Music Appreciation

Scientific Principles Of The Party Tape
by Charles M. Young
Australian Playboy, March 1986


March 1986

Music appreciators fall into four basic personality types: Extroverted Traditionalist, Extroverted Avant Garde, Introverted Traditionalist, and Introverted Avant Garde.

ExTrads are the most numerous groups in the country. For them music is a communal experience and they derive comfort from turning on the radio and knowing that many thousands of other ExTrads are listening to the same song. ExTrads believe that a popular song is by definition a good song.

ExAvants are the most influential group in that magazine editors look at their behaviour, declare it a trend, and pretty soon ExTrads are engaging that behaviour without knowing why. For ExAvants music is also a communal experience but it is defined by its separateness; that is, ExAvants don't care what they are dancing to so long as people with less status dance to something else.

InTrads experience music in a deeply personal way. At some point in their lives, usually during pubescence, they discover Truth listening to a particular artist or type of music and then spend the rest of their lives trying to re-experience that same Truth. InTrad taste is distinguished by its narrowness: only mid-period Uriah Heep (or early Merle Haggard, or Cajun or Galapagos Duck or Miles Davis, or anything) is Truth.

InAvants live by this dictum from the Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard: "When truth conquers with the help of 10,000 yelling men - even supposing that that which is victorious is a truth - with the form and manner of their victory a greater untruth is victorious." InAvants, in other words, like bands only when they are the first to discover them and distrust those same bands when ExTrads start filling up football stadiums to see them.

Viewed by the others as an unwashed herd whose taste stinks up the charts, ExTrads are mystified by music they haven't heard recently on the radio. Viewed by the others as twits, ExAvants think music that has made it to the radio is already passe. Viewed as fairground Ayatollahs, InTrads despise radio except for the one hour a month that the local listener-supported station does its mid-period Uriah Heep show. Viewed as half-baked reformers with a minimal grasp of reality, InAvants don't have enough money to own a radio and envy those who do.

The situation is further complicated by two important subgroups: ExAvant Politically Correctoids and ExTrad Ignoramuses. Correctoids are white people who refuse to dance to anything that is not currently popular among black people, while Igoramuses are familiar with no popular music since they left school.