Is music (metal) subjective or objective? Are good and bad merely relative descriptions that cannot be quantified? If not, how do we logically or scientifically prove whether a piece of music is good or bad? If so, then does that mean that all claims about music quality are equally valid? I've raised this question to others before, and they almost all immediately agree that music is subjective. But then I challenge them by throwing out a band that is downright awful, and they contradict themselves by saying, "Well yeah, in some cases it is objectively just shit." When asked to explain the contradiction they merely shy away from real answers with things like, "It's a complex thing that you need to look at case-by-case."
What do you think?
This is so true, people will wrap themselves in contradictions trying to answer your question, because they don't realize the question is wrong and they're compelled to defend their own personal views about music.
It's similar to how people get confused about free will, whether or not it exists. I like Karl Popper's quote on this subject, when he says in reference to the thesis of Hume and Schlick that perfect chance is the only altenative to perfect determinism "What we need for understanding rational human behaviour and indeed, animal behaviour is something intermediate in character between perfect chance and perfect determinism -something intermediate between perfect clouds and perfect clocks."
Is music (metal) subjective or objective?
The music itself is obviously objective, it consists of sound waves as translated by the human body into sensory input, or more specifically it consists of etchings onto big round disks or whatever the process is for making a compact disk.
Are good and bad merely relative descriptions that cannot be quantified?
They are relative descriptions, and as such they *must* be quantified in order to be functional and meaningful. This is a big part of the problem, the mythic concepts of "better" and "worse" independent of any specific criteria. It's like how the military dehumanizes the enemy when they teach their soldiers, the mystified, abstracted concepts of "better" and "worse" dehumanize their targets precisely because they have no basis in reality - unless they're quantified. It's sort of like the myth of infinity, how people believe in the divine unrealistically as being literally infinite in all possible ways, when in reality we can prove by mathematics that as soon as you qualify infinity with a specific value it ceases to be infinity, so in truth the divine couldn't be 'infinity' unless it were also non-existent (as soon as it exists it would have a value). However, the divine can certainly be infinite in many ways, emphasis on *ways*, for example it can have unlimited capacity to create--this is totally different from saying every single thing that could possibly be created must come into being.
The word "tree" doesn't have roots or leaves, and similarly the words "better" and "worse" don't pertain to an actual spectrum of betterness and worseness, rather they refer to other things. So a person could be better than another person, at a given (quantified) task. So what if I'm better than you at shooting a gun, maintaining a farm, and tracking animals in the wilderness? What does this *mean*? Well, again, it's important not to get swept away in the mystification of language's symbolic nature--all it means is that if I have to shoot a gun, I would be more likely to do it better than you. The meaning refers to the actions themselves, past, present or future. With a set of X skills, I could realistically accomplish a corresponding set of Y feats, and that's all it means.
If not, how do we logically or scientifically prove whether a piece of music is good or bad? If so, then does that mean that all claims about music quality are equally valid?
What do you mean, "valid"? Do you mean "better" or "worse"? Asking out of nowhere if something is good or bad is a terrible way to begin a line of questioning, it's like saying what is the solution to equation X, where X is specifically undefined - the first step is to define the question.
I've raised this question to others before, and they almost all immediately agree that music is subjective. But then I challenge them by throwing out a band that is downright awful, and they contradict themselves by saying, "Well yeah, in some cases it is objectively just shit." When asked to explain the contradiction they merely shy away from real answers with things like, "It's a complex thing that you need to look at case-by-case."
They accidentally said something true in their excuse, when they said it should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. But it's not so much a matter different cases of music to be critiqued as much as it is a matter of different cases of criteria frameworks to be used in critiquing whatever music. To wit, I can ask if music is good or bad and quantify it by specifying is it good or bad according to my own personal tastes and musical preferences--objectively speaking, how much do I feel I enjoy listening to the music? Or I could ask similar equations: in what ways do I feel the music moves me? How likely do I think I would be to enjoy the music some years in the future, considering how I'm growing and evolving as a person?
Or, I could ask an altogether different question, I can ask if music is good or bad and quantify it by specifying is it good or bad according to the average personal tastes and musical preferences of all people on the planet? Or I could ask similar questions: what types of people prefer what types of music, how does music effect different people in different ways? Etc.
But does it make sense to ask: if nobody listened to the music, then would this person who doesn't exist like the music? How does the music move them? Would they like the music if they listen to it three years from now?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder because it's a response to observation / sensory input, so beauty can't exist any more than a painting can be painted without a painter. Ultimately it's true that we're all human beings, so we do all share some degree of similarity and what's true for one person may conceivably to be true to some extent to other people as well. And to the extent one understands intimately the nature of the human condition, then one can be more accurate in making generalizations about how different people may react or be effected by different sorts of things... but don't expect one's intimate understanding of the human condition to be something easily expressible summarily to others, any more than a philosopher can completely convey in a few paragraphs the exact same ideas they convey in an entire book of text.
Also it's interesting to consider that perhaps all sentient consciousness, by virtue of being sentient, would also necessarily share a certain degree of similarities in how they perceive things like beauty, and in that case to this degree of similarity things like music could in effect be qualified in terms of their beauty, for all intents and purposes.
To conclude, as it applies to my response in this thread, Popper's mention of "perfect clouds" isn't in the sense of the Zen adage that no snowflake can fall in the wrong position, rather it's in the sense of how different sorts of cloud formations would be perceived by humans or sentient consciousness in general. If beauty is a measurement, then it's not referring to a fixed system of measurement where a millimeter is always a millimeter, rather it axiomatically pivots around sentient individuality and patterns therein (astrological archetype if you believe in it, for example).