What is "good music" - Whatever we like?

All topics musical, not specifically piano-related

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:56 am

pianissimo wrote:Another aspect comes from learning about music, its structures and attributes, which will allow us to hear and appreciate what we would not do otherwise. This is where the importance of music education and music teachers comes in. My appreciation and acceptance of other genres came when I was led to hear things I would not have listened for before opening brand new vistas.

Your comment here is right on point. In fact, there is a good cautionary tale that proves that even professional musicians can make the wrong judgments about the meaning and performance of good music, which education can fix.

When the Shostakovich 5th Symphony, a monumental work, first appeared in 1937, it was subtitled "A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism." The work was played for many years all over the world as a stirring and fast-moving "tribute" to the Soviet system and people, in Russia, as well as elsewhere. Then, shortly before his death in 1975, Shostakovich indicated in an interview that his intent with the symphony had been to portray the sufferings and survival of the Russian people under Stalin prior to WWII. The 5th Symphony was anything but a tribute to the Soviet system.

With that knowledge, the whole interpretation of the work all over the world suddenly changed from a fast-moving, bright sounding one to a much more deliberate, heavy sounding one, more indicative of Shostakovich's true intent. Of course, Shostakovich was responsible for that misinterpretation, fearing for his own life under the Stalin purges of the 1930's, but orchestras all over the world were playing it "wrong." A modern performance, taking into account the Shostakovich interview, sounds completely different than one prior to 1975. Offhand, I can only remember one performance prior to the interview that reflected Shostakovich's true intent - one conducted by the late Mstislav Rostropovich in the West. One wonders if Rostropovich, a friend of Shostakovich's, had been "clued in" on the correct interpretation.

The Symphony No. 5 was good music before and is good music now, but its perception and performance was changed completely when Shostakovich straightened out the record, even though the score was the same throughout. This seems consistent what I said earlier about the fact that good music encourages different interpretations with very different emotional impact attached to different interpretations.




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1189173500
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:11 pm

This thread has certainly dug deep into what we define as good music often known as 'classical' or 'serious music'.
Its interesting to read that over the decades music has changed and yet classical still remains to be a genre still listened to.
I suppose the thing with music as Dr. Bill has said that genres overlap. I think this is due to the fact that music has eveolved over time and technology has developed so rapidly. Now we are exposed through the internet, television, magazines, newspapers, radio and other forms of media telling us what is in or out. Over the many years the face of music has certainly changed thanks to time and technology.

However looking up the definitions of 'music' it is often defined as an art, as organised sounds and pleasant sounds that express humans emotions.
How we define 'good' often the word good gives off a positive connotation - having desirable or positive qualities is another definition. However what is pleasing to hear to other people's ears is perhaps different to pleasant sounds.

Early in this post it gives mention to the rap scene and wheather it is bad or not. It seems the face of music has changed over the decades. Music has became a fashion it is not just the music with the popular music scene it is also the attire, the stage persona, pretty much the image. Certain pop songs seem to be lacking melody and certain rock and rap songs have the contiunous repetitive beat. And yet people still enjoy that kind of music.


[quote]

I cant agree with what is said here more the question isnt really regarding personal taste and it looks at how people - the general public view such pieces as important with special value. On the other hand with 'serious music' or classical it makes me wonder if that is how we limit to what is good music? ???
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:16 pm

How do you put quotes in? I'll just copy paste.

I think many people can recognize good music well before they develop enough knowledge to "dissect" it in all the relevant senses (theory, structure, cultural milieu, historical influences, etc.). For example, most people can recognize the Beethoven 5th Symphony as a great work, with little or no formal musical training. They may or may not "like" it, but they can see that it has special value. This is evidence of the "universality" I've talked about several times.
- Dr. J Zeigler.

I have to agree with this. The general public even if they dont 'like' pieces such as Beethoven 5th Symphony can still dicern the value and see it as a special piece. My question is: do we just limit good music to classical?
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:02 pm

Becibu wrote:How do you put quotes in? I'll just copy paste.

My question is: do we just limit good music to classical?

Up in the upper right hand corner of the post you'll see a "Quote" link. Click that and the post will be quoted automatically for you. You can edit the quotation as much as you want if you only wish to respond to a certain part of the post.

If you read further back in the thread, you'll find that we have talked about lots of good music from genres a long way from classical. When I started the thread, I tried to indicate explicitly that I meant more than classical. I tend to use classical examples a lot just because their history tends to be both richer and better-documented than many other genres. I think that non-classical works can be just as important in helping us develop both discernment and a better understanding of what good music really is. :)
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:00 am

A discussion in another thread leads me to propose another attribute of good music, or, perhaps a "pointer" to it. We have already mentioned several times in this thread that genres tend to borrow from one another. Much classical music borrows melodies from folk music; rock music borrows from classical (and other genres). It seems that, if a piece of music gets re-used, especially if repeatedly so, in another genre, that might be an indicator that it has underlying "good music values."
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Re: What is Good Music

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:54 pm

Since there was so much interest in this thread, I have taken some of my posts to it, augmented and edited them to produce an article on the main part of the site, which will be available starting tomorrow. I hope that it will stimulate more thought and posts in this Forum. http://pianoeducation.org/pnogoodm.html
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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