Does Subjectivity Affect Your Music Experience?

This is something that has been on my mind for a long time. most of my life really…

Does subjectivity affect one’s experience of a work of art? (not necessarily just music).

What do I mean by this?

A simple example:

Let’s examine two scenarios:

  1. A new song comes out by your favourite well established musician. You listen to the song, and it doesn’t live up to your standards of what you think their music should sound like. It’s produced decently, but you just can’t get into it. You decide that it sucks. You don’t like it.

  2. But what if the exact same song was written and produced by a 2 year old? You would be highly impressed with the skill and talent of the 2 year old. You might listen to the song over and over. You like the song.

In both cases, the piece of music is the exact same, but in one scenario, you don’t like it, and the other scenario you do like it. The only difference is your subjective perception of the piece of music.

I find this really peculiar. It basically means that one’s perception of the quality of something depends on the background behind it… but really, a shit song should be a shit song, and a good song should be a good song, right?

Another example could be:

What if you bought a compilation CD. While you are listening to it, you don’t like very many of the songs at all. You listen to the first 6 tracks and you hate them all. they are terrible. The 7th track comes on and it’s not bad. You like it… [B]in comparison to the other songs on the cd[B]… now you like to listen to this song on this cd because it’s the best song on the cd. but is it really an actually good song?

what if you heard the same song on a different compilation with better songs? it might be the worst song on that compilation, and you might say you don’t like the track at all.

this fits along perfectly with what keith303 was saying about expecting higher quality from commercially released music, when he was critiquing maverick69’s music.


one’s perception of the quality of a piece of art depends on your knowledge of the source of the art.

to me, this is really scary. how can we even trust our own minds?


Very difficult question! :unsure:

Just some comments on your two mentioned scenarios:

If the song would be made by an 2 year old child and not by my favorite producer, i think i would be impressed but wouldn’t like the song either. This could be tested like the following, this song needs to be commented without knowing who has actually produced it. Than you have a honest opinion. Saying the person afterwards, that the song was produced by a 2 year old child, the person would be impressed but it does not include, that the person likes the song now.

The second scenario is somewhat different to me, if i buy a compilation, i want some tracks of the same genre or which fit in a special context, which represent it to me. It’s difficult to select tracks that all people will like the same, so the person who compiles such a cd must be very careful so that each customer at least has a special amount of favorite songs from that cd. If the cd has more tracks that i dislike, than i have definitivly bought the wrong compilation. Some songs which are selected for a compilation might have a totally different impression to me, if i hear them from the corresponding album so that the songs fits perfectly with the rest. If i have a compilation or album i judge it as a whole piece, not in parts.

Again i say this is a very difficult question and can not be generalized that easy.

Greets, Alex

it explains the relation between available resources/capabilities and the quality of the outcome.
i think it lies in the nature of a civilized human being, that one and the same effort made by a “handicapped” being is regarded as a more fascinating and respectable accomplishment, than made by someone whose intial basic equipment was advantageous.

but i actually differ between respecting and liking something.

somebody writes a generic boygroup song with cubase in a 25.000$ studio.
would i like it? no.
would i respect it? no.

somebody else writes the same generic boygroup song with the arranger tool of a cell phone and it sounds absolutely the same as the one coming out of the studio.
would i like it? no.
would i respect it? hell, YES!

i know i am exaggerating here, because it’s impossible to accomplish, but i think you might get my point.
there’s a difference between favouring and plainly respecting something - at least for me.

This is exactly, what i wanted to say! :D

i too think that those two scenarios are somewhat different. I dont think scenario 1 will work for me. As keith303 said i would respect that 2 year old and say that he has a lot of talent but i dont think i would like that song more because of that.

But scenario 2 is more likely to be correct. The “backgound” is quite important. I find myself likeing some songs that i normally wouldnt like, but because i heard them in some special situation or something happend while i heard them… then i start to actually like those songs. and its not only the sentimental value… they actually start to sound good to me :)

And also after listening house for many hours at some party any drum and bass track sounds freakin awesome if DJ finally plays one!!! :yeah: :)

It’s called context sensitivity and it is virtually inseperable from the life experience.

There are several songs, that I like - not because of the music but because of the memories I connect to them. Wind of Change by the Scorpions for example is one song I like because I got my first “some sort of sex-stuff” while dancing in a dark cellar :D

Music is to me more than just the sounds and harmonies coming out of the speakers, it’s the whole experience of it. I mean, there are those songs I just happen to find on a random CD in some library that find their way to my pleasure-center… And then there are those like e.g. that Scorpions-tune which come with memories.

I don’t care who makes the music, good stuff is good stuff, crap is crap. I know too many talented people to care about that stuff. Prodigy rocks, Baby’s Got A Temper sucks. So there! :P

I don’t care HOW they make the music either, if somebody does something neat and original in E-Jay, good for them! I have a friend who works with electronic music in Soundforge ALONE, I respect it like hell but I don’t enjoy the music more or less for that reason. The tunes are awesome no matter what. :)

going along with these lines here…

anybody heard of Rahzel? ( ) to read up on him…
the man’s amazing, he can beatbox so well.

now i’m not really into hiphop. i don’t listen to much (any) of it. but i listen to rahzel, and i am amazed at the sounds and complexities of rhythm he can produce from his mouth. i am impressed, but i also like it too.

but what if somebody took a drum machine and made the same sounding beats as rahzel? would i care or like them? probably not




look at this:

square A & B have exact the same color.

Uhh what?! I don’t…

Oh, oh yes, I see it now!


What an eye-opener.
Never thought to look at it like that.

All of a sudden everything is making alot more sense.

I really have to change.

fall asleep and forget everything

see! glad i could help. :D
now you can’t remember what it was about anyway, so :unsure: :lol:

Man, I was about to post “no it’s not” with a Photoshop-edit but…


Nice one!!!
And I get the point. Yes I do. I’m smarter now. Time to save the world! :D

I used the colorpicker of dreamweaver. incredible.

yeah, i looked at it in photoshop myself just to make sure

it’s pretty freaky.

i’ve seen that before but it’s amazing every time.

more mystery, does bring more intrigue.

The fact that most people can start to like music because they associate it to something fun is something I think seperates more musicalic people from those not musicalic.

I think that the more musicalic you are the more you like music because it is good and have a harder time to like bad music.

But if you are not musicalic at all then you will tend to like music simply because you had fun to it.

If you are musicalic you also tend to avoid places with to much bad music but if you are not you don’t care that much what music they play.

Maybe that is the secret behind bad music selling anyway. If the music is played a lot on the radio many people will have heard that music when they had a fun time and then start to like the song.

Well it wouldn’t be the same music then, would it? It would even sound totally unsimilar.

Even your subjectivity is affected by your subjectivity. We all live in a lie, or truth, no difference if you believe in it. Who cares?