What does ‘good music’ sound like?
The topic of good music is an interesting one to touch on. It is none the less one topic that almost everyone will have an opinion on. Well opinions are ideas, and pretty much everyone with a good sense of sound perception has an idea of what they would call good music.
The intention for this article is merely to touch on the underlying basis of what would make good music. I, for one am not a producer, a music teacher or anyone that might be involved in the literary aspects of music creation. My opinion comes completely unbiased apart from being seen in the light of someone that has a keen sense of awareness for creativity and a somewhat more intellectually inclined taste. On with it then…
The Mind Of Music
Before we explore this topic, one of the more important things that need to be understood is sound at the root level of our senses. If this is not your thing then you can completely skip through this sub-topic… It is through the senses that the world we see comes into being, therefore it is very important that we have an understanding of that. Sight is the most dominant of our senses and most of the structure of our mind was obtained through sight, it is through sight that we make associations with various structures both material and immaterial within our reality secondary to this sense is sound. Sound gives us the depth and broadness of our reality, one could say it is the structural determinant of the space around us. The reason i put this out this way is that, when one hears an unfamiliar sound, the instinct is to determine the cause of that sound, through sight, so one would gaze towards where the sound eminates from as to determine its cause. It is through space that sound travels and what is contained in that space will determine sound, and thats just the way things work. Now we have to understand that our space continually has sound travelling all around it, and the sounds we hear are filtered in our mind, as sounds one likes to hear, such as a bird song, or sounds one does not like to hear such as a jack hammer drilling through concrete. These are never the less sounds we have to put up with. So where does sight come into all of this? Well, suppose one looks at a flower, what goes on in the mind of the one that sees would probably be to describe it, name and appreciate it and either capture it with a camera or pluck it out of the ground to share it with another. But first there would have been a feeling of like or dislike for that particular flower. One thing that is peculiar about flowers is that they have nearly limitless geometrical arrangements resulting in many many different flowers each to appeal to each different individual.
In the words of many philosophers, writers and artists alike, it would be agreed that beauty is the minds sensitivity to perceive some of the highest order of structural arrangements in the universe, that is, only an ordered mind can perceive the beauty of the universe which lies within every living thing. That beauty is not only present in physical matter, but in matter that is non-physical aswell such as water and air, and with air, the structures that are observed is sound. Therefore a mind that is sensitive to beauty is sensitive to all that is good. Lets see if this applies to music.
Taste and Cultural Influences and Definitions of Music
There are many different sounds all around us, and the sounds one likes and dislikes may largely be through the influence of what one has heard around them. Like it was pointed out before, likes and dislikes are all opinions, and ideas, and what one likes may be due to associations that one may have with that particular thing, whether it is beautiful or not. It is therefore without a doubt that most individuals will have a bias to a particular sound depending on the cultural experience with that particular sound. One will like a sound depending on whether the associations were positive or negative, now, negative associations will always be divisive and lead to the creation of something different from what the culture encapsulates . This leads to the searching of a new sound , one that is different but none the less evokes a good feeling away from the cultural norm.
This is where another interesting observation comes in, ‘feeling’. Music simply has to be felt, and if the sounds that are coming into ones ear feel good, the listener tolerates the sound and does not interfere with it. One can think of feelings as an indicator of the perception of one to beauty, because beauty cannot make one feel bad, unless one is divided from that beauty and is somehow making a comparison.
This is where the issue of taste comes in. Someone develops a taste according to their personality, and this may be largely influenced by their experience, and maturity. The reason why I add maturity is simply as a corollary to a person that recognises the differences between the influences of peers and what they actually like, which may largely be influenced by differences in intellect. I could explain how but that would bring us off topic.
The Ideas Discussed thus far…
In our exploration of what good music is, we started out with the idea that sound determines how we perceive our reality, and the ability to perceive good sounds may have something to do with our ability to perceive beauty, which has to do with the sensitivity of the mind. We proceeded to see that cultural influences may give us a bias in what we perceive as good and bad, but that is likely to do with whether we identify with the culture or not, and if the case is ‘not’ then one is likely to perceive a different sound as good, which may either be a complement or a clash with the cultural norm. Finally, all this may be to do with individual intellect; but all this reasoning does not identify what good music really is. There are many different genres all with artists that have produces wonderful works which may be considered ‘good’ but none sounding the same. So is there an underlying technical structure to what makes good music?
more on Part 2…