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"Pop music", by definition, cannot be music

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2013 Category: Arts
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,412 times Debate No: 33097
Debate Rounds (3)
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It's not because I dislike "pop music" that I say that is it not music. After all, I don't say that every piece of art I dislike is not art. In other words, I'm not speaking about the subjective aspect of art, but rather the objective aspect of it. Let's think about this logically.

Here are my premises:

1. Art is exclusively an expression of emotion or ideas.
2. Music is art.
3. "Pop music" is an auditory product intentionally created with the primary focus of maximizing profit.
4. Engineering profit is a science.
5. Science is not art.

Therefore, "pop music" is a misnomer. It cannot, by definition, be art because it is a science.


My opponent so far has shown some valid points in this argument but, there analysis of the idea is wrong. In my opponents argument they brought up that "Pop music" was aimed at getting a high profit, and engineering a profit was a science not a art. My opponent comes wrong here in two ways...
1. If Pop Music is aimed at just creating a profit how do you justify that other types of music produced are just aimed at receiving a profit. My opponent just looks at individual people who create music just for profit....wait, all musicians aim at creating a living from this and it is there JOB therefore it seems illegitimate to argue that just Pop Music is aimed at creating a high profit.
2. Music in one way or another is an art. Making a profit in the highest way possible is only 1 part of a musicians thought process as they create or/and sing a song. Each song has to have meaning and the artists have to have a want to sing the song and put emotion into it or it will not say. An art, by definition, is The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. Signing pop music with the right lyrics, good beat, strong tune, and good background songs all impact the creation of a pop song. Any song. So coming up with all this to express their thought, their emotions through 3 minutes definitely takes some skill.

Therefore as seen in the past two examples it can clearly be shown that Pop Music is, by definition, an art as even though profit is considered in the creation of this music the artist pour there heart and soul into each and every song.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent has stated that all musicians intend to create a profit by selling their music. This is simply untrue. Most musicians, even professional ones, simply create art because it is a mechanism for the artist to express his or her ideas. This is unrelated to the purpose of making money, and the prime reason why many independent musicians (again the vast majority of musicians that exist) give away their music, allow themselves to be recorded during shows, and tour at a financial net loss. This is where the term "poor, starving artist originates."

My opponent confuses sincere artistic expression with simply anything a song "says". If someone's attempt is to create a profit, they must sell it to an audience. In order to do so, they must create lyrical content that sounds sincere enough for someone who is simply not thinking about it to think that it speaks to them. However, only certain themes are sellable to a large audience, and with the intent of engineering profit, it limits the lyrical content used in pop music. This is why we do not hear instrumental or complex musical arrangements on the radio. This music will not sell. Lyrical content is typically limited to love, partying/having fun, and showing off money. This is why one cannot hear most musical genres such as death metal, punk, progressive rock, and experimental electronic music on the radio as well, despite the existence of many listeners and musicians of these styles.

Simply put, music must be created with the primary intent of sincere expression. If it makes a profit, it must be something mostly unintended, otherwise it cannot be considered art. It is a science.


1. an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
2. the tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both.

These are the top two definitions found in the simplicity they are saying that music has to express any form of idea or emotion into a couple of minutes with rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. Pop music supplies all of that and therefore saying that Pop Music, BY DEFINITION, cannot be music is wrong as pop music supplies all of that. Know saying that most other artists in different genres of music is absurd as that is there job and they need to make a living. They may love there music so much that they do stuff with good intentions but, at the end of the day these artists need to make some money!
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent again either cheapens the idea of art or disregards it as separate from the concept of music. However, as my opponent has quoted, the first definition of music is "[a]n ART of sound [...]" (emphasis mine). He contends that pop music, simply by employing the use of musical qualities, is thus defined as art. While, I note that this requires skill, it is a scientific skill, and not an artistic one.

It appears that my opponent's belief (and as evidenced by the second definition) of what music is, is so loose that, mere sounds created by a voice of a human that exclaims frustration after having stubbed his or her toe could be defined as music and thus art. In this example, the sound is created by a voice that uses rhythm (perhaps they used several atonal grunts in 1 second intervals that produced a single line in 4/4 time signature at slow tempo), which expressed physical pain and discontent. Of course it would be quite contrived to claim that this is actually music, because it does not meet the definition of art, but my opponent's use of the term "music" conforms with this example.

Thus, the only way one can make the assertion that pop music is actually music is to hold the definition that music is not necessarily art. That is, one must then assume that music is not exclusively a sub-classification of art.

However, when one attempts to hold this definition, the idea of a societal outlook must be significantly altered. At this point, one must contend that someone attending a university for a degree in music should petition for a bachelor's of science or bachelor's of business administration rather than a bachelor's of fine arts to be awarded for his coursework. After all, they are not simply studying fine art. A musician should thus be defined as a type of scientist or businessman.

Also, my opponent states that "that is there [sic] job and they need to make a living". In order for this to be meaningful, one must presume that a job is simply assigned to a each human, and they have no choice in that matter, nor can they make a living through multiple jobs. In fact, and as I stated in my previous response, most musicians "make a living" through other means. An example that illustrates a common professional musician's means of personal finance can be seen through the case of musician Dan Swanö (1). Dan has released many records while playing in the bands Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Katatonia, and Nightingale. He has played on records distributed by a Sony Music Entertainment-owned division, and has produced records for the bands Opeth and Millencolin among others. Swanö still maintains a day job at a local record store where he lives. Again, this is the norm, not the exception.

Additional reading:


Jack2 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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