me "Are you ____?" A quick summary. For example: Are you…

  • Writer's Block: If I could find my way

    -10,000 years, at minimum. Tomorrow is always better than today, especially when you can't fact-check.

  • Bob Morlang

    When I was working at Tri-Mount, we had these camp trucks. They were army surplus, and while they could take a beating, they only sort of worked. And…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 17 comments

  • Strange Things People Say About Me (to my face)

    Recently, I've been at the center of a trend. That trend is complete strangers asking me "Are you ____?" A quick summary. For example: Are you…

  • Writer's Block: If I could find my way

    -10,000 years, at minimum. Tomorrow is always better than today, especially when you can't fact-check.

  • Bob Morlang

    When I was working at Tri-Mount, we had these camp trucks. They were army surplus, and while they could take a beating, they only sort of worked. And…