Poll: Do you enjoy instrumental music?

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trooper6:

Jonluw:
Hiya escapists.
Plus, pretty much all classical music is instrumental.

Hm. Nope. Instrumental classical music is instrumental but "classical music" includes:
Opera
Oratorio
Masses
Requiems
Troubadour song
Lieder
Chant
Choral Music
etc.

There is a *huge* amount of classical music with vocals.
Now, you are using the phrase "classical music" to mean "art music of the classical period, 1750-1820...that is also the time when some of the most popular works were opera rather than symphonies.

I knew someone was going to call me out on that.
What I meant was "Most of the great classics from the baroque and out that we still listen to to this day are instrumental".
If you go out and buy an album like "classical favourites" or something, pretty much the only pieces with lyrics will be Händel's messiah, Carmina burana, Pomp and circumstance and certain versions of In the hall of the mountain king.

I'm not really counting opera in that statement. I've always seen opera as its own genre that I just don't feel like touching on too much.

Also this idea that instrumental music has a higher "technical or musical level" is completely subjective and is based on covert and casual values that are not universal. West African Singing/Drumming tends to be much more advanced in terms of rhythm. Modern popular music tends to be much more advanced in terms of timbre. Music with lyrics clearly have a higher level of lyrical skill and vocal skill than music without it. Jazz (including jazz vocalists) tends to be much more advanced in terms of improvisation. There are many different musical parameters. Instrumental classical music values some over others, but that doesn't mean those parameters are the most important to making good music. Nor is the value "more complex" actually better than "more simple."

I see I didn't express myself very clearly there either.
What I meant was that in instrumental music, the only thing that is presented to the listener is the music. No lyrics. As a consequence, the melody and harmony or groove or otherwise just plain musical aspects of a piece are normally afforded more attention and more carefully crafted. i.e. I don't like the kind of music that only exists as a background to the writer/composer's poetry.

the voice is one of my favorite instruments for expressivity.

Do note that I still call music instrumental if the voice is used for something other than performing lyrics.

Would you really say that the music in this piece


is as interesting and engaging as this music?

Note that I'm using a song with lyrics here. I'm not saying music with lyrics is bad. I just think instrumental music is generally more engaging, musically, because it's made to engage only by means of music, not with the help of lyrics.

Jonluw:
Note that for the purposes of the poll, music with vocals but not lyrics counts as instrumental.

Erm, is this referring to things like the "Halo" intro as instrumental despite quasi-Gregorian chanting? Because I can't think of any other non-lyrical vocals.

Note: I totally get behind music like the "Halo" intro as instrumental.

Yes. More so than music with lyrics.

That's why my trio didn't have a vocalist.

Vault101:

Jonluw:

Vault101:
well...not nessicaryly instrumental..but i like music without vocals just fine

How is music without vocals anything but instrumental?

Electronic?....

Ah.
In my mind, electronic music counts as instrumental no matter if the things it's made with should be called instruments or not.
To me, the only qualifier for a piece to be "instrumental" is that it doesn't contain lyrics.

I'll put this here, and give an emphatic yes.

Ever since I discovered Touhou, I have come to learn that instrumental music has the potential to kick much ass. Therefore, I enjoy it much more than vocal music; though, that's not to say vocal music doesn't have it's hits.

Jonluw:

I knew someone was going to call me out on that.
What I meant was "Most of the great classics from the baroque and out that we still listen to to this day are instrumental".
If you go out and buy an album like "classical favourites" or something, pretty much the only pieces with lyrics will be Händel's messiah, Carmina burana, Pomp and circumstance and certain versions of In the hall of the mountain king.

A "classical favourites" CD is in no way a good indicator of what was going on in the realm of classical music. Those are marketing compilations like "Mozart for Lovers" or "Baby on Beethoven"--they are in no way informed by music history. Many people consider Beethoven's 9th Symphony as the greatest piece of classical music ever (a sort of title I find irritating and don't personally endorse generally)--heck, it is now the national anthem of the European Union...and that symphony has a choral section at its climax. People think it is great because of its marriage of text and sonics. The realm of Western Art Music if full of vocal music. Ignoring it is ahistorical.

Jonluw:

I'm not really counting opera in that statement. I've always seen opera as its own genre that I just don't feel like touching on too much.

But that doesn't work. Opera is Western Art Music. Heck, the beloved Beethoven even wrote an Opera...as did Mozart...and Bach wrote Oratorios. If you mean to say only instrumental western art music, then say that...but you can't say that western art music (i.e. "classical music") is mostly instrumental.

**Note: for the purpose of these posts I'm using "classical music" as I think you are, to mean Western Art Music as opposed to how it should be used, to refer to Western Art Music from 1750-1820.

Jonluw:

What I meant was that in instrumental music, the only thing that is presented to the listener is the music. No lyrics. As a consequence, the melody and harmony or groove or otherwise just plain musical aspects of a piece are normally afforded more attention and more carefully crafted. i.e. I don't like the kind of music that only exists to accentuate the writer/composer's poetry.

First things first. Lyrics are part of the music. If you look at a standard Music History textbook like the "History of Western Music" by Grout/Palisca/Burkholder, you will note they begin the story with the music of the Ancient Greeks. The word "music" is an ancient greek word...and in that word there is no difference between music and poetry. It is the same word.

And also the idea that the presence of text meant the other musical aspects are not as carefully crafted is not accurate. Are you saying that the sonic elements of Beethoven's 9th Symphony are not as carefully crafted because text exists? Are you saying that the very care word painting and relationship between text and piano in Schubert's lieder are evidence on careless crafting of the sonic elements? Also note: there is lots and lots of instrumental music that is hastily and carelessly put together. The presence or absence of text is not an indicator of how much care was put into crafting the sonic elements of piece of music.

Do note that I still call music instrumental if the voice is used something other than performing lyrics.

I reject that as weasel. If there are voices, then it is vocal music.

ETA: As for your examples of the two versions of "Baby" --any one can do that. I could turn around and say,
"Are you honestly trying to say that elevator music is better than Beethoven's 9th Symphony?!"

That is disingenuous argumentation.

Though my music tastes is HEAVILY influenced by instrumental, especially guitar instrumentals by the likes of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Vinnie Moore and electro-trance, I do enjoy songs with vocals. I see vocals as just another instrument anyway.

The thing is though, almost the first thing anyone notices in a song is the vocals, if they have it of course. So if a vocal part of the song is rather bad, it can bring down the whole song.

That said there are exceptions though, like if the backing music makes up for it(...Megadeth)

But, of course, there are songs with amazing vocals which resonate with the backing which can help carry the song well. The only example I can think of at this moment right now is tyketto(God, that singer can hold a note)

trooper6:

Jonluw:

I knew someone was going to call me out on that.
What I meant was "Most of the great classics from the baroque and out that we still listen to to this day are instrumental".
If you go out and buy an album like "classical favourites" or something, pretty much the only pieces with lyrics will be Händel's messiah, Carmina burana, Pomp and circumstance and certain versions of In the hall of the mountain king.

A "classical favourites" CD is in no way a good indicator of what was going on in the realm of classical music.

No, but it is a good indication of what classical music constitutes in the public/layman's mind. Like it or not, when you say the words "classical music", the listener is going to assume that you're talking about the symphonies and not the centuries of bards' tales that were written and promptly forgotten.

Jonluw:

I'm not really counting opera in that statement. I've always seen opera as its own genre that I just don't feel like touching on too much.

But that doesn't work. Opera is Western Art Music. Heck, the beloved Beethoven even wrote an Opera...as did Mozart...and Bach wrote Oratorios. If you mean to say only instrumental western art music, then say that...but you can't say that western art music (i.e. "classical music") is mostly instrumental.

I'm not saying western art music is mostly instrumental though.
I'm saying the works that people who don't study the subject think of when you say "classical music" (i.e. the works you should be referring to if you're using the term and not trying to be deliberately confusing), are mostly instrumental.
Yes, it is more precise to refer to the works as "the classical symphonies" or whatever, but that's not how the term is used in ordinary conversation.

Jonluw:

What I meant was that in instrumental music, the only thing that is presented to the listener is the music. No lyrics. As a consequence, the melody and harmony or groove or otherwise just plain musical aspects of a piece are normally afforded more attention and more carefully crafted. i.e. I don't like the kind of music that only exists to accentuate the writer/composer's poetry.

First things first. Lyrics are part of the music. If you look at a standard Music History textbook like the "History of Western Music" by Grout/Palisca/Burkholder, you will note they begin the story with the music of the Ancient Greeks. The word "music" is an ancient greek word...and in that word there is no difference between music and poetry. It is the same word.

Let's not revert to using the original etymological meanings of words. I'm sure you understand what I'm actually trying to say. I'm using terms in the way they are most commonly used.
'Music' in the way I'm using the word in this thread is sounds that are normaly arranged to provoke a certain emotion (unless you want to get really artsy about it and tape your office chair squeaking for a minute and call it music). It may often contain lyrics. If a piece does not utilize the component of lyrics, the music does not contain spoken language.
Lyrics are pieces of text that are made to be performed with a melody or accompanying music.

And also the idea that the presence of text meant the other musical aspects are not as carefully crafted is not accurate. Are you saying that the sonic elements of Beethoven's 9th Symphony are not as carefully crafted because text exists?[ Are you saying that the very care word painting and relationship between text and piano in Schubert's lieder are evidence on careless crafting of the sonic elements? Also note: there is lots and lots of instrumental music that is hastily and carelessly put together. The presence or absence of text is not an indicator of how much care was put into crafting the sonic elements of piece of music.

I thought I noted that not all music that accompanies lyrics is poor.
All I've said is that instrumental music, due to its nature, generally has more interesting melodies, harmonies etc., whereas a real lot of lyrical music ends up really boring if you force the singer to hum instead of saying the words.
From what post of mine do you get the idea that I think music containing lyrics automatically makes it bad?
What I'm saying is that the words in a given song are unimportant to me, so for me to listen to a piece, the 'musical' aspect of it (The word 'music' here used as a term for the aspects of a piece that do not include spoken language.) needs to be good. In an instrumental piece, chances are it is, as the piece was made with only 'music' in mind, while in a given lyrical piece, there's a good chance that leaving out the words will leave the piece rather uninteresting.

Do note that I still call music instrumental if the voice is used something other than performing lyrics.

I reject that as weasel. If there are voices, then it is vocal music.

It's vocal music, yes, but it's not lyrical.
I don't see the vibrating strings in your neck as any different from the vibrating strings on your guitar when it comes to 'musical' purposes. They can both be utilized as instruments, and just because one instrument is located inside a person, that doesn't make the piece any less instrumental in my mind.
It's when the focus of the vocals becomes to perform a piece of poetry instead of being part of a great piece of music that I get annoyed, since I seldom bother to pay attention to the poetry in the first place.
There are lots of lyrical pieces where the vocals are great 'musically' and still perform lyrics. But there are also a lot of lyrical pieces that are boring, 'musically', because the focus of the composer was the lyrics.

Concerning your edit: It seems you might have gotten my point. Which was that music where the composer/arranger's main concern is to make a 'musically' engaging piece (Beethoven's 9th) is "better" than music that's made with something else in mind (like carrying lyrics or filling the vacuum in an elevator).

OneCatch :
I actually own rather a lot of film soundtracks, some of which are among my favourite albums. I'm just as happy listening to them as a regular album. Does that count?

I believe it does.
Unless you've managed to find some strange movies where most of the soundtrack has lyrics.

Thistlehart:
Take Jazz for instance. I don't like it, but then again, I don't think it's actually for me. As I understand it, Jazz is usually music for musicians. It is meant to be technical, complicated, and difficult. I'll take Ronald Jenkees over any Jazz legend you care to name.

One dude at a keyboard/synthesizer that's there to have fun, and whose music demonstrates that beats out a Jazz orchestra full of people trying to prove how good they are (no matter how good they might sound).

I think you're giving jazz too much of a hard time here.
You mustn't blow off all jazz as technical wankery just because a lot of the new stuff is of the "made by musicians for musicians" kind.
Traditional jazz is absolutely lovely, and doesn't do that "solos that appear to have no structure or melody to the layman" thing.

Jonluw:

Concerning your edit: It seems you might have gotten my point. Which was that music where the composer/arranger's main concern is to make a 'musically' engaging piece (Beethoven's 9th) is "better" than music that's made with something else in mind (like carrying lyrics or filling the vacuum in an elevator).

But you haven't gotten *my* point. Carrying Lyrics effectively is a musical value, it isn't "something else in mind." For many people to make a "musically" engaging piece includes effective use of lyrics...as Beethoven's 9th does, or any of Schubert's Lieder do. For many pieces of music the text and the sonics are inextricable.

You may not prefer lyrics, you might be more turned on by instrumentals. But that doesn't make it true that lyrics detract from musicality...just true for you.

I'd argue that without the lyrics, the beautiful music behind, say, Barbara Strozzi's "Lachrymae" wouldn't be as effective...because there is a beautiful synthesis between text and sound. For me, a great synthesis of text and music is better than just a poem or just an instrumental.

For quite a lot of songs i feel that the lyrics ruin it.

Captcha - Bruce Lee

trooper6:

Jonluw:

Concerning your edit: It seems you might have gotten my point. Which was that music where the composer/arranger's main concern is to make a 'musically' engaging piece (Beethoven's 9th) is "better" than music that's made with something else in mind (like carrying lyrics or filling the vacuum in an elevator).

But you haven't gotten *my* point. Carrying Lyrics effectively is a musical value, it isn't "something else in mind." For many people to make a "musically" engaging piece includes effective use of lyrics...as Beethoven's 9th does, or any of Schubert's Lieder do. For many pieces of music the text and the sonics are inextricable.

You may not prefer lyrics, you might be more turned on by instrumentals. But that doesn't make it true that lyrics detract from musicality...just true for you.

Which is all I've ever tried to argue.
I am aware that a lot of people get a kick out of the combination of text and music. I don't. Which is why I in general prefer instrumental music: Because there are no lyrics taking my and/or the composer's focus away from the part of music that matters to me.
I've been trying to keep the concept of 'music' and lyrics separate so that I could better explain that I like it when the entire focus is on the 'music'.
Lyrics don't necessarily detract from a piece, but they only rarely add anything for me.

Listening to video game music for basically my whole life has turned me into an almost exclusive instrumental listener. i love songs with vocals too, but most everything i really love is instrumental. Especially in Metal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtTqkgndk8k

I agree with the OP 200%. I really like instrumental music, and I really don't like songs. There's a few reasons for this. As the OP pointed out, it's very distracting when you know the language a song is in, because your brain automatically tries to figure out what's being said, which takes away from the experience of the music itself.

Secondly, I've always found music with lyrics to be something of an imperfect fusion of poetry and music - it has much of the qualities of both, but it really misses out on the best qualities of either of the art forms.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, in most of the exceptions to the rule, in the lyrical music I do enjoy, the singer manages to effectively use their voice as an instrument in its own right - which is how it should be. Nowadays, so much, SO much of lyrical music manages to not effectively use itself as a musical instrument - it dominates the rest of the instruments rather than working with them, it's overly loud and obnoxious, and I often find the musical quality lacking.

DustyDrB:
I do enjoy it, though a bit less than I enjoy music with lyrics. I enjoy singing along.

Heh This reminds me of the concert Rush did in Rio a while back. The 40,000 plus fans in the stadium were singing along to everything.. even the purely instrumental songs Rush played.

Jonluw:

Vault101:
well...not nessicaryly instrumental..but i like music without vocals just fine

image

How is music without vocals anything but instrumental?

That picture is just made of epic.

OT : I listen to loads of video games OST's, and a few movie tracks. They are usually instrumental pieces.

Lord of The Rings' soundtrack gives me eargasms every time I listen to it.

Jonluw:

Thistlehart:
Take Jazz for instance. I don't like it, but then again, I don't think it's actually for me. As I understand it, Jazz is usually music for musicians. It is meant to be technical, complicated, and difficult. I'll take Ronald Jenkees over any Jazz legend you care to name.

One dude at a keyboard/synthesizer that's there to have fun, and whose music demonstrates that beats out a Jazz orchestra full of people trying to prove how good they are (no matter how good they might sound).

I think you're giving jazz too much of a hard time here.
You mustn't blow off all jazz as technical wankery just because a lot of the new stuff is of the "made by musicians for musicians" kind.
Traditional jazz is absolutely lovely, and doesn't do that "solos that appear to have no structure or melody to the layman" thing.

Thanks for the samples. I wish your efforts had been more positively received.

Unfortunately, while pretty, this is the kind of instumental music I don't much care for (if not outright hate). It doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. For instance, in the first sample there was that extended dum-tish-dumdum-tish drum... thing... where absolutely nothing was happening for the better part of a minute or more. If I wanted to listen to something like that, I could turn off the music and listen to the conveyor belts running over my head right now, or just sit on my balcony at home and listen to traffic.

Don't get me wrong, the music was all kinds of mellow. Just not my kind of mellow.

Maybe I'm just reflexively dismissive toward Jazz. I live in Seattle after all (overflowing with pretentious art shit) and any tolerance I may have had for Jazz has been weathered down to an angry little nub by all the music-degree dropouts twiddling their saxes in public.

vrbtny:
Lord of The Rings' soundtrack gives me eargasms every time I listen to it.

Tell me about it.
I currently have this one open in a different tab.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UuyeYdQnI4&

Thistlehart:
Thanks for the samples. I wish your efforts had been more positively received.

Unfortunately, while pretty, this is the kind of instumental music I don't much care for (if not outright hate). It doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. For instance, in the first sample there was that extended dum-tish-dumdum-tish drum... thing... where absolutely nothing was happening for the better part of a minute or more. If I wanted to listen to something like that, I could turn off the music and listen to the conveyor belts running over my head right now, or just sit on my balcony at home and listen to traffic.

Don't get me wrong, the music was all kinds of mellow. Just not my kind of mellow.

Maybe I'm just reflexively dismissive toward Jazz. I live in Seattle after all (overflowing with pretentious art shit) and any tolerance I may have had for Jazz has been weathered down to an angry little nub by all the music-degree dropouts twiddling their saxes in public.

Curses. I might have been playing music for too long. I'm having a hard time distinguishing the "easy to like for everyone" songs from the "only enjoyable for people who play jazz" songs.

I'll try a little harder. (I was going to show you autumn leaves, but people love covring that one, so the only version on youtube that isn't all improv-y is a blues version by Eric Clapton.)

Absolutely. Instruments plays a big part in my music. I can't take a song that constantly repeats itself. Instruments communicate with me even better then lyrics themselves.

Absolutely. I listen to hip-hop and trip-hop instrumentals for doing homework and when I really need to wind down.

Jonluw:

vrbtny:
Lord of The Rings' soundtrack gives me eargasms every time I listen to it.

Tell me about it.
I currently have this one open in a different tab.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UuyeYdQnI4&

Oh, god yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!! Aw, god yes!!!!

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew, that was intense.

But I see your Lord of the Rings track, and raise you

It isn't as Epic as your piece, but, by god. If it isn't the prettiest song in the entirety of existence.

vrbtny:
But I see your Lord of the Rings track, and raise you

It isn't as Epic as your piece, but, by god. If it isn't the prettiest song in the entirety of existence.

Hnnng, I love that song.
It makes me want to just live in a picturesque village with grassy fields and jovial wizards in horse carriages.
Argh, I want to be a kid again.

Well considering my favorite music comes from the Classical and Romance Era's, which was largely instrumental, yes, I do in fact enjoy instrumental music.

I find it hard to listen to humans so lyrics just exist as another 'instrument'.

Instrumental covers of songs with lyrics still need an instrument acting as the 'voice'.

Music is music.

Yeah, about as much as anything else.

Victor Wooten isn't one of my favorites to watch though, even if he is utterly mindblowing.

Jonluw:

vrbtny:
But I see your Lord of the Rings track, and raise you

It isn't as Epic as your piece, but, by god. If it isn't the prettiest song in the entirety of existence.

Hnnng, I love that song.
It makes me want to just live in a picturesque village with grassy fields and jovial wizards in horse carriages.

Wow, huh? You too? That song is wonderful.

Biiiiig post-rock/post-metal fan here. It helps that I'm an instrumentalist, I think, because I find that vocals are there because people "get" them. They offer an easy way to comprehend and interface with the music. Without that, a lot of people seem to not really know what to make of the instrumental work on its own. This isn't a problem for me.

vrbtny:

Jonluw:
Hnnng, I love that song.
It makes me want to just live in a picturesque village with grassy fields and jovial wizards in horse carriages.

Wow, huh? You too? That song is wonderful.

Who doesn't?
I wish I could just turn in my human license and be like "I'll be a hobbit now, if you don't mind".

Yes. I actually dislike lyrics, if I can understand the language. They distract me. ^^;

God's Clown:
Well considering my favorite music comes from the Classical and Romance Era's, which was largely instrumental, yes, I do in fact enjoy instrumental music.

I wish people knew music history better. The Classical and Romantic Era is not largely instrumental. Is there a lot of instrumental music? Yes. Largely? No. The Classical and Romantic Era is the time of some of the most exciting vocal music: Italian Bel Canto Opera, Schubert Lieder, Wagner, Oratorio, Choral Music. And the most popular music of the transition from classical to romantic was Rossini not Beethoven.

trooper6:

God's Clown:
Well considering my favorite music comes from the Classical and Romance Era's, which was largely instrumental, yes, I do in fact enjoy instrumental music.

I wish people knew music history better. The Classical and Romantic Era is not largely instrumental. Is there a lot of instrumental music? Yes. Largely? No. The Classical and Romantic Era is the time of some of the most exciting vocal music: Italian Bel Canto Opera, Schubert Lieder, Wagner, Oratorio, Choral Music. And the most popular music of the transition from classical to romantic was Rossini not Beethoven.

I am sorry that I don't give to shits about vocal music from those era's. I listen to largely instrumental, thus from those era's it's "largely instrumental" to me. Regardless of it being largest part or not, to me it's the largest part simply because it's the only part I care about.
Doesn't make sense, nor does it have to, because it's the internet.

I do love me some instrumentals. Things like this get far less recognition than they deserve:

and then, of course, there are video game remixes

**edit**
almost forgot... anyone who can pull sounds like this from a ukulele deserves a godhood as well:

Cheesus333:
Absolutely. Especially instrumental covers of songs that have lyrics to begin with, such as the work of this fine group.

Aha, i was clicking the link thinking "Oh this will be String Quartet for sure", it's an awesome band. I love hearing tons of classic songs remade in a string quartet. "After The Gold Rush" is abseloutely amazing.

If I had to choose between the two; as in being able to only listen to one or t'other; I'd choose instrumental.

Not only because some of my favorite songs, genres, and musicians work almost entirely in instrumental song writing, but also because the likelihood of an instrumental song being bad is less than that of a lyrical one.

Purely instrumental music must rely entirely on...well...the music. If the melody, bass, etc, are bad, then the whole song is ruined. Lyrical music can have bad or repetitive music, but often hides it behind a bevy of lyrics.

Vault101:

Jonluw:

Vault101:
well...not nessicaryly instrumental..but i like music without vocals just fine

[

How is music without vocals anything but instrumental?

Electronic?....

on a somwhat related note bad lyrics can really ruin good music

case in point

Electronic music; sans lyrics; is still considered instrumental. It doesn't matter if someone is using a guitar, a piano, an oboe, or a mixing deck. They're still using a musical instrument.

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