why is it hard to write good music?

Anything about MUSIC but doesn't fit into the forums above.
experimental.crow
KVRAF
5583 posts since 9 Mar, 2003 from The Druid Hills

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:22 pm

ShawnG wrote: ... I still remember taking my then seven year old daughter to the Smithsonian art museum and the carnegie exhibits. Seeing the look of mild disdain on her face as we toured some of the modern paintings, and she whispered "daddy, I could do that". She was right, she could have, and that sort of art is not to my taste either, but who am I to judge? ...
what a proud papa you must be !...

my seven year old grandson can hit from both sides of the plate,
wields a pretty snappy glove, and has a rocket for an arm ...
he struggles though, wrapping his head around the finer points of abstract expressionism, and thus,
must endure my disappointed regard ...

please be sure to share the details of your daughters first gallery opening ...
i want to attend ...
hoping to collect a few pieces before she ascends out of my price range ...
Image

ShawnG
KVRian
590 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:09 pm

experimental.crow wrote:
ShawnG wrote: ... I still remember taking my then seven year old daughter to the Smithsonian art museum and the carnegie exhibits. Seeing the look of mild disdain on her face as we toured some of the modern paintings, and she whispered "daddy, I could do that". She was right, she could have, and that sort of art is not to my taste either, but who am I to judge? ...
what a proud papa you must be !...

my seven year old grandson can hit from both sides of the plate,
wields a pretty snappy glove, and has a rocket for an arm ...
he struggles though, wrapping his head around the finer points of abstract expressionism, and thus,
must endure my disappointed regard ...

please be sure to share the details of your daughters first gallery opening ...
i want to attend ...
hoping to collect a few pieces before she ascends out of my price range ...
Great.

Obviously my little story suffers without the images of the artworks in question, and I could go on and on and try to explain the difference between the conception or appreciation of the artwork, which my daughter could not do, and the reasonable reproduction of which (for those particular pieces) that she could, and we could have a lengthy discussion of comparative artistic merit, and the idea that a simple on the surface piece of art may have a more complex interpretaion and effect, the subtleties of which might be lost on a seven year old at an art museum. But that discussion would be long, and there would be further willful misinterpretaions of the points we were making, and I'm just not into it.

So, youre right! The only reason I brought that point up was to say how awesome my daughter is at art, and to disparage all art that I don't like! :roll:

I'm out.

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herodotus
KVRAF
5483 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from The Twin Cities

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:42 pm

I have never called any music either 'good' or 'bad' in a public context such as kvr. It doesn't make sense to me. Such a simple dichotomy is too blunt a tool to categorize the many varieties of musical experience.

I will say, though, that there is something rather tendentious in the way many people people use the difficulties involved in applying this dichotomy to music.

The fact that neither J. S. Bach nor Lil Wayne can be said to 'objectively good' or 'objectively bad' doesn't make them equal. It isnt a clever critique of musical standards nor is it a demonstration of the impossibility of such standards. In fact it doesnt really tell us much of anything about anything except how useless these words are for describing or discussing music.

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11420 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:37 pm

herodotus wrote:I have never called any music either 'good' or 'bad' in a public context such as kvr. It doesn't make sense to me. Such a simple dichotomy is too blunt a tool to categorize the many varieties of musical experience.

I will say, though, that there is something rather tendentious in the way many people people use the difficulties involved in applying this dichotomy to music.

The fact that neither J. S. Bach nor Lil Wayne can be said to 'objectively good' or 'objectively bad' doesn't make them equal. It isnt a clever critique of musical standards nor is it a demonstration of the impossibility of such standards. In fact it doesnt really tell us much of anything about anything except how useless these words are for describing or discussing music.
I like how objective becomes "standards" when it becomes clear that it's rather challenging to define an objective measure of music.

To assert that they are not equal requires that you have framework that can support the notion of equality in the first place, you don't. You haven't even established an ordering of any form.

I would think that those of you that interested in "standards" would have academic references to back up your point of view. That's far more effective than an increased level of shouting.
Last edited by ghettosynth on Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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herodotus
KVRAF
5483 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from The Twin Cities

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:38 pm

Ok, I will admit that I recently departed from my "not using 'good' or 'bad' to describe music" rule in talking about soundtrack music on this very site. My bad.

Both beer and Hans Zimmer were involved, but this does not excuse my infraction. I erred, and feel shame.

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11420 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:42 pm

herodotus wrote:Ok, I will admit that I recently departed from my "not using 'good' or 'bad' to describe music" rule in talking about soundtrack music on this very site. My bad.

Both beer and Hans Zimmer were involved, but this does not excuse my infraction. I erred, and feel shame.
Whoa, there's nothing wrong with using good and bad to describe music, as long as you recognize that it's intrinsically subjective.

e.g., I think that most music posted in the KVR cafe is bad. See, that's my opinion, it cannot be stated to be invalid. You are free to disagree, of course.

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herodotus
KVRAF
5483 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from The Twin Cities

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:05 pm

ghettosynth wrote:
herodotus wrote:I have never called any music either 'good' or 'bad' in a public context such as kvr. It doesn't make sense to me. Such a simple dichotomy is too blunt a tool to categorize the many varieties of musical experience.

I will say, though, that there is something rather tendentious in the way many people people use the difficulties involved in applying this dichotomy to music.

The fact that neither J. S. Bach nor Lil Wayne can be said to 'objectively good' or 'objectively bad' doesn't make them equal. It isnt a clever critique of musical standards nor is it a demonstration of the impossibility of such standards. In fact it doesnt really tell us much of anything about anything except how useless these words are for describing or discussing music.
I like how objective becomes "standards" when it becomes clear that it's rather challenging to define an objective measure of music.
No. Objectivity is a scholarly standard that simply doesn't apply to judgements of taste. I don't believe in objective reasons for aesthetic preferences any more than I believe that I love my Wife for objective reasons. I can find objective justifications for why it was a good idea to marry my Wife, but it would be a lie to say these justifications were the reason I proposed to her. We, or at least I, don't fall in love over a laundry list of fine qualities.

But for the rest, the objective standards I am talking about are not on the grand scale of love or beauty. They are practical matters, of practical import. One objective standard would be

"Can you, or can you not play this part?"

This is something that I ran up against over and over again when trying to work in bands. Some people learn parts faster than other people. Like, a lot faster. Some people hear an unfamiliar scale or an unfamiliar rhythmic figure, listen to it 3 or 4 times, and know how to work with it. Some people never quite seem to learn.

So that is an objective standard. I would call the ability to learn unfamiliar music quickly a 'skill'. But you could call it a 'defect' and the quality of learning quickly would have the same practical outcome.
To assert that they are not equal requires that you have framework that can support the notion of equality in the first place, you don't. You haven't even established a partial ordering of any form.
See above, "Can you, or can you not play this part?"

I am not saying that this is the only question that can be answered objectively, or that it is a question of unique importance. It is merely an example. "Can you hear this sound?" is another example. There are thousands more.
I would think that those of you that interested in "standards" would have academic references to back up your point of view.
Academic references are wonderful, but in the realm of musical learning there are very few studies concerning the practical skills of practicing musicians.

Perhaps because musical academics feel that the question (of whether or not someone can learn a particular part by ear) is less a matter for academic debate and more a matter of elementary musical knowledge.

Sort of like how I don't have a single study proving the statement that "you can't use a garden spade to dig up a concrete driveway", but I feel quite certain that it's true.
That's far more effective than an increased level of shouting.
I dislike shouting myself. I was unaware I had done any. If I have, I apologize.

KBSoundSmith
KVRian
706 posts since 6 Jul, 2009

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:52 pm

herodotus wrote:Ok, I will admit that I recently departed from my "not using 'good' or 'bad' to describe music" rule in talking about soundtrack music on this very site. My bad.

Both beer and Hans Zimmer were involved, but this does not excuse my infraction. I erred, and feel shame.
Hanz Zimmer's music is "objectively" bad...but passable for film scores. Since film isn't an artistic medium.

Your departure from your rule is fine, especially if the beer was good :lol:

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herodotus
KVRAF
5483 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from The Twin Cities

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:51 pm

KBSoundSmith wrote:
herodotus wrote:Ok, I will admit that I recently departed from my "not using 'good' or 'bad' to describe music" rule in talking about soundtrack music on this very site. My bad.

Both beer and Hans Zimmer were involved, but this does not excuse my infraction. I erred, and feel shame.
Hanz Zimmer's music is "objectively" bad...but passable for film scores. Since film isn't an artistic medium.
You have either never seen "The Red Shoes", or you have no soul.



:hihi:
Your departure from your rule is fine, especially if the beer was good :lol:
If I recall correctly, it was Weihenstephaner, so, yeah. :D

nordickvr
KVRian
935 posts since 29 Sep, 2013

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:02 pm

Cannot figure out what’s happening here.
But looks like Weihenstephaner is some kind of beer.
I may be wrong though.

So much to learn...

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11420 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 pm

herodotus wrote:
ghettosynth wrote:
herodotus wrote:I have never called any music either 'good' or 'bad' in a public context such as kvr. It doesn't make sense to me. Such a simple dichotomy is too blunt a tool to categorize the many varieties of musical experience.

I will say, though, that there is something rather tendentious in the way many people people use the difficulties involved in applying this dichotomy to music.

The fact that neither J. S. Bach nor Lil Wayne can be said to 'objectively good' or 'objectively bad' doesn't make them equal. It isnt a clever critique of musical standards nor is it a demonstration of the impossibility of such standards. In fact it doesnt really tell us much of anything about anything except how useless these words are for describing or discussing music.
I like how objective becomes "standards" when it becomes clear that it's rather challenging to define an objective measure of music.
No. Objectivity is a scholarly standard that simply doesn't apply to judgements of taste. I don't believe in objective reasons for aesthetic preferences any more than I believe that I love my Wife for objective reasons. I can find objective justifications for why it was a good idea to marry my Wife, but it would be a lie to say these justifications were the reason I proposed to her. We, or at least I, don't fall in love over a laundry list of fine qualities.
Scholarly's a little heavy, it applies to things that can be measured, wait for it, objectively. My farts are probably objectively louder than yours, for example, assuming, of course, that I lift a cheek first.
But for the rest, the objective standards I am talking about are not on the grand scale of love or beauty. They are practical matters, of practical import. One objective standard would be

"Can you, or can you not play this part?"
Even play requires definition before it can be an objective standard. Probably everyone can play the solo to "I want to be sedated" in some key on the piano.

I think that it's even challenging to come up with an objective measure of "play a part" that will past muster even assuming that the part is "perfectly" notated, if that's even possible. Given that, you are still going to have to aggregate how well notes are played across many notes and here all of the limitations of aggregation will come into play. Moreover, which is better, the person that perfectly replicates the perfect score, or the person who plays it with the feeling that you think best fits the song. Now, how do you objectively define that?
This is something that I ran up against over and over again when trying to work in bands. Some people learn parts faster than other people. Like, a lot faster. Some people hear an unfamiliar scale or an unfamiliar rhythmic figure, listen to it 3 or 4 times, and know how to work with it. Some people never quite seem to learn.
No doubt, but now we're talking the objective measurement of a player's ability to replicate parts in a given style.
So that is an objective standard. I would call the ability to learn unfamiliar music quickly a 'skill'. But you could call it a 'defect' and the quality of learning quickly would have the same practical outcome.
Not so fast, it isn't an objective standard of the music, and two bandleaders might have two different opinions over which of two players is most appropriate for the same style of music. I'm not saying that with sufficient effort you could develop an objective standard of "player skill", we do have algorithms that asses this to some degree today, but you're not there yet and it has nothing to do with whether or not music A is objectively better than music B.

I certainly think that we can subjectively rank players in very strong terms, having auditioned bandmates myself, and I suspect that we can take a few very simple input parameters to build a reasonable predictive model, e.g., years of training, years of experience, number of records sold, number of bands performed in, number of shows, total dollars earned from shows, unique number of styles, etc.

The problem with models like this is that they lack ground truth and so there we are, back to subjective measurement. Anything you choose as a response is either a proxy for talent or a subjective evaluation. You can validate these kinds of models against subjective assessment and, in fact, that's often how it's done. See, for example, papers that talk about automated mixing and mastering. But once you've done that, you're training a model against collective experience and that that's all your objectivity measures.
To assert that they are not equal requires that you have framework that can support the notion of equality in the first place, you don't. You haven't even established a partial ordering of any form.
See above, "Can you, or can you not play this part?"
See above, you're getting warmer but you've not yet established an objective measure of "music", at all. Music doesn't need to be "played" by a "player" at all, in fact, it doesn't even need to be played to exist.
I would think that those of you that interested in "standards" would have academic references to back up your point of view.
Academic references are wonderful, but in the realm of musical learning there are very few studies concerning the practical skills of practicing musicians.
I'm talking about objective measurement of music. That music A of arbitrary genre/style is greater than music B of arbitrary genre/style. That is the claim on offer here. That there exists music that is objectively better than other music. We even have a predictable example, some violin piece is (predictably) better than some pop piece, usually some rap piece.
Sort of like how I don't have a single study proving the statement that "you can't use a garden spade to dig up a concrete driveway", but I feel quite certain that it's true.
No, it's nothing like that at all. We can easily find data to support that thesis. I get that most of you don't want to do the work, but perhaps you should consider that before being so sure.

ShawnG
KVRian
590 posts since 27 Apr, 2005

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:01 pm

herodotus wrote:
No. Objectivity is a scholarly standard that simply doesn't apply to judgements of taste. I don't believe in objective reasons for aesthetic preferences any more than I believe that I love my Wife for objective reasons. I can find objective justifications for why it was a good idea to marry my Wife, but it would be a lie to say these justifications were the reason I proposed to her. We, or at least I, don't fall in love over a laundry list of fine qualities.

But for the rest, the objective standards I am talking about are not on the grand scale of love or beauty. They are practical matters, of practical import. One objective standard would be

"Can you, or can you not play this part?"

This is something that I ran up against over and over again when trying to work in bands. Some people learn parts faster than other people. Like, a lot faster. Some people hear an unfamiliar scale or an unfamiliar rhythmic figure, listen to it 3 or 4 times, and know how to work with it. Some people never quite seem to learn.

So that is an objective standard. I would call the ability to learn unfamiliar music quickly a 'skill'. But you could call it a 'defect' and the quality of learning quickly would have the same practical outcome.
Yes, there are many somewhat (not completely) objectively measurable facets of musicianship, as you mention. can you play the part, whether you you have a good sense of timing etc... it is when you are evaluating the piece of music as a whole that objectivity breaks down, unless of course the piece's main flaw is in its performance being not up to scratch.

an interesting discussion might be how important technical proficiency is in your enjoyment of a piece of music. I love hearing musicians at the top of their game tearing it up, but I also love The Ramones, for example, who were obviously never known as virtuosos.

so where would you rank musicianship vs songwriting when you evaluate whether a piece is good or not?

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11420 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:32 pm

ShawnG wrote: an interesting discussion might be how important technical proficiency is in your enjoyment of a piece of music.
This triggered something of a discussion eons ago. For underground electronic music it is my opinion that humans are seldom proficient enough with respect to long term timing precision. This is why when bands try to play house music "live", it sounds as much or more like disco than it does house.
I love hearing musicians at the top of their game tearing it up, but I also love The Ramones, for example, who were obviously never known as virtuosos.
Isn't this almost completely context dependent? I can count multiple experiences where content trumped musicianship and vice versa. I will say that one of the trends that I despise is when underground dance musicians feel this need to, I'm assuming, "legitimize" their musical existence by having orchestras play their techno tracks. I have yet to hear one that doesn't sound like total shit, even when my "heros" do it. I think that, generally, the orchestra's "musicianship" with respect to acoustic instruments far exceeds the skill of the techno/dance artist, but, the humanization ruins the experience.

andrelafosse
KVRist
245 posts since 18 Jun, 2010

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:17 pm

ghettosynth wrote:My farts are probably objectively louder than yours, for example, assuming, of course, that I lift a cheek first.
Just doing what I can to make sure this sentence gets the attention it deserves. Good God, GS, this made my night. :)

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do_androids_dream
KVRAF
2824 posts since 26 Oct, 2007 from Kent, UK

Re: why is it hard to write good music?

Post Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:02 pm

I miss filthy frank a lot..

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