Scruton, in his short film mentioned in the last post, hints that there is such a thing as good taste, that this is an objective matter and not subjective. He suggests that, because beauty is not, in his view, subjective, that there is thus no such thing as subjective taste. It is evident, however, that culture and upbringing have much to do with one’s taste in all things aesthetic. This is the first layer of subjectivity – perhaps only a superficial one, though. I can’t see how there is any way to discern ‘good’ taste from ‘bad’ taste, however, without applying one’s own prejudices to that which one is judging. Indeed, Scruton, elsewhere, seems to condemn much popular music that is not to his taste, for what appear to be superficial reasons, such as a lack of vocal melody. Indeed, what is some recitative but that? And I’m sure Scruton wouldn’t pronounce despairingly on the moral condition of those that listen to recitative. Scruton seems at times to forget that there are some musicians (I would include myself here) who are classically trained, and are equally happy in the realms of Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Pop, Rock, Metal and other genres of music. It is not that I am not aware that some music is ‘harmonically impoverished’ or lacks melody, or whatever else Scruton judges to be detrimental to the moral condition of the listeners, but that I value the music precisely because I am aware that it does these things, and I do not take them to be corrupting my soul.
For Scruton’s article ‘Soul Music’ follow the link: http://www.american.com/archive/2010/february/soul-music