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Thread: What's the meaning of "good musical taste" in classical (or any) music?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Chilham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    "Good taste" is a way for elitist snobs to put down people they think are beneath them......
    ...............................

  2. #32
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    "good taste" can have several meanings here. Let's go with the somewhat reduced but maybe least controversial one, roughly "high or refined ability of discernment". This could in principle be tested.

    In the famous Nero Wolfe novel "Too many cooks" there is a game among what we'd call foodies to determine their ability of discernment: A sauce containing 7 herbs has been prepared in 7 variants, each missing one of the key herbs, put in identical containers numbered 1-7. Then the probands all separately enter the room with the sauce variants and a dish the sauce is eaten with and determine which number is missing which herb (I write this from memory, maybe the details are slightly different; it won't be a big spoiler to divulge that the contest very soon becomes unimportant because of some unhealthy "extra ingredient").

    Do something similar, e.g. by manipulation of recordings by speeding them up in a certain section, fiddling around with pitch, wrong notes, whatever analogies to the missing herbs there would be and you have a test for a kind of refined discernment in musical listening ability.
    Last edited by Kreisler jr; May-04-2021 at 09:58.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    "Good taste" is a way for elitist snobs to put down people they think are beneath them.
    people aren't equal anyway, put them down or not.

  4. #34
    Senior Member Jacck's Avatar
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    Good taste is my taste, and bad taste is everybody's else taste who is not in alignment with mine

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    Senior Member HerbertNorman's Avatar
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    There is no arguing about matters of taste

    Les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas.

    Über Geschmacksfragen kann man nicht streiten.


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    If someone said they preferred Thunderbird wine to Chateau Yquem, I’d say they had bad taste.

  7. #37
    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    Apparently Mr. Mozart had taste according to Mr. Haydn .... "I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute; he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition." Fascinating I must say.
    Last edited by ArtMusic; May-04-2021 at 09:56.

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  9. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by HerbertNorman View Post
    There is no arguing about matters of taste

    Les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas.

    Über Geschmacksfragen kann man nicht streiten.

    There is a footnote in Kant's Critique of Judgment that one can quarrel about questions of taste but not dispute (because of the medieval "de gustibus non est disputandum"). The point seems to be that a formal debate or conclusive argumentation is not possible wrt taste but that does not mean one cannot talk about it and that all tastes are equal. As there obviously is usually the possibility of improving one's ability of discernment and evaluation.

  10. #39
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Taste - good and bad - feels real. But it is presumably subjective. The main thing is that what I hear is what I hear - my judgment works for me. There is music that as soon as I hear it sounds to my ears to be overblown or manipulative. But it's a knife edge thing - relatively small things can justify music that is almost in bad taste. And there is kitsch - music that is in bad taste but in a good way and therefore acceptable. There is quite a lot of music celebrated on this site which I find to be in awful taste - I'm sure many other members would agree even if not about the same pieces - and I find it hard to accept that those who love it relate to music in a way that I can understand.

    Good taste is more difficult to describe. Whether in performance or composition it depends on being effective. Whatever that means.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    "On Sunday 5 March 1775 a particular sacred music work by Mozart was performed at the Munich Court Chapel. It’s the K. 222 Offertorium de tempore “Misericordias Domini”.
    On 4 September 1776 Mozart sent this motet to Padre Martini at Bologna. Padre Martini praised the work by Mozart highly and asked Mozart to receive a painted portrait of Mozart: the importance of this request is due to the fact that Padre Martini, as historian of music, had the habit of collecting the portraits of the people he considered great and important.
    Here the original letter sent by Padre Martini to Mozart from Bologna on 18 December 1776 with a technical judgement of Mozart’s work.
    «Together with your most kind letter, which reached me by way of Trent, I received the Motet… It was with pleasure that I studied it from beginning to end, and I can tell you in all sincerity that I was singularly pleased with it, finding in it all that is required by Modern Music: good harmony, mature modulation, a moderate pace in the violins, a natural connexion of the parts and good taste. I am delighted with it and rejoice that since I had the pleasure of hearing you at Bologna on the harpsichord you have made great stride in composition, which must be pursued ever more by practice, for Music is of such nature as to call for great exercise and study as long as one lives.»"

    <Impossible Interviews October 2017: Mozart’s Teacher & Mentor Padre Martini>


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ_pjAaJF0E&t=43s (0:43~1:22)
    "For modern listeners, one of the hardest things to grasp about the Classical style is its unabashed reliance on predictability. Before Beethoven at least, Classical composers simply didn't put much of a premium on innovation for its own sake. Unlike artists today, they weren't usually out to shock, or provoke, or to challenge their audiences. Their aim was to create music that was easily accessible and which honored what they thought of as the rules of good taste and propriety. This led to a heavy reliance on the conventional, and, thus, on the predictable. And one of the most predictable aspects of the style is its use of cadences. Simply put, if you know the classical style, it's often possible to anticipate when a cadence is coming."

  12. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    Taste - good and bad - feels real. But it is presumably subjective. The main thing is that what I hear is what I hear - my judgment works for me. There is music that as soon as I hear it sounds to my ears to be overblown or manipulative. But it's a knife edge thing - relatively small things can justify music that is almost in bad taste. And there is kitsch - music that is in bad taste but in a good way and therefore acceptable. There is quite a lot of music celebrated on this site which I find to be in awful taste - I'm sure many other members would agree even if not about the same pieces - and I find it hard to accept that those who love it relate to music in a way that I can understand.

    Good taste is more difficult to describe. Whether in performance or composition it depends on being effective. Whatever that means.
    The interesting thing for me is that in some contexts good taste is linked to discernment. And a necessary condition for discernment is the capacity to sense the features, objective features, which are prized by the institutions which protect values in society. This is presumably what’s going on with wine, for example. Wine buffs have a enhanced acuity. And I would argue it’s what’s going in with competition level instrumental performance - preisleid stuff like piano competitions.

    Note I say necessary condition, not sufficient.

    But what interests me most is how precarious those value giving institutions can be. So not so long ago attributes like coherence and unity were well entrenched necessary conditions of quality in music and in literature - but no more! Except in competitions and Conservative conservatories.
    Last edited by Mandryka; May-04-2021 at 12:08.

  13. #42
    Senior Member Totenfeier's Avatar
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    Consider the concept of good taste in relation to the culinary arts.

    It is a matter of knowing what the ingredients are, and then being able to tell when all of the ingredients are harmoniously and deliciously balanced.

    Educated ear=educated palate.

  14. #43
    Senior Member Chilham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Totenfeier View Post
    Consider the concept of good taste in relation to the culinary arts.

    It is a matter of knowing what the ingredients are, and then being able to tell when all of the ingredients are harmoniously and deliciously balanced.

    Educated ear=educated palate.
    I'm not so sure. Consider how educated the palate must be to blend and balance the myriad spices in a curry (for some reason I'm on a roll with curries today). Then consider how poorly curry is viewed as a culinary masterpiece.

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  16. #44
    Senior Member Amadea's Avatar
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    Taste is so subjective. Yet I think many would agree a person "with taste" is someone who generally:

    - likes diverse things, diverse eras, genres and composers.
    - likes not only the "mainstream" but also the unknown/overlooked.
    - has some knowledge, which is necessary both to enjoy and discover certain composers.
    - is not closed minded.
    - should have listened to many things.
    - is not bounded only to the music of his/her country and culture. (E.g. if you're italian, you do not like only italian opera!)
    Last edited by Amadea; May-04-2021 at 14:02.

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  18. #45
    Moderator Nereffid's Avatar
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    To me, the phrase "he has good taste" means "I have a predefined set of criteria about what things a person should like in order for me to regard that person as interesting/intelligent/sophisticated/good, and he meets those criteria". A mostly harmless judgement that tells us more about the judge than the one being judged.

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