‘Well, that’s like your opinion, man.’ This quote - taken from the dude himself - is a common one in talking music with friends. Taste differs, and that is only a good thing. Yet the idea that good music is purely subjective is ignorant and shallow.
To be clear: there are no formal static parameters by which music can be good. In other words, there is not a golden tempo, ideal key, or perfect rhythmic pattern that gives music a sense of goodness. However, all of these features add up to a type of music that can be evaluated by its own standards. That is, as compared to previous works alike, similar contemporary music, and a general understanding of that music’s development.
Considering the core-values of a type of music is key to dubbing it good or bad. To illustrate, commercial punk songs or a sing-along techno tracks are self-undermining. This is not to say they are inherently bad, but they lack ground to judge by. Experimental collaborations can result in the above-mentioned musics. Nevertheless this provides them with new criteria for critique, rather than altering their essence.
To declare music good or bad is precarious as it is above all a matter of social politics: it is more often than not a personal statement by which we identify ourselves culturally. Although good music is not a given, its qualities depend on the work and culture in question. All in all there has been plenty of good music to enjoy looking at music’s extremely diverse development so far, but that might just be my opinion, man.
[ For music of a different nature check out our earlier blog We need bad music ]