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And who is picking these "dimensions"?
That's beside the point. The word "best" implies that a set of dimensions are assumed. When people say X is the best, what do they generally mean? Something like, "in my estimation, most people would agree that X is more desirable than its alternatives."
Of course I do, but I recognize that this is entirely subjective.
Everything is objective. What you're calling "subjective" is just the internal experience of neurons firing. Neural firings can be measured. They are objective.
Bad music is music which tends to result in an undesirable pattern of neural firings by whichever metric we are using.
No, I'd say that Farting into a microphone doesn't constitute music.
Well what if I vary the pitch over time? What if I get a guitar and flail wildly on it for a few minutes? What if learn three chords and do nothing but alternate between them? At what point does it change from "not music" to "music"?
"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition". ~Carl Sagan.
What does that have to do with anything? All I'm saying is it's possible to declare X better than Y based on some implied metric. I don't think this is very controversial.
This is all a forgone conclusion. No two minds are the same. Different minds respond differently to the same stimuli. This would only go to demonstrate what we already know, Music is about personal taste.
Personal taste is only one aspect of appreciation. There's also the effectiveness with which the work accomplishes its goals, originality, sense of timing, etc, etc.
There are some ways where most minds differ, but there are also ways where most minds are the same. Most prefer something fresh over a rehash of the same old thing, to give one example.
What do we mean when we say something is "better"? Well, we could simply pick some dimension, like the amount of joy a song brings to the listener. If we could measure people's brains then we could figure out which song conveys the most joy on average and declare that song to be the best. Of course not all art is meant to convey joy, so we could use some other dimension like overall neural activity, or some combination of many factors. But the key point is that different works of art have different effects on people and these effects could be aggregated and analyzed.
I mean, do you think there's no such thing as bad music? If I fart into a microphone and think it's the greatest music ever written, would you say, "Well, that's a matter of personal taste" or would you say, "I think you must be misunderstanding music." I hope you would go with the latter. And if you accept that, then you must accept that there's more at work than personal taste.
Why would we rely on something which is admittedly "far from the truth"?
Because it's the best we can do. We want to give the best answer we can to the question posed in this debate, but the answer is too hard to find. So we just employ whatever techniques we can to get us as close to the truth as possible.
The human mind is a big bunch of neurons. A machine. Its processes, in their entirety, could theoretically be quantified and analyzed. Accept this and you can see that for any given person, a particular work of art is an input which produces a predictable output. Taking this further, one could compute the sum of every effect each work has upon every person and draw conclusions about which work produces the most desireable outcome overall, all things considered.
Yes, this notion remains science fiction for now, but such measurments could theoretically be taken. Lacking sophisticated neural scanning capabilities, we can instead rely on critics. Wise, empathic individuals who can bring to bear keen insight and a broad range of experiences in the evaluation of a given work. The consensus of several such critics, while perhaps far from the truth, is the best approximation of the truth we can hope to give as of yet.
This is what we generally mean we say X is better than Y.
I submit that as pop music today is an amalgamation of various influences
Surely the same can be said of every artistic work ever produced.
one genre cannot be declared better than any other
I don't think that's true. You may not be able to see the lighthouse through the deluge, but that doesn't mean the lighthouse isn't there. Every concievable aspect of a work could theoretically be considered and a range of satisfactory answers could then be produced.
Then perhaps you should have known better.
I knew you were gonna say that, too. My anticipated response:
It's a figure of speech, dipshit. Meaning: I felt it was quite probable that some pedantic wanker (you being the prime candidate) would latch on to that statement like a starving hyena, desperate for the slightest opportunity to suggest foolishness on my part. However, producing my argument in the first place took more time than any rational person should expend -- sanding down every potential handhold for said wanker would not be a worthwhile use of my time. Surely he will recognize my plight and not start shit over some minor point in an argument which I explicitly withdrew.
Alas, I have underestimated the extent of your wankerishness.
That's the pointless, baseless nostalgia we have come to expect from Americans.
That's the kind of unthinking condescension you would expect out of a country with a massive inferiority complex.
The music of the time was tailored to suit the tastes of the time, as it is now.
Tailored, yes. If you'll examine my argument more closely you will observe that it regarded degree. Carl Orff was more than a mouthpiece for a multi-million dollar algorithm which maximized appeal to focus groups. And while O Fortuna may lack subtlety, it does a better job of creating an epic feel than any other piece I am aware of.
I knew you were gonna say that.
I thought about adding a note that even if many classical pieces were written with a profit motive in mind, the environment in which they were produced did not enforce mediocrity with nearly the same ferocity as the modern music industry.
But then I decided such a note wasn't necessary. Silly me.
Here was my initial argument:
"If you accept that some art is better than other art then I don't see how you could deny the superiority of classical music. And I do think it's fair to say that art can be good or bad. My mom possesses a small piece of paper containing a mass of scribbles which bears the title, Giraffe. I produced this work when I was three. I think it's safe to say that that particular work of art is inferior to, say, the Mona Lisa.
Pop music, in general, is created mainly for commercial purposes -- this is the primary source of its flaws. It tends to be boring, derivative slop aimed at the lowest common denominator. There's little artistry involved. Classical music does not have a very high bar to clear, and it does so with ease."
But then I thought -- I am comparing the best of classical music (the stuff people think of when they think "classial music") to average modern music. To be fair I would need to compare the best classical to the best pop.
According to this site the best three pop songs of all time are:
"Imagine" by John Lennon
"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen
and "(I can't get no) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.
According to this, the three best classical songs are:
"Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Ode To Joy)" by Ludwig van Beethoven
"Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy
and "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin
Hmm, ok, so this is getting complicated. For one thing, those "pop" songs are not what I think of when I think "pop" -- I would call those rock songs. But I guess it would be hard to draw a line between the two genres. So let's just let "pop" mean a more modern style and "classical" mean an older style.
And now I think I have to give the edge to pop music. None of those classical songs had nearly the effect that "Born to Run" had on me in my younger days. "Imagine" would also beat the classical works by the same metric. But then, my perception is skewed by a maelstrom of social and cultural forces.
I do think a proper answer could be arrived at here, but it would take a wise and experienced critic to do so. Acknowledging my limited ability of discernment, I would guess that modern music is better. I think if classical music were really so great, then that's what I would listen to. But I don't, and that seems to hint that it ain't all that.
Get your facts straight. He doesn't favor extending the tax cuts for the rich. He favors extending them for the bottom 98%. He still doesn't like the full cuts, but he's going along with them because unlike republicans he cares more about the good of the country than forwarding his political interests.
But apparently that's not good enough for you asshats. You still hate him even when he's agreeing with you. Fucking ridiculous.