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So if we talk musically in terms of harmony and melody (apart from lyrics) how can you tell if music is bad or good when all music are just different chord progressions and different melodies?

If you are saying that the Beatles are better than Taylor Swift (apart from lyrics, voice, cultural background, genre)..why would you think so? What makes a song so great, special and genius for you?

I'm seeking an answer than can improve my vision when writing music, something theoretical and not just talking subjectively (I know that if you like it then it's good)

Some novels are good and some bad, some has obvious plots and bad characters developing and some not, some films are bad because of bad script\bad acting\bad editing or bad cinematography..whether you like it or not, it's personal yes but you can still tell which is good and which is not.

Same applies on music, I'm looking for an answer to explain me why some music is better than other, there's a reason why Pink Floyd music is better than Justin Bieber, even if you like Justin Bieber..it's about the instrumentation and good composition but as a music theory beginner I want to understand it from analytical point, like chords..melody and other stuff

Like if I make a song now and it's not so good why would you think this way? (examples?) like is the melody doesn't sound so good? Are some songs better than others because they have better harmony?.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Tim, Todd Wilcox, ttw, Peter, Dom Jun 30 at 4:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • As science hasn't yielded yet the how and why (cultural bias, mood, personal bias, physics of sound, ..) we prefer certain music over others, this question is opinion-based, hence off-topic. – dfhwze Jun 29 at 15:20
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    Afraid it's too opinion based. Personal choice comes in strongly, biased by a myriad of perceptions and preferences. It's an interesting concept, but cannot be objectively quantified except perhaps by popularity, but that in itself is whimsical. – Tim Jun 29 at 15:23
  • Like all art, it’s good if you like it and it’s bad if you don’t. It’s a matter of personal taste. – Todd Wilcox Jun 29 at 18:22
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    FWIW because the answer is "you can't", I think this question can be answered in a non opinion-based way. Not sure if there may be dupes somewhere. – topo morto Jun 29 at 19:42
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The answer to this is captured in the phrase De gustibus non est disputandum - "In matters of taste, there can be no disputes".

In general, there's nothing theoretical that can tell you whether one piece of music is better than another piece of music in an artistic sense. A piece of music that I might think is good, you might think is terrible. Or I might hear two pieces of music, and like one, but dislike the other - and yet to you they might seem very similar.

There are some narrow senses in which you might be able to say one artwork is more successful than another. For example, if you know that an artist was trying to achieve a particular stylistic effect, and you understand objectively how that particular effect is achieved, then you can measure how close the artist has come to achieving it. This doesn't help you compare Pink Floyd and Justin Bieber, though - they simply weren't aiming for the same thing. Nor does it account for "interesting failure" - where an artist aimed for one thing, and ended up (subjectively) achieving another.

You could also measure the success of an artwork in terms of popularity, or financial returns. But this is subject to other variables, and can't be said to corellate with any objective measure of artistic value.

I'm seeking an answer than can improve my vision when writing music

You need to seek to understand what's important to you, and to your audience. Those things might be the use of certain tonalities or timbres; certain rhythms; certain lyrical themes; or even the following of certain traditions (or fashions).

How does one teach a subjective art form like music composition in an objective manner? may also be of interest.

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    +1 Never seen a Latin quote in a SO answer before! – Brian THOMAS Jun 29 at 15:57
  • I've mentioned films as an example of how can you compare two pieces of art. I think what I'm looking for is an answer that can clarify how can you criticize a song even if it was from a subjective point of view. For example, modulation sounds more interesting than a two chords pop song repeating all over the song with 3 notes melody like The Chainsmokers, I know some people like it but everybody can agree that melodies can be more interesting than this. This is just an example of what I'm trying to say.. – Ashraf Taha Jun 29 at 18:41
  • @AshrafTaha There's some modulation that I think sounds great. But there's some modulation that I feel sounds like a very "brute force" or "cheap trick" way to create interest. And I think that creating a song that maintains momentum even though it's structurally very simple can be much more interesting and clever than a song that uses a lot of complexity. A quote: "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction" (E. F. Schumacher). – topo morto Jun 29 at 19:03
  • BTW I just listened to a couple of Chainsmokers tracks and I found them very boring. But there's nothing objectively wrong with them; there's no way I can suggest anything better. – topo morto Jun 29 at 19:08
  • @BrianTHOMAS I whip out that Latin phrase with tedious regularity - I even used it in my answer to your question: music.stackexchange.com/questions/79497/… :) – topo morto Jul 13 at 7:42

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