Why There is No Such Thing as Bad Music | TeenInk

Why There is No Such Thing as Bad Music

May 17, 2019
By juliarichards BRONZE, Morro Bay, California
juliarichards BRONZE, Morro Bay, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

What is music? Google defines it as “Vocal or instrumental sounds combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” Though this seems like a solid definition it can vary from person to person which can lead to the argument: What is good and bad music? But in reality there is no such thing as bad music because of the different ways it can be interpreted by the listener.

While the listener may have their own opinion on the different genres of music they listen to the brain can't tell if the music is good or bad. The brain reacts in a positive way to each type of music. “Hip-hop, for example, has a particular effect on creativity flow; R&B affects the right supramarginal gyrus, the part of the brain responsible for empathy; Rock music stimulates the production of certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine, and it lowers the stress hormone cortisol.”(Keren Blaunstien, There is No Such Thing as Bad Music) Classical music is shown to help listeners stay focused and be more productive while working. I personally would not choose to listen to a Haydn symphony but have to admit since I incorporated listening to classical music while studying  I have noticed that I am more productive. Music also induces the brain to release dopamine which makes us feel pleasure. All music affects us in this way, no matter if we consider it good or not.

‘Bad’ music is also heavily critiqued on its technicality and skill level. William Briggs, a statistician criticises the repetitiveness and simplicity of music in his article “What Makes Music Bad? A New Scale: Part I, the Definition”. When talking about children's music that is supposed to be simple and repetitive so the children understand the music, he states “Not only are the lyrics of these songs simple minded, but their melodies are brief, trivial; a handful of phases recapitulated dozens of times in one sitting.” (William M. Briggs, “What Makes Music Bad? A New Scale: Part I, the Definition”) Though Briggs has a point that the music is quite repetitive he needs to take into account that the intended audience is for children. The repetitiveness is helping kids learn and understand music and the melodies are simple so they can understand them. These factors do not mean that the music is bad, children's music accomplishes its goal of making the child happy while learning new things.

While Briggs seems to strongly believe in the concept that repetition, and simplicity make a song bad he contradicts himself when talking about Beethoven’s Piano Sonata (no. 8 )1 in C Minor by stating that “...it must be admitted, very simple melody occurs throughout, but it would take a strong man to call it bad.” (William M. Briggs, “What Makes Music Bad? A New Scale: Part I, the Definition”) Upon listening to this Sonata I could hear the repetition and simplicity but didn't consider it a bad song. If Briggs is true to his statement that simplicity and repetition make music bad then he would’ve considered this song bad. This is a clear example that there is no such thing as bad music.

Music should not be considered as bad because of simplicity, repetition, or as some might think, lack of talent. All artists put effort into their music no matter what genre they are making and we should respect that. Saying ‘This song is bad’ is only expressing that the listener does not enjoy the song and nothing more.

The author's comments:

This synthesis essay uses the following sources:

Blaunstein, Keren. "There is no such thing as bad music." The Daily Campus, The Daily Campus, 6 Apr. 2018, dailycampus.com/stories/2018/4/6/there-is-no-such-thing-as-bad-music. Accessed 27 Mar. 2019.


Briggs, William M. "What Makes Music Bad? A New Scale: Part I, the Definition." Statistician to the Stars!, Statistician to the Stars!, wmbriggs.com/post/2431/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2019.


Howl and Echo. www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjGlsXViqThAhWPr54KHcqCA6QQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhowlandechoes.com%2F2016%2F08%2Fbad-music-vanilla-ice%2F&psig=AOvVaw3. Accessed 28 Mar. 2019.

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