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What makes great music...


Foolonthehill
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There are a few elements that make a piece of music truly amazing in my opinion.

Perhaps most importantly, it must have passion and emotion. Music is all about portraying the range of emotions better than words ever could. For music to reach the listener deeply, it should take him/her through many complex feelings rather than blast them continually with a single simple one. This doesn't need to happen in a single short song and is best done in longer works; symphonies, gap-less albums (not sure if there is a better word for that), or rock "epics".

One must also be able to listen to great music repeatedly without losing interest. Whether this is through complexity of writing, originality, or simply captivating power, it must be able keep the listener interested. I enjoy some pieces of music more and more with each listen because I am continually discovering new ideas in them.

I also find that music which follows a pattern by-the-book, whether it is verse-chorus-verse-chorus or Sonata Allegro, can be hampered by the limitations of the form, and music which simply goes where the music wants to can express itself better. There are, of course, exceptions to this trend, but for the most part, great music develops itself rather than following others.

Repetition can be used to the composer's advantage, to create tension or build up to a new idea, but the repetition of one melody in one key for a minute and a half makes for a boring song. Like a story, a piece of music should develop to a climax.

Finally, the element which I think is most sorely lacking in popular music, and quite a simple one to take care of, is dynamic contrast. Changes between loud and soft can add so much colour to the listener's experience.

This is not to say that I do not enjoy listening to music that does not have the characteristics above. Some music I classify as being for casual listening, suitable for background, but not as enjoyable when truly concentrated on. This music is enjoyable because it is catchy, impressive, or just "rocks". I would put the majority of popular music into this category. Simply because it isn't what I would call "great" doesn't mean it isn't entertaining.

That's my opinion. I've been thinking a lot about this recently, and just had to write about it. I would like to hear your opinions now, on what makes great music.

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(if I could write music...) I think one aspect would be acknowledgement from your musical peers.

Another characteristic would be if the song / or longer piece stood the test of time, as in future generations enjoyed it.

The music touches many layers of society.

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I couldn´t answer nor have an opinion about this. I d say "great music" is the music I like, being aware it´ s not bubblegum, ABBA or other easy listening music I worship... it has to have passion, yes, and it has to bring emotion too... make me feel something... now, maybe bubblegum, ABBA & others are great music too? :P

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I think music is all about emotion. It puts into words,at times,feelings we can't put into words ourselves. We connect things that happen in our lives,good or bad,with a song we heard while those things were going on. Music can remind us of the ones we love or it can also remind us of the ones we don't love. Music does a lot of things. I can't write music and I can't sing or play a instrument of any kind,but if I had a choice,I would choose to have the ability to write songs. What a gift.

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Just replying to the question in the title of this thread:

It has been proven that laughter releases all sorts of good chemicals into the body. I would not be surprised it proven tapping one's foot, singing, dancing or just moving internally to the words/sound/ryhtmns of music is of tremendous benefit to us.

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For me, it's mostly about the amount of emotion put into music. If a musician puts a lot of emotion into a song, I can overlook any lack of technical skill or even originality.

Also, I don't judge music by what it makes me feel, instead, I judge music by how much it makes me feel. Although if a song makes me happy and sad at the same time, it gets bonus points.

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It has been proven that laughter releases all sorts of good chemicals into the body. I would not be surprised it proven tapping one's foot, singing, dancing or just moving internally to the words/sound/ryhtmns of music is of tremendous benefit to us.

I transcribed an interview a while back for a client who was writing a piece on how music effects terminally ill patients. Musicians would visit them in their rooms, ask them what types of music they enjoyed, and then play for them. The study showed proof that music helped these people feel better, better attitude, and in a few cases it allowed the people to get well enough to be released from palliative care.

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I like music that I can listen to once and know I want to listen to it over and over (e.g., Roxy Music). I also like music that makes me re-consider notions of what's classified as "good" (e.g. Einsturzende Neubauten). Whether it's a complex or a simple arrangement is unimportant to me. This is how I can overlook Bach's baroque and gaudy compositions for Satie's light and fun music :beatnik:

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The two pieces of music that spring to mind are:

Aerosmith: Don't Want to Miss A Thing. It has a great epic feel to it, and they lyrics are (for me at least) as accurate as you can get to the feeling of being in love.

Pink Floyd: The Wall. The film and the music together help to portray the message of self destruction and teenage-angst-style of depression and drug use that bands struggle to do with 5 albums.

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