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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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ktf
post Apr 4 2013, 19:09
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QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 30 2012, 00:32) *
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.

As already said a few times before, you might think of different scales. You can measure whether a certain performance is better in tune to a certain scale or temper (equal-tempered probably), but I doubt you haven't ever heard of dissonance and consonance. There are so much things you can do "out-of-scale". It's not easy with a guitar, but it is vocally or on a violin. Or take a look at quarter-tone music.

I would say even being in tune or out of tune is subjective in that way. Different people accept different 'amounts' of being out-of-tune and equal-tempered is already out-of-tune technically. If you're looking for a metric to objectively measure performance, I think being in-tune is definitely not one you should consider, just because of the problems mentioned above. You might disqualify something that sounds in tune (because it is in natural temper) when you're measuring equal-tempered. So you can't actually measure 'being in tune' as humans percept it.

That said, if you're a student and want to learn to play some kind of instrument in some kind of style (blues, classical, popular) you'll see different scales and different ways of playing with tune, but to be accepted within a community (which is probably something you want if you want to learn to play) you should conform to the standard. You can do all kinds of experimental things with quarter tone music or different tempers or scales, but you'll have a hard time being appreciated by others. If you're only interested in playing that is probably fine, but for most people it isn't.

edit: Oh, this post was the 30th of March 2012, not 2013. Sorry.

This post has been edited by ktf: Apr 4 2013, 19:10


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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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