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What makes certain music enjoyable for you?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just wondering about what people enjoy about music and what what are the elements that will separate the good or great to the poor.  To preface, there's basically active and passive listening, active being when you're solely focusing on the music, and passive where music is for instance playing in the background while you're doing another activity.  So which do you do most of, and what are your criteria for judging the quality of the music? 

Edited by GirgleMirt - 3/15/14 at 7:11am
post #2 of 5



Between Pasive and Active listening, I think I hate background music, so would be more the active kind. I do not know what kind of element makes me enjoy the music, but when I really like something, I forget about everything else.



post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

And what would you say most music that makes you forget about everything else have in common?


For me, seems to be a combination of:

- originality

- complexity

- melody

- ability to inspire emotion

- be in a genre I can appreciate


I think that these are my main criteria to find some music great.  If it's too simple for example, the song becomes repetitive and boring.  It has to be complex as to keep your mind occupied; trying to remember all the notes, inflections, variations, etc.  If it's too slow or too simple, you get bored or even worse annoyed...  If it has no melody then it lacks a critical component of the music, same for originality; it has to be 'new', something different, something worthwhile to listen to...


But this is very different for others.  For instance, The Muffin Man by Zappa... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptoN-5QE0Lw  After 1m25, it repeats the very simple melody every 5 seconds...  Loops, same thing, over and over again...  To me, that is painful.  You hear the same thing, the same simplistic melody of 7 notes, over and over and over and over again.  It's just painful.  After listening 10s of the song, you know it by heart, and could play the rest song by just repeating the same 7 notes over and over again...  That's horrible.  Yet, for others, they have no issue and love it.  The genre also, I really don't like the Zappa sound...  Sort of humorous/goofy tone, just doesn't work for me.  Just these two, makes me hate the music.


Anyhow, how would you put into words, the criteria for music to be considered great or at least enjoyable?

Edited by GirgleMirt - 3/17/14 at 1:54pm
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

I guess the question could also be what/how you classify as 'good music'...  For instance, if you listen to an album from start to finish and it's ok, does that fit the bill?  What if you're bored on the second or third listen?  I think for me there has to be serious re-listening potential.  My favorite albums have been listened to countless times, often times many times in a row.  But average music seems to bore after listening to it a few times.  I guess that fits in complexity, originality, etc.

post #5 of 5

This is an excellent and thought provoking question.


Off the bat, let me state that I don't consciously judge the quality of music.  Rather, the music makes some sort of connection with me, which can be in a number of ways.  At times I might analyse a song I enjoy.  The process is rarely the reverse.  I don't analyse a song against a set of critera and then conclude that the song must be good.  That said, on occassions I have come to enjoy a song after analysing it.  This is not because it ticks all the boxes, but rather because I have come to understand it to a  greater extent.


I don't think that there is one element that connects all the music I enjoy.  Rather, the music I enjoy proably falls into one of the following categories:


1. It evokes an emotional response by triggering a memory of a time, place or person that I remember with fondness


2. It evokes an emotional response through its mood or style


3. It evokes an emotional response through an appreciation of the circumstances under which the song was written or the situation that the creation of the work was responding to


4. It evokes an intellectual resonse through an appreciation of the techniques used in its creation or performance


5. It evokes a physical response (eg, foot tapping or head bopping)


Some of my favourite pieces of music fall into multiple categories.  For instance, JS Bach's St Matthew Passion belongs to categories 1, 2, 3 & 4


The relationship between the evokation and emotion and musical stimulus would make for a fascinating in depth study, perphaps in the realm of psychology.  I would love to dig into it but I am afraid it would take wiser heads than mine.





Edited by MoatsArt - 3/28/14 at 3:09am
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