When we judge the aesthetic quality of a piece of art, we often begin by discussing the beauty of the piece. I’m curious why we make the assumption that beauty is/was the artist’s desired outcome. The artist’s goal may be to evoke or express a specific emotion. It may be to convey a message or remark about humanity. Yet it is often beauty that we assume is the ultimate goal.

Maybe the discussion that gravitates around judgement should begin with:
What was the artist’s intention with this piece?
Was there an intention?
If so, did he or she achieve their intention with this piece?
If so, how?
Or if not, why not?

If we began with these questions, maybe we would better understand the artist and the piece of art. Sometimes the artist has made it clear what the intention was. Other times, the intention is kept as mysterious as the actual piece of art is.

I believe the same can be said of music. Listeners often have their own criteria that they judge music by… whether a song is fun, energetic, beautiful, etc. Yet shouldn’t we step back and attempt to gain an understanding of why the artist wrote the song to begin with? If we can understand this then we can judge it accordingly.

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