What makes a piece of music good?
Is it its ability to touch many people? Or that it stirs strong emotions? That its technically clever? Simple? Does it fulfill a function well (such as making you dance)? Is it original? Shocking? Fashionable? Timeless? Maybe it perfectly sums up the Zeitgeist?
All are valid reasons to decide that a piece of music is good, and depending on who you are, your judgement of its quality will depend on which combination of these are most important when you listen to it. Why we think of a piece of music as good is complicated, and crucially not the same as liking it. I don’t like much music that I know is objectively “good”.
The reason I’m talking like this is that I’ve been asking myself this question constantly this week. I wanted to do something more carefree than the last couple of tunes, and had this piano idea saved in my sketchbook since late 2008 which I thought would make a good starting point.
I spent four days adding to it, changing it, trying to make it more clever, powerful or original. But every time I altered it, the next morning I realised that my initial idea (that if my memory serves me took me about an hour to put down) was better – or closer to “good”.
You see, there’s a few criteria that have become important to me as a producer. Originality, emotion, and how technically complex or clever (while still sounding effortless and simple) the piece is make me think what I’m doing is objectively “good”.
But Old Joanna doesn’t tick any of these boxes. Its simple almost to the point of being naive and certainly couldn’t be described as cutting edge or original. But ironically that’s what I found appealing about it and throughout this week I confronted this disconnect between what my mind and my ears were telling me.
So – is it any good? I have no idea. But I like it.
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