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    Are you qualified to critique music?

    Not in the sense of, do you have a doctorate in musicology? But...



    Was just readin' a sticky thread over at Steve Hoffman Music Forum where the good sir asks people to fill out their "gear profile" so people can judge whether someone's opinion on a CD or a remaster etc should be listened to.

    On the surface a fair enough request. Though in the comments followin' some said it was still a subjective experience even if listenin'to high end audio.

    I had to laugh as I remember lovin' the experience of first hearin' the entire G4T1 on a sanyo AM radio in our kitchen one Sunday night.

    So I've never been an audiophile. Walkman. iPod. Computer. Now smart TV. Bluetooth speaker. Have been good enough for me. I've heard great sound systems. Yep. They're great.

    So. Do you think it is reasonable for Mr Hoffman to request those private details? Does it lean into a certain hi-fi snobbishness over there or is it bein' transparent and appropriate? Does it really help people trust someone else's opinion and help inspire or not a purchase?

    #2
    everyone is qualified to critique music as far as I believe. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on a piece of music, it's subjective, it's art. It's all about whether it connects to the listener, you don't need anything beyond the means to listen.
    The Definitive YES Albums

    -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
    -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Union-Talk-
    -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-

    Comment


      #3
      The rule at the Hoffman forum doesn’t pertain to critiquing music, but for commenting on the sound quality of a given release. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I can see where it can be helpful to know what equipment someone is using for listening when talking about elements like bass, treble, compression etc.. Would you trust the opinion of someone who listens to everything on a tiny Bluetooth speaker, for example, if you were trying to choose which reissue of Close To The Edge to buy?
      “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Frumious B View Post
        The rule at the Hoffman forum doesn’t pertain to critiquing music, but for commenting on the sound quality of a given release.
        This this THIS. The context of the request makes it quite clear what they're referring to. And I think it's fair in that context.

        Originally posted by Gilly Goodness View Post
        Does it really help people trust someone else's opinion and help inspire or not a purchase?
        This is really a question for that community, I would say, and not ours.
        Rabin-esque
        my labor of love (and obsessive research)
        rabinesque.blogspot.com

        Comment


          #5
          Also critiquing music can be both subjective and objective. It can be compositionally almost perfect and do nothing for me. So, is it good if beyond the craft members just a few can resonate with it?

          Is Barbie Girl compositionally or arrangement wise exceptional? Hell no. But was it fun then? It was. That's what guilty pleasure was coined for.

          Comment


            #6
            Absolutely.

            I could write 3 reviews for album any piece of music or theatre or film or television as 3 different people. I could write one review panning it, one adoring it, and one with a more balanced assessment.

            The 'bad' review is actually the easiest of the three; one can find fault in ANYTHING. Almost as easy is seeing the good in ANYTHING.

            Comment


              #7
              This is an interesting question, on which I could expound at great length, but maybe not in the way you'd expect (or, let's be honest, want…).

              The original question as it relates to the Steve Hoffman ones is maybe different, in the sense that a gear profile, maybe more than determining whether your "opinion" is valid, is more about reproducibility: if you're reviewing specific sonic changes in multiple versions of albums (as they certainly do there), it's helpful to know if someone's equipment has its own known biases or adjustments that might change what they're hearing. Like, if I'm reviewing new remaster, you'd, uh, probably want to know that I'm playing everything back through a $20 pair of Sony behind the neck headphones… A-and that I ripped the CD to 256kbs to play through my iPhone…

              But! The better question is, are you qualified to critique? At all? What does "critique" even mean?

              Unfortunately, "critique" is often mean pejoratively, and to be "critical" is seen to be negative — don't be so critical! — but I don't think that's right. It's not about opinion (which, indeed, everyone has, although some are better than others), and it's not about taste (for which there's truly, as anyone perusing a Yes fan site [and/or their significant others] knows, no accounting), and it doesn't mean we either like a piece of music or not, which is a personal and yes subjective experience.

              What "critique" should mean, is, can you offer a coherent range of thoughts about a subject that opens up someone else's understanding of the subject in question, in any number of ways? Critiquing is inherently social, and an exchange between two or more individuals. I can listen to a song and enjoy it all I want, but to critique it, I'm hoping to shape or inform your understanding of it, far beyond "this sucks" or "this rocks", neither of which are ever especially helpful*. To be critical is to understand how something "works", and for whom, and within what contexts, and to aim to communicate that to someone else. Part of what can make a professional critic helpful is the range of experiences, influences, and knowledge they can bring to the discussion — a good film critic helps you understand the vocabulary of film, of acting, of the choices a director can make; a good restaurant critic might help you understand, again, the choices being made in the preparation and presentation of food.

              Now, if you're more versed (which is to say, at all) in music and musical composition than yrs truly, than you may indeed have a lot to offer in the form of a critique, if you can help me understand why CTTE works; but part of that critique may (in fact, is almost certain to) be well above my head if you start talking about semitone notation or something, but that's part of it as well: different critiques can work in different contexts, with different audiences, and that's ok — a key part in a critique is knowing who you're talking to.

              So yeah, if you're able to cohere a thought or two and say something interesting about a piece of music, you're qualified to critique it.

              *When I was at art school, there was a common misunderstanding that criticism was either positive or negative, but I tried to think of it as useful or not: is what you're saying in a situation helpful to the artist or audience? Helpful should lead to a better understanding of what's going on. "Your painting is amazing!" is good for the ego, but it isn't helpful, and doesn't help me develop as an artist. Something like "When this happens, this over here is seen differently, because reflects that" would be helpful, because both the (student) artist and audience get a better understanding. It's not positive or negative, it's informative.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Homemade Parachute View Post
                This is an interesting question, on which I could expound at great length, but maybe not in the way you'd expect (or, let's be honest, want…).

                The original question as it relates to the Steve Hoffman ones is maybe different, in the sense that a gear profile, maybe more than determining whether your "opinion" is valid, is more about reproducibility: if you're reviewing specific sonic changes in multiple versions of albums (as they certainly do there), it's helpful to know if someone's equipment has its own known biases or adjustments that might change what they're hearing. Like, if I'm reviewing new remaster, you'd, uh, probably want to know that I'm playing everything back through a $20 pair of Sony behind the neck headphones… A-and that I ripped the CD to 256kbs to play through my iPhone…

                But! The better question is, are you qualified to critique? At all? What does "critique" even mean?

                Unfortunately, "critique" is often mean pejoratively, and to be "critical" is seen to be negative — don't be so critical! — but I don't think that's right. It's not about opinion (which, indeed, everyone has, although some are better than others), and it's not about taste (for which there's truly, as anyone perusing a Yes fan site [and/or their significant others] knows, no accounting), and it doesn't mean we either like a piece of music or not, which is a personal and yes subjective experience.

                What "critique" should mean, is, can you offer a coherent range of thoughts about a subject that opens up someone else's understanding of the subject in question, in any number of ways? Critiquing is inherently social, and an exchange between two or more individuals. I can listen to a song and enjoy it all I want, but to critique it, I'm hoping to shape or inform your understanding of it, far beyond "this sucks" or "this rocks", neither of which are ever especially helpful*. To be critical is to understand how something "works", and for whom, and within what contexts, and to aim to communicate that to someone else. Part of what can make a professional critic helpful is the range of experiences, influences, and knowledge they can bring to the discussion — a good film critic helps you understand the vocabulary of film, of acting, of the choices a director can make; a good restaurant critic might help you understand, again, the choices being made in the preparation and presentation of food.

                Now, if you're more versed (which is to say, at all) in music and musical composition than yrs truly, than you may indeed have a lot to offer in the form of a critique, if you can help me understand why CTTE works; but part of that critique may (in fact, is almost certain to) be well above my head if you start talking about semitone notation or something, but that's part of it as well: different critiques can work in different contexts, with different audiences, and that's ok — a key part in a critique is knowing who you're talking to.

                So yeah, if you're able to cohere a thought or two and say something interesting about a piece of music, you're qualified to critique it.

                *When I was at art school, there was a common misunderstanding that criticism was either positive or negative, but I tried to think of it as useful or not: is what you're saying in a situation helpful to the artist or audience? Helpful should lead to a better understanding of what's going on. "Your painting is amazing!" is good for the ego, but it isn't helpful, and doesn't help me develop as an artist. Something like "When this happens, this over here is seen differently, because reflects that" would be helpful, because both the (student) artist and audience get a better understanding. It's not positive or negative, it's informative.
                thats well reasoned!



                The Definitive YES Albums

                -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
                -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Union-Talk-
                -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yeah. Havin' slept on this I agree with much of the above. Hoffman is a forum for audiophiles that are concerned with sound quality to a degree I would never wish to be.

                  Some over there thought it was an invasion of privacy.

                  Can believe though that some over there buy music after good reviews from people they have grown to trust. You would not pay $100 bucks on a YES Union Japanese remaster if some blow-in thought it was "fantastic".

                  So let the babies have their bottle. Means a lot to them. All those 3000-Sonix with Italian blue cable and hunnweiser doodle-wackies.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by pjt View Post

                    Is Barbie Girl compositionally or arrangement wise exceptional? Hell no. But was it fun then? It was. That's what guilty pleasure was coined for.

                    Heh. Barbie is gunna rock our world!


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                    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 06-20-2022, 12:49 PM.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Gilly Goodness View Post
                      Some over there thought it was an invasion of privacy.
                      Well, I mean, some people are going to think any number of inquiries as invasions of their privacy. Like, whatever!
                      Rabin-esque
                      my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                      rabinesque.blogspot.com

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Gilly Goodness View Post
                        Yeah. Havin' slept on this I agree with much of the above. Hoffman is a forum for audiophiles that are concerned with sound quality to a degree I would never wish to be.

                        Some over there thought it was an invasion of privacy.

                        Can believe though that some over there buy music after good reviews from people they have grown to trust. You would not pay $100 bucks on a YES Union Japanese remaster if some blow-in thought it was "fantastic".

                        So let the babies have their bottle. Means a lot to them. All those 3000-Sonix with Italian blue cable and hunnweiser doodle-wackies.
                        Everything in balance. Listening to a 128kbps mp3 on a laptop speakers can still bring the joy on a beloved song in a pinch. If its a personal favorite play it through any decent amp and speakers. I found a $200 fairly new Marantz on Craigslist a few years ago and it has brought all kinds of beautiful tones into the house. Some remasters sound better than others, but its so easy to make things sound the way you want them these days with a few settings. In the end its all about enjoying what it is for what it is. BTW, you know what most radio networks use? 192kbps mp3s that have been more processed than Jimmie Dean breakfast sausages! And sometimes all that Orban and Omnia processing in their airchain thingamajiggys can still sound pretty good.

                        As for taste? Guilty pleasures have their place, too.



                        Even my long lost friend WLS AM...The Mighty 890. With the skip phenomenon at night, you could hear this Tarney Spencer classic in 13 states.



                        Where does all this lead, if its good to us, perfection can be the enemy of good
                        Last edited by Amy C.; 06-22-2022, 04:06 AM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Another discovery I made recently. I could not figure out for the life of me why in the world most of the music made since around 2000 just wasn't grabbing me. I mean there was nothing wrong with it from a technical standpoint. Everyone seemed on key, the percussion was perfect. At first I thought the music lacked good "hooks." Well, there were still plenty of those. Was it the instruments? Or lack of certain instruments? Certainly there did not seem to be enough guitar. But that is not a requirement to me liking a song. I was more confused than ever. Then Rick Beato made it all clear: It's too perfect! Sterile as an autoclaved scalpel.
                          The TLR version - a personed tuned to analog will find music quantified and gridded to software like ProTools to sound unnatural.


                          And then he posted one about the blues influence and how the blues does not mesh well with quantitazation.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Gilly Goodness View Post
                            Yeah. Havin' slept on this I agree with much of the above. Hoffman is a forum for audiophiles that are concerned with sound quality to a degree I would never wish to be.

                            Some over there thought it was an invasion of privacy.

                            Can believe though that some over there buy music after good reviews from people they have grown to trust. You would not pay $100 bucks on a YES Union Japanese remaster if some blow-in thought it was "fantastic".

                            So let the babies have their bottle. Means a lot to them. All those 3000-Sonix with Italian blue cable and hunnweiser doodle-wackies.
                            Actually reading that forum has saved me some money over the years. I used to assume that the newest remaster of a given album was the best. What I learned is that often the big difference is the new remaster is just louder and more compressed. So now I mainly only buy reissues based on the strength of the bonus material.
                            “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Amy C. View Post

                              Everything in balance. Listening to a 128kbps mp3 on a laptop speakers can still bring the joy on a beloved song in a pinch. If its a personal favorite play it through any decent amp and speakers. I found a $200 fairly new Marantz on Craigslist a few years ago and it has brought all kinds of beautiful tones into the house. Some remasters sound better than others, but its so easy to make things sound the way you want them these days with a few settings. In the end its all about enjoying what it is for what it is. BTW, you know what most radio networks use? 192kbps mp3s that have been more processed than Jimmie Dean breakfast sausages! And sometimes all that Orban and Omnia processing in their airchain thingamajiggys can still sound pretty good.

                              As for taste? Guilty pleasures have their place, too.



                              Even my long lost friend WLS AM...The Mighty 890. With the skip phenomenon at night, you could hear this Tarney Spencer classic in 13 states.



                              Where does all this lead, if its good to us, perfection can be the enemy of good


                              Didn't understand some of that but like the cut of your jib. Welcome. Post often 😀


                              In BREAKIN' NEWS my "gear profile" has changed.
                              Was makin' do with a bluetooth speaker about the size of a grapefruit in the car. But now the son has bought a large speaker that takes up most of the boot. Don't know the specs. Brand. Haven't heard it yet but you best believe will crank up TQ when I drive it next. Down the highway.
                              Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 06-22-2022, 12:21 PM.

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