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Is some music better than other music?, A vexed question.
wakibaki
post Mar 29 2012, 23:32
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The question is exactly as posed in the thread title. Is some music better than other music?

For myself, I have long been convinced that some music is indeed better than other music. That all music can be ranked on a scale of 'goodness', given that no piece is necessarily of consistent quality from end-to-end.

For example, I might sing a song. I might sing it slightly out of tune in a particular passage. I might sing it again, without singing out of tune.

All other things being equal, I would rate the second rendition better than the first.

I think this applies across the board, that there is an intrinsic quality in music (or: are qualities) which make(s) it possible to say that one piece is better than another.

I know that not everybody agrees with this, some holding that there is no intrinsic quality in either piece, and that the differences are all to do with my perceptions, but I don't feel that this is adequate to explain the cultivation of musical expression and appreciation. I only got the perceptions by comparing good with worse.

Once, in the course of trying to teach a particularly obtuse guitar student, I was confronted with a somewhat existential position. 'You make a sound, I make a sound', I paraphrase his contribution, 'They're both sounds, there's nothing to make the sound you make any more valid than the sound I make.' He never did turn out much of a guitarist, but then maybe if I had been a better teacher I would have had a better answer than to burn him with a cigarette.

Despite that, I understand how some might find it offensive to be told that the music they like is intrinsically inferior to some other music. It could be seen as preferable to put it all down to personal preferences rather than risk confrontation.

I don't see anybody here backing away from a confrontation though. So, is some music better than other music?


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Porcus
post Mar 30 2012, 11:09
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Suppose for the sake of the argument that there is an ordering, and we are told that a > b if signal a is 'better than' b. A more neutral term would be 'preferred to'.

If so: what does it then really measure? What are these preferences? What is the inferred function of music, and maybe even: what is the inferred purpose of music?

Radio channels which target a general public, play music -- that is cheaper minutes than making a programme. If they are just another commercial agent selling commercial breaks, what is then the purpose of the music? And what is 'better'? Probably something that does not make anyone actively reach for the button, right?


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dhromed
post Mar 30 2012, 13:24
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Mar 30 2012, 11:09) *
what is the inferred purpose of music?


To produce a positive emotional response?

And not even that.

Someone might listen to shitty music on purpose to put them in just the right bad mood for some task.

And at that point you have an argument that pulls itself up by its bootstraps.

Nonetheless, all music has a certain degree of regularity and consistency, and if that is broken too many times, then you can identify the inexperienced and thus worse musician with great certainty.

This post has been edited by dhromed: Mar 30 2012, 13:36
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Posts in this topic
- wakibaki   Is some music better than other music?   Mar 29 2012, 23:32
- - fuflo   well, i think to answer this question we would nee...   Mar 29 2012, 23:57
- - Canar   Is some music better than other music? The answer ...   Mar 30 2012, 00:37
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 30 2012, 01:37) Is som...   Mar 30 2012, 07:46
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 30 2012, 00:37) Is som...   Mar 30 2012, 08:56
|- - wakibaki   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 30 2012, 00:37) Is som...   Mar 30 2012, 23:21
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 30 2012, 23:21) OK,...   Apr 13 2012, 10:14
- - kornchild2002   Is this asking about the actual quality of the rep...   Mar 30 2012, 01:21
- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 29 2012, 15:32) For...   Mar 30 2012, 01:30
|- - Ethan Winer   QUOTE (Ron Jones @ Mar 29 2012, 20:30) Th...   Apr 4 2013, 18:53
- - RobWansbeck   Better for what? You could argue that the best mu...   Mar 30 2012, 01:42
- - andrew_berge   I'm just pretty much thinking out loud in this...   Mar 30 2012, 02:17
- - smok3   QUOTE alternative is to claim that the general pub...   Mar 30 2012, 09:02
- - knutinh   Although I have my own preferences, I dont think t...   Mar 30 2012, 10:54
- - Porcus   Suppose for the sake of the argument that there is...   Mar 30 2012, 11:09
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Porcus @ Mar 30 2012, 11:09) what ...   Mar 30 2012, 13:24
- - simonh   It's an interesting question. One approach cou...   Mar 30 2012, 13:15
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (simonh @ Mar 30 2012, 13:15) Have ...   Mar 30 2012, 13:34
|- - mudlord   QUOTE (dhromed @ Mar 30 2012, 06:34) I ha...   Oct 8 2012, 09:57
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (mudlord @ Oct 8 2012, 10:57) QUOTE...   Oct 8 2012, 22:26
- - nu774   QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 30 2012, 07:32) For...   Mar 30 2012, 13:24
- - RobWansbeck   The equal-tempered scale didn't replace the na...   Mar 31 2012, 02:41
|- - wakibaki   QUOTE (RobWansbeck @ Mar 31 2012, 02:41) ...   Apr 1 2012, 00:00
- - hellokeith   Waki, The answer is decidedly yes. Have you ever...   Apr 1 2012, 01:13
|- - bug80   QUOTE (hellokeith @ Apr 1 2012, 01:13) Wa...   Apr 13 2012, 13:02
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (bug80 @ Apr 13 2012, 13:02) Which ...   Apr 13 2012, 13:28
- - _if   There are two levels of answer, I think. One is pu...   Apr 13 2012, 13:29
- - DigitalDictator   You can certainly say there are better or worse mu...   Apr 13 2012, 14:53
- - googlebot   I challenge that intrinsic qualities exist at all ...   Apr 13 2012, 17:15
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (googlebot @ Apr 13 2012, 12:15) I ...   Oct 9 2012, 14:57
- - JJZolx   QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 29 2012, 16:32) For...   Apr 13 2012, 20:00
- - stephan_g   Here's something to watch that might provide a...   Apr 13 2012, 20:30
- - item   As has been hinted at, the problem is defining ...   Oct 8 2012, 20:04
- - Wyld Stallyn   It can be asked whether some is objectively techni...   Apr 4 2013, 17:04
- - ktf   QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 30 2012, 00:32) For...   Apr 4 2013, 19:09
- - adamdea   Has this forum gone mad? What on earth is this (in...   Apr 10 2013, 14:23
- - pdq   QUOTE (adamdea @ Apr 10 2013, 09:23) Has ...   Apr 10 2013, 14:36
- - adamdea   QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 10 2013, 14:36) QUOTE (a...   Apr 10 2013, 16:03


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