Hello again,
I just re-read all the responses to last week’s post. Incredible. It’s fascinating for me to see first-hand the variety of relationships that each of you has with music.
If there’s one thing that’s clear from your comments, it’s that there are many valid ways of hearing and listening. You’ve reminded me that we encounter music in inter-penetrating, overlapping, simultaneous, independent, and personal ways, and that these ways do not negate each other. Thank you!
But… by now you know me better than to think that I’d leave it at that, right??
People have posted a lot lately about what it is in us that influences our experience of music (i.e., our moods, past experiences, what we’re doing at the moment). Do you think it’s possible to talk about something that in the music and outside ourselves as well?
How can it be that some music is simply (and mysteriously) better than other music? How can it be that certain artists are frequently great over long periods of time? Mustn’t they somehow be superior, more rare, dare I say better?
How can that be? What is “better”?
It’s a slippery one so good luck my buddies! Please help me understand this.


  1. kasey bomber
    October 25, 2007 at 4:52pm
    The same way one person can look at another and find them beautiful, while another finds that same person repulsive - music is in the ear of the beholder. "Good" and "bad" are such subjective qualities, that it is nearly impossible place absolute guidelines on what makes something soar above the rest. Someone reading this no doubt thinks that Dave Matthews makes the most wonderful music ever recorded, and might even be able to make a very intelligent article on why this is so. However, this same artist is the bane of my eardrums. Dave Matthews makes me want to punch babies I find him so awful. At the same time, my fondness for Deerhoof, for instance, might be completely unfathomable to someone who values the three octave range of Mariah Carey. But, I consider Deerhoof to be very wonderful music - angular, intelligent, challenging. So, is it virtuoso musicianship that can be considered tantamount to quality? I'm not so sure. Because, Rush (for instance) is a band with unparalleled musicianship, but the music, when put together, makes me snicker behind my hand. Maybe it's a poetic talent for lyrics? I don't know about that either. Some folks would say that Tori Amos is poet, but I'd rather listen to the semi-nonsense of the Pixies' lyrics than hear her diary-like ramblings. And what do you make of a song like The Trashmen's "Surfin Bird?" Surely roughshod production, lyrics of utter nonsense, and a repetitively simple chord structure couldn't make a great song, could it? Heck yes it can! That song is why parents thought rock and roll was the devil's music, and it still sounds gonzo today. Each to his own I suppose. Whether you fancy a recording of Aida, Metallica, or Willie Nelson.

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