The Gentleman's Guide To Voicing Your Musical Opinion Without Sounding Like A Complete A-s

author: UG Team date: 03/08/2013 category: features
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The Gentleman's Guide To Voicing Your Musical Opinion Without Sounding Like A Complete A-s
You're passionate about the music you listen to. We all are. How many music conversations have you had with people - friends, acquaintances, elders, musicians and non-musicians alike that end up tickling your ire and make you want to lash out and passionately state what you really think about their musical tastes? Do you crinkle your nose like you just smelled p-ss every time someone argues it takes more talent to rap than it does to play an instrument? Do you immediately formulate a comment in retaliation every time you hear "...I just like [insert hip-hop song] cuz it's got a good beat!" Do you scream and cover your ears whenever a group of girls shriek as Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" comes on during karaoke? We've all been there. We must remedy the situation and intervene. We must correct the error of their ways and shake those who are musically clueless by the shoulders and scream, "LET ME HELP YOU!" But sadly, what many of us perceive as well-crafted and airtight arguments against the music we dislike are in reality nothing more than annoying and unwelcome assertions to those around us. Catch the target on a bad day and verbal acid is immediately spewed upon you the second you speak your mind "God, you're such a music snob!" Eeesh. And you wonder, "Am I really a music snob?" Music snobs come in many forms. They can be educated musicians who use their specialized knowledge to justify their opinions, tending to base them on the characteristics of the music itself. Conversely, there are plenty of non-musician snobs who, although knowledgeable, more so base their opinions on the artist's larger role in pop culture, a certain scene, or trend. They attack bands, popular genres, singers, Coldplay, underground genres, new music, old music, ethnic music, and the keytar. And we're all guilty of doing this to some extent. Consider what the wise Morpheus has to say:
Great point, Morpheus. I'll take the red pill. We often miss the point when we fight against people who seem ignorant to music. While we may think that it's our role and duty to spread awareness and knowledge of "better" music, the general animosity toward the music we deem shallow prevents us from actually having meaningful conversations about music. Thus the label of "music snob". To escape the moniker, here are several ways you can approach musical discussions without seeming like an elitist. Your subjective opinions don't have to be an earsore; by presenting them in a way that doesn't make the person you talk to feel like an idiot for liking (arguably) sh-tty music, you can avoid being a snob and in turn, effectively get your point across.

Ask. Ask. Ask.

The best way to get to the bottom of why someone likes a certain genre or artist (and satisfy your burning desire to understand why anyone could possibly like a band like Nickelback) is to ask them probing questions as to why they like what they like. "Oh, you like Linkin Park. What about their music do you like? No, I mean specifically. Lyrics? Musicality? When did you get into them?" Etc. Try to dig deeper. You may be surprised to find that through the more questions you ask, a person may determine that they don't really know why they like something. That's when you pounce and offer some of your fine musical recommendations. Or you may find that they have compelling reasons behind their tastes, which of course knocks them up a few pegs.

Appreciate The Ways In Which People Enjoy Music

It may come as a surprise, but most people don't value music in the same way musicians and other musically involved people do. That's fine. Some people are content listening to Top 100 while getting ready to go to the club; some people simply like the overall effect of a genre and don't pay attention to specific bands within it. Try to gauge the level of value the person seems to put on music and use that to determine how you'll discuss the musical topic at hand.

Be Mindful Of Your Audience

If you're compelled to sell a band or artist to someone, do so, but play into what you think the other person will enjoy/understand. If you were talking to a non-guitarist about Paul Gilbert, it'd be pointless to describe the brilliance of his alternate picking technique. Rather, you could say his solos are exciting and expressive. And don't be surprised if the cheerleading squad doesn't quite take to your sales pitch about Cannibal Corpse.

Avoid Blanket Statements

Nothing ruins your credibility more than making serious generalizations without merit. There's a difference between saying "all pop music is shallow and void of any redeeming qualities" and "it seems that a lot of the artists that top the charts are based more on image and less on the quality of songs."

Focus On The Why, Not The What

Explain why you think Paula Abdul sucks, but don't just simply state so without anything to back up your assertion. The less reasoning you give, the quicker one is to deem you a dick; the more rounded observations you provide, the more likely someone will notice and pay attention to your point.

Be Confident, But Not Aggressive In Your Opinion

Passion is sexy. If you're passionate about the music you love, you should show it. Snobbery stems from the notion people get when they believe you feel your tastes are superior to theirs. If they feel aggression in your opinion, they'll shut the door and throw the "I just like it, okay" card. If they feel that you're genuinely excited about your music, they may be more receptive to listening.

Appreciate, Son!

Have you ever noticed that most professional musicians are interested in genres of music that fall outside of the genre they mainly play? For instance, Mark Morton from Lamb Of God loves rap and George Harrison loved Indian music. And Bob Dylan especially loves minimalist dubstep (I'm not sure about that, but it's possible). Seek out music, rather than condemn it. Being open minded to other people's tastes could lead you down a surprising path to musical discovery, which can be a fantastic result of musical discussions. So share below if you've ever been accused of being a music snob or have encountered some irritating ones yourself. Try using some of these suggestions to your advantage. The more open you are to other people's opinions, the more open they'll be to yours. And then you can focus your snobbery on more particular subjects like fine wine, cheeses and French New Wave cinema. By Zach Pino
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