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What makes a great song vs. a good song?
Posted: 27 November 2014 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I like my signature statement “Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind”.

All forms of excellent art stirs an emotional response which leads to reflection on one’s own or shared experiences. IMO, it is a function of the human “mirror neural network”.  If a melody, a phrase, a color, or concept, resonates with the observer, it evokes a shared experience and shared emotional response. It connects with our minds.

Khalil Gibran said: “As the strings of a lute are apart though they quiver the same music.”

When someone can generate such commonly shared feelings in others, in any form or expression of art, he/she has achieved the quality of good artist, at least for that moment . A great artist is able to connect with other minds on a profound and memorable basis. Standing ovations are a mass expression of shared cognition and approval of the message.

Art needs not be pretty, but if it makes the observer reflect on morality and understand the moral message of the artist, that certainly would qualify as Great Art.

Another one of my favorite sayings is “Natura Artis Magistra”  (nature is the teacher of art).

Fortunately, is seems that we have had great artists since the very beginning of Homo sapiens sapiens. Some cave paintings I have seen are absolutely wonderful to behold in their very elegant simplicity in expressing some activity.

I believe Picasso once used a reverse process to arrive at the fundamental aspects from which the observer can recognize and mentally reconstruct a coherent picture.
He made a very realistic looking horse in great detail. Then began to resketch, erasing detail, while preserving shape, and several sketches later he ended up the sketch of horse consisted of just 8 ines, if I recall. But when you looked at it you saw the entire horse and dynamic pose as if had 100 lines. Great Art!

In older tradional family paintings, males were often depicted with a dog lying at his side as symbol of fidelity, whereas women were often depicted accompanied by a playful kitten or cat. Composition and balance of color and shadow and light to create illusion of depth are the greatest challenge in painting, IMO. Vermeer’s “girl with the pearl earring” is of timeless beauty.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring

In music and song, as well as in poetry, a pause may speak louder than a selection of sound or words, from Shakespeare to Bob Dillon.

When one masters the tools of creating content, mood, suspense, and emotional release, he/she becomes a great artist .IMO

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 27 November 2014 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Here is a little gem of relatively unknown song by Lizz Wright. I believe it is a brilliant hybrid love song. A perfect example of less being more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4e3GA-6Q-s

and an example of sheer virtuoso by two of the worlds greatest guitar players Bireli Lagrene and Vic Juris playing Spain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZkQNJToXI8

and an example of a chid protege, it will leave you breathless

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d_XTvLalJk&feature=related

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 27 November 2014 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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LoisL - 26 November 2014 03:24 PM

It’s people who decide whether a piece of music is “great”. This is one place where the argument from popularity is valid—as is the case with any argument as to whether something is “great” or of any value whatsoever. How else would you assess “greatness” on any level but by popularity?

By that logic “Achey, Breaky Heart” is a great song.

Do you have a definition of greatness that is unconnected to popularity? What to you is intrinsic greatness?

I may not be able to explain it, but I know it when I hear it. Great songs Come From the Heart.

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Posted: 27 November 2014 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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DarronS - 27 November 2014 10:01 AM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 03:24 PM

It’s people who decide whether a piece of music is “great”. This is one place where the argument from popularity is valid—as is the case with any argument as to whether something is “great” or of any value whatsoever. How else would you assess “greatness” on any level but by popularity?

By that logic “Achey, Breaky Heart” is a great song.

Do you have a definition of greatness that is unconnected to popularity? What to you is intrinsic greatness?

I may not be able to explain it, but I know it when I hear it. Great songs Come From the Heart.

And if the content of the song is presented with quality and competence they resonate in other hearts and replicates the emotion of the artist in the listener.

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 28 November 2014 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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I watched a movie today called “The Music Never Stopped”.  As I watched it, the topic of this thread occurred to me.  Here’s what I thought.

The use of music is a special kind of Verbal Behavior. (Verbal Behavior, itself, is a special kind of behavior, one that requires a listener, even if the listener is one’s self).  Thus the use of music is by definition a social behavior.

But to my point, from watching the movie, a great song can be about connecting us.  Connecting us to one another, or even to ourselves, at some point in our personal history.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 28 November 2014 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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TimB - 28 November 2014 08:21 PM

I watched a movie today called “The Music Never Stopped”.  As I watched it, the topic of this thread occurred to me.  Here’s what I thought.

The use of music is a special kind of Verbal Behavior. (Verbal Behavior, itself, is a special kind of behavior, one that requires a listener, even if the listener is one’s self).  Thus the use of music is by definition a social behavior.

But to my point, from watching the movie, a great song can be about connecting us.  Connecting us to one another, or even to ourselves, at some point in our personal history.

I agree.

And while this is speculative, I propose that this is one of the functions of the “mirror neural network” in our brains.

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 07 December 2014 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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DarronS - 26 November 2014 02:04 PM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 01:06 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 November 2014 07:43 PM

What is greatness?

Enough people in agreement that a particular piece of music is “great.” “Greatness” is always subjective, but if a critical mass of people agree on it, it means something. But in the end, all “greatness” dissipates.


Lois

Nope. That is the old argument from popularity fallacy.

Actually, I don’t think it is.  The Argument From Popularity is only a fallacy if it is used to support a factual argument, e.g. “God exists because most people believe in Him”.  But when talking about a subjective and somewhat nebulous concept like “greatness” (a word with a rather vague definition), I think the argument from popularity is perhaps as valid as anything else.

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Posted: 07 December 2014 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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DarronS - 27 November 2014 10:01 AM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 03:24 PM

It’s people who decide whether a piece of music is “great”. This is one place where the argument from popularity is valid—as is the case with any argument as to whether something is “great” or of any value whatsoever. How else would you assess “greatness” on any level but by popularity?

By that logic “Achey, Breaky Heart” is a great song.

I’m not a fan of “Achey, Breaky Heart”, but I must admit that it is infectious melodically, rhythmically, and, though I loath to admit it, even lyrically.  Just a quick thought experiment:  You clearly hate that song, but have you ever wondered why you can instantly recall the melody and perhaps even the lyrics of the chorus, while you’ve probably forgotten the melodies and especially the lyrics of most other hits that you were totally unmoved by?  There are “grunge” songs from the 90’s that I rather liked that I can barely recall anymore, yet “Achey, Breaky Heart” will not leave my pscyhe, even though I don’t think I heard it that many times (and probably not at all for the last ten years or so), since I don’t listen to modern country music.

And, frankly, while I find it annoying (ever heard the Weird Al parody, “Achey, Breaky Song”?), I’d rather listen to it than 99% of the trash out there.

Which raises an interesting question:  Can an incredibly annoying song nonetheless be considered “great” (whatever that word even means…)?

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Posted: 08 December 2014 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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This is what makes a great song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_fxB6yrDVo&list=RDr_fxB6yrDVo#t=0

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 08 December 2014 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:23 PM
DarronS - 26 November 2014 02:04 PM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 01:06 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 November 2014 07:43 PM

What is greatness?

Enough people in agreement that a particular piece of music is “great.” “Greatness” is always subjective, but if a critical mass of people agree on it, it means something. But in the end, all “greatness” dissipates.


Lois

Nope. That is the old argument from popularity fallacy.

Actually, I don’t think it is.  The Argument From Popularity is only a fallacy if it is used to support a factual argument, e.g. “God exists because most people believe in Him”.  But when talking about a subjective and somewhat nebulous concept like “greatness” (a word with a rather vague definition), I think the argument from popularity is perhaps as valid as anything else.

OK, call it the Bandwagon fallacy then. My point is still valid. Popularity is not an indicator of quality.

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Posted: 08 December 2014 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:39 PM

I’m not a fan of “Achey, Breaky Heart”, but I must admit that it is infectious melodically, rhythmically, and, though I loath to admit it, even lyrically.  Just a quick thought experiment:  You clearly hate that song, but have you ever wondered why you can instantly recall the melody and perhaps even the lyrics of the chorus, while you’ve probably forgotten the melodies and especially the lyrics of most other hits that you were totally unmoved by?  There are “grunge” songs from the 90’s that I rather liked that I can barely recall anymore, yet “Achey, Breaky Heart” will not leave my pscyhe, even though I don’t think I heard it that many times (and probably not at all for the last ten years or so), since I don’t listen to modern country music.

Good observations.

If I had an awful spaghetti dinner at some restaurant and I remember it a week later, does that mean that the meal was actually awesome?

I think that people sometimes confuse remembering something with actually liking it. The music industry makes a lot of money off of that.

There’s got to be a cognitive bias involved in there somewhere. Yay for cognitive science and stuff.

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Posted: 08 December 2014 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 08 December 2014 07:14 PM
BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:39 PM

I’m not a fan of “Achey, Breaky Heart”, but I must admit that it is infectious melodically, rhythmically, and, though I loath to admit it, even lyrically.  Just a quick thought experiment:  You clearly hate that song, but have you ever wondered why you can instantly recall the melody and perhaps even the lyrics of the chorus, while you’ve probably forgotten the melodies and especially the lyrics of most other hits that you were totally unmoved by?  There are “grunge” songs from the 90’s that I rather liked that I can barely recall anymore, yet “Achey, Breaky Heart” will not leave my pscyhe, even though I don’t think I heard it that many times (and probably not at all for the last ten years or so), since I don’t listen to modern country music.

Good observations.

If I had an awful spaghetti dinner at some restaurant and I remember it a week later, does that mean that the meal was actually awesome?

I think that people sometimes confuse remembering something with actually liking it. The music industry makes a lot of money off of that.

There’s got to be a cognitive bias involved in there somewhere. Yay for cognitive science and stuff.

I think the spaghetti analogy is kind of apple and oranges.  Flavor doesn’t really work in the memory the way music does.  I hear the musical equivalent of rancid spaghetti mixed with fresh dog feces on the radio or TV at least once every few days, and I tend to forget it forever within five minutes.  I definitely wouldn’t forget eating a single bite of actual rancid spaghetti mixed with fresh dog feces—EVER!  It would probably haunt my dreams and bias me from ever eating spaghetti again.  Once I drank some spoiled milk on accident and didn’t touch milk for a year.

I really do think a song like “Achey, Breaky Heart” is exceptional in some artistically valid way.  I often find a song annoying or not-for-me but can still recognize that it’s got some type of artistic merit that 99% of songs don’t have.  A recent example: Miley Cyrus’* “Wrecking Ball” is better IMHO than most of what’s out there, but it’s not and never will be on my playlist (though that may be due more to the way it’s overproduced and the fact that it’s by Miley Cyrus than the actual melody, lyrics, and basic rhythm).

BTW, what about songs that you genuinely love, but are embarrassed to admit it?  Though I may regret it, I’ll come clean about one: Hanson’s “I Will Come To You”.  Sorry, but that is one well-constructed, Beatlesque gem.  Sorry, but that’s an objective fact and anyone who disagrees is stupid!  Except, it’s by Hanson, the child masterminds behind “Mmmbop”... I’m so embarrassed by it, I really can’t even listen to it when I’m alone.  But seriously, it’s a good song.


*I just remembered that Miley Cyrus is Billy Ray Cyrus’ (of “Achey, Breaky, Heart” fame) daughter.  Some kind of weird subconscious action at work there on my part?  Perhaps, just perhaps…

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Posted: 09 December 2014 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Dead Monky - 22 November 2014 07:55 PM

<snip>Take this song for example. Yet I love it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite songs, but I’d be willing to bet money most of you would hate it or even find it completely unlistenable.<snip>

Yeah… Didn’t care for it. The music was okay (but not my thing). However the vocals were, IMO, pretty shitty, as I couldn’t understand a damn thing. smile

As to the original question… Very subjective, in my opinion. I think it’s all about personal preference. A similar question can be asked of food, i.e. What makes a great cookie vs. a good cookie?

(Disclaimer: I’ve only read the first page of the thread.)

This is, IMO, a great song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C11MzbEcHlw  cheese

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 09 December 2014 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:23 PM
DarronS - 26 November 2014 02:04 PM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 01:06 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 November 2014 07:43 PM

What is greatness?

Enough people in agreement that a particular piece of music is “great.” “Greatness” is always subjective, but if a critical mass of people agree on it, it means something. But in the end, all “greatness” dissipates.


Lois

Nope. That is the old argument from popularity fallacy.

Actually, I don’t think it is.  The Argument From Popularity is only a fallacy if it is used to support a factual argument, e.g. “God exists because most people believe in Him”.  But when talking about a subjective and somewhat nebulous concept like “greatness” (a word with a rather vague definition), I think the argument from popularity is perhaps as valid as anything else.

Thanks. That was my point exactly.  If we’re talking about how people react to something (such as music) there is no other way to describe it but by popularity.  Conflatng it with an argument about fact is invalid.

Whatis “greatness,”  anyway, but popular opinion? There is no absolute greatness.

Lois

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Posted: 09 December 2014 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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LoisL - 09 December 2014 07:23 AM
BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:23 PM
DarronS - 26 November 2014 02:04 PM
LoisL - 26 November 2014 01:06 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 November 2014 07:43 PM

What is greatness?

Enough people in agreement that a particular piece of music is “great.” “Greatness” is always subjective, but if a critical mass of people agree on it, it means something. But in the end, all “greatness” dissipates.


Lois

Nope. That is the old argument from popularity fallacy.

Actually, I don’t think it is.  The Argument From Popularity is only a fallacy if it is used to support a factual argument, e.g. “God exists because most people believe in Him”.  But when talking about a subjective and somewhat nebulous concept like “greatness” (a word with a rather vague definition), I think the argument from popularity is perhaps as valid as anything else.

Thanks. That was my point exactly.  If we’re talking about how people react to something (such as music) there is no other way to describe it but by popularity.  Conflatng it with an argument about fact is invalid.

Whatis “greatness,”  anyway, but popular opinion? There is no absolute greatness.

Lois

And I already acknowledged I got the wrong fallacy. Please read my subsequent post. You and Bugrib are parsing words instead of discussing ideas.

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