[ExI] music survey

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 18 00:02:14 UTC 2022

On Jan 17, 2022, at 2:50 PM, William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> I do not hold my nose when reading any genre and I do not sneer at music that is not classical.  If I liked it, I would like it and apologize to no one and recommend it to others.  I do not sneer at people who love things I don't like or even hate.  The cold, hard fact is that I just don't like most things, whether it's music or not.  Picky from birth, Mama said.
> No criticism of the poem, from you or anyone, is going to convince me not to like it.  You don't.  Fine.  Enough said.   bill w

On the Becky Helmsley poem, here’s a little recap.

Me: It’s a bit too sing songy for my tastes. 

Bill W: Shakespeare thought iambic pentameter great.  Me too.

Me: Note that ‘sing songy’ doesn’t mean ‘iambic pentameter.’

Later on…

Me: Kind of strange that your taste in poetry — well, based on that poem you shared here a few days ago — seems to be for sing songy (in other words, ‘nearly total repetitiveness’ in the meter) work. 

Bill W: No criticism of the poem, from you or anyone, is going to convince me not to like it.  You don't.  Fine.  Enough said.  

My point in recapping is to show the trajectory of this discussion. Maybe I’m wrong, but it certainly felt like Bill W ‘sneered’ at my reaction to the poem. To be fair, one might saying my calling the poem sing songy is me ‘sneering’ at the poem. After all, sing songy does carry a negative connotation. At least I’ve never heard anyone state unironically, ‘I just love how sing songy this poem is.’;)

Perhaps the bigger problem here — one outside differences of taste and whether one’s tastes might be changed — is when one says ‘I like X1 because of Y’ or ‘I dislike X2 because of Z.’ This opens up one to the problem of disliking something else that has Y or liking still another thing that has Z. This is what happens when one tries to say why one likes or dislikes some work of art. One is moving beyond the response to offering motives or reasons — motives or reasons that might not hold in some simple consistent fashion if they hold at all.

Yes, one might still like or dislike the work — and whether one can be persuaded to change is another matter — but the move to explain why one likes or dislikes it can lead to mistaken explanations or mistaken generalizations. For example, maybe a certain someone finds repetitive music annoying but sing songy (in other words, repetitive) poetry enthralling. Perhaps there’s something about musical elements for this person that doesn’t apply to the elements of language in poetry (both the prosody and the meaning).

In my case, too, some of the repetition in pop music I don’t find annoying — or maybe there’s some other element that overrides being annoyed by it. It could be context too. Having music in the background or as part of a wider experience, for instance.

A friend of mine once ‘confessed’ to liking a certain band that his other friends and me found funny by saying it reminded him of when he was in high school — good times. The particular band brought back some of those feelings I reckon.

I forget the details of the particular band, but it doesn’t matter. I imagine he might be able to articulate some reasons why he liked the band if he were being less honest — presuming he was being honest and, what’s more, understood himself well enough. After all, maybe he just didn’t want to get into it and wasn’t going to harsh the mood by saying ‘I like it. You don’t. Enough said.’;)


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