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Is some music better than other music?, A vexed question.
googlebot
post Apr 13 2012, 17:15
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I challenge that intrinsic qualities exist at all in this universe. There might be intrinsic dispositions, but nothing beyond that.

This post has been edited by googlebot: Apr 13 2012, 17:17
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JJZolx
post Apr 13 2012, 20:00
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QUOTE (wakibaki @ Mar 29 2012, 16:32) *
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.

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.


If I believed it was as simple as the above, I would stop listening to music, immediately and forever. The qualities of music that I appreciate are in the performance, and being in tune is only one of dozens that contribute to the quality of a performance. Unless you're playing pre-recorded music (ala a DJ) or purely electronically recreated music, you CANNOT duplicate a performance in every nuance.

The performance is what gives music its soul. It's why you go see live music instead of listening to the same recording on your stereo for the thousandth time. It's why you listen to 40 covers of the same song instead of deeming one 'best'. I've seen some people make statements such as "I had 10 different recordings by the band YYY of the song ZZZ and I've deleted 9 of them, because I like this one best". To me, that person has no real appreciation of music. Doesn't mean that they enjoy music any less, just that I wouldn't give their musical opinion any more merit than I'd give that of a deaf person.

This post has been edited by JJZolx: Apr 13 2012, 20:01
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stephan_g
post Apr 13 2012, 20:30
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Here's something to watch that might provide a bit more insight.
World Science Festival 2009" Notes & Neurons, Part 2 of 10 (ff.)
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mudlord
post Oct 8 2012, 09:57
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Mar 30 2012, 06:34) *
I happen to think that Rocky and Star Trek (2009) are quite bad in most ways that matter to me. I turned off Rocky half way, and Star Trek left me empty inside and with a craving for things with more substance, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.


How does a program marketed towards preteen girls have more substance?
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item
post Oct 8 2012, 20:04
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As has been hinted at, the problem is defining 'better'.

If we made a statistical analysis of all the ways music differs, rating high and low desirability for as many factors as needed to truly define music (good luck with that!), the artist who scored highest on our newly invented Infinite Superscale would still be hated vehemently by a large number of people.

As with most things in life, what matters is what happens between our ears: the near-infinite variety of experience and how that resonates in response to what you hear - not to mention personal and societal trends - make your favourites different from my favourites, although we might draw up some agreement on (broadly) excellence.
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Kohlrabi
post Oct 8 2012, 22:26
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QUOTE (mudlord @ Oct 8 2012, 10:57) *
QUOTE (dhromed @ Mar 30 2012, 06:34) *
I happen to think that Rocky and Star Trek (2009) are quite bad in most ways that matter to me. I turned off Rocky half way, and Star Trek left me empty inside and with a craving for things with more substance, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.


How does a program marketed towards preteen girls have more substance?
That is the real problem with today's mainstream cinema, isn't it?


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Oct 9 2012, 14:57
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Apr 13 2012, 12:15) *
I challenge that intrinsic qualities exist at all in this universe. There might be intrinsic dispositions, but nothing beyond that.


if we decide that the best music is the music that gives us the most pleasure, then the ideas presented in "This Is Your Brain On Music" would seem to apply. That book can be interpreted as support for your assertion.
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Wyld Stallyn
post Apr 4 2013, 17:04
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It can be asked whether some is objectively technically more refined, yes. But it can no be earnestly asked whether something is objectively better, as the bad/good scale involves judgement as opposed to simple quantification, which involves emotional or moral bias and can thus not be earnestly objective in any meaningful way. It is logically impossible to be objective while passing out judgement, even if some silly old theists posit that there is some objective morality which is an absolute garbage claim and obvious grasping at straws. There is at most a greater subjective morality, and that claim already is extremely dubious.

Of course it can be earnestly and validly asked if music is better according to subjective criteria agreed upon by a majority of people, as having appeal of one or another way to people is the reason for existence of recreational music. But even then it would obviously not be nearly universally valid enough to approach the dimensions of objectivity at all.

This post has been edited by Wyld Stallyn: Apr 4 2013, 17:08
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Ethan Winer
post Apr 4 2013, 18:53
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QUOTE (Ron Jones @ Mar 29 2012, 20:30) *
The in-tune version more closely approximates the reference, but is still not necessarily better than the out-of-tune version, just more like the reference. Not everyone would agree that the second rendition is better.

Agreed. There's no way I'm aware of to establish a universal metric for "good" with any art. As an example, The Rainbow Connection as sung by Kermit the Frog is sung intentionally sharp. If it were sung in tune it wouldn't have the same charm. Related, if it were sung flat it would lose that charm (in my opinion) and just sound lamely out of tune.

--Ethan


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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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adamdea
post Apr 10 2013, 14:23
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Has this forum gone mad? What on earth is this (incidentally feeble) discussion of aesthetics doing in the Scientific Discussion section?

This post has been edited by adamdea: Apr 10 2013, 14:25
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pdq
post Apr 10 2013, 14:36
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QUOTE (adamdea @ Apr 10 2013, 09:23) *
Has this forum gone mad? What on earth is this (incidentally feeble) discussion of aesthetics doing in the Scientific Discussion section?

I believe the issue was, is there a scientific basis for musical taste?
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adamdea
post Apr 10 2013, 16:03
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QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 10 2013, 14:36) *
QUOTE (adamdea @ Apr 10 2013, 09:23) *
Has this forum gone mad? What on earth is this (incidentally feeble) discussion of aesthetics doing in the Scientific Discussion section?

I believe the issue was, is there a scientific basis for musical taste?

It might have been, but I can't see that it was.

I can see that it might be possible to interpret some of the posts as relating to that question, but the OP does not appear to pose it but simply to ask whether some music is "better" and each post seems to have been plucked from a different discussion. Intriguingly, perhaps because of the features i have mentioned, it does (apart perhaps from my own intervention) appeared to have remained remarkably good natured.

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