love

Author Topic: General Music talk  (Read 35042 times)

etdoesgood

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2387
  • Just like we never said goodbye
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #710 on: January 18, 2021, 01:23:01 AM »
There's no world in which any of Beethoven or Mozart's works are objectively better than "Picacho" by Young Thug, unless the person doesn't speak English, in which case I suppose that song is lost on them as well.

There is a post somewhere in me that is very, very mean about this. But, no thanks. It's a waste of words at this point.

I will say, you are doing everything besides just saying "It's all relative." If that's the case, then your whole "hot take/unpopular opinion" thing rather vanishes. Saying something is "good" or "bad" becomes meaningless when it's all subjective.

If you just hear random noise and don’t feel anything, then I understand dismissing it.

I love instrumental jazz and classical - but don’t pretend to try to discuss it at any deep level

I don't either, and I tend to appreciate more modern composers than classical ones, but that line about dismissing it is something I find troubling. You are essentially saying that if you don't understand something, then it makes sense to dismiss it. That is letting the listener off the hook and devaluing the arts in the worst way. Now that's not to say all classical, jazz, or any music without vocals is made equal, but the only way you should be able to dismiss something is to first understand it. Then, if it is junk, say so. I dismiss a lot of pop music because I hear it, understand the value of production, understand the message, find much of it to be unoriginal, but I do "get" it, at least on a musical, if not cultural level.

I am saying if FLY doesn’t feel it, then I can understand dismissing it. But from what I gather from FLY’, both from above as well as maybe a similar discussion years ago, is that he finds not having the ability to have an objective discussion around instrumental music due to not having the technical knowledge is something he should dismiss.  But if it invokes an emotional response, even if you wouldn’t be able to have the knowledge to discuss it, seems good enough to enjoy it. Not everything needs to be discussed.

AT the end of the day though, there is only so much time, so people do have to make decisions on what to engage and what to dismiss for what ever reasons. People tend to get personal when something gets dismissed that is close to them, but I think they should move past it.

Dismissing is as if to say, "It's not valuable." That is vastly different than saying, "I don't get it and don't care." If you don't understand something, you have no business dismissing it.
A desert person.

Simple Distinctions:
The Best  |  Exceptional  |  Favorable  |  Unfavorable  | Bad

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 22166
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #711 on: January 18, 2021, 07:05:29 AM »
I mean, everything relating to music quality is subjective unless you are simply describing the song. There is intersubjectivity that becomes "popular" or "acclaimed" but nothing becomes objectively better than another thing.

I don't think I go quite as far as FLY in basically dismissing lyric-free (or non-English lyric) music as worthless...I like a fair number of things. My point was just that the pathway to liking it is different/more limited.

I just wonder if Fly has ever danced in his life.

Dancing is basically the worst. The minister in Footloose was the good guy.

etdoesgood

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2387
  • Just like we never said goodbye
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #712 on: January 18, 2021, 02:01:25 PM »
I suppose I agree on total objectivity, but at the same time do not believe it's all relative to taste. Otherwise, music theory, and even music itself, in all its complexity, is useless. Maybe that's where we are with the arts today. Just, whatever you think. I don't believe that, though. The more open you are to experience, the more you learn about the things you are passionate about, the more authoritative your opinion, the more it matters. There are objective truths in music involving complexity, skill, the effect a particular passage of notes has on mood (a lot of this has been studied, we do know why certain sounds have a certain affect on people), and the quality of words someone uses if the music has singing/lyrics. If you can analyze these things (and I admit that I'm not anywhere proficient in some of these areas), you can provide an analysis and evaluation that, while it might not make up objective truth, will be stronger than someone who just dismisses certain types of music as noise. Things aren't just black-or-white or muddled in gray. The world, and our words, are pretty complex and full of possibilities.
A desert person.

Simple Distinctions:
The Best  |  Exceptional  |  Favorable  |  Unfavorable  | Bad

FLYmeatwad

  • An Acronym
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 28394
  • I am trying to impress myself. I have yet to do it
    • Processed Grass
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #713 on: January 18, 2021, 08:05:45 PM »
Music is the most subjective form of culture anyway, and when it's stripped of a concrete guiding force like lyrics then that meaning making becomes a scientific process for intellectual consumption and discussion, or a purely emotional one, which vary wildly between individual to individual.

I can listen to "Sonata No. 12" and say it's about an alien invasion where they raise the dead, and thematically it's driving at the inescapable mechanics of the ruling class along with how we, as humans, accept those power systems. Would that be an incorrect reading? I imagine someone would say so, but why? There's not a guiding force, and if that's how it made me feel then it's as valid as any other agreed upon reading. It then falls back on the technical discussion of what the instruments do and what they're supposed to evoke in a listener, which is of little interest to me and also seems like it would negate the emotional experience. Comparatively, there's no denying that in "Picacho" that a listener is well aware that Thug's diamonds look like Pikachu, and they peek at you. Maybe you'd get that vital information with just a title and a beat, and I guess the title of a classical piece can be a guiding force, but, again, think there are still too many gaps to fill and I don't much see the value in a purely technical discussion nor a purely emotional one. That's why a group like Death Grips is one of my favorites, because you get the noise and sounds of the instruments taking center stage a lot of the time, but they are still elevated by the lyrics and delivery. Early Jimmy Blake works the same way, and so does some Thugger.

People can like it, of course, but I definitely don't and think it's pretty pointless to ingest for me personally. Though even with NMF, I recognize that it's a purely subjective exercise and that, by and large, most people aren't going to give a shit about what I think is good or not (even if it was objectively so) because of the massive subjectivity in music. Reckon that the same could be said of film, though, again, I'd argue that the script gives the film meaning regardless, in a way that instrumental music doesn't, but also this is a film forum so I don't mind having more technically focused conversations with peers and am at least marginally equipped to do so, even if that's generally not the primary interest for watching film for me or where I have the most fun in the meaning making or consumption process. I'm pretty open about aspect ratio being an aspect of film I just don't really understand. I've tried, and gotten a slightly better handle on them/recognize their intended effect at least some of the time, but it's still slightly lost on me. Like I get what it does in Mommy when it happens and appreciate that, but I saw The Hateful Eight during the 70mm roadshow and have since watched it on Netflix, and I can't tell you what made that experience significantly better outside of what a theater offers that my home cannot in general.

With instrumental music I both think it does not have value, especially compared to music with lyrics, and also do not get it and don't care. That's not to say I don't understand, at least to an extent (less so with Jazz, I think that largely sux just as much, if not more than, traditional classical music, and that's largely carried over to my disdain for Jazz influenced rap), how it's supposed to function, but think, fundamentally speaking, it goes against both the enjoyment process of music (highly subjective regardless) and the meaning making power of art at large. Though, again, I've enjoyed some songs not in English, just like I've enjoyed songs without lyrics, and would be just as likely to call those good as I would with things I listen to more frequently. But it's more mood dependent. Largely though it is bad because it lacks the dialogue between artist and listener that is important in the meaning making process. Too much room for it to get muddied and lost. Subjectively speaking, that's pretty objective.

Instrumental music/noise and actual music just function differently, and it's why I am an advocate in Filmspots having Best Music (Lyrical) and (Instrumental) being different categories rather than Soundtrack and Score, even if in film their function is more in support and I wouldn't be caught dead just casually listening to a film or game's score.

EDIT: FLY has also definitely danced, but only to good music for the most part. Those waltzes and foxtrots and stuff don't interest me, and, thankfully, the more formal weddings I've been to still have the sense to not really play much music without lyrics, so I can enjoy myself there. One of my favorite experiences with music is still my time at P4Kfest with James Blake in one of his first US shows sampling the crowd in real time for one of his less lyrical songs. A yearly highlight for me when I still went to Made In America was going to the Rave Cave stage, specifically the GTA performance there where it's pretty much all EDM. But could never listen to it much when divorced from that context for very long. Even when lifting the playlist I built is all lyrical.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 08:09:45 PM by FLYmeatwad »

etdoesgood

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2387
  • Just like we never said goodbye
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #714 on: January 18, 2021, 08:26:18 PM »
The whole problem continues to be you confuse your taste with the actual value of something. Instrumental music (which is so broad I can't believe we're even talking about it this way) objectively has value because it is enjoyed and appreciated by people today, has been relevant as far back as 2800 BC, and forms the basis for whole courses of study and lifetimes of pursuit. People continue to bring it into new contexts, modernize it, while still respecting the tradition from which it hails. If other people value it, if indeed human culture values it, your personal value is really contained only to you. You are not the arbiter of what has value.

Did you ever think lyrics can get in the way of a person experiencing music? I think this can especially be true in popular forms of music where a lot of it is low forms of wit (sarcasm, burns, poor attempts at self-observation, trolling) detracting from the instrumentation. The space for me is lost when the ego of another is eating up the sonic space. Again, this is coming from someone who listened exclusively to hip-hop to my early twenties, and listens to hip-hop or rock the vast majority of the time, electronic just a bit, and classical or jazz pretty rarely. I just think part of being cultured is having appreciation for myriad forms of art and self-expression.

When it comes to feeling a bit more dismissive over art, it's when art and consumer culture collide, and consumer culture starts having an oversize influence over what "art" (is it even art anymore?) is made. That's about the only reasonable set of circumstances I can think of to dismiss art out of hand. Propaganda probably falls into this, too. The only influence over art should be the creators. Then you find the money and people to make it. Then you make it.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 12:28:50 AM by etdoesgood »
A desert person.

Simple Distinctions:
The Best  |  Exceptional  |  Favorable  |  Unfavorable  | Bad

etdoesgood

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2387
  • Just like we never said goodbye
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #715 on: January 19, 2021, 12:31:32 AM »
I just wonder if Fly has ever danced in his life.

I sense a new poll question coming in here.

MT - Do you find you dance more frequently with a young child? My two closest cousins have small children, and I think they dance more now than ever.

I dance while I walk my dogs sometimes. It's not the only time. You put on Girl Talk, you kind of have to.
A desert person.

Simple Distinctions:
The Best  |  Exceptional  |  Favorable  |  Unfavorable  | Bad

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17041
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #716 on: January 19, 2021, 08:33:04 AM »
MT - Do you find you dance more frequently with a young child? My two closest cousins have small children, and I think they dance more now than ever.

A nightly dance is part of his bedtime routine. It's great because he doesn't judge my moves!

Of all of FLY's hot takes, this one is the most asinine. I imagine he's being more than a little bit disingenuous. But if he truly feels this way then mostly I just feel sorry for him.

etdoesgood

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2387
  • Just like we never said goodbye
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #717 on: January 19, 2021, 05:43:24 PM »
MT - Do you find you dance more frequently with a young child? My two closest cousins have small children, and I think they dance more now than ever.

A nightly dance is part of his bedtime routine. It's great because he doesn't judge my moves!

Of all of FLY's hot takes, this one is the most asinine. I imagine he's being more than a little bit disingenuous. But if he truly feels this way then mostly I just feel sorry for him.

That's fantastic! :)

Yes, this is why I'm not letting it go. Whether he's being disingenuous or not, it clouds the whole conversation in this thread if certain types of music are just dismissed out of hand. I could not care less if he thinks The Beatles are bad if he has his reasons, but such dismissiveness of a whole gigantic swath of music makes having a broader musical conversation very hard. And I'm usually the one defending hip-hop to people who are more into either just music that requires live instruments or people into classical and jazz.
A desert person.

Simple Distinctions:
The Best  |  Exceptional  |  Favorable  |  Unfavorable  | Bad

FLYmeatwad

  • An Acronym
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 28394
  • I am trying to impress myself. I have yet to do it
    • Processed Grass
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #718 on: January 19, 2021, 08:43:57 PM »
I mean I would contend that, by and large with the way music is consumed, taste is the most important thing. I've sampled plenty of different types of music, but, ultimately, instruments are a building block for songs, just like score or cinematography is a part of a film. When I'm writing about music, I write about my reaction on a personal level influenced by my taste, and label things good or bad in that context. If someone wants to enjoy it and call it good, go for it, I'll just disagree. There is, as I've said, plenty of technical and specialized language for discussing and analyzing non-lyrical music, but the specialization keeps me at a distance and it also feels a bit elitist. So then the discussion shifts to emotional, which becomes entirely subjective because so many different things can generate an emotional response from someone. It's a valid reaction regardless, or I would say so since I'm not in the lane of telling someone how to feel or experience something, but that's also going to largely be valueless to me in an artistic experience because that's not what I'm coming to art seeking.

As for whether or not lyrics can get in the way of a person's way or experiencing music? Probably. Though you're asking the wrong person, as the absence of lyrics is what gets in the way of mine more often than not. But it's entirely believable, as music is fundamentally the most subjective of all art forms. The more ego in a song the better, as long as that's what the genre calls for, though I guess the case can be made that the creation of art is all going to be ego driven by the creator to some extent, but that's not typically my interest either. I'd say Kanye's recent music has been capitalized by ego in the lyrics, but that doesn't detract from the beats, and he's still cranking out heaters at a pretty regular clip. Same with Thugger, even in his most difficult to decipher songs.

Honestly I'm not sure why this perspective always seems to spark discussion or has my genuineness called in to question because it seems pretty logical to me, and I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of explaining myself rationally as to why I don't value instrumental only music by and large. I'll try it in another way though.

The purpose of art is to reach a better understanding of self, humanity, the world, or the human condition. Lyrics, and prior to that poetry, is the form in which these ideas are explored and communicated. Stripping these away from music (an already terribly subjective art form that is reliant on personal taste) reduces this to a purely technical or emotional conversation, each of which are valid to certain people, but is directly at odds with the purpose of art.

The counterpoints, as I have considered them, are that music can be listened to simply for pleasure and enjoyment, which I agree with, and indulge in regularly, or that non-lyrical music gives us that better understanding of humanity or the human condition simply be inspiring emotion/existing/having been around for thousands of years. That one I'm a bit more sticky on because it casts too wide of a net for me to really get behind. It's factually correct, but if I wanted to celebrate the joys of humanity that way, then why not just read Whitman? And I don't even like Whitman all that much. So it's something I can acknowledge, but still is largely a non-starter because it's just documenting something that happened, not adding to the understanding, outside of showing that everything is cyclical and ultimately meaningless, but I already know that as well.

There's as much value to anything in the world as there is no value to anything. I don't claim to know what everyone values, as those vary from person to person, but, based on what I hope to experience in art, I have have not found a non-lyrical song that can hope to be a fraction as satisfying as something with lyrics, even if I like the non-lyrical one more than the lyrical on a case by case basis.

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17041
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: General Music talk
« Reply #719 on: January 19, 2021, 11:14:02 PM »
I generally don't listen to music for "meaning". Lyrics are usually the last thing I pay attention to. I just like a catchy melody, or a funky groove, or music that evokes a particular mood.

The idea that you need some sort of hardcore musical training to appreciate instrumental music is insane to me. There have been plenty of chart-topping instrumentals:

Axel F
Songbird
Chariots of Fire
Feels So Good
Frankenstein
A Fifth of Beethoven
Pick Up the Pieces
pretty much everything by Booker T. & the M.G.'s or Herb Alpert

...not to mention songs that essentially instrumentals like "Wipeout" and "Tequila". Do you think fans of "Dueling Banjos" are elitist? Dance clubs are packed with people enjoying music often without lyrics, I'm guessing few of them have a Juilliard education.

Also, the emotional impact of music is not as wildly subjective as you make it out to be. I think it's fairly universal that tempo, volume, timbre, rhythm and key (major vs minor) evoke specific emotional responses. Like a break in a song where it cuts down to minimal instrumentation creates a mellow (or tense, depending on how it's implemented) anticipation, and then when everything comes rushing back in it creates a euphoria.

Honestly I'm not sure why this perspective always seems to spark discussion or has my genuineness called in to question

Because you're dismissing a huge swath of music out of hand and calling it "bad", maybe? I mean really what you're saying is you don't like music.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 11:16:30 PM by MartinTeller »

 

love