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There's a somewhat irritating tendency among some people (usually young males, for whatever reason) to discuss music as if it were a competitive venture. Perhaps this tendency is rooted in a desire to use superlatives when describing something one loves (the best, the hardest, the fastest, the most complicated), or maybe there is some measure of coolness to be had by association with such greatness. It usually ends up in macho posturing that turns the abstract and aesthetic qualities of music into something supposedly quantifiable.

Is a guitar solo the equivalent of the 50 yard dash? Even if we know who is the fastest, does that have anything to do with who is the best? What does best mean in this context anyway? Is Al DiMeola really better than Jimi Hendrix?

Boys who have done time in the school band are often prone to this kind of thinking. I think it has something to do with learning that some things are just plain hard to do on musical instruments. But just because it's hard to play in 13/16 time, doesn't necessarily mean that music played in 13/16 time is good (which, of course, it very well might be, but for reasons that are only tangentially related to its complexity). Ultimately this ends up turning music into a kind of athletic competition in which musicians are valued more for their technical prowess than they are for aesthetic qualities of the music they produce. Boring, man.

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