Eli5: Why does music sound good?

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Eli5: Why does music sound good?

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For as simple as it sounds this is a super broad question. I’ll do my best to answer it but there’s a lot of facets to it. I’ll try to keep it quick.

To start you probably don’t think that all music sounds good. Even if you like every song you hear on the radio you might not like the sound of aboriginal music coming from an ancient African tribe. Why? It’s a cultural thing. You’re just not used to that kind of music.

Pop music is incredibly basic if you break it down from a musical standpoint. By pop music I mean everything excluding classical, jazz, and for lack of a better word ethnic music. Pop music has some basic aspects:

There is a lead melody, the part you sing along to.

A rhythm section, usually drums.

A chord progression, multiple notes played at once in repetitive way.

Finally there’s a harmony, something that compliments the melody.

All pop music is just variations on that basic blueprint. You get different genres based largely on which instruments are being played, the style of vocals, and the kinds of beats played on drums. Chances are you like a certain genre more than another, why? It’s a psychological thing. Whether you were brought up on it, or you like it because your parents hate it, or you just want music that makes you want to dance. It all goes back to your personality. Also lyrical content can really make someone bend towards a genre they don’t typically listen to (hello punks that worship Lady Gaga).

There’s also a more scientific aspect for why we choose the chords we do. Sound is waves, each pitch has a different wavelength, and some of those wavelengths compliment each other.

That’s all I feel like I can go into without going super in depth. If you have any more specific questions let me know. I’ll answer them the best way I can!