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jimmyjazzuk
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25 Oct 2022, 2:13 pm

Something I've noticed is if someone posts a strong negative opinion on a music comment section, it often produces a response of "they are not bad, they just aren't for you"

So is all art equal?



techstepgenr8tion
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25 Oct 2022, 7:02 pm

Not really.

There's a few different things music can optimize for:

- Complexity / player prowess
- Depth and fidelity / representation of a given mood or idea
- Sort of like the above - rare moods and places
- Nostalgia

You can also max for popularity but that's a different thing than most of the above, and similarly some bands that never intended to be 'popular' in their sound somehow get a big following.

If the musicians can't play for anything you can say it's rather bad.
If the artist just loops the same thing with no subtle morphing or changes you can say it's bad.
If the lyrics are unironically vapid you can either say it's bad or that its pop.
If it's just a sheet of noise with nothing of note going on within it you can say it's not really much of a production.
If the EQ'ing / mixing / mastering is a mess you can say it got butchered on the way out.

There is the category of 'so bad that it gets a cult following' like The Shaggs.

Overall you have to be able to listen and check off the following:

- Does it sound like the artist had a cohesive vision of what they were doing?
- Does it sound like the artist delivered on their vision?
- Are there really cool subtleties that you don't catch the first time but pick up on later listens?
- Does the mood of it give you chills in a sublime way?
- Is the drum work, guitar work, or whatever else complex enough that you can barely keep track?

If it hits all five of the above it's almost a magic trick in audio, and in that case you have at least a reasonably good tune (leaving some margin for taste).


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26 Oct 2022, 6:04 am

Yes, art (and especially music) is extremely subjective. It's really just a matter of preference.

I'd argue that music is one of art's toughest 'games', because people have such refined, specific tastes that it's almost impossible to create something that somebody is guaranteed to like. On the flip side, even if you make harsh noise or vaporwave, you're almost guaranteed to have a few listeners who don't mind the repetitive or dissonant nature - just post it online and someone will listen.

There really are no absolutes, 'rights' or 'wrongs' in music. It just depends on what you're into.


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02 Nov 2022, 4:43 pm

Yes, I consider musical quality to be mostly in the ear of the beholder. Though if the artist aims at a particular result then the competence factor may be an absolute thing. Even so, if the artist has failed but somebody loves the result, then for that listener it's a good piece of music.

When people call a musical work "good" or "bad," then if they mean it literally they're guilty of bigotry, or "absolutism" as I tend to call it, which I think is a grievous but common fault in the human race, but sometimes people say that kind of thing merely as shorthand, or as a way of venting, with no intention of projecting their own reactions onto the thing they're reacting to.



klanka
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02 Nov 2022, 4:52 pm

You can tell when someone is a good singer or not.



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02 Nov 2022, 6:55 pm

klanka wrote:
You can tell when someone is a good singer or not.

To a degree, I think that's right. There are certain widespread criteria for a good singing voice, such as accurate pitch, volume and timing. We tend to assume singers are aiming at those standards, and consider them incompetent if they fail to achieve them. And for all my knowledge of the relativity of musical quality, it's often the case that I hear such inaccuracies and on a visceral level I condemn them as poorly done, and can't enjoy the sound they make.

But personal taste still comes into it, and some singing is popular in spite of not making the grade technically. For example, technically Bob Dylan was a poor singer, but many people worshipped his work, and not only for the songwriting. I still dislike most of Frank Sinatra's work, because to me his high notes fail dismally on pitch and strength, but again he's worshipped as a "great singer" by a lot of people. Then there's Marc Bolan's early singing with Tyrannosaurus Rex, which weirds most people out, yet some folks loved it. And it's possible for a singer to be so perfect that their work becomes boring. In some ways it's often the imperfections in a singer's performance that gives it a certain charm and character. None of this is quite so true for classical work, where the criteria for excellence tend to be more set in stone.



princegeorge99999
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07 Nov 2022, 9:58 pm

It really depends what you're talking about and the context. Just think about it that way next time you come across that scenario. "What is the context? What is the style, what's the setting, is it a recording or live performance?" Etc. Someone who is just a listener or layman will have a different point of view from someone who is active in a particular field of music too. Even then it's still super subjective. That's just how music/art/performance is.