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Re: How much of our love of scores can be classified objective?
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• Posted by: Ramón   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, June 27, 2022, at 4:22 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: How much of our love of scores can be classifi... (Riley KZ)

So I've done an almost 180-turn on this subject over the years.

I used to think that there was a clear, hard-defined line between objective and subjective appreciation of something. Now... in short, I think there's no such thing, and it's all subjective.

The thing is... art is entirely contingent on intent, and every artist's intent is different, so there's no possible way to hold anything to the same standard when everyone's trying different things (even if with the same tools and inspired from the same wells).

How can you think a score is bad because you found it unpleasant... when the whole point was for the score to be unpleasant? Doesn't that mean that it did its job? Y'all think Zimmer's Dunkirk is awful or whatever (I'm not a fan myself), but for so many people, it worked exactly as it intended. So who is wrong? Because if we are talking about good/bad, then a thing cannot be both good AND bad. Someone has to be wrong. But the thing is that neither opinion is wrong, because it's entirely subjective; for one party it didn't work, for the other it did, and that's that.

I LOVE the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and I don't know that I have it in me to say that 2 and 3 are OBJECTIVELY BAD. They're fucking not. People nag at the overly complicated plotting, but I deeply appreciate that; they're also overlong, but I revel in those mood-setting scenes (more because they allow the score to shine in a way that doesn't happen all that often now) and in how much Verbinski lets even the conversation scenes breathe instead of jumping to the next thing.

But what about those moments of disconnect, when you say 'Yeah, this score is objectively great, but I like this one a lot more.' Well, I found more often than not coming up with that opinion when it came to something that was very clearly not for me. And it is okay for a thing not to be for you. All those lush, orchestral scores for European films that come out every year that Broxton and others loves to rave so much about (think Claret most recently)? I can rarely connect to them. And nowhere did I utter that expression more than with those scores. I recoil a lot with melodrama, and it's very hard for me to buy into that kind of music; Horner is probably the only composer I can think of where I'd eat up even the corniest, most overwrought melodramatic music ever. And that lack of connection would often lead me to feel bad for not being able to enjoy what everyone else thought was so great. Did that mean that I have bad taste because I couldn't enjoy great scores? Well, no, because it's not about it being objectively good or bad, it was just about them not being for me, and that's okay. Actually, just like now I don't really care much for people calling Mica Levi or Hildur Guđnadóttir's music bad, because I know there's no such thing as objectively bad, and the thought is more a reflection of the person listening than of the actual music.

That doesn't mean that we can't talk about WHY something works or doesn't with us. If anything, I find the good/bad discourse even more restrictive because of a number of things, like 1) we're setting parameters upon certain films or scores that aren't really aiming for. PotC isn't wanting to be a deep character study with tons of subtext and thought-provoking metaphors, so there's no reason why it should be held to those standards, or 2) I deeply believe approaching art with a good/bad mentality completely shuts out the most important component in the conversation, which is yourself. My appreciation for art became much better once I stopped asking 'Why is this thing bad?' and instead started wondering 'Why did this thing not work for me?' because the former tends to lay the blame (which isn't really blame) on the film/score entirely, while, regardless of how the thing actually is, it's you not liking it.

A final point, which I wish more people acknowledged, is that art appreciation is messy, and that's okay. You can present me two scores made to accomplish the exact same thing and, odds are, I'm still going to think differently about both. That's okay, it doesn't really have to make sense, taste is taste, and you ain't gonna change that willingly. I wish more people were comfortable realizing that.

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