Sunday, August 9, 2009

Standards for "good" music

As usual, Professor Gann nails it — the whole valorization question that I've wrestled off and on, whether a musical work is "good" or not. I've never really been able to tell, because a whole lot of music that a whole lot of people think is Tony-the-Tiger-Great leaves me bored witless. And while I'm willing to concede that craft and skill exist, music still has to speak to me, and so much music appreciation comes down to taste. And Gann goes deeper, a registry of specific musical virtues such as innovation, craftsmanship, depth, which in turn can appeal more or less to specific listeners, depending on their backgrounds and, well, taste. Nobody owns a value hierarchy on these virtues:

There are no objective standards. But there is an infinity of objective facts, there is a quasi-infinity of musical virtues, and no majority or plurality has the right to proclaim that we all have to content ourselves with the music that embodies their particular favorite virtues.

Kyle Gann: musicologist, composer, bullshit-detector. As they say, read the whole thing.