Can we even have a meaningful music discussion?

I find the concept of this entire thread flawed. It’s going to fall into the same traps as every other music discussion I’ve seen on the forum, and in uncountable other places online and offline too. It’s not a bad reflection on anyone who, with all the good will in the world, wants the thread to be interesting, just that the parameters are all wrong.

Here’s the thing:

There is no conversation to be had about music which is based on particular bands, or artists, or albums or anything like that. It always devolves into:

“I like this!”

“I don’t like that, but I do like this!”

“Well if you like that, you might like this.”

“That doesn’t do it for me. Does anyone like this?”

And the conversation dries up.

Apart from people who are meeting due to a shared musical taste or experience, say at a live show or in a forum dedicated to a single band, no set of people have enough music in common that same the pieces of music to elicit the same emotions.

No matter how hard you try, or how many recommendations you make, you’ll never convince anyone to be able to have the same emotional reaction to a piece of music. All the things that have happened in your life to make something fit your musical tastes exactly will never be recreated in someone who isn’t the same age as you, from the same country or background, or innumerable other parameters.

This was illustrated perfectly by my girlfriend putting on an episode of the podcast Strong Songs" about Paranoid Android by Radiohead on a long drive this summer. Juliane didn’t recognise the name of the track, and had never heard it before. So her first experience was an in-depth breakdown of the structure and chord progressions and vocal techniques. She was 12 years old when it came out, of course she has no idea.

But as a 39 year old from the UK, and 17 when the song was released, this song was simply part of my life. So much so that a few years ago I was at a friend’s 40th birthday party in a bar here in Berlin, and late on the DJ played Paranoid Android and we were all singing along and jumping up and down to the rocking parts. Of course we were, because we were all about 35-40 and English/English speaking people in Berlin. The younger people would think we were weird for being so into such a crazy song, and the Germans thought so too, probably.

Yet even between us fans of the song, there probably wasn’t anything to actually discuss about the song itself. We all just looked at each other with the same look in our eyes, communicating: “Oh shit I’ve not heard this song at a party in the last 15 years… it makes me feel like I’m 18 years old again!”

All this to say: you can try to “talk about” music all you want, but it can’t be based on trying to find a common ground with someone. That’s impossible ground to find across ages and cultures.

And if you already have that common ground, there’s very little that needs talking about, because the shared experience is its own reward. By then, writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

The common musical experience I have with this forum is discovering the world of K-Pop via Scott’s video links. It’s great to get to know the faces and bands and music styles and dance routines and TV shows like this. And if other people on the forum are also following along, starting in a position of ignorance (like me) and slowly discovering favourites (like me) and getting to know what levels of drama there is… etc, etc, etc… that’s cool.

But like someone said in another thread, no matter how much I’m now into something via this forum, like Mamamoo, there’s not really much I can contribute about the topic. It’s now just something I like.

Which is why I’m fine with a music thread which is mostly people sharing interesting music videos and live shows.

There doesn’t need to be long explanations of why you like it or why you’re sharing it. That’s because every comment might as well be:

"I had an emotional reaction to this. You will not have the same reaction, so it’s not worth trying to explain it, but by sharing this, you’re getting to know me as a person a little better."

That’s it. That’s all I need.

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Then why did you feel the need to?

I’ve never contributed to the topic of “K-Pop” in the form of sharing my opinions about K-Pop bands in the same way as Scott.

But you contributed to this thread for some reason.

Yes. As you can tell, I have well-formed thoughts about such a topic. This is obviously the place to share them.

Edit: if you have something you actually want to communicate with me, just say it. The passive aggressive blah blah blah is going to get tiring.

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There are plenty of things to say about music other than how it makes you feel. All kinds of meta stuff to say. Just like with every other art form.

I think the main problem is that because music is inherently abstract, most people lack the language to discuss the meta. Individual songs are also usually quite small, just a few minutes, and have lots of repetition. Therefore, even someone who has the language to discuss music does not have that much to say about any particular track.

Unless someone is really deep into something, following the band, knowing the creators, their history, understands music theory, mixing, etc. it is very hard for them to talk about music.

Whereas someone who knows nothing about movies or cinematography at least has the ability to discuss the story. Everyone understands stories.

You might consider it well thought out, but I find it dreadfully superficial. Yes of course music hits different people differently, but the fact of the matter is it’s the same music. The same elements within a song will hit people differently and that’s the beauty of the medium. There’s more to music than just “it made me feel young again,” which I know because I keep introducing middle aged people to new genres and bands that they find astounding and interesting.

The heart of this thread (I’ll change the title if you’d like) should not be “what music do you like” but rather “What makes you like music.” What do different effects do. What kinds of songwriting do you like. Do you prefer melodic songs like Dire Straits more more chord based music like Bob Dylan. There’s a whole world to explore here without even getting into the theory stuff I like to pick apart.

I’m gonna have to disagree with you on that. I’ve had so many conversations with non-musicians about sounds within a song that get so interesting, it’s not something people don’t know how to do.

I’m not saying how it makes you feel is the only thing worth talking about. Really the opposite.

More like that just listing things you like isn’t talking about music as it is talking about your personal history, your journey, your background. Someone who shares lots of musical theatre is telling me something about themselves that isn’t there if they are sharing grunge bands.

My post was more to encourage people to go a bit beyond just saying “this is what I like” and “that isn’t for me”. And also an encouragement that, if the thread doesn’t go anywhere, don’t worry about it! It’s not as if anyone thinks you don’t care about music, just because you end up not having much to say about it.

It’s a little bit easier in person, or at least with audio chat, because I could like hum, or imitate the part of the song I’m talking about to get my idea across. To do it with text alone I have to be able to say “ah yes, the syncopated 3rd during the bridge” or whatever. I know those are music words, but I don’t know music well enough to use them correctly. I just mashed a bunch together to make an example.


You came off as needlessly confrontational if that was your intent.

Okay. Sorry it came off that way. Thanks for clarifying. I was mostly trying to be helpful.

Framing a conversation in a way that gets what you want is going to be difficult. I was pointing out the main stumbling block in making this thread into what you want it to be.

My opening paragraph included the line “It’s not a bad reflection on anyone who, with all the good will in the world, wants the thread to be interesting”. Really, that’s what I think. It’s great that you want a thread about music to be interesting. But you’ve said it yourself, already. The parameters for the discussion are wrong.

If you want “What makes you like music?" then your second comment can’t be:

“Honestly 80s punk is probably my least favorite period of punk. I really don’t like The Misfits and their influence, but the grunge movement’s influence on punk revitalized it for me.”

That’s what I was responding to. You’ve already fallen into the pattern of listing likes and dislikes, and we’re already far away from anything interesting beyond comparing music listening patterns.

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Why do I have a feeling a unofficial Geeknight Music club is bound to happen? Once a month a person in said group picks an album, everyone in it listens to it, and then hop on a voice chat to discuss what they think of it.


I am so down for this.

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