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Bad Music ?

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Pete's recent post about 'No music style is banned' got me thinking.

What makes music 'bad'?

Take Sugar Sugar by the Archers for instance.... Or the Macarena or..

But most of the things we'd classify as bad sold well, were really popular at the time. Even Mrs Mills. And the Partridge Family. Or more relevant to this forum Kenny G.

Is it that no music is bad, just not to our taste?

Why aren't Thelonius Monk's drug fuelled compositions labelled bad? What makes Lady Gagga sell?

Must confess I'm at a loss.

Come to think of it, what is music, anyway?
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Everyone knows what bad music is. It's just that we don't all agree about it.
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,484
well, I am positively omnivorous when it comes to music (or food :D) if you must know now I am listening to Iron Butterfly....
But I do also listen to all sorts of other things. Most of which, I think, are , at the very least , well played.

But music is, like everything else, a matter of taste. Some like it cold , some hot. There is no account for taste either.
Just as much as certain young people seem to find nice to wear pats showing their underpants with a crotch as low as the pavement and dragging the leg bottoms to shreds in the dirt of the streets, others seem to like Liberace, André Rieu, Kenny G or whatever you despise.
It's a wonderful world!
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,617
Very interesting and potentially huge topic. Hm… ok, I’m someone who’s Ipod contains everything from Debussy to Hawkwind and- in the right mood- can get something from both. I suppose, on a personal level- it’s the letter which constituter’s good music- the fact that a piece was created with some sort of communicational intent and ‘speaks’ to a listener. Bad music would be, therefore, music which is either made cynically for money, or with a ‘confused’ creative agenda. Good rock & roll would be music which communicates- energy, ‘swagger’ etc- while bad rock and roll would be, well, the polite stuff. Good jazz would have a sense of exploration whereas bad jazz would be the repetition of learnt patterns without personal input…… Hm… will think on this further while I have my lunch time swim…
 

Rock Lobster

Member
Messages
124
I thought i was clear on this but now i dont think i am. I think it was the late John Peel that said Agadoo was the worst example of contempory music, not so much a song you hear, more a musical enema!

This song is cynically lowest common denominator stuff and in my view does not consider a clever melody important, or perhaps a middle eight that surprises the listener.

The song for me is not uplifting in any way and the lyrics do not add anything to our knowledge, philosophy or insight. I would say at the least this is a poor start for a song unless you are aiming at getting the drunks up at the wedding disco, in which respect it seems to be massively successful.

In the end is our opinion more important than the drunk at the wedding wanting a dance?

Oh dear!
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
Someone theorised that the start of music was a mother humming a baby to sleep. On that basis the fundamental quality of music that does its job must be that it takes you to a different place.
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
Is there such a thing as bad music? The temptaion is very strong to say yes, anything by Phil Collins (and I am not referring to Genesis .. ) >:)


I guess in some ways it depends on whether you like to 'listen' to music or simply 'hear it'.

Music must connect with us in some way for us to like it. That may be that it stimulates us to the point where we want to jump up and show everyone what a total and utter fool we are at a wedding, it may be that it has the opposite effect and calms us down, it may be an escape from what is going on around us. It may be that we simply appreciate the skill of those performing it.

I think you tend to find that the more 'involved' one is with music, the wider one's musical taste tends to be but can that mean that because something doesn't connect with you in any way that it is bad?

If a 'westerner' listens to non-western music with its microtonal scales he may consider it to be bad music because it falls outside the sphere of 'subconscious acceptability' but that won't make it bad. . .

It is all very subjective and a matter of opinion, and while we have every right to stand by our own opinions do we have a right to criticise that which fits for others?
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Music can only be bad music individually and certainly not universally.
What makes it an individually bad experience? Sequence makes it bad. It depends on the individuals environmental conditioning and as a result of our environment, and how we're conditioned within it, we channel it along with all our sighted perceptions as well. Just like sight, where we're bombarded with radiation, so is sound in which we're equally bombarded. It's a profoundly complicated and intricate process and we 'merely' react to how all this information is processed. The result is we either like it or we don't. It may appear that's it's cut and dry but it's not actually. An extensive amount of data was processed why you like it or why you don't. We respond to this myriad of information in a cavalier sort of way. We don't question it, we just accept it.

What is music?
Music is sound and sound is music. It all depends on the individual which through
extensive processing will tell us if we enjoy, or do not enjoy, the sequences presented to us.

Environment/Conditioning.....
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,617
The temptaion is very strong to say yes, anything by Phil Collins (and I am not referring to Genesis .. ) >:)



I think you tend to find that the more 'involved' one is with music, the wider one's musical taste tends to be
I have to totally concur wit the first statement but I'm not convinced by the second..... I've met some decidely dogmatic players in my time...
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Pete's recent post about 'No music style is banned' got me thinking.

What makes music 'bad'?

Take Sugar Sugar by the Archers for instance.... Or the Macarena or..

But most of the things we'd classify as bad sold well, were really popular at the time. Even Mrs Mills. And the Partridge Family. Or more relevant to this forum Kenny G.

Is it that no music is bad, just not to our taste?

Why aren't Thelonius Monk's drug fuelled compositions labelled bad? What makes Lady Gagga sell?

Must confess I'm at a loss.

Come to think of it, what is music, anyway?
Please quantify what Bad really is ... ;}

Is it just a little tiny bit bad?

Or on average just plain bad?

Or is it Really Really Really bad?

Or ......... >:)
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
To me most music would have to be classed from brilliant to fair with all the shades in between because as has been said before someone will love it somewhere but there is that music that has been composed for what ever reason,that when you listen to it,it can only be descrbed as nothing more than noise and usually very annoying noise at that,you know what I mean where some conductor has composed this piece and it sounds like to achieve this he has dumped an orchestra out of a tip up truck down a steep hill and recorded the ensuing termoil,that to me is the only bad music but I have to say that I have also heard some so called jazz pieces that have come pretty close to that kind of noise too.
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
Music can only be bad music individually and certainly not universally.
Hmmmm: I don't really buy this...

I agree that we each have individual taste, and there will be no universal ENJOYMENT of any music, regardless of how good it is. (I like some "bad" music, I hate plenty of "good" music.). Music I don't like is music that does not meet my needs at the time of listening. I love both Frank Zappa and Phillip Glass, but I'm not always necessarily in the mood to enjoy either of them. So "what I enjoy" is not a good guide to "what is good"

Then there is music with which I am unfamiliar and therefore have no qualification to pass any kind of good/bad judgement. If I listen to classical Indian music, I cannot judge whether it achieves its goals with its intended audience, any more than I would be able to critique a speech in Urdu. But this is MY limitation, no judgement on the music.

Looking at musical styles with which I am familiar, I think that I am in a position to make a good/bad judgement which I would expect to be broadly shared by others who know the genre. The fact is that there is some sort of broad consensus over what is good and bad: what music will stand the test of time, what music will reward repeated listening, what music will enhance life.

And we all have our foibles: music we know to be good but just don't "get"; conversely, we all have our guilty pleasures.

I don't think that all music is equally valid, it's plain to me that some has more merit than others, even if I am not an adequate judge of this.

In the end I think what makes most sense to me is that good music is music that does the job it sets out to do, for the audience at whom it is aimed, whether that is to stir emotions, get feet tapping or stomping, or tell a story.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,617
I don't think that all music is equally valid, it's plain to me that some has more merit than others, even if I am not an adequate judge of this.

In the end I think what makes most sense to me is that good music is music that does the job it sets out to do, for the audience at whom it is aimed, whether that is to stir emotions, get feet tapping or stomping, or tell a story.
Though i'd probably agree with you on the first- the philosopher in me would ask you to define merit in this context. based on your second statement that music 'does the job it sets out to do' certain electronic dance music could have the same legitimacy as mozart.....
Ok- bottom line is that I'm pretty much with you on all points but I just find discissions like this interesting to 'dig into'.... like I said, its the philosopher in me...... nowt personal :)
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
certain electronic dance music could have the same legitimacy as mozart.....
Jules, np with digging into this: it is very interesting and the answers are not trivial. I can't define "merit" (not a good enough philosopher I guess), but that doesn't mean I don't think it exists. As to whether electronic dance music has the same legitimacy as Mozart: perhaps the difference is in the ambition. Mozart sets out to do so much more: I think that a piece of electronic dance music can be just as legitimate, even if has a more limited ambition.

A Private Eye cartoon has a small ambition and may hit or miss; A Leonardo da Vinci "cartoon" has a much grander ambition and consensus is that it generally hits. I wouldn't say the Eye cartoon is bad art though just because its ambition is modest.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Hmmmm: I don't really buy this...

I agree that we each have individual taste, and there will be no universal ENJOYMENT of any music, regardless of how good it is. (I like some "bad" music, I hate plenty of "good" music.). Music I don't like is music that does not meet my needs at the time of listening. I love both Frank Zappa and Phillip Glass, but I'm not always necessarily in the mood to enjoy either of them. So "what I enjoy" is not a good guide to "what is good"

Then there is music with which I am unfamiliar and therefore have no qualification to pass any kind of good/bad judgement. If I listen to classical Indian music, I cannot judge whether it achieves its goals with its intended audience, any more than I would be able to critique a speech in Urdu. But this is MY limitation, no judgement on the music.

Looking at musical styles with which I am familiar, I think that I am in a position to make a good/bad judgement which I would expect to be broadly shared by others who know the genre. The fact is that there is some sort of broad consensus over what is good and bad: what music will stand the test of time, what music will reward repeated listening, what music will enhance life.

And we all have our foibles: music we know to be good but just don't "get"; conversely, we all have our guilty pleasures.

I don't think that all music is equally valid, it's plain to me that some has more merit than others, even if I am not an adequate judge of this.

In the end I think what makes most sense to me is that good music is music that does the job it sets out to do, for the audience at whom it is aimed, whether that is to stir emotions, get feet tapping or stomping, or tell a story.
You say that you agree that we have individual tastes and there is no universal enjoyment. What's the problem?
I wasn't trying to sell anything. I was provoking the individuality in which I speak.

Everyone is qualified to have an opinion on music they do not understand. Everyone places judgment if confronted to make a decision either way. It's our nature. It's your right as an individual to have an opinion. Music critics are no better off than you or I. It's the most ridiculous profession, or activity, on the planet.

Bad music, as in the OP's topic is an extremity. He inquired concerning it's extremity. If you like bad music then it's not bad music for you. I was under the assumption bad music meant bad to our ears, bad music.

I'm also not interested in a broad consensus on what is good music. That's irrelevant to me, or to anyone else who thinks a specific way.

You would expect others to make a similar judgment because you do? That's a broad assessment. I've never expected anyone to like what I like regarding my own music or music that I enjoy which were written by other composers. I know what I like and that should really be the only thing I can be sure of.

Yes, if certain music does it for you then that particular music hit the sweet spot for ya. However, to be frank, anything I have ever written I've never set out to accomplish something within someone else. I've never set out to do anything but give myself enjoyment through a personal assessment of how I saw the situation. If other composers do set out to accomplish something for others, that really has nothing to do with me. I'm not a fisherman and I do understand, composer's must be fishermen because they throw their reel out and hope to catch an ear! If my work was not liked but anyone my musical life is still fulfilled. Poor, but fulfilled. In other ears my work would be bad music!
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Could the loudness be the point. Status Quo and FFF Basie are okay for me most of the time but drum & bass from a car outside the bedroom when trying to sleep, although inevitably quieter, is still too loud for me.

Okay, Im ancient.
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Could the loudness be the point. Status Quo and FFF Basie are okay for me most of the time but drum & bass from a car outside the bedroom when trying to sleep, although inevitably quieter, is still too loud for me.

Okay, Im ancient.
I'm only 2/3 of your age, but that tends to have me reaching for my axe (by which I mean the three foot tree felling one, not my daughter's guitar).

Actually, that also raises a serious point. Any music inflicted on the listener by another against the wishes of another is bad. For music to be good, you've got to want to listen to it. Otherwise it becomes a form of torure. Lift music, drivel broadcast in supermarkets and stuff emanating from someone else's car or iPod all fall into that category.
 
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