A Note from Quaver: The Question of Quality

by Abby @ Quaver on October 10, 2011

in Quaver's Notes

Quaver is back with this week’s Note – On Quality . . .

A number of months ago I was invited to do some Quavering at a rock concert.

I was very excited, even exhilarated you might say, being a lover of all kinds of music. There were loads of noticeably “cool kids” there, and as the first band came onto the stage I felt that pre-show adrenalin buzz I love!

Then it happened.

I heard sounds I’ve never before heard defined as “music.”

Yes, for the first time I was exposed to Screamo – a type of heavy rock music where the lead singer screams into the microphone. As I listened, questions came flooding into my brain:

  1. Had the singer swallowed an Armadillo and decided the best way to free himself of this obstruction was to clear his throat as part of the first song?
  2. Was the lead singer receiving an ‘on stage’ leg amputation? (This theory went unconfirmed as I couldn’t see his lower half from the back of the venue.)
  3. Should I call the paramedics? This boy sounded in need of immediate medial attention.

As I reached for my phone to execute option 3, assuming everyone there would be doing the same thing, I realized I was the only one concerned. People were really into it, and this was not an accident, an asthma attack or an audition to create sound effects for an upcoming horror film. This was music that the crowd really loved!

Then the dancing started! 100 young students started running around the room in a circle and crashing into each other. Yes. Believe it friends. It may be a stretch to call it “dancing,” but they seemed to deliberately run in a non-athletic kind of way. Think John Cleese meets Russell Brand chasing a goat in a circle and you have a pretty good picture of what I was seeing.

I wanted to join in, but it was the sort of thing I got told off for when I was young, so I refrained. My instinct – because I had never encountered it before – was to write off this new music as wrong, bad, or horrid – but in fact it was really well played, well performed, and moved people to dance/run in a circle of pure joy.

This mistrust of new music has happened throughout time – Stravinsky, Beethoven, Miles Davis, Shoenberg to name but a few. Most of these people were hated, condemned, written off. Now these same musicians are hailed as geniuses.

All this begs the question –

Is there such a thing as BAD music?

Clearly there can be bad, crude, or offensive lyrics, but when the words are removed and the music remains . .  . can it be truly qualified as bad? And what makes music of all veins worthwhile? What qualities mark good music across the wide board of genre and taste?

Next time you want to write off music as bad, take another listen; there may be more in it than you think.

Tell us about a time you’ve done a double-take when considering music you thought horrid at first listen?

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