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KonradZuse

Dubstep and VGM... Why?

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To imply or explicitly state that music, or any art for that matter is purely a matter of taste is something I personally find somewhat insulting. Because it makes it sound like centuries of work done by composers, music theorists, and sound engineers in the 20th and into the 21st century was all meaningless. Why bother to learn it at all if it's all just so "subjective"? I disagree, all of these things, the "rules" exist because the people who discovered them realized it made their music (art) better. That's why we have the same chord progressions that are re-used in countless pieces. There is a standard that the art can be held against. If music is just totally subjective, I guess colleges and universities should just stop teaching their composition students music theory and forget studying the works of Bach or Mozart.

Something being subjective doesn't mean that there aren't patterns that will be globally more appreciated. It doesn't mean opinions will vary wildly and randomly either.

I believe music, like any other art, is about intention. If you write a piece by randomly throwing notes on a sheet and your intention was to be as random as possible, then you just wrote a good piece! Whether it is interesting to other people is another question, though.

Your paragraph gave me the impression that you think that music as an art form has been improving in (at least) the past few centuries. If there is such a thing as 'improving' music, why indeed listen to what was written in the past since what is written today is better anyways? Did I misunderstand what you meant?

The reason I think people are learning music theory (and even practicing technique) is because it gives them more vocabulary. If you listen to a Beethoven song, for example, and there is a part of the song that you really like and you want to replicate the feeling it gives you while trying to be original, you need theory to be able to know why the song made you feel this way and how to structure your own. All the rules exist because they give people the necessary vocabulary to express their vision, their intention.

Interesting aside: all the people I know who have undergone serious formal music training have become less elitist (for lack of a better word) as they learned.

I think all the criteria you have identified that make a song good are a good example of intention. When I listen to metal, I like my drums and guitars loud because I think metal expresses 'in-your-faceness' and I get frustrated when it sounds weak. Of course, there could be a way to pull off metal with weak drums that would be nice.

I have a dubious literary analogy but I think it will get the point across. Let's say I want to express that my character is very angry. The phrase "He was so angry that he wanted to shout at everyone, even strangers!" is pretty weak. Why? Because my intention was to illustrate that someone was extremely angry, but the weakness of the 'shout at everyone' part kinda defeats the whole intention.

Regarding complexity, let's just say I completely disagree. I don't think repetition is inherently bad and that avoiding repetition in your song makes it harder to write and therefore better. I don't think there is a 'perfect' amount of reverb or panning for every sound in a mix either. Look at the Judge Decision subforum, you'll often see them arguing about what they liked or didn't in a song.

To answer my own question, I personally like Terra's theme more than The Dance of Eternity. Does that make me "wrong"? It's objectively less complex, has 'cheap' sounds (i.e. low production complexity) and pretty flat dynamics. I just like the melody because I think it's beautiful.

Also, don't fuck around.

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"well art is subjective" and the likes usually comes off as a handwave method of attempting to kill any meaningful discussion. There are plenty, plenty of objective aspects about music, and laying these out in detail is usually a good way of better understanding what it is we like and don't like.

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Your paragraph gave me the impression that you think that music as an art form has been improving in (at least) the past few centuries. If there is such a thing as 'improving' music, why indeed listen to what was written in the past since what is written today is better anyways? Did I misunderstand what you meant?

Something of note: there are people who are influenced by 60s music, 70s music, other oldies eras, etc., and some of those people write remixes for OCR in those styles. That must mean those styles have some significance and merit. What is written today is better in production (which is the primary embodiment of "better music" for certain people), but some of it still draws inspiration from the notes, timbres, and styles of the past. For example, funk guitar and bass from the 70s brought the "SLAP DAT BASS" meme (maybe) and (did) make the slap bass popular and fun.

Edited by timaeus222

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Something of note: there are people who are influenced by 60s music, 70s music, other oldies eras, etc., and some of those people write remixes for OCR in those styles. That must mean those styles have some significance and merit. What is written today is better in production (which is the primary embodiment of "better music" for certain people), but some of it still draws inspiration from the notes, timbres, and styles of the past.

Production is baffling sometimes though. Like, if you check out Motley Crue's 1994 album or Juno Reactor's collab with Traci Lords it still sounds current. At least, it does to me.

Your paragraph gave me the impression that you think that music as an art form has been improving in (at least) the past few centuries. If there is such a thing as 'improving' music, why indeed listen to what was written in the past since what is written today is better anyways? Did I misunderstand what you meant?
I'm not sure how anyone could say music hasn't been improving in all honesty. Just centuries ago, the most harmonically complex that many European pieces got was by harmonizing everything in parallel perfect intervals. As far as I know, the triadic system we use now is relatively recent compared to music of eras past which were more simplistic. Not to mention, most genres of music (at least popular ones) are less than 100 years old. Rock, electronic, funk, disco, etc. are all from the 20th century. We have more instruments, better technology and all of this allows us to access previously untapped creative potential.

If you really think about it, music has been the slowest evolving of human art forms despite being one of the oldest. Today, we understand so much more about how it works and why. We have such powerful technology to create music on our own or with other musicians across vast distances.

Composers and theorists in the past made great music; they made discoveries that set the groundwork and gave us the knowledge to create what we have today. However, I have no doubt that if we could ask them, they would have given most anything to be writing music in our time.

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw

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I'm not sure how anyone could say music hasn't been improving in all honesty. Just centuries ago, the most harmonically complex that many European pieces got was by harmonizing everything in parallel perfect intervals. As far as I know, the triadic system we use now is relatively recent compared to music of eras past which were more simplistic. Not to mention, most genres of music (at least popular ones) are less than 100 years old. Rock, electronic, funk, disco, etc. are all from the 20th century. We have more instruments, better technology and all of this allows us to access previously untapped creative potential.

If you really think about it, music has been the slowest evolving of human art forms despite being one of the oldest. Today, we understand so much more about how it works and why. We have such powerful technology to create music on our own or with other musicians across vast distances.

Composers and theorists in the past made great music; they made discoveries that set the groundwork and gave us the knowledge to create what we have today. However, I have no doubt that if we could ask them, they would have given most anything to be writing music in our time.

whoaa what

you are making the mistake of applying 20th century narratives of upward-linear technological progress to changes in musical style and aesthetic. monteverdi isnt worse for lack of pro tools. palestrina wasnt longing for the harmonic possibilities of integral serialism.

look any discussion of music that hinges on whether or not it is "good" or "bad" is gonna come up with the answer "well i dont like x so music is subjective." i tend to think of it like this: if i throw someone a baseball and they catch it, then throw them a football and they drop it, for them to respond "football is a bad sport" would be complete nonsense. it's not the question at hand.

to my mind the only quantity to music that has any bearing on its value is truth. a piece of music is only good or bad to the extent that it resonates as true to the listener, in the way that it remains true to itself, and reflects something about the world that they live in truthfully. when people say something like "i dont like rap or country" (a statement which im almost certain is of a particular demographic) it isnt because of some abstract question of instrumentation or production values or whatever, it's because those styles tend to be regional and informed by specific experience which they are outside of, therefore it doesnt resonate as truthful, and they are unable or unwilling to empathize.

however, to take my earlier point one step further, one of the side effects of the technological progress you're talking about has actually been an increased falseness in music. on the one hand, technology has allowed creators and audiences to share experiences in a way they have never been able to before; on the other hand, when barriers begin to break down, this idea can veer into a kind of all-things-being-equal way of thinking, where the engine of mainstream popular culture has the contradictory aims of recognizing the validity in all forms of human expression, while subsuming those forms into itself so that they can repackage and sell them. often times the way it is able to do this is by saying it has improved upon urban or rural culture through "objective" measures of so-called technological progress and virtuosity. this frequently results in a kind of cultural colonialism, whether we're talking about the ways edm culture warped dubstep (an expression of uk street culture) into something that perversely celebrates its lack of humanity, or lady gaga's appropriation of the burqa.

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whoaa what

you are making the mistake of applying 20th century narratives of upward-linear technological progress to changes in musical style and aesthetic. monteverdi isnt worse for lack of pro tools. palestrina wasnt longing for the harmonic possibilities of integral serialism.

The 20th century narratives could just as easily be classical era compared to ancient music or some other, older point in history. My point with technology is that it has allowed us to create music and share ideas in a way that was not previously possible. It has given musicians access to more tools (like new instruments) to work with and couple that with a more advanced understanding of the mechanics of music. How does that not allow for improvement? Saying technology hasn't helped improve music would be kind of like arguing that technology hasn't improved film-making. Film-makers have more tools than ever to realize their "vision" in ways that previously were not possible.

to my mind the only quantity to music that has any bearing on its value is truth. a piece of music is only good or bad to the extent that it resonates as true to the listener, in the way that it remains true to itself, and reflects something about the world that they live in truthfully. when people say something like "i dont like rap or country" (a statement which im almost certain is of a particular demographic) it isnt because of some abstract question of instrumentation or production values or whatever, it's because those styles tend to be regional and informed by specific experience which they are outside of, therefore it doesnt resonate as truthful, and they are unable or unwilling to empathize.

See, the problem I and most people who are with me on the "music is not entirely subjective after all" point have with this kind of reasoning is that it is too philosophical and doesn't provide any real answers. Like, what do you mean by the value of music by its "truth"? What is that supposed to mean? What about truth in instrumental music?
when people say something like "i dont like rap or country" (a statement which im almost certain is of a particular demographic) it isnt because of some abstract question of instrumentation or production values or whatever, it's because those styles tend to be regional and informed by specific experience which they are outside of
What? Placing personal value on music for its "truthfulness" to you is far more abstract of a question than instrumentation, production values etc. As I said earlier about country music, I don't like the genre that much specifically for its lyrical themes (depressing as hell), and instrumentation (perhaps that's influenced by the "truth" thing), BUT I can still recognize when it is a well made piece. Which again is why I'm saying if there were no objectivity then I wouldn't be able to do that.

The bottom line of my entire thinking in this thread is this:

People who believe music is subjective entirely will argue that till the end of time. However, my belief that it is not totally subjective has greatly helped me improve my own music. I think that the belief that it is objective is a key part of music's evolution throughout the ages. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach (or many other great composers) all followed sometimes very strict "rules" for composing music. They didn't believe it was completely subjective, academic music study doesn't believe it is totally subjective, OCR doesn't seem to believe it is totally subjective; as evidenced by their high standards and several musicians in this thread don't seem to believe it is completely subjective either.

You know something I just realized by typing that? I don't think that the musicians who say "it's subjective, man" with a few exceptions, are the ones who have contributed to the evolution of the art form nearly as much as the people who say it isn't subjective.

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The 20th century narratives could just as easily be classical era compared to ancient music or some other, older point in history.

thats simply not true. the reason why i say its a 20th century narrative is because it is unique to 20th century, post-industrial era thinking. the fetishization of progress, musically speaking, found its purest expression in 20th century post-romantic atonality, people like schoenberg and babbitt. you are assuming there is something eternal, has-always-been about our relationship with technology and progress.

My point with technology is that it has allowed us to create music and share ideas in a way that was not previously possible. It has given musicians access to more tools (like new instruments) to work with and couple that with a more advanced understanding of the mechanics of music. How does that not allow for improvement? Saying technology hasn't helped improve music would be kind of like arguing that technology hasn't improved film-making. Film-makers have more tools than ever to realize their "vision" in ways that previously were not possible.

i said as much in the last paragraph of my previous post. where i disagree is this idea of "improvement". it makes me think of those michael moore documentaries, where whenever he wanted to portray an idea as stupid or worthless (ie. "outdated") he would use some black-and-white instructional video from the 50's, which allows us as an audience to feel intellectually superior over hundreds of years of gullible, iphone 5-less rubes. the 2005 version of king kong is not superior to the 1933 original by virtue of its cg. the future is not simply the present with shinier stuff. technological progress ≠ objectively better art.

i went on, in my previous post, to say how fetishization of technological progress has allowed, among other things, the appropriation and homogenization of culture, resulting in music which is objectively bad, ie. untrue.

See, the problem I and most people who are with me on the "music is not entirely subjective after all" point have with this kind of reasoning is that it is too philosophical and doesn't provide any real answers. Like, what do you mean by the value of music by its "truth"? What is that supposed to mean? What about truth in instrumental music?
a piece of music is only good or bad to the extent that it resonates as true to the listener, in the way that it remains true to itself, and reflects something about the world that they live in truthfully

i dont know what you mean by "what about instrumental music" when nothing in my post was specific to instrumental or vocal music. maybe you think i am talking about a piece of music where somebody recites scientific truths over top, which...well, im not.

What? Placing personal value on music for its "truthfulness" to you is far more abstract of a question than instrumentation, production values etc.

instrumentation and production values are more abstract from music than "truth" because to experience a piece for its instrumentation or its production values is to hear it at arm's length, not for the music itself. it would be like writing a book report by saying you didnt like the story, but appreciated that the pages were bound with glue and the words written in ink.

I think that the belief that it is objective is a key part of music's evolution throughout the ages. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach (or many other great composers) all followed sometimes very strict "rules" for composing music. They didn't believe it was completely subjective, academic music study doesn't believe it is totally subjective, OCR doesn't seem to believe it is totally subjective; as evidenced by their high standards and several musicians in this thread don't seem to believe it is completely subjective either.

this is perhaps the greatest flaw in your thinking. "theory" does not inform the composition of music, but the listening of it. theory is after-the-fact, at its best it is an act of empathy. you say that you are not "formally trained" in music theory (though you seem perfectly comfortable making broad statements about classical composition), but if you were to study, say, baroque counterpoint, you would find a theory of music that is actually quite alien from the composer's conception of their own work.

take fugal form, for example, which (to put it simply) in modern academic terms is a process by which a theme is composed-out over the course of a piece. typically a fugue can be divided into three sections: 'exposition', 'development', and 'recapitulation' (incidentally, terms borrowed from classical sonata theory). this is quite different from the way bach conceived of his fugues, which all evidence suggests was as a kind of musical rhetoric informed by classical oration in ancient greece (exordium, narratio, etc.). as rigorous as our modern theories of counterpoint and harmony are, its a common joke when studying the stuff that the rules apply to everybody except for bach. mozart and beethoven are, for that matter, noteworthy for the ways in which they transcended and contradicted the "rules" of their time, not adhered to them.

of course, theory can, to a certain extent, help with communication of musical ideas through writing or speech, but to me thats about the same as how you need to understand what numbers and operators are to be a mathematician. once you start talking about the "rules" of theory informing composition, though, youve gone off course.

Edited by Radiowar

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instrumentation and production values are more abstract from music than "truth" because to experience a piece for its instrumentation or its production values is to hear it at arm's length, not for the music itself. it would be like writing a book report by saying you didnt like the story, but appreciated that the pages were bound with glue and the words written in ink [rather than pencil].

Uh, that sounds like an overexaggerated analogy to me. It makes it seem like you were butchering Chris's statement more than you intended to. If I were to reverse your analogy, it would sound like this:

it would be like listening to a song and saying you didn't like it subjectively, but appreciated that the track was well-encoded and that it is in a finished, rendered audio form [rather than in sheet music form].

Perhaps a more accurate one would be "it would be like writing a book report by saying you didn't like the story, but appreciated that the book had well-chosen wording and cool fonts.", as that would reverse to be "it would be like listening to a song and saying you didn't like it subjectively, but appreciated that the track had neat instruments and cool effects."

Edited by timaeus222

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Perhaps a more accurate one would be "it would be like writing a book report by saying you didn't like the story, but appreciated that the book had well-chosen wording and cool fonts."

i dont see the difference. the point still stands, that in either case you are appreciating the thing in question at arm's length. not for the experience of the thing itself, but in qualities abstracted from it.

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i dont see the difference. the point still stands, that in either case you are appreciating the thing in question at arm's length. not for the experience of the thing itself, but in qualities abstracted from it.

What I had gotten from the analogy is:

the book report is the listening session.

the story is the song.

the pages bound with glue is the song encoded well.

the words written in ink is the song in rendered audio form.

What I've been analogizing before in my life in the past was:

book report = listening session.

story = song.

well-chosen wording = well-chosen instruments.

cool fonts = cool plugin effects.

essay structure = song arrangement

sentence length variety = melodies and variations on those melodies

interesting words = ear candy

Side note: I should really write a short essay on that at one point, just to get my idea down.

Edited by timaeus222

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What I had gotten from the analogy is:

the book report is the listening session.

the story is the song.

the pages bound with glue is the song encoded well.

the words written in ink is the song in rendered audio form.

What I've been analogizing before in my life in the past was:

the book report is the listening session.

the story is the song.

the well-chosen wording is the well-chosen instruments.

the cool fonts are the cool plugin effects.

and again, appreciation of encoding, instruments, "cool plugins", etc. is not the same as the experience of a work of music as a unified entity. it is removed, at a distance, abstracted from the music itself. the spirit of the analogy remains the same whatever your nitpicks with my phrasing.

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and again, appreciation of encoding, instruments, "cool plugins", etc. is not the same as the experience of a work of music as a unified entity. it is removed, at a distance, abstracted from the music itself. the spirit of the analogy remains the same whatever your nitpicks with my phrasing.

I understand; I was just saying that the way you said it had skewed the meaning of Chris's statement too far in the objective direction. In a sense, it's kind of like an oversimplification.

Edited by timaeus222

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I like how you guys are just going off on a completely unrelated discussion to the original topic.

what is this thread even about I mean seriously

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I like how you guys are just going off on a completely unrelated discussion to the original topic.

I think I've been able to make more sense out of any given writing from D.T. Suzuki than this thread.

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Dubstep has all sorts of interesting aspects to it, and overall I'd say I like it. Why not dubstep?

Fer sure. It's not just WOMP WOMP CHOMP CHOMP YAH YAH WUB WUB. =D

Edited by timaeus222

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