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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Commentary and Editorials
What is a musician?
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I like this multi level idea, Elektro. It could fore example be argued that Cage´s 4:33 isn´t realy music but is instead piece of performance art with music as it´s topic.

You could also argue the same for many experiments such as some minimal music, noise and phenomena such as cercuit bending. Many of those spawned styles of their own,slowly becoming a part of music instead of comenting on the state of it. Hardcore punk afficianados argue that one of the most imortant elements of the first wave of hardcore was that people were able to press their own records outside of the chanels of the mainstream establishment. Here a aesthetic of being unpolished was perhaps more of a social expression then a real musical one, at least in intention.

It apears that however outlandish and obnoxious your recording, invariably some people will like it....

Not that this realy helps; it just raises one more aspect that makes it harder to sort the musicians from the non-musicians.

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:


I´m not expecting anyone to answer all of that, merely to demonstrate it´s not that absolute.


you make some very good points and ask good questions ..just thinking about all of that

so , you may smell burning

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

reminds me of the recording of cage's 'williams mix'..

where at the end of the live performance it seems almost exactly half the audience begins to boo and hiss while the other half is proclaiming 'bravo bravo very enthusiatically..the audience really did seem to be divided right down the middle

but again, i really do think this is simply a conversation about
those who can play an instrument well, and those who can't..[usually because they don't practice]

i think what Oskar was really saying when he started this thread a while back was

'what makes a good musician good' ?

his answer is 'practice and discipline makes a musican good'

i agree

but someone who does play an instrument, but does not really practice or incrase their skill, they might be called a 'bad musician' or sloppy musician etc

and by this defintion, anyone who NEVER practices or learns any instrument to some level of competency is not a musician.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

btw..what i think is cool about the above defintion is that, if you have a very open ended idea about what makes an instrument..i.e. spoons, a violin, a turntable , water balloons, the voice, a dsp process etc etc, then suddenly you have a lot of people who can be included as musicians

but the bottom will remain..practice and disciplined skill is what will define a 'good' musician no matter what the instrument, genre etc

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Kassen
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree with Oskar on that one too.

To me personally a musician is also good if he makes music that touches me and expresses something to me, that´s another not realy objective quality but no amount of reasoning will take it away.

It apears to become worse next; perhaps the music is telling me something that wasn´t intended at all by the musician. Possible.

But then it becomes good; sometimes you can discover (from a interview or perhaps in person) what a musician meant. If that´s what you got out of his music he must be very good indeed. This is nicely test-able if need be and we can verify it. It also holds it´s value across styles though it´s perhaps more suitable for instrumental pieces.

It´s always a great source of confidence for me if a listener tells me about one of my own pieces and comes up with something close to the images I was thinking off.

This aspect of comunication of feelings and images is very important to my experience of music, both as a musician/engineer/composer/whatever and as a listener. Obviously practice, knowledge, experience and dedication help a lot but you also need to have something to say or it´s all worthless.

I´m lucky enough to know a lot of very talented musicians (in the broadest sense of the word) personally and find I tend to enjoy their music more then many others in similar fields. Perhaps this has something to do with that.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It seems that music can be selfdefining and also open ended. Pretty interesting stuff..
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
It seems that music can be selfdefining and also open ended. Pretty interesting stuff..


Kinda like life itself...

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yupp, pretty interesting stuff
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Donaldito



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I haven't been very active on the board, and was certainly avoiding this topic. But recently I argued with a friend about my newest musical endeavor which, some of you may remember, is that I've obtained a new computer and I'm creating sample-based music with it. I use audiomulch and cool edit.
He was whining about being unable to find a practice space to play in (with a band with the "conventional" (guitar, drums, bass) setup. Knowing what his reaction would be, I said with a smirk, "I can take my instrument anywhere. And even though my bedroom is my "real" practice space, it can be your house, the coffee shop, anywhere I want it to be." "Don, that's not a musical instrument," was the (expected) reply. And from there we went. Others must have stories like this.
The funny thing is, after calling me last night and asking if I knew anyone he could borrow a four track from, instead I'm going to his house (my practice space for the evening, I suppose) and recording some tracks for him.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've never heard that one, but I believe it. I know of several people who don't care for samplers, but never came across someone that didn't think they were real instruments. For better or worse, the computer is a real insturment; time for your friend to grow up and smell the coffee. Laughing
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

At one point, not that long ago, recording matured and it became established that the way you record or mix could also be used as a musical expression. Operations on the sound of instruments can also become a instrument in themselves (think turntableism and dub). Not everybody has adapted to this new thing yet, most of the time they are people who don´t record or mix.
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Oskar



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
At one point, not that long ago, recording matured and it became established that the way you record or mix could also be used as a musical expression. Operations on the sound of instruments can also become a instrument in themselves (think turntableism and dub). .


Absolutely! I feel I've been construed as extremely conservative by a goodly number of forum members, but Kassen is right; The definition of what constitutes an instrument is an interesting debate in itself. It wasn't too long ago that both the guitar and the saxophone weren't seen as "proper" instruments. These days it gets even more interesting, what with the art of remixing, turntablism, rapping, toasting and so on. It doesn't matter WHAT instrument you play, nor in what style, or according to which rules (for lack of a better word), only that you apply yourself.

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Oskar



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

And another thing: I feel that some of the old tap dancers (I forget their names, but you know, the ones that'd leave Fred Astaire panting) were musicians in their own right. Respected drummer Steve Gadd said an interview that he himself used to tap dance a bit, back in the day.
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Dovdimus Prime



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The synthesiser itself is obviously a musical instrument. However, can programming it be described as playing it? Tweaking knobs to get a good sound, and playing with that sound, gives me a feeling I imagine is analogous to that which an instrumental musician (note diplomacy) feels upon getting some good stuff out of their guitar or whatever.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Dovdimus Prime wrote:
However, can programming it be described as playing it?


Depending on what exactly you are programming it to do I think it's more like building a musical instrument or composing music (bit of a wide range maybe ... but it's all there).

At the same time it does have some aspects that make it similar to lets say playing a guitar, you move certain body parts in certain ways and some sound gets created or changed.

It's hard to really compare though, a synth is so much more an abstract thing than a guitar is. And on the guitar when I stop moving the body parts normally the sound will go away quickly (without feedback that is). On a synth it could go on for a long time after that (like days, or forever). Am I still playing it then, or did I compose something ??

To a certain extent the questions itself seem meaningless, maybe it is the memory aspect makes it disturbing a bit. Memory applied on music raises more of such questions, like "is a recording of music music ?", or an older one "is a symphony orchestra playing a composition making music ?" , it seems to be possible to stretch whatever creteria are applied up to a point where they becomes nonsense ... maybe.

Anyway, programming a synth is quality time :-)

BTW the december 2004 issue of Scientific American has a similar question: "what is life" (related to virusses) - also very interesting.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

John McLaughlin wrote:
I'm a musician, I'm the ears of humanity. I listen on behalf of humanity. Most people's roles in this divine drama on earth is to do something else, but they can love music so I am here for them. Musicians are here for people who can't hear, and painters are here for people who can't see - so they can learn to hear and see.

http://www.cs.cf.ac.uk/Dave/mclaughlin/art/GP121972.html

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Kassen
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
Absolutely! I feel I've been construed as extremely conservative by a goodly number of forum members, but Kassen is right; The definition of what constitutes an instrument is an interesting debate in itself. It wasn't too long ago that both the guitar and the saxophone weren't seen as "proper" instruments. These days it gets even more interesting, what with the art of remixing, turntablism, rapping, toasting and so on. It doesn't matter WHAT instrument you play, nor in what style, or according to which rules (for lack of a better word), only that you apply yourself.


Yeah, I had a big debate with Mosc a while ago; he thought what we were doing with modular synths was most like Jazz (because it can be so free form) while I found that it was more like dub because dub introduced this way of using treatments of sounds as instruments.

It was enjoyable, I had to beatbox some dub rithems as Mosc was unfamiliar with the style and in the end Rob had to get records out in illustration.

I suppose that my point is that these questions are far more enjoybable then answering them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
I suppose that my point is that these questions are far more enjoybable then answering them.


Yes, I think what is music is a more difficult question than what is life. I assume there is no simple answer, but a multifacited one.

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