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Discussion Starter #1
I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is about certain music that I like, and certain music that I don't.
Aside from taste, etc, what is really the fundemental thing(s), characteristics, etc that attract you to certain music?

This should not be a discussion about this band, that performer, this style, that style (except to exempify the point).
I find there are always examples in any of these of things that are liked and not liked.

Aside from just 'damn good songs', as I reflect on my own tastes, I find some common themes:
1. I don't care much for lyrics and their meaning. They are VERY important melodically, but for me, the words and meaning are very low on my radar. I have friends who dislike any music without lyrics, and the common theme there is they are the types of people that know the lyrics to every song they ever heard, so, for them they are importnat.
2. I LOVE layered/textured music. Complex layers of various sounds/voicing done right has to be my favorite thing. Mingus does this well, Kate Bush (not sax related) has music rich with layers, Kamasi Washington, ELO, many more. To me this is different from big band, generally, where many voices play the same thing or parts of the same thing.
3. Bands that add the less common instruments to their lineup (Flute/Jethro Tull, Big Band to Rockabilly/Brian Setzer, etc)
4. Collective improvisation. The interplay of many improving around a core theme and coming back together again astounds me (mostly cause I haven't a clue how to do this...yet!) Rebirth Brass Band and other New Orleans bands know this style well, and are experts at it. A sight and sound to here.
5. Bands that sound bigger than they are. Zeppelin, Morphine, trios and duos that almost trick you into thinking there are more folks in the band.
6. New spins on old, excellent tunes. Not straight covers, but morphing great tunes into something else. Coltrane's My Favorite Things is a hallmark of this of course. I have a calypso/trumpet verison of "If I Only Had a Brain" by Kermit Ruffins that makes me just smile.
7. New voices pushing music forward. Leo P is a good example. I don't love all his music, but love what he does, and when he hits one, it is amazing.

Do any of you ever reflect on what tickles the hammer, anvil and stirrip for you?
 

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To your list, I would add

- skill, virtuosity, & fluency: not showiness or busyness, but just the ability to execute technically intricate music in an extremely skillful and fluent way.

- "tastiness": I don't have a better word for it, but it's just the ability to put the right elements together in a way that isn't necessarily novel or groundbreaking, but that just sounds good.

On the negative side (i.e., what pushes me away from certain music)

- Novelty/weirdness (seemingly) for its own sake, affected "quirkiness", etc.

- Very busy and/or heavily orchestrated music (example: I love the bare bones "voz e violão" style of bossa nova, but find that many popular versions of bossa tunes are ruined by over-orchestration). I rarely like orchestral string arrangements outside of "classical" music.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
forgot one....

8. Country Music - when trying to make my wife happy and distract her from incoming saxophones and saxophone stuff
 

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What's weird is that I've often found that I like the sound or the cant or the style of the lyrics, it's not often that I like the actual lyrics (there are some exceptions). In fact, when I've read or seen the lyrics, even after decades of not knowing the words, I'm surprised.

For some strange reason, I really, really like Reggae. I can't identify what it is about the style.

forgot one....

8. Country Music - when trying to make my wife happy and distract her from incoming saxophones and saxophone stuff


I thought I didn't like it, but Country Music of the 1950's is very different than what is called Country Music today. Older Country Music, to me, is good - and, somewhat contradictory to the above, I do listen to the lyrics.
 

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Good musicianship, melodic content, sophistication. I'm really only interested in instrumental music. I don't have much interest in singers or lyrics.
 

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I think every piece of music has a very specific meaning with the purpose of conveying human emotion. There are many different vehicles for expressing these meanings, both instrumentally and vocally. In fact, the meanings can be very, very specific.

For example, I read about a violin player who played at a nursing home. At the end of the little concert, he shared how the music was composed by someone who's friend died in WWII in an aerial battle and the piece was written in honor of him. An old man in the audience became very tearful and said that while the music was being played he had very vivid memories of his years in the Army Air Corps., and specifically a battle in which a fellow aviator was shot down.

Some ancient philosophers also saw music as representing actual, physical objects. It's an interesting idea that instrumental music can convey actual events, people, etc., but it's a very special synergy when music and lyrics are both telling a story. Maybe sometimes the music adequately conveys the meaning/emotion being conveyed and that's why some people don't need the words to understand what's being said in a song with words. The most simple melodies and harmonies can convey these meanings as powerfully as sophisticated ones. The ability of the music to say something significant to the listener's heart, mind and spirit, can require great skill, but sometimes skill isn't needed, such as when a little child sings a lullaby.

I'm attracted to music that convincingly says something. This can be a deep, profound thing or just a silly thing. Music isn't about melodies and harmonies- those things go out the window when the music is coming from the heart and soul.
 

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I've never been a lyrics guy either. There are many songs I've heard countless times and I have no idea what the actual lyrics are. I eventually realized that my focus is on the melody and harmony. I generally just assign the words that I "hear". Great example, the Chumba Wumba song, "Tub Thumping". For years I thought the lyrics were, "I get no tar from the doublegate, 'cause I left it on the VCR".
 

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always looking for transcendence, ie. original and compelling. not that i've personally ever produced anything transcendent, but always thankful to experience such a performance. a rare experience of late.
 

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I like music that I find intellectually stimulating - usually what does that the most for me is harmonic sophistication.
 

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Simple question, but the answer for me is incredibly complicated. If there were words to sufficiently explain, we wouldn’t need music!

But I will try anyway...I don’t listen to everything for the same reasons. The OP didn’t want to talk about specific artists or styles, but listening to a blues recording from the 50s does not affect me in the same way as a straight ahead jazz quartet recording from the 80s. As a musician, there’s almost always an analytical facet to my listening, but I think it increases rather than diminishes my enjoyment.

The very best for me, and it’s rare, is when the instruments fall away, and I “see” the music as moving lines of color, or images that I can not easily explain. That is more likely to happen when listening to music with less structural framework, more improvised, than say a fine BB King live recording, recorded and played with exquisite taste and craftsmanship. But I enjoy both, for different reasons...

Sorry, I give up.
 

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Great post.

The beauty of music and what it does to us, is truly one of the great wonders of the world.

You take the same 12 notes and you put them in different contexts, and they can affect us in so many different ways, it’s remarkable.

The emotions that those 12 notes can make us feel when put in different combinations, are really impossible to describe or understand. They affect all of us differently.

I just couldn’t be more thankful that music is in my life, in such a big way.
Open your ears and open your heart, and music will take you to so many great places.
 

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"Tests on the effects of music on living organisms besides humans have shown that special pieces of music (including The Blue Danube) aid hens in laying more eggs. Music can also help cows to yield more milk. Researchers from Canada and the former Soviet Union found that wheat will grow faster when exposed to special ultrasonic and musical sounds. Rats were tested by psychologists to see how they would react to Bach's music and rock music. The rats were placed into two different boxes. Rock music was played in one of the boxes while Bach's music was played in the other box. The rats could choose to switch boxes through a tunnel that connected both boxes. Almost all of the rats chose to go into the box with the Bach music even after the type of music was switched from one box to the other."

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b3eb/a07fcd767d95c6aa7ac7b8fb57092a104380.pdf
 

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What attracts you to certain music, and why?
Classical: Skillful playing/composition. Concertos and instrumentals more than vocals. Not much of a fan of operas.
Jazz (97% of jazz)): Improvisation and freedom of expression. You could listen to different versions. Not so with classicals. If you change the note/tempo/rhythm, it's like you have committed a sin. Not much of freedom I think (I may be wrong).
Smooth jazz (3% of jazz): Sometimes I just want to listen to something different. The 'smoothness' wears me down in no time though.
RnB: Lyrics, vocalisation skills
Raps: Almost never attracted except sometimes for some nice motif (repeated) that forms the basis on which the rap is based.
Regae: I like bass guitars and tenor solos. I enjoy the rhythms as well. Lyrics can be enjoyable for me as well when I eventually understand the meaning.
Heavy metals: Hmmnn... no thanks. Too loud for me.
Pop/Hip hop: Sometimes for the melody and lyrics.
And many more genres (I may add more later)

I have a very wide taste when it comes to music. Skillful, artistic and meastro singing/playing (melodic or otherwise) is important to me and well recorded.
I enjoy songs with languages I don't even understand if the music is good.
 

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Instrumentation is very important. There are instruments I don't like the sound of. Energy & vibe. I like uptempo tunes.
 

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I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is about certain music that I like, and certain music that I don't.
Aside from taste, etc, what is really the fundemental thing(s), characteristics, etc that attract you to certain music?

This should not be a discussion about this band, that performer, this style, that style (except to exempify the point).
I find there are always examples in any of these of things that are liked and not liked.
Do any of you ever reflect on what tickles the hammer, anvil and stirrip for you?

Aside from just 'damn good songs', as I reflect on my own tastes, I find some common themes:
your numbered points:

1. I don't care much for lyrics and their meaning. They are VERY important melodically, but for me, the words and meaning are very low on my radar. I have friends who dislike any music without lyrics, and the common theme there is they are the types of people that know the lyrics to every song they ever heard, so, for them they are importnat.
I am also not interested in lyrics at least in the sense that I need/want to hear their 'meaning'. My best friend is very into the lyrics, For him they connect emotionally, but I find much of what he loves dog-baying-at-the-moon-worthy. I am not interested in connecting emotionally (most of the time) to music, I want to reach another place. My favourite lyrics are the ones that are an excuse for the singer to make sounds which work like another instrument, they only benefit I find of meaning is that it helps to remember/repeat the some of coherent words/vauguely are used . Songs that come into my head are Hendrix 1983 a merman I should be, Captian Beefheart, and several songs by both Groundation & Midnite, where the lyrics are more of a chant than 'specifically'meaningful.

2. I LOVE layered/textured music. Complex layers of various sounds/voicing done right has to be my favorite thing. Mingus does this well, Kate Bush (not sax related) has music rich with layers, Kamasi Washington, ELO, many more. To me this is different from big band, generally, where many voices play the same thing or parts of the same thing.
I also love textured music, I can't lose myself in big band or repetitive music. Buddy Guy/Ginger Baker types of drumming do nothing for me, technically on top perhaps but for me, boring. examples.Portico quartet, groundation, Midnite. Often find myself following the drumming when it is part of a separate texture (Groundation/Midnite again) Very recently discovered Kamasi Washington-Yes!

3. Bands that add the less common instruments to their lineup (Flute/Jethro Tull, Big Band to Rockabilly/Brian Setzer, etc)
yes: Portico (hang drum). Augustus Pablo (melodica)

4. Collective improvisation. The interplay of many improving around a core theme and coming back together again astounds me (mostly cause I haven't a clue how to do this...yet!) Rebirth Brass Band and other New Orleans bands know this style well, and are experts at it. A sight and sound to here.
Reggae/jazz fusion does this for me

5. Bands that sound bigger than they are. Zeppelin, Morphine, trios and duos that almost trick you into thinking there are more folks in the band.
yes to the bands.

6. New spins on old, excellent tunes. Not straight covers, but morphing great tunes into something else. Coltrane's My Favorite Things is a hallmark of this of course. I have a calypso/trumpet verison of "If I Only Had a Brain" by Kermit Ruffins that makes me just smile.
Im rediscovering old originals and enjoying more than new spins on average. Reggae/ska mostly

7. New voices pushing music forward. Leo P is a good example. I don't love all his music, but love what he does, and when he hits one, it is amazing.
same here. not a huge fan of Leo P's music but love what he does. Same Grace Kelly. of their time:Hendrix to Incredible String band, Ramases, White Noise, etc>

One could argue music is about resonance, (i.e. we resonate with it) so it could be said that what you like, describes you. So discovering good new music is like discovering a new part of your self, or at least connecting to something that wants connecting to: what I want to connect to is clearly very different to my Califonian Friend . We have very different music tastes but we get on great.
 

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I don't think I could quantify what it is about a particular tune that I might like. It could be the melody, the vocal timbre, the beat or some other hook. It doesn't have to be complex, but it could be. It doesn't have to be performed by the best musicians either. I am also loath to abandon a complete genre... as in my youth in regard to Bluegrass. As I get older I simply don't want to limit myself with certain musical prejudices; and I believe you're on that track once you try to figure out what exactly it is that moves you. You find that, and you're stuck with it.
 

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I don't think I could quantify what it is about a particular tune that I might like. It could be the melody, the vocal timbre, the beat or some other hook. It doesn't have to be complex, but it could be. It doesn't have to be performed by the best musicians either. I am also loath to abandon a complete genre... as in my youth in regard to Bluegrass. As I get older I simply don't want to limit myself with certain musical prejudices; and I believe you're on that track once you try to figure out what exactly it is that moves you. You find that, and you're stuck with it.
I am with ya', here.

I used to, in my younger years, have a much more 'self-imposed' narrow list of turn-ons....

~ had to be an aspect of technical proficiency

~ lyrics 'had to' be 'meaningful'

~ some genres were just not 'sophisticated' enough

~ had to have some aspect of 'originality'

etc.

Over time, however, and in retrospect...I realized that this sort of 'code' made me dismiss a lot of good, interesting stuff.
Genres as well as particular songs....

New Wave, for example, which was something me and my highfalutin' 'Jazz buddies' missed no opportunity to loathe.... whilst 90% of our fellow studenty-sorta-brethren were out there enjoying that whole, new scene....
When I revisited (or visited really) that 20 years later....daaamn, there was some good sh#t going down in that genre, really musical.....much of it clever...some of it brilliant.


The interesting aspect of THIS thread is...it IS a question being posed to instrumentalists.
As instrumentalists, we do conceive of/relate to music in a certain way, and that way happens to be NOT the same way 95% of our species conceives of/relates to it.

I mention this only because a lot of comments here have stated 'lyrics don't matter to me'. I just want to note: they DO matter to MOST music listeners. It is a major aspect of what attracts folks to certain songs.
Why ? Because narrative is a familiar dynamic, ever present in how we live, daily. It is immediately graspable, it is immediately 'relatable-to'.
Hearing a melody of instrumental notes and having that resonate with you ?....much, much less common for most folks.


Here's a thought which may or may not be sequitir: when I started expanding my own musical activities...experientially, my own musical tastes also expanded.
For example, once I began to dance, socially, certain qualities of certain music became more attractive to me than they had been previously.
Or...dating certain women who had certain musical tastes in genres or bands I had earlier dismissed, my own tastes expanded and my appreciation for what those bands (or genres) had done/produced began to develop.

The quickest answer to the OP : for me, it is all about the Groove.
Period.
And Groove exists in a hecka lotta genres...
 
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