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Music is about what you feel

Music is unlike any art form. There is nothing tangible to see or hold. No packaging or texture. It's sound waves traveling from a source to our eardrums. You can close your eyes and let it envelope you. No other art form can be experienced this way.

Being a musician, I'm often asked what my favorite band or style of music is. If I'm forced to choose, the style is Progressive Rock and the artists are: Mike Oldfield, Rush, and Dream Theater. The latter two bands have had the biggest influence on my style as a guitar player, and Mike Oldfield is responsible for creating my favorite album of all time. But look at my recent playlist and you may find: Enya, Steven Wilson, Adele, Yes, Disturbed, Hackers OST, Bryan Adams, Ace of Base, and many others. In other words, my taste varies drastically based on mood.

Music is much more subjective than objective. Objectively I can tell a more technically proficient guitar player from another, and objectively I can tell you if one song is better technically engineered (mixed) versus another. But I cannot tell you that one song is better than another, because that is subjective. You may hear a song that to you is life-changing, while all I hear is noise.

So what makes a "good" or "bad" song? I look at it differently, what makes a song that I do or do not like. The key trait is feeling. Do I feel something when I hear the song? Does it trigger an emotional response? The song could be from a genre or artist I've never heard, but it will catch my attention if I feel something.

Over the past two weeks I discovered three songs by artists I had never heard of. Each song blew me away:

Each song triggered an emotional response that I experienced with each play. I didn't know anything about these artists, how they create their music, or the story behind their songs. The songs are stylistically different from the artists I named as my "favorites", but the positive emotions I got from listening to their songs kept them on loop in my playlist.

Musicians can get caught up with the technicalities of making music. From song writing, to recording, to producing, there are many areas where a musician can struggle when creating a song. And yet when a listener hears their song, all of those struggles don't matter because the listener deems the song as good or bad simply on if the song made them feel something. If the emotion is there, they keep listening, and if it's not they move on.