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Mark Lanctot
2006-07-31, 08:03
Ever since I heard about the music genome project, I've been thinking about why I like the types of music I do. Often you like things without knowing why. It's interesting and I'd like to start a discussion about it.

I seem to like:

- simple, repeating, catchy melodies
- unusual vocalizations. Hard to describe, but I'm drawn towards unique-sounding choruses.
- heavy beats
- (sometimes) fast beats, 180 bpm or so
- structured music
- "riffs", both guitar and synth
- superimposition of one musical style over another
- tones overlaid/connected with contrasting undertones. For example, right now in my head I've got Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald. It's in the movie 24 Hour Party People (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274309/). It's a simple tone that's overlaid with a metallic tone that scans up and down the frequency on each subsequent beat. My mind just locks onto this stuff.
- scales/stepping tones. One of my favourite songs is The Dire Wolf by The Tragically Hip. I like it principally for the second chorus where there are tones stepping up in frequency played by vocals and guitars.

I think this explains why I like electronic music. However I also like rock, especially pieces with riffs or simplistic, repetitive rhythms. Like most of Led Zeppelin's stuff.

According to the movie Modulations (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139468/), which I encourage electronica fans to check out, a lot of electronic music is timed to the beat of the human heart and may tap into some primitive, ingrained womb-like experience. Quirky, I know, but interesting.

Scientifically speaking, I've heard that music is very heavily associated with mathematics. Complex timing, changing timing, frequencies that are multiples of each other, etc. Our brains are very precise timers, timing multiple events at once and they make associations and prefer certain structures based on timing and mathematics, all subconsciously.

Unfortunately my listening preference leads me to like some pretty embarrassing stuff that most of my rational mind wants me to dislike. I don't want to like it but I do. I really don't want to open my SlimServer to you guys, nor do I want to participate in the "Let's Play a Game" thread because some stuff comes up I'd rather not let everybody know about. :-) This also makes posting bug reports where I show log snippets a little embarassing should one of those tracks come up.

I strongly dislike unstructured music where the melody is always changing. A lot of the jazz I've heard is this way, and I really dislike jazz.

I also experience fairly pronounced listener fatigue. I'll be enamoured with a song for days, then never want to hear it again for years. Interestingly, I can often go back to it after a period of time, although I'm never as into it as I am during that first period.

Discuss!

NookZ
2006-07-31, 08:24
Can't say that I've ever given it much thought - I just like what I like.

But I have to admit to being a closet 'crate digger'. I simply must try and root out the most obscure artists and titles. My musical tastes are wide, but also quite conservative - I too can't get on with weirdly-timed jazz.

One thing I must confess is that I am obsessed with cover versions. I don't mean dodgy mainstream boy-band cover versions, but cover versions nonetheless - e.g. "Take On Me" by Reel Big Fish, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" by Spicy Rizacks, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by Jose Feliciano etc...

I think it's down to hearing a new take on an old established song.

I guess it probably comes from my teens when I got my hands on a couple of technics SL12's and a mixer - who knows..

Any more of this and I'll need to go and lie on a couch!

NZ

radish
2006-07-31, 08:53
According to the movie Modulations (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139468/), which I encourage electronica fans to check out, a lot of electronic music is timed to the beat of the human heart and may tap into some primitive, ingrained womb-like experience. Quirky, I know, but interesting.

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out. I've always thought the link between dance music and bio-functions to be pretty obvious. Not only is the tempo (usually 130-150bpm) around that of an average working heart, the typical club trance anthem follows a structure which is entirely unlike a typical rock or pop song (verse/bridge/chorus/verse etc) and instead virtually identical to the human sexual response cycle (http://www.engenderhealth.org/res/onc/sexuality/response/pg2.html). In other words, a long slow build up to a short peak followed by an immediate drop back down to resting (or the "breakdown" as it's known). It's no wonder that ecstasy (which causes euphoria and a desire for physical contact) became the drug of choice for that kind of music.



Scientifically speaking, I've heard that music is very heavily associated with mathematics. Complex timing, changing timing, frequencies that are multiples of each other, etc. Our brains are very precise timers, timing multiple events at once and they make associations and prefer certain structures based on timing and mathematics, all subconsciously.

Indeed it is, for example, the relationships between notes and frequencies are very precise and it's amazing how "wrong" something sounds to our ears if it doesn't follow the rules. I went to university in London at a science college next door to the Royal School of Music - my roommate was on a joint course with them and our Mathematics department. It was a very tough course to get on to - you needed to be a brilliant mathematician and an excellent musician - but the kind of things they studied were fascinating.

Mark Lanctot
2006-07-31, 09:10
Not only is the tempo (usually 130-150bpm) around that of an average working heart, the typical club trance anthem follows a structure which is entirely unlike a typical rock or pop song (verse/bridge/chorus/verse etc) and instead virtually identical to the human sexual response cycle (http://www.engenderhealth.org/res/onc/sexuality/response/pg2.html). In other words, a long slow build up to a short peak followed by an immediate drop back down to resting (or the "breakdown" as it's known).

LOL! Again our minds may lock onto this without realizing why.


Indeed it is, for example, the relationships between notes and frequencies are very precise and it's amazing how "wrong" something sounds to our ears if it doesn't follow the rules.

One pretty amazing concept is jitter. Sure when it's down low enough, improvements are imperceptible to the grand majority of people. But when it's up high enough, subtle effects start to happen to the music without us being fully aware of it.

Jitter problems are often described as lack of spaciousness or smearing. It's not one of those things you can easily describe, we're using audiophile terms like "airiness" here, but it is something our subconscious brains start to pick up on at some point and give us subtle cues, i.e. we just don't like it but are unsure why.

We're several orders of magnitude below human reaction time here, still in the millisecond range.

Pretty amazing that our brains have timers that precise.

In terms of musical structure, I find that I'm a creature of habit and I get a pretty accurate timing map of a song in my head. If this is altered, the effect is often unpleasant for me. This is why I don't like live albums - I find the small timing and note variances clash with my perception of what the song is.

NookZ
2006-07-31, 12:28
According to the movie Modulations (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139468/), which I encourage electronica fans to check out, a lot of electronic music is timed to the beat of the human heart and may tap into some primitive, ingrained womb-like experience. Quirky, I know, but interesting.

Scientifically speaking, I've heard that music is very heavily associated with mathematics. Complex timing, changing timing, frequencies that are multiples of each other, etc. Our brains are very precise timers, timing multiple events at once and they make associations and prefer certain structures based on timing and mathematics, all subconsciously.


Mark,

Thanks for the DVD recommendation, had a quick look on Amazon but it's not available for rental. I'll keep my eyes peeled for one on eBay.

In regards to the colation musical and heart rhythms I think the dance scene from Matrix:Reloaded was an excellent example of the connection.

radish
2006-07-31, 12:41
Thanks for the DVD recommendation, had a quick look on Amazon but it's not available for rental. I'll keep my eyes peeled for one on eBay.
FYI, it's available from Netflix.

NookZ
2006-07-31, 12:48
FYI, it's available from Netflix.

Radish - Thanks :)

Nikhil
2006-08-03, 11:05
Mark,

You pose some very interesting questions - stuff that I have been interested in for quite a while. This morning I heard a nice episode of the Diane Rehm show on NPR which I thought was relevant to this thread.

These links might be of interest to you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Levitin
http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/08/03.php#10677
http://ego.psych.mcgill.ca/labs/levitin/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0525949690/103-1554339-9523055?v=glance&n=283155

Mark Lanctot
2006-08-03, 15:46
Mark,

You pose some very interesting questions - stuff that I have been interested in for quite a while. This morning I heard a nice episode of the Diane Rehm show on NPR which I thought was relevant to this thread.

These links might be of interest to you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Levitin
http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/08/03.php#10677
http://ego.psych.mcgill.ca/labs/levitin/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0525949690/103-1554339-9523055?v=glance&n=283155

Very interesting - neat to see which companies are sponsoring his research. Wonder if it will lead to new technologies/products?

Gildahl
2006-09-27, 13:32
Here are some of my observations.

1. Culture. At the coarsest level, there is the cultural component. I married a Latino and she brought Salsa, Merengue, and other Latin folk styles of music to the household. Stuff I never really listened to or even liked much in the past. Now that I've heard some artists I had never heard of before, I'm starting to love some of this stuff.

2. Nostalgia. One's taste in music seems to have a lot to do with memory. Sometimes I'll play some "old" tunes that, technically, are not very good, but they recall my high-school days or some other time in my life. These songs are liked not so much for their intrinsic quality, but for the memory recall reaction we have to them. A lot of holiday music falls into this category for me.

3. Mood and Emotion. Often we tend to listen to music that either matches our mood, or puts us in the mood we want to be in. Music runs the gamut in varieties of mood. It seems that any mood you want, you can find a piece of music that reflects it. And so we often equate enjoyment with how well the music corresponds to our desired mood.

4. Sonic Experience. Some music we like purely for the clarity, precision, or power of the sound. I'm not a big Bach fan, but after hearing Leopold Stokowski's orchestral transcription of the Toccotta and Fugue in D minor played at high volume on a high end system, I couldn't help but be bowled over by it. Other musical nuances such as ones that you mention (unusual vocalizations, riffs, heavy beat) can also entrance us, not always for their quality, but for their novelty. The only problem with a lot of these latter things is that they don't typically have staying power, and lose their effect after a time.

5. Knowledge. Deeper than average knowledge of a particular musical instrument and/or performer can immensely increase one's enjoyment of certain kinds of music. I'm a trumpet player, and it's amazing how much trumpet music I have in my collection. The reason is that because I know what it takes to play a trumpet, I have a deeper than average appreciation for the virtuosity of a great trumpet player.

6. Accessibility. Usually, this refers to how well a piece of music stands up to what we expect music to be. Music is generally thought of as having melody, harmony, and rhythm. Other components might include timbre, chord progression, frequency, etc. Frequently, people won't like music that goes to an extreme in either ignoring or over-emphasizing one or more of these aspects. Rap is hard for me to like as a musical form because it is almost all rhythm. I also don't enjoy atonal classical music since it disposes of what I consider to be melody and harmony. Harshness or shrillness don't appeal to me either--which is why even as a trumpet player, I can only take so much of someone like Maynard Ferguson.

7. Time Investment. I really enjoy classical music, but it wasn't always that way. Some (if not most) of the most complex and arduously composed music in the world is in the classical genre. Classical music, however, is very difficult to really appreciate unless one devotes time to sitting down and listening intently to it. You're not going to get many people to come to a party with Mahler playing in the background, but sit down some night by yourself, crank the volume, and treat yourself to his second symphony. It's an amazing thing.

8. Expression. Sometimes we use music to express ourselves. This act of expression then becomes our source of enjoyment--even if the music itself is technically sub-par. How many love and folk songs are out there which are simply bad musically, but which express something we can relate to? Rebellious music, religious music, political/nationalistic music, even sports music, etc. A lot of times someone will tell me that they enjoy a particular piece of music and I'll wonder how they could possibly like such a musical embarrasement. But then I realize that it's not really the music per-se that they like, but what that music is expressing.

9. Functionality. Some music we enjoy for the function it has. Dance music is frequently trite stuff in the technical sense, but if gets the hips moving and the blood flowing, it can be enjoyed for that alone. Other kinds of functional music include movie/television background or theme music, commercial jingles, or even ring tones.

10. Technical Quality. Anyone who has taken music theory knows that music has evolved over centuries, and that there are certain "rules" of music composition. Anyone who has taken a musical instrument knows that there are certain skills that it takes to perform on that instrument well. The combination of theory and performer yields technical quality. It's a subjective thing to be sure, but it is something that can contribute strongly to one's enjoyment of music. A great performer singing/playing a lousy composition or a weak performer singing/playing a great composition can actually be enjoyable to some extent. But a great performer performing a great composition can yield an experience of incredible enjoyment.

Dave

Mark Lanctot
2006-09-27, 13:45
Wow Dave, what a well-thought-out post! You made several interesting observations, but only one I'd like to comment on:


Other musical nuances such as ones that you mention (unusual vocalizations, riffs, heavy beat) can also entrance us, not always for their
quality, but for their novelty. The only problem with a lot of these latter things is that they don't typically have staying power, and lose their effect after a time.

I get pretty pronounced listener fatigue with certain artists and you have have hit the nail on the head with this. This could very well be it.

I get really absorbed by a track and play it over and over again (it even plays in my head for days at a time, for some reason when I'm trying to sleep?) and I get sick of the track after that.

peejay
2006-10-25, 01:28
That last post by Gildahl pretty much wraps it up technically, except to say that I sometimes like to just let music wash over me, and not dissect it too much. I tend to dissect much later either after fatigue (as well described in an earlier post) has set in and long past and I hear the song a long period after that, or I hear an exceptional reproduction of something I know and am awoken to many more of the nuances of the track.

CatBus
2006-10-25, 08:49
I'd also be interested in hearing about the rate of new-music-type acquisition.

What I mean is, in my experience, most people simply stop (or nearly stop) acquiring new musical interests in their late twenties or thirties. A largish minority slows their rate of uptake (hey, your priorities are the kids and the mortgage, etc). And very very few keep a steady rate or increase their rate.

I'm particularly interested in the first group. There seems to be a split between people who WOULD keep up with music if only they had the time, but don't, and people who seriously don't think good music is made anymore and whose collections are time capsules from some golden age of music in their mind.

I have to admit I feel fortunate to have many friends in the last category. I am by nature a very lazy person, and without their assistance would probably be listening to my 10+ year old CDs most of the time.

Mark Lanctot
2006-10-25, 10:20
What I mean is, in my experience, most people simply stop (or nearly stop) acquiring new musical interests in their late twenties or thirties.

Cool, you hit the nail on the head - that's exactly what happened to me.



I'm particularly interested in the first group. There seems to be a split between people who WOULD keep up with music if only they had the time, but don't, and people who seriously don't think good music is made anymore and whose collections are time capsules from some golden age of music in their mind.

Heh, my Dad's still stuck on The Kingston Trio and I am firmly convinced that Nirvana was the last good group in existence.

I have bought new CDs recently, but mostly new releases from artists that were popular when I was 20-25.

CatBus
2006-10-25, 11:50
Heh, my Dad's still stuck on The Kingston Trio and I am firmly convinced that Nirvana was the last good group in existence.

In my opinion, good music is still made, but you have to work to find it by sifting through a lot of not-so-good music. It takes a level of free time and energy that only young whipper-snappers seem to have ;) So find yourself some young punk kid who is into your music, and then ask them to recommend some newer stuff.

That strategy really helped me out. Except the young punk kid is in his thirties too, but that's neither here nor there.

Mark Lanctot
2006-10-25, 12:04
In my opinion, good music is still made, but you have to work to find it by sifting through a lot of not-so-good music. It takes a level of free time and energy that only young whipper-snappers seem to have ;) So find yourself some young punk kid who is into your music, and then ask them to recommend some newer stuff.

That strategy really helped me out. Except the young punk kid is in his thirties too, but that's neither here nor there.

Good point. I guess the question is, do they really make crappy music these days or is it just the "grumpy old man" syndrome creeping up on me?

"Those kids and their dang Blink 182!"

Has quality really gone down or are we tricked into this by our own misconceptions and attitudes?

My gut says yes, quality has gone down. About the only artist I've liked since Nirvana has been The White Stripes, and only halfheartedly. They were recommended to me by my brother, 3 years younger than me - one of those "young whippersnappers" you're talking about! :-)

I do follow an "MP3 blog" for electronic music at http://music.for-robots.com/ but only about 2 of every 5 tracks they post I actually like. I can't say I've bought an album based on something I heard there though.

CatBus
2006-10-25, 12:13
Well, if you've got the time, there may be other whipper-snappers out there (here for example).

Seriously, compile a list of your top-favorite bands, including maybe why you like them, and then also make a list of bands that are often lumped together with those same bands that you DON'T like, and why you don't like them. And maybe just a list of generic musical turn-ons and turn-offs. The worst that could happen is that everyone makes fun of your musical taste ;)

But given two of your data points (Nirvana are brilliant, White Stripes are okay I guess), I may have a pretty good overlap in tastes with you. Then again, without more data points I can't say for sure.

Mark Lanctot
2006-10-25, 12:36
Well, if you've got the time, there may be other whipper-snappers out there (here for example).

Seriously, compile a list of your top-favorite bands, including maybe why you like them, and then also make a list of bands that are often lumped together with those same bands that you DON'T like, and why you don't like them. And maybe just a list of generic musical turn-ons and turn-offs. The worst that could happen is that everyone makes fun of your musical taste ;)

But given two of your data points (Nirvana are brilliant, White Stripes are okay I guess), I may have a pretty good overlap in tastes with you. Then again, without more data points I can't say for sure.

Hmm, that's a good idea for a massive thread here in the music forum. Perhaps not today, but it would be interesting - a music exploration/recommendation thread.

CatBus
2006-10-25, 12:52
Oh yeah, forgot to mention:

Here's why I think musical nostalgia "works": you only remember the good stuff and you forget the bad stuff. When you listen to today's music, it's the same ratio of good-to-bad as in the past, but your memory filters out all the bad stuff so it just seems worse today.

When people get all nostagic about the music of the 80's, they're thinking about how much they still enjoy the Violent Femmes or the Pixies or whoever their favorite band was. They forget that when you turned on a radio in the 80's, you were much more likely to hear Night Ranger or Loverboy.

Nikhil
2006-10-25, 13:07
I'd also be interested in hearing about the rate of new-music-type acquisition.

What I mean is, in my experience, most people simply stop (or nearly stop) acquiring new musical interests in their late twenties or thirties. A largish minority slows their rate of uptake (hey, your priorities are the kids and the mortgage, etc). And very very few keep a steady rate or increase their rate.



I think this kind of mirrors what happens with friends. I think all of the really special, lifelong friends I made were before my late twenties. Its not like I haven't met new and interesting people since, and its not like the general quality (or lack thereof) of people on the planet has changed significantly. I just think that I am less receptive to making new friends now than I was during my teens and early twenties. I think the same applies for music in some ways.

Nikhil

CatBus
2006-10-25, 13:24
I think this kind of mirrors what happens with friends. I think all of the really special, lifelong friends I made were before my late twenties. Its not like I haven't met new and interesting people since, and its not like the general quality (or lack thereof) of people on the planet has changed significantly. I just think that I am less receptive to making new friends now than I was during my teens and early twenties. I think the same applies for music in some ways.

Nikhil

Wow, great connection!

And now that you mention it, nearly all of my "older" friends who still keep up with modern music are 1) single and 2) not "settled down" in a particular city or career. They also still make newer friends.

tomsi42
2006-10-25, 14:23
Oh yeah, forgot to mention:

Here's why I think musical nostalgia "works": you only remember the good stuff and you forget the bad stuff. When you listen to today's music, it's the same ratio of good-to-bad as in the past, but your memory filters out all the bad stuff so it just seems worse today.

When people get all nostagic about the music of the 80's, they're thinking about how much they still enjoy the Violent Femmes or the Pixies or whoever their favorite band was. They forget that when you turned on a radio in the 80's, you were much more likely to hear Night Ranger or Loverboy.

Aah. Loverboy! Had an LP of those - never bought the CD though....

I am not sure, but I feel that there were a higher ratio of good music (versus the "crap") before. My musical era should have been the 80's but I have a lot 70's music, some from the 90's and even less from the last few years! Of, course at 45, I am too old to be taken seriously ;)

probedb
2006-10-26, 05:37
I'm not sure I can explain why I like what I do. I love everything from Opeth's most melodic acoustic stuff from Damnation through to the 13 minute wonder that is Deliverance. I also love math-core type stuff from bands like Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Then again I also like simple, heavy riffs from the likes of Lacuna Coil to the Flamenco influenced Breed 77.

Then I go off in a random direction with the likes of Tom Waits!

I dunno why I like it I just do :) That's about as technical as I can get ;)

peejay
2006-11-22, 05:32
Aah. Loverboy! Had an LP of those - never bought the CD though....

I am not sure, but I feel that there were a higher ratio of good music (versus the "crap") before. My musical era should have been the 80's but I have a lot 70's music, some from the 90's and even less from the last few years! Of, course at 45, I am too old to be taken seriously ;)

No way are you too old to be taken seriously, particularly where music is conerned. Mate, once Scissor sisters took 'Comfortably Numb' to the cleaners and came back a few threads short, I knew I was right (and you too).

chinablues
2006-11-28, 08:03
I cannot say I particularly like one type of music or another exclusively. I have found though a few factors that influence what I listen to & what I purchase. These are not specifically 'likes or dislikes', but are nevertheless related to what I listen to. In no particular order: Serious system upgrade - any time I do this, I listen to a lot more music. This also pushes me to spend on new music too, often branching into a new style of music. When I moved from records to CD's around 84/85, I bought a lot of classical music which I still enjoy at times. Classical music is of course timeless, so never really goes out of fashion. My more recent upgrades about a year ago, prior to coming to China, I've bought a lot of blues & jazz. Location where I play the music. I used to live in a 'single family home' in North Virginia, now I live in an apartment in Beijing. In the one, loud music worked for me, in the second, I cannot really crank up the volume. (I have a Velodyne DD15 Subwoofer here, sitting doing virtually nothing). Some music lends itself to loudness more than other types. George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Stevie Ray Vaughan & the like, I don't think I've really cranked up here in China. Played a lot of Patricia Barber though. Time of day. In the day, I'll listen to anything. At night, I'll pick what I'm listening too. Bette Lavette right now (10.30pm). Inebriated or sober. After a few drinks, especially on a Friday night I'll go into some heavy rock played at ear splitting volume. But again, not in China. How many times have you wondered what the volume was doing cranked up that far on a Saturday morning! (Couldn't have been me)

I buy periodically from Amazon (they deliver to China) and when on an overseas trip will always try to listen to new stuff on the audio channels. Found Lauren Ellis & Liz Wright there for eg. I guess I only really expect about 50% of blind purchases on Amazon to work for me, but that's OK. I'll also buy stuff that other folks recommend & then wonder what was wrong with them. No doubt one day we'll leave China & move somewhere, but who knows where (currently we're homeless). I have space in the house to listen to loud music plus space in the garden to build a Koi pond on my list. My wife will likely pick the continent we live in.

Dan

tomsi42
2006-11-28, 08:09
No way are you too old to be taken seriously, particularly where music is conerned. Mate, once Scissor sisters took 'Comfortably Numb' to the cleaners and came back a few threads short, I knew I was right (and you too).

Now that is one cover I don't want to hear! Especially as Comfortably Numb is is one of my biggest favorites.

Tom

PS. Thanks for nice words mate.

Khuli
2006-11-28, 09:49
Now that is one cover I don't want to hear! Especially as Comfortably Numb is is one of my biggest favorites.
You said you had a load of stuff from the 70's - you might appreciate the disco feel! :P

tomsi42
2006-11-28, 10:08
You said you had a load of stuff from the 70's - you might appreciate the disco feel! :P

No problem with disco - I Don't Feel Like Dancin' is good fun.

But messing with Pink Floyd is sacrilege ;)

adamslim
2006-11-28, 16:42
But messing with Pink Floyd is sacrilege ;)

No such preciousness for me, at least where Waters/Gilmour vehicles are concerned - Pink Floyd died in July this year, after kinda being haunted for about 40 years :(

tomsi42
2006-12-02, 06:13
No problem with disco - I Don't Feel Like Dancin' is good fun.

But messing with Pink Floyd is sacrilege ;)

Now I have heard the Scissor Sisters version of "comfortably numb". And it was bad. Really bad. They totally missed it. We had a party yesterday so it was the right time to test it - but no one liked it. We listened to a Gregorian version of the same song as well - no good.

tomjtx
2006-12-02, 06:42
I supose as a classical guitarist I should like primarily "classical music" or what we call "art music"

But that is not the case. I listen to different kinds of music with different ears and expectations.
I wont get from Bethoven what I get from the Beatles or vice versa.

I love almost all genres of music. The exceptions are opera and country western. But I love Mozart operas and Willy Nelson
My 14 year old son has turned me on to some great hip hop :
Tech9, Black Eyed Peas, Gnarls Barkely, Danger Mouse, Eminem, Ludacris, and many others.I think there are many innovative things happening in this genre.
I've turned him onto Renaissance music, barouque, Manu Chao, Beatles, steely dan,

As you can see, I'm pretty much all over the place.

CatBus
2006-12-05, 16:45
I love almost all genres of music. The exceptions are opera and country western. But I love Mozart operas and Willy Nelson
My 14 year old son has turned me on to some great hip hop :
Tech9, Black Eyed Peas, Gnarls Barkely, Danger Mouse, Eminem, Ludacris, and many others.I think there are many innovative things happening in this genre.

Opera's a tough one. I have a friend who's an opera singer (bass baritone, always plays the villain) and while I love to wish him all the luck in the world, I really can only do so from afar. It's a hyper-stylized vocal art form. You just don't "get it" unless you're steeped in the theory and history of it all, I guess, and I know I'm sure not.

Country's like any other popular genre though--lots of bad stuff to sift through to get to the good stuff--and without a guide or a lot of perseverance, you can't do it. (to illustrate, would you have discovered Danger Mouse without your son's help?)

There's a lot of good stuff skirting the edges of the genre, and you can work your way inwards once you find something you like. Lyle Lovett comes at country from the Blues/Swing direction (esp His Large Band and I Love Everybody). Neko Case comes at it from the vocal/ballad direction. From the folk direction come Gillian Welch and Caitlin Cary (the latter's collaboration with Thad Cockrell is quite nice). There's innovation in Country, but you may just not hear it happening on the radio.