#1
I find drawing such a line fairly easy on a case-by-case basis by my own opinions, but describing how I do that is much more difficult. Let us take this as an example. I guess music like that has a very niche market, and I guess could "fit" in a few scenarios. But I would never listen to it on my own accord for enjoyment.

I guess it is somewhat like abstract paintings. I do not really get it. It is not so much meant to be pleasing in some way, or to show a clear thought, but to make a statement or cause emotions only the disorganized or non-traditional thoughts can. I guess this is just "abstract music"? I do not know- maybe I am just not as "refined" with my tastes?

I definitely see potential and value in songs that were just recorded poorly. However, after that hindrance, I see no excuse for "bad" music. If one writes a "piece" and they do not know how exactly to put their thoughts into sound, and the end result is awful, then the end result is awful. It is not attacking the person, but the song as its own entity. I would say poor technique and/or poor writing contributes to this.

Is there a sort of free-form sound expression that is not meant to be traditionally "good", but to support emotions/feelings/thoughts/etc. in a non-traditional way? Do we grin and bear the awful sounds for the sake of respecting someone's art? Where do we stop and say "nah that's garbage" instead of saying "its artistic and abstract"? Do we say it is music, or something else entirely?
Last edited by Will Lane at Oct 27, 2016,
#3
I put it very simply. The music can be objectively good/bad and subjectively good/bad. The objective part is simply...well...the objective parts, is the playing way out of time, is the playing in pitch relative to other instrument and so on. But the objective part does not necessarily make it subjectively good or bad. Subjective is simple, do you THINK it's good or bad. There may or may not be a rationale or justification behind it. But even the objective part is technically subjective. I mean, why does playing in time or playing in tune is considered good? Because people think it sounds better. But what if someone likes listening to "bad" music? What if one day everyone but you starts liking "bad" music. Does that make "good" music "bad" and "bad" music "good"? It's like food, you might consider a gourmet burger "good" and a fast food burger "bad". But what about food with an acquired taste. You or most people might hate it and think it tastes horrible, but does that mean it's bad?

I have no idea why I replied to this and am no longer sure what the hell I'm even writing anymore...I need a beer.

At the end of the day, if I like the music, I listen to it, if not I don't. That's pretty much all that matters to me.
#4
Frank Zappa said it best. " We need it all. Without "Louie Louie" a symphony is not quite so grand." - Frank Zappa

The minute we start judging others music as bad or unfit, we put our own at risk. If you don't like something, turn the channel, or turn it off. You are not required to listen to music you don't appreciate.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis
#5
Personally, I know what aspects of music I appreciate, and what appeals to me. But no, I don't think that one can judge someone else's work, which is why the job of a critic (not one) is that often ridiculed, or even despised. If we don't try new things, we may miss out on great works of art. If Debussy didn't do exactly the opposite of what counterpoint demanded, if Hendrix simply hadn't bothered, and so on. If we don't break the rules, I sincerely hope someone else will, because we need it for progression. We don't need to like it, sometimes we won't even do so for years, Bach wasn't considered the impossible genius we think him now back in his own time.

In my case, I've often found that when I find music 'too much', be it strange, different, or otherwise, it often means that I should return to it in a year, sometimes two or even ten. Because it means that I don't understand it the way it was intended. I did not appreciate sludge and doommetal as much as I do these days, despite having known and heard some for decades. My mind was on different aspects of music at the time. Sometimes our musical maturity needs some time to develop further.

...Except for Louie Louie. That heretical abomination spawned by an unholy tri-union of satan, pig intestines and the sounds of human suffering needs to be ritually burned from existence and history.
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#6
Quote by Arron_Zacx
I put it very simply. The music can be objectively good/bad and subjectively good/bad. The objective part is simply...well...the objective parts, is the playing way out of time, is the playing in pitch relative to other instrument and so on. But the objective part does not necessarily make it subjectively good or bad. Subjective is simple, do you THINK it's good or bad. There may or may not be a rationale or justification behind it. But even the objective part is technically subjective. I mean, why does playing in time or playing in tune is considered good? Because people think it sounds better. But what if someone likes listening to "bad" music? What if one day everyone but you starts liking "bad" music. Does that make "good" music "bad" and "bad" music "good"? It's like food, you might consider a gourmet burger "good" and a fast food burger "bad". But what about food with an acquired taste. You or most people might hate it and think it tastes horrible, but does that mean it's bad?

I have no idea why I replied to this and am no longer sure what the hell I'm even writing anymore...I need a beer.

At the end of the day, if I like the music, I listen to it, if not I don't. That's pretty much all that matters to me.


I think that only applies to music that is supposed to sound "pleasing" in a traditional way and not that much to weird experimental stuff. But yeah, obviously you can tell if the musicians can't play their instruments. That, though, doesn't make a song bad or good. That has more to do with performance.

I think a lot of it has to do with intent. But it also has to do with your interpretation. I guess even if the composer didn't have any idea of what they were doing but somebody finds some deep meaning in it, one could make an argument that it's a great piece of art. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether something is "supposed to be" art. I guess anything can be art - it's all about how people interpret it. (Also, usually people confuse "art" with "beautiful". Just because it's not beautiful doesn't mean it's not art.)

When it comes to more "traditional" music, whether the song is good or bad is easier to judge. That is of course only if we assume that the piece is supposed to be a traditional pop/rock/metal/whatever song.

Now, why should we appreciate weird sounding stuff? I don't know, you don't need to appreciate anything (then again, you will come off as ignorant if you say "this is bad music" or "this is not music" about something that you simply don't "understand"). But a lot of the composers have put a lot of thought into their compositions and they clearly know what they are doing. Is that a reason to appreciate it? I don't know. If it sounds like crap, maybe they are just wasting their time, and people who listen to it are just being pretentious and trying to feel superior to other people? Just because somebody is skilled, it doesn't automatically mean what they do is "good". But as Cajundaddy said, if you don't like it, don't listen to it. It's really as simple as that. Experimental stuff is experimental - the whole point is to do something else, something that people are not familiar with, which means most people will not like it.

Adam Neely in one of his videos said that when you are so familiar with the basic tonal sound, you want to hear something that sounds completely different - something that you have never heard before.
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#8
All I have to say is 311.
Quote by Hal-Sephira
Shut the mother#%$& up, $^%got. You have a #$%^ing terrible muther&@$#ing taste in %#$@ing music, @&%$ing movies and %&$#ing video games. Every time I see you on the forums, you are always saying something overrated and some $@&#ing sh*t. You are just mother$^@%ing ignorant as a whole.

Get a #%$@ing life or you will get banned for life.
#9
As a Electronic musician, I think bad music is only made when you half-ass it. Music is very suggestive and many complex styles/genres don't appeal to a lot of people (technical Classical, Extreme Metal, Jazz, Breakcore, Prog, ect) but it's still good music (those were just vague examples). I think having a diverse taste is a good thing (for example, being able to enjoy a range of good artists like Buckethad, Metallica, Venetian Snares, The Prodigy, Voltaire, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, ect) and helps develop technique, theory and creativity. Just because you don't enjoy something, doesn't mean it's bad or doesn't take talent.

For example, Bluegrass is rather unpopular (sorry Kristen but it's true) but the speed needed to play it is admirable (despite the relatively simple patterns and easy chord progressions). I enjoy Herbie Hancock for his unique style (Jazz with hints of Hip Hop and electronic music). Have a nice day.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#11
The line is just before you reach Yoko Ono
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#12
steve vai is past the line, guthrie govan is just past the line, allan holdsworth is the line
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#13
I draw a line anywhere I feel like it. Then I draw 4 more in parallel and put some notes on it.
#14
I find drawing such a line fairly easy on a case-by-case basis by my own opinions, but describing how I do that is much more difficult. [/quote[Right. But why do you want to describe how you do it?
Quote by Will Lane

Let us take this as an example. I guess music like that has a very niche market, and I guess could "fit" in a few scenarios. But I would never listen to it on my own accord for enjoyment.
Me neither. I'd be put off by (a) the name, (b) the photo of the teenager, (c) the sound of the track. Of course it could just be a joke, but most likely it's the result of too easy access to music software and hardware and lack of critical control of soundcloud. Bah! As it is, I really don't believe its creator had any intention of finding a "market", however niche. I doubt he cares whether anyone else likes it or not, and he probably doesn't even like it much himself. He just did it because he can. And why not?
Quote by Will Lane

I guess it is somewhat like abstract paintings. I do not really get it. It is not so much meant to be pleasing in some way, or to show a clear thought, but to make a statement or cause emotions only the disorganized or non-traditional thoughts can. I guess this is just "abstract music"?
That's a reasonable comparison - except that music is "abstract" anyway, in the sense that it doesn't represent anything. (But that's for another debate...)

There is certainly music out there that is made by musicians as serious and deliberate as any abstract artist, but which sounds incomprehensible to you and me. That only means that we can't tell if it it's "good" or "bad", in the same way as we couldn't tell if a Chinese poem was good or bad, unless we understood Chinese.

IOW, music is a language which depends to some extent on a shared vocabulary. Abstract art is intelligible to those who understand its vocabulary, who can then make an informed judgement about whether it's "good" or "bad". For the rest of us, we either like it or we don't - and that's fine. We could say that "bad" music (like bad art) is simply art which fails to get across to anyone, but is it still bad if it gets across to only a small handful of people? And those people are all weirdos? For them, it's obviously "good", but that doesn't mean we therefore need to reconsider our opinion - because it's only an opinion.
Quote by Will Lane

I do not know- maybe I am just not as "refined" with my tastes?
Maybe, but who cares? Is there music you don't like that you feel you should like? That all your friends like, but you don't? Or the reverse: is there music you like that your friends hate? or that no one else likes? Those are the only kinds of reasons to question your own preferences. Maybe you're right and they're wrong, but how much does it matter?
Quote by Will Lane

I definitely see potential and value in songs that were just recorded poorly. However, after that hindrance, I see no excuse for "bad" music. If one writes a "piece" and they do not know how exactly to put their thoughts into sound, and the end result is awful, then the end result is awful. It is not attacking the person, but the song as its own entity. I would say poor technique and/or poor writing contributes to this.
Well, as the others say, it's reasonable to describe music as "bad" if it fails to come across as its makers intend. That means they are incompetent as players or writers - and they may even recognize that themselves, although it would be surprising in that case if you ever heard the results! "We think this is shit, but we'll put it out anyway...."
Of course, we often hear bad out-takes, but those don't count because the musicians knew it and didn't intend them to be heard.
Then there are those musicians who can't play very well and think they can. Their music is likely to be "bad", except in the opinion of listeners who can't tell that they can't play very well.
Quote by Will Lane

Is there a sort of free-form sound expression that is not meant to be traditionally "good", but to support emotions/feelings/thoughts/etc. in a non-traditional way? Do we grin and bear the awful sounds for the sake of respecting someone's art? Where do we stop and say "nah that's garbage" instead of saying "its artistic and abstract"? Do we say it is music, or something else entirely?
Music is simply "organised sound" (in John Cage's formulation). You're using the word "good" in a contentious way, as if there's some objective quality we could all agree on. If all music "supported emotions/feelings/thoughts/etc. in a traditional way", it would get very boring very quickly! Most music is heavily based on familiar patterns and sounds, with just a little variety here and there to add freshness. Most people like music that is like that. That's why "common practices" remain common, and it becomes a "virtuous circle" - or a vicious circle in the avant garde musician's view.
There is certainly music that is highly confrontational, and intentionally so, but it's not (usually) designed to upset or baffle us, but to get us to open up their ears and listen in a different manner - to make us question our habits and prejudices, and liberate us from conformity. Of course, many people are not willing to to do that, and will simply regard it as "noise". That doesn't make it "bad music", except inasmuch as its purpose has failed with those people.

A lot of music that was regarded as "noise" once upon a time is now regarded as mainstream. Back in the early 60s, I distinctly remember a widespread opinion that the Beatles' music was unpleasantly "noisy". The Rolling Stones were even more beyond the pale, being badly dressed and insolent as well! You can read similar opinions about new forms of music at every stage of history, from rock'n'roll, back to jazz, back to every advance in "classical" music. Musicians (and composers especially) often want to try sounds beyond what it is traditionally acceptable, and boundaries are always being pushed.

And there are composers - such as Gavin Bryars - who like to promote what we might call "naive" musicians. I.e., there is a tradition of "naive" painters, who are untrained and whose work looks crude, but has a charm based on unaffected honesty. So, Bryars formed the Portsmouth Sinfonia from unskilled amateur musicians, and had them play famous classics. They tended to sound cacophonous, out of tune and out of time, but there was also a wonderful sense of a good time being had. It was an honest expression of a kind, containing all kinds of meanings about genius, humanity and musics role in society. IOW, "real art", although the artist was Bryars, rather than the original composers or the players. More recently (perhaps more famously) he orchestrated a loop of a tramp singing a few lines of an old hymn - looping it for nearly half an hour. The result is (IMO) extraordinarily moving. (Tom Waits made a very uncharacteristic error of judgement in doing his own take, robbing the original of its slow-burn subtlety.) Check it out - and give it the full 24 minutes:
Last edited by jongtr at Dec 19, 2016,
#15
Quote by RonaldPoe
For example, Bluegrass is rather unpopular (sorry Kristen but it's true)


Maybe where you live. In places like Kentucky, North Carolina, upstate New York, Brooklyn, the Czech Republic, and Japan bluegrass is very popular.
Quote by Hal-Sephira
Shut the mother#%$& up, $^%got. You have a #$%^ing terrible muther&@$#ing taste in %#$@ing music, @&%$ing movies and %&$#ing video games. Every time I see you on the forums, you are always saying something overrated and some $@&#ing sh*t. You are just mother$^@%ing ignorant as a whole.

Get a #%$@ing life or you will get banned for life.
#16
For me to question whether I'd call something music it has to be pretty out there. Like tracks that lack any rhythmic structure, no sense of key. First thing that comes to mind is Squarepusher. He's got a few tracks that are very unmusical, such as this one:



But then he has a few that are really right on the line. There are rhythmic elements, a sense of movement, tension and release, vague outlines of chord progressions or melody. I hesitate to call it music, but it is still musical:



Not the kind of thing I listen to all the time, but still fun to listen to occasionally.


Then there's stuff like this that is pretty much unarguably music, but then over the course of the song it devolves until it's really chaotic, but it still keeps the groove throughout and never loses it:

#17
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Brooklyn


they charge $14 for a chopped cheese sandwich in brooklyn, it's where hipsters go to die
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#18
Quote by Hail
they charge $14 for a chopped cheese sandwich in brooklyn, it's where hipsters go to die


well yeah the whole brooklyn bluegrass scene is all hipsters obviously but that's brooklyn for you
Quote by Hal-Sephira
Shut the mother#%$& up, $^%got. You have a #$%^ing terrible muther&@$#ing taste in %#$@ing music, @&%$ing movies and %&$#ing video games. Every time I see you on the forums, you are always saying something overrated and some $@&#ing sh*t. You are just mother$^@%ing ignorant as a whole.

Get a #%$@ing life or you will get banned for life.
#19
I don't see a correlation between "free expression" and "bad music", save for that if you have a lack of free expression and an institutional definition of good (which, like institutional definitions of art, do not hold up to critical inquiry), then all music will necessarily be shades of that institutionally defined good.

Abstract paintings can be read. They aren't totally lacking symbolism - some might detail movement, or colour relationships, though some abstract painters have been more interested in showing someone something that they just "click" with. For some, this happens. To give a bit of an example,
Rothko, the Abstract Expressionist painter, described offering his work to the woman, who had been pestering him for a canvas. “Mr. Rothko,” she had said with disappointment, “I want a happy painting, a red and yellow and orange painting, not a sad painting.” Amused, Rothko had responded: “Red, yellow, orange — aren’t those the colors of an inferno?” The woman left empty-handed.


There are plenty of excuses for bad music, from relative/subjective taste right through to different kinds of listening (for example, you might listen for melody and thus find noise worthless, but if you listen for texture in a particularly melodic piece, noise might actually be more suited to your purposes). Also, people are not born inherently able to make this mythical "good" music and often need to get the bad out of them. this is if we pretend there is a single, unified "right way" to make good music. Indeed you seem pretty objectivist where recording quality is involved, but some lesser forms of recording can have a quality of their own, context dependent.

I think that you are confusing "goodness" (if we pretend to know what that is) with "popularity". You say
Quote by Will Lane
Is there a sort of free-form sound expression that is not meant to be traditionally "good", but to support emotions/feelings/thoughts/etc. in a non-traditional way?

But
1. what about free-form sound expression (do you just mean anything that isn't traditionally structured?) that is not concerned with "goodness", or is looking to be "good" to the author or a particular audience that you may not be part of?
2. what is a non-traditional way of supporting emotions, feelings, thoughts? You seem to specify this mythical WAY to making something and seem to conflate this tradition with goodness per point 1. I am unsure what to do with this other than observe a category error.

Personally, I do not consider it useful to distinguish between "music" and "not music" outside of some sort of authorial intent, because I can listen to and be moved by both. I find the idea of restricting "music" to "has notes in it" to be ridiculous - if only from a scientific point of view - and on the inverse I find it slightly odd to argue that, if you just do a one-take field recording of a garbage disposal running and release it as an album without context or any guiding intent, it will be immediately admissible as music.

Ultimately, however, your differentiation between "traditional music" and "abstract music" - I can't get my head around this. Music IS abstract - the most of all mediums of human expression. Even interpretive dance is referential - the sound of a violin playing a G is referential only unto itself. It is totally divorced from any system of signs which is not relating to some kind of raw emotional response.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Dec 20, 2016,