Cook Hall

Cook Hall, the campus castle, is home to music majors. 

The best-selling artist of the last decade Eminem said, "Music can alter moods and talk to you," in his 2002 hit rap song "Sing for the Moment."

While this statement holds true, music speaks different languages to different people. The question "what makes good music" has no correct answer. Musically-inclined members of Illinois State University weigh in on the topic.

Ben Stiers, music professor and assistant director of athletic bands/percussion, sides with Eminem.

"As a composer or performer, if you feel that the music you've made effectively expresses your ideas, then it's good music," Stiers said. "If, as a listener, music makes a significant impact on you [such as] if it evokes emotions, or makes you think, then it's good music."

Stiers notes there are many pieces of music he dislikes; however, he recognizes the greatness of the piece. Hatred is such a strong feeling that a piece should be commended for eliciting that response.

Stiers listens to all kinds of music for his job. Though picking a favorite is tough, Stiers selects jazz-pop fusion band Snarky Puppy.

"Their music is really fun to listen to casually. It's interesting to listen to analytically. They combine tradition and innovation better than any group I've seen," Stiers said. "They also collaborate with amazing artists and have tons of great videos of their recording sessions on YouTube, so you can see how they work together to make the music come alive."

Like Stiers, senior music performance and composition major Rachel Wolz grew to love analyzing various musical pieces. She has been immersed in music theory for years.

"When I am listening to music, I do try to see if the work exploits a variety of musical elements, such as rhythm, harmony, melody, and timbre," Wolz said. "Although a work doesn't have to use all of them, one that is based solely on one element might not be as fulfilling as one that integrates all of the elements."

When analyzing, Wolz takes breaks after listening to pieces. She returns later to see if the piece passes the test of time. Additionally, music should hit her on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.

French composer Claude Debussy aces Wolz' tests.

"I love the expressive qualities in Debussy's music," Wolz said. "His harmonies were very enriched and his melodies were highly animated. He really excelled at finding ways to invoke strong imagery in his music."

Junior theater education major Mary Wood loves the freedom singing provides. A soprano singer in several of her roles, she enjoys the overall talents Beyoncé possesses.

"I like pop music in general and I belt Disney music in my home in Manchester," Wood said regarding her other favorites. "Though not a popular choice, One Direction has a couple good songs I enjoy."

Whether analyzing French composers or listening to today's hits, music is an all-encompassing creation everyone enjoys.

STUART STALTER is a Features Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at sstalt1@ilstu.edu Follow him on Twitter at @VidetteStuS

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