Originally Posted by PQleyR
Aha! I think I have an answer...
Pretension is when people make music that doesn't really give them good feelings in order that other people might like it! Insincerity! That's pretension.
Good one. We tend to think of it in that way, don't we? There is a notion of sincerity tied into the question.
Polly, I bet you wouldn't be surprised to find that your question could be construed as gendered. Pretense-female, objectivity - male.
Going back to Stravinsky, he saw music that was overly ornate and orchestrated as female and 'less than.' He even criticized his own teacher, Rimsky- Korsakov for relying too heavily on orchestration. Stravinsky liked the more rugged teutonic masculine writing of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But it is the heavily orchestrated Firebird ballet that most people remember from Stravinsky.
Zappa actually belongs to the objectivist camp. It is an interesting question to ask; but he saw his avant-garde works as the real deal and songs even as great as Yellow Snow were just stuff he had to do. That may be an extreme but certainly Valley Girl would fall in that commercializing mold.
There was a point with prog where I came about the same realization, it is the pretension that makes it fun. It was the earlier silly Crimson that I always liked more than the later stuff with Wetton. When they start to take themselves too seriously it gets lost.(That was that generation though. They were a very serious bunch.)