What Makes Good Music? Technical Or Appealing?

What Makes Good Music? Technical Or Appealing?

After talking to a friend recently, I realized that many people do not understand how competitive writing music is. When you walk into Guitar Center, pick up a guitar, sit down and start playing, only then do you realize that the guy next to you is playing rock opera that he has practiced like a million times, he is doing it to show off to other musicians. Then, you realize it is competitive. When you walk into a small, local instrument shop and the owner says to you, “this is a really nice guitar, you should check it out”, then instead of handing you the instrument, proceeds to rock out some ungodly complex riff, you realize it’s competitive. Finally, when you are in a band, it never fails, that if you play out enough, you will eventually have “friend bands” and “enemy bands.” Trust me, it’s as competitive as any sports or martial arts meet.

This is the evolution of music in general, but metal music takes it to an impressive level. It’s competition taken to the finest. Basically, technical complexity is held above most other aspects. Melody, story, tone, are all held constant, but technical complexity is celebrated. Classical music is even more competitive, it’s music that is really only appreciable by other musicians and those who are very educated in music. Music by musicians, for musicians. It’s more of a technical endeavor like breeding plants or programming. Even the character Pococurante, in Voltair’s book Candide from 1959, made fun it of how music has become a technical endeavor for other musicians, rather than something listenable!

Pop music on the other hand, is written for the average person, sometimes to the exclusion of any technical merit. To consistently write music that is appealing is it’s own special challenge, this is why Nashville exists.

So, this brings me to the philosophy I am taking with my next band. I am not trying to write music for other musicians, nor am I trying to write music exclusively for the masses. I think there is a happy medium where the music is technically challenging enough to be fun, the lyrics contain subject matter broad enough to appeal to the masses, but deep enough to appeal to philosophers. The goal is to write consistently good music and I believe that is as big of a challenge as writing technically complicated music. Oh, and if we can do this consistently over and over and over, we will be better than any other band in the world!

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