Music, of all the arts, is the one that does not and should not require explanation or education. If it works at all it should talk directly to the inner listener, beneath the layers of pretension or persona.
If the music has more going for it that simply satisfying the short-term pretensions of elitists and pseudo-intellectuals then it will survive on its own merits, if not it will die out as the fad passes and audiences move on.
Also, music is not literature. A child doesn't need to know anything to enjoy and appreciate music. I'm not talking about instant gratification, nor am I saying that the experience cannot be deepened or improved with time, but you do hear people criticising those who don't "understand" certain strands of modern music where the suggestion is that they lack the intellectual capacity or taste (whatever that is) to appreciate it.
Music ultimately should be able to transcend education and intellect and culture in a way that literature, for instance, cannot (or cannot always).
Here's the short version of my reaction: what bullshit.
Here's the longer version.
All music is culturally mediated, that is, we understand, or think we understand, that with which we grew up. I "know" something about western tonal music - and I use that term in its most technical meaning - because so much music since 1750, not just notational concert music, conforms to its melodic, harmonic, and structural conventions.
But when I listen to Indian classical music or Chinese classical music, you bet I need some help. I have no gut-level understanding of the structural or melodic conventions of Indian classical music; I didn't grow up with it, the scales and tunings are different, the structures are unfamiliar.
It's not a failing of the music that I need that help. It's my personal lack of experience with and exposure to that music.
I think - no, I know - that many people aren't willing to put in a little work to understand music that doesn't immediately appeal to them. That's their failing, not that of the music. My anonymous poster cites children's supposed ability to simply understand music without explanation. Hello - I'm an adult. I want to know and understand things in an adult way. It's seriously anti-intellectual to use children's understanding of music as a model for what is good music.
Let's try another approach. Take these two statements.
- Wow, that's great music. I want to learn more about it.
- I just don't get that stuff. I want to learn more about it.
My anonymous commenter would have me believe that in the first case, nothing is wrong, but in the second case, the music is at fault. Sounds like bullshit to me.