The importance of "bad" music/art

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Not sure if this warrants a thread but let's see how it turns out.

I was in Regents Park on Sunday and as I was walking along the edge of the lake I saw a big crowd of people watching a band perform on the bandstand. They were performing the Indiana Jones theme – badly. I assume (I was too far away to see) that it was a youth orchestra or something.

It was really interesting to hear something I've only ever heard play incredibly slickly played amateurishly. It brought out aspects of the music I'd never really noticed before.

It made me think that it's useful to expose yourself to amateurish art from time to time – to remind yourself of just how impressive it is when music is performed well, and for other reasons too (there may be virtues in a bad performance that a good performance could never offer).

I've had this notion occur to me before when I'm in The National Gallery. More or less every painting in there is brilliantly painted, otherwise it wouldn't be in there. But imagine how much more impressive those paintings might be if they were hung next to mediocre or bad paintings attempting similar things.

Of course the postmodern move is to declare that the "bad" painting is actually the good painting and the good painting is actually bad.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Yeah I remember doing a creative writing module at uni and reading excerpts from 'The Da Vinci Code'.

Although the excerpts were obviously quite bad, it felt quite smug for a bunch of undergraduates, the majority of whom (including me) can't write to save their lives to be taking the piss out of a novelist who's sold tens of millions of novels (maybe that's an underestimate).
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Ooh look here's a pretty bad performance of it by a youth orchestra!


Listen to that then listen to this

 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
surely youth orchestras are likely to provide amateurish renditions by design? doubt anyone thinks they are seeing them to experience something like they would at the proms.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
I watched Florence Foster Jenkins recently. Essentially a cosy film but what's relevant to this thread is that although people laughed at her for being terrible (and self-deluded), there's something about her lack of talent that makes it easier to connect with her as a performer.

Was it somebody on here who suggested that in the Olympics they should have some normal people running the 100m next to the professionals just to show off exactly how fast the professionals are going?
 

craner

Beast of Burden
I watched Florence Foster Jenkins recently. Essentially a cosy film but what's relevant to this thread is that although people laughed at her for being terrible (and self-deluded), there's something about her lack of talent that makes it easier to connect with her as a performer.

Was it somebody on here who suggested that in the Olympics they should have some normal people running the 100m next to the professionals just to show off exactly how fast the professionals are going?

She'd be considered an Outsider Artist now.
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
I watched Florence Foster Jenkins recently. Essentially a cosy film but what's relevant to this thread is that although people laughed at her for being terrible (and self-deluded), there's something about her lack of talent that makes it easier to connect with her as a performer.

she was internet before the internet
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Just to reiterate, not slagging off or laughing at amateur musicians, just the potential usefulness of hearing something you've only ever heard played perfectly played imperfectly. If any.

 

Dusty

Tone deaf
I personally spend a lot of time scouring Bandcamp and Discogs for niche and outlier releases in key genres. Obsessively hoovering up everything with a dub.techno label for example. My guilty pleasure. Sonic comfort food.

As part of this journey, aside from uncovering hidden gems, you skip through a lot of mediocre or just plain bad releases.

It definitely helps remind you what good music actually is, it sharpens your judgement by being constantly reminded what it isn't. From a music production perspective, it also helps you realise where people go wrong and what pitfalls to avoid yourself.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
I personally spend a lot of time scouring Bandcamp and Discogs for niche and outlier releases in key genres. Obsessively hoovering up everything with a dub.techno label for example. My guilty pleasure. Sonic comfort food.

As part of this journey, aside from uncovering hidden gems, you skip through a lot of mediocre or just plain bad releases.

It definitely helps remind you what good music actually is, it sharpens your judgement by being constantly reminded what it isn't. From a music production perspective, it also helps you realise where people go wrong and what pitfalls to avoid yourself.
Yeah this is what I'm interested in.

Please post an example of bad/mediocre dub techno and perhaps explain what makes it bad/mediocre in comparison to something you consider great.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Another interesting aspect of this is that the more of an expert you are the higher your standards can become, so that even a performance of e.g. Beethoven that sounds perfectly good to the average listener might sound terrible (or more likely mediocre) to the connoisseur.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
Actually I find that level of talent really interesting and particularly illustrative of the difference talent makes.

I've been in galleries before where the paintings are very well painted, better painted than 99% of people could ever manage (even with training) – but are still quite obviously not as good as the very best painters.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Are we talking about things that are merely bad in an everyday sort of way, or actively so-bad-they're-good? In film terms these can become cult classics (Plan 9, The Room, etc.), can't they.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
I guess that's one aspect of this topic.

But I wasn't so much thinking about art that is AGGRESSIVELY, ECCENTRICALLY bad and becomes revered for that, so much as the stuff that isn't painfully bad but still falls far short of being good.

Perhaps watching Plan 9 could bring into relief what a filmmaker "should" do that Ed Wood doesn't, but really the main focus of attention (I assume, having not seen it) is how hilariously bad it is.
 

Leo

Well-known member
I personally spend a lot of time scouring Bandcamp and Discogs for niche and outlier releases in key genres. Obsessively hoovering up everything with a dub.techno label for example. My guilty pleasure. Sonic comfort food.

As part of this journey, aside from uncovering hidden gems, you skip through a lot of mediocre or just plain bad releases.

It definitely helps remind you what good music actually is, it sharpens your judgement by being constantly reminded what it isn't. From a music production perspective, it also helps you realise where people go wrong and what pitfalls to avoid yourself.

there's not much outright bad music released, but a TON of mediocre music. I guess maybe like the bell curve, equal measures of great and bad with the majority being ok/middling. mediocre could conceivably be viewed as good by some people, so it slips in and gets released but bad rarely rises to that level.

mediocre has risen exponentially with the advent of digital music, where anyone can self-release on Bandcamp/spotify or start their own net label.

related: when something is disappointing, we say "it's ok" when really it isn't. it's obviously lacking, yet we grade it up a notch for some reason. not bad enough to be slagged off, so we're polite about it.
 
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