[CORK] A Silver Lining: Bad Times, Good Tunes (INCLUDES FORMULA!)

Jeff Bone jbone at deepfile.com
Wed Apr 16 11:58:47 PDT 2003

(Another one from the "Worth-Resurrecting-And-Crossposting-File")

I've been griping about almost everything lately --- sorry, I'm an 
optimist, really ;-) --- thought I'd toss out a little hypothesis and 
some upbeat analysis.  Hypothesis is straightforward:

The quality of contemporary music at some point in time and within a 
given cultural context is inversely proportional to the overall 
desirability of the situation of the world at that time in that 
cultural context.

"Quality" here is, hopefully, if not objective then at least not 
totally subjective.  Whatever genre or taste we're talking about, music 
is IMHO good when it's created by the artists that perform it, when 
it's meaningful and passionate and real.  When music has a message, 
it's a good thing.  Music blows when it's created by "songwriters" and 
"producers" and essentially contracted to plug-replaceable "performers."

When everything in the world's rosy, nobody's PO'd or otherwise 
impassioned enough to make real, good music.  Just look at the 
transition from the late 80s / early 90s --- bad times, good tunes! --- 
to the slide into total musical coma (Backstreet Boys?  Puh-leeze) that 
was 1998-2001.  Peace, prosperity = dead radio.  I mean, I watched 
American Idol, but that whole concept's exactly what I'm talking about: 
  that's not music, that's the *music industry* trying to fill a void.

But now, with all the bad shit that's going down, at least the radio's 
worth listening to again!  Yeah, I know that sounds a lot like the 
trite and cliche "art = pain" thing.  But I'm sitting here observing 
this principle in action...

I've been watching MTV's top 50 2002 countdown this evening while 
catching up on mail, and I'm impressed.  There's good stuff out there!  
I mean, there's stuff that I wouldn't even normally think I'd like --- 
certain rap stuff, for example --- that I'm really digging because it's 
*genuine* and seems to be trying (at least) to say something.

If you haven't turned on the radio or MTV in the last few years --- I 
hadn't --- it might be worth doing.

Jeff Bob Sez "Check It Out"


PS:  in discussion of this hypothesis, Jerry Michalski offered the 
following equations (para):

  Q(m) ~ 1/S(t)

or, the quality of music is inversely proportional to the stress of the

or maybe: Q(m) ~ k/S(t), where k is the universal musical quality 

More information about the FoRK mailing list