What is the test of time?

The followint quote is from an interesting post in another thread:
I don't think it will stand the test of time. Most music doesn't.
What exactly is the proverbial test of time though? Critics spout that phrase all the time. But what exactly qualifies something to have stood the test of time? Critics said that rap wouldn't last over twenty years ago. Critics said that pop wouldn't last over forty years ago. Critics said that r&b wouldn't last over fifty years ago. Critics said that swing wouldn’t last over seventy years ago...

Interesting subject. Since the dawn of recording technology and especially now, people everywhere are scrambling to archive recordings of the past into whatever is the latest, greatest medium and format. In light of this, just about everything ever recorded will survive time. But still the question remains, what is the "test" of time. If anyone on earth listens to something long forgotten, does that mean it has stood the test of time?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What is the “test of time” to you?
All popular forms of music - even before recordings are still known today. I think they all last, but it's just a matter of how many people listen to it as time goes by. There are recordings of almost every kind of music that is being bought still - from Monteverde until now. So, I don't think anything will dissapear. There will always be someone interested in each type of music.

So, I guess what you were getting at "the test of time" doesn't seem to apply to music.

I imagine there is actually someone out there buying a Devo CD.
Good post. I guess what I'm getting at is that the "test of time" doesn't seem to apply to art in general, music included. It's an easy one to apply to architecture, theorems, beauty, etc, but art might indeed be timeless.

Perhaps I shouldn't have started this thread as it seems to be far more philosophical than I intended. More to the point might be that critics use the phrase far too readily. Nevertheless, someone else might have some cool insights as well. Please keep them coming.

Side note: Devo is touring and playing huge venues this summer. I know, I was surprised too. Cult classics.
I think it's a good post. Some music seems to remain poular over the years, and other doesn't. Maybe it's a question of widely accepted popularity. I think it's safe to say most of the Beatles' music has withstood the test of time, whereas the Captain and Tenille has not. Yet I am sure there are still many people who love the old Captain and Tenille recordings, and if you put all their fans together, you'd probably have a surprisingly large crowd. But you could also say that most people don't take their music seriously, and so it hasn't withstood the test of time.

The funny thing is that music comes and goes out of style. What has failed the test of time now might be rediscovered in 20 years and enjoy a big resurgence in popularity. I think when BeBop came out, traditional BigBand music was considered passe, but now has regained respectability. Abba music has also gained a surge in popularity over the past few years. The same thing could happen to the Captain and Tenille.

Just some quick thoughts while I'm trying to sober up before driving home. Feel free to agree, disagree, add, etc.
Maybe it has to do with whether critics still like it after a hundred years?? Beethoven is still good. Coltrane will likely still be good. Will critics still even care about some of the very good music well received today?

Or,if it's about people liking something (rather than critics), I have a story for you to ponder. I remember taking a music appreciation class in junior high school. During one class, we were asked to vote whether the Beatles or the Monkeys were the better band. As you can imagine, this happened some time ago ;-) The class was split down the middle. If those same people came together again today, I wonder if they would vote the same way? I'd wager that the Beatles did better at standing the test of time.

I don't think that a musical style is so much the issue though. It seems to me that particular songs are what's important. Relatively few people buy or listen to Classical music for instance, but it has stood the test of time.

Oh well, I may be rambling. This is an interesting topic and I look forward to reading the thoughts of others on it.
Side note: Devo is touring and playing huge venues
this summer. I know, I was surprised too. Cult classics.blockquote>

I heard just today that that entire tour had been canceled. No explanation
given. Regardless, as much as I got a kick out of them in collage, I doubt
their music would stand the "test of time". I would think their
music would already sound quite dated. It's difficult to take musicians
wearing upside-down flower pots on their heads very seriously. Somehow I
don't think that it was their intention either.

Yet I am sure there are still many people who love the old Captain and Tenille recordings, and if you put all their fans together, you'd probably have a surprisingly large crowd.

That's a very scary thought! What if the same crowd all broke out into a rousing chorus of "Muskrat Love"...televised worldwide?! Probably would cause the onset Armageadon! It's enough to drive you to drinking, drugs and suicidal thoughts. It's no wonder you need to " sober up" Honest1! Maybe you should get a cab home and have a friend come over and keep you company tonight.

I don't know how I remembered Captain and Tenille, but you just reminded me of that song:
"...Nibbling on bacon, chewin' on cheese
Muskrat [boy's name] says to muskrat [girl's name]would you please
be my Mrs.?"

How did they come up with that stuff? And of all the useful things I wish I could remember, why is THAT taking up space in my brain? Oh, this is making me laugh!!! It's either laugh, or the suicidal thoughts thing, so I'm laughing!
I much preferred Willis Alan Ramsey singing that number. His self-titled album is a classic, really. now it's stuck in my head, thanks.
I'm glad to see this thread didn't turn out to be purely academic. Fun stuff ‘goners!

One thing to keep in mind about Devo is that it was originally assembled for performance art, putting a high priority on shock value. In the cult realm, I'd say they passed the test so far.

Did Captain and Tenille perform "Muskrat Love" in an episode of The Muppet Show? I have a long faded memory of something like that, wondering if it was real now. Yep, stuck in my head too.
"The Last Time" - Rolling Stones
"Time On My Hands" - the jazz standard
"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" - Glen Campbell/Isaac Hayes
"The Time Has Come Today" - Chambers Brothers
"Good Times" - Chic
"My Time After A While" - Buddy Guy
"Now's the Time" - Charlie Parker
The Time - R&B supergroup
"Twine Time" - Alvin Cash & the Crawlers, have all stood the test


"Time & Tides" - Basia
"Good Times" - 70s sitcom
"Time Waits For No One" - Rolling Stones
"Pony Time" - Chubby Checker
"Time In A Bottle" - Jim Croce, have not
I can't believe the group "America" did Muskrat Love. It sure ruined their greatest hits cd.
The four B's

Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, & Beatles
The four M's

Monteverde, Mozart, Mendleson, Menudo

OK - which one doesn't fit? lol
Speaking of stupid hats, didn't you just want to slap that stupid cap off the
"Captain's" head!?!? I bet he was bald under there! Yeah, the
damn song's been stuck on repeat in my head ever since Honest1 brought it
up...I owe you one man! Didn't they arrest the Captain after that appearence
on the Muppet show? The story was; Big Bird caught him trying out some of
that forbidden Muppet-Love on the Cookie Monster. Dude had wrapped a
wad of chocalate chip dough around his veiny bangstick and the clueless
Muppet was...well, it wasn't a pretty sight. The case made it to court but the
charges were dropped. Rumor is they paid off the Cookie Monster with some
Ben & Jerry's Oreo Mint. This paved the way for Paul Reubens movie theatre
antics years later. It's come out recetly in some of the court transcripts that
Michael Jackson has Bert and Ernie in a high-security room at the Ranch.
Stories of the Muppet Menage a Trois have become rampant on the Internet,
and there are rumors of a video tape that's being offered for sale to the
highest bidder.

Going back to my example, I may have made an error since I compared 13 year olds in the past with folks a whole lot older than that today. If a bunch of 13 year olds were put in a room today and they listened to the Monkeys and the Beatles, I bet two things would happen:
1) A lot of the kids would prefer the Monkeys
2) A lot of the kids wouldn't like either band

Good point Ozfly. I don't even like the beetles. I used to but their music seems really old now.

I like Bach though. His music is deep enough to always get something new from it. I can't say the same for "it's been a hard days night..."

Go figure.
You should revisit "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". I think you'd be surprised by some of the orchestral arrangements. "When I'm Sixty-Four" has one of my all time favorite clarinet hooks.
>>I don't even like the beetles. I used to but their music seems really old now. <<

So who are your favs now? Britney? Menudo? NSync?
"The test of time" A kid walks into a music store and walks out with a copy of Led Zeppelin 1 or 2, this is the test of time!
My youngest daughter (25) telling me why she prefers Rubber Soul over Revolver.
Test 1: Is the music seen as having made a lasting contribution to the art form? Is it something that others copied or built on?

Test 2: Do people still actively listen to it N years later?

Test 3: N years later, is the band / album / song "remembered" in any way beyond an exhaustive record of all music? Would the band make a list of the top bands in it's genre in its era? Are they historically relevant?

These are probably in priority order for me.
Fantastic post, complete and non-esoteric.
Kthomas, I agree with Creeper. That's a fine test. I would add that "N" needs to span generations. For example, "Do other generations still actively listen to it"
Is it something you have owned an played in different formats from LP to tape to cd to sacd/dvd-a and still enjoy. Bob james, Steely Dan, Chicago, Jackson Browne.
Since it was my post, it means that most people who listen to a particular piece of music many years from now will still feel it is great music. In addition, most musical scholars/critics/artists will recognize the piece as a classic. It won't be thought of as "how could anyone listen to this crap?"