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What is a musician?
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jksuperstar



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, if you consider everything as just a name, then refer to my quote from the same post Smile (ie-its named that because WE gave it that *name*).

As far as subjectively speaking, well, I don't think you can prove ANYTHING subjectively...because you can always just change your point of view, and BANG!, your proof is gone. So *I'd* say language is something used to communicate, where both the communicator and communicatee understand the protocol that connects them. Music has no protocol. So, it's just impossible for me to prove *when* someone, or something, is making it.

But as a listener, I can call anything I want music. Which is why I quoted Oscar Wilde before....It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Whoever is doing the listening, is also doing the interpreting. Some people are just happy about everything, and other people are always pissed. Just depends on how you look at it....
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:21 pm    Post subject: oh dear Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

remember we are talking musicians here not architects = music is in the eye of the beholder, who is qualified to say what is music & what is not a music teacher perhaps but bollocks who can tell you what hits the spot?????????????????????????????????????????

[editor's note: I took our about 35 ? chars to make the post fit on the screen. - mosc]

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Almost anyone can sing Happy Birthday reasonably well but that doesn't make them musicians. One doesn't have to be a virtuoso in order to be a musician. In fact, there are plenty of people making a living as musicians who can barely play at all. I hear them on the radio! Embarassed

I guess that the real point that I'd like to make is I believe that intent has a significant bearing on whether someone is a musician.

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Oskar



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:45 am    Post subject: Re: oh dear Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

arcticbeard wrote:
remember we are talking musicians here not architects = music is in the eye of the beholder, who is qualified to say what is music & what is not a music teacher perhaps but bollocks who can tell you what hits the spot??????????????????????????????


I more or less instigated this thread; I hereby concede that the only qualification a musician wants is this: Call yourself a musician. Don't practice, don't bother about musical rules (even in order to know that you're breaking them), in fact, avoid ANY knowledge at all, and for effect, SHOOT THE BLOODY TEACHERS! Insufferable know-alls that they are. Evil or Very Mad

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I think there is something called a musician's musician. Forget the definition of musician for a minute - a musician's musician is something really special. I guess we can name quite a few here - maybe some of us are in that category. You can't put yourself there, only other musicians can do that.

When I think of muscican's musicians, I think of Bela Fleck, Amy X Neuburg, Geroge Gershwin, and Frank Zappa - just to pick a few off the top of my head. I consider myself a musician and these people slay me.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 6:33 pm    Post subject: Re: oh dear Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
I more or less instigated this thread; I hereby concede that the only qualification a musician wants is this: Call yourself a musician. Don't practice, don't bother about musical rules (even in order to know that you're breaking them), in fact, avoid ANY knowledge at all, and for effect, SHOOT THE BLOODY TEACHERS! Insufferable know-alls that they are. Evil or Very Mad


Happy new year everyone! Everyone else has gone to bed and I find myself on electro-music.com. Something must be wrong in my life.

In the process of this thread, it seems apparent that Oskar and I have opposing views. I don't play any instruments, but I believe I listen to and enjoy music more than anyone else I know, including several people who play instruments to high standards. I have written music for about 12 years now. I don't try and claim that the music I write is any good, but I don't see the quality of the music I write, a subjective judgement, as being relevant to my claim of musicianship. I JUST LOVE WRITING MUSIC. If that doesn't make me a musician, then, genuinely, I don't know what does.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, Dovdimus, you are a musician in my book... Idea
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2005 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

that's like saying' i am a human being therefore i am a human being'

still begs the question in the first place

if 'musician' means 'anyone who calls themself a musician' then the word has no real meaning..

it's like saying 'a woman is anyone who calls them self a woman'

hell, i will say 'i am a nuclear physicist' and see what happens

that doesn't work

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:
it's like saying 'a woman is anyone who calls them self a woman'


Generally, when someone says they are a woman it is prudent to take them at their word. Wink

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hehe..yeah i wondered if my illustration was a bit..odd Very Happy

and maybe inaccurate when we consider Walter/Wendy Carlos..

i digress

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don´t see the problem, realy. I´m perfectly fine with calling anybody who plays music a musician, then sorting between the ones I considder skillfull and the ones I don´t.

It apears to break down when we realise not everyone agrees on what "music" is and what exactly falls inside of the border of "playing" but that holds true for everything.

There is for example a difference of opinion on exactly what falls inside of "China" and your new "chair" might very well apear like "a small table" to my eyes.

Apart from minor confusions this does not cause any great trouble in general.

-"where´s your bed?"
-"i´m sleeping on the couch."

Might cause half a second of cognitive disonance but it´s perfectly acceptable.

The trouble generally starts not because of language itself but because people fear for the validity of their own point of view. One word that perfectly illustrates this is "heresy", exactly what "heresy" means has been one of the most hotly debated discussions in the history of linguistics, causing even more deaths then the infamous question on wether or not the king of france is bold¹.

I don´t think people realy care about what their neighbour sacrefices when and in which direction he prays as much as they fear they should´ve scareficed animals intead of plants and on the third wednesday instead of the second. Shouting their neighbour is a heretic and dealing with the cause of feeling your insecurity is much, much easier then dealing with the actual insecurity (or feeling it for that matter). Options and choices are more scary then anything else, particularly after you made your choice. Imagine for example that you choose to learn the piano and just spend two decades on this. After that you go to a club to find somebody hamering the sheet of metal he found last week to a cheering audience while even your partner prefers chatting on the phone to your interpertations of Chopin´s etudes!

It´s not politically correct to call him a heretic anymore but you can proclaim he´s not a musician, at least not a Real(tm) one².

What this says about people who wonder wether they are a musician themselves is left as a excersise to the reader. Me; I´m a engineer and both like Chopin and a good sheet-hamering session at times, none of the religions I like encourage prayer, I generally prefer sitting on the floor and Taiwan matters little to me. :¬)


¹A question that´s bothering a lot of linguistics (linguisticians? whatever), particularly because france has no king. soon after they covered this they tend to discuss the differences between the morning and the evening star in relation to Venus. Somebody should get them a shovel and put them to usefull work.

²Burning your partner at the stake is not generally accepted as a good idea, I believe it´s more customary to complain about her (or his as the case may be) lack of musical knowledge to your friends down at the pub. Make sure your friends like the same music as you do.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very insightful Kassen.
I think these insecurities lead to most of the Us vs Them mentality
which is the cause of so many problems in the world.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

egw wrote:
Very insightful Kassen.
I think these insecurities lead to most of the Us vs Them mentality
which is the cause of so many problems in the world.


or a kind of vague relativism where everyone makes nice and no individual is 'lesser or greater'...sounds like a certain political system ..marxism...where individual excellence is watered down to a general mediocrity

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don't see any value in treating individuals as "lesser" or "greater".
We don't have to discard the notion of excellence to accept all humans.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

egw wrote:
I don't see any value in treating individuals as "lesser" or "greater".
We don't have to discard the notion of excellence to accept all humans.


so, you are saying there is no value to a 'winner' or 'loser' in a chess match ?

is the loser of a chess match excellent ?

is someone who plays chess once a month and fails to learn the rules a 'chess player'..or just a hack with the audacity to award themselves with the title 'chess player'

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In a competition there are winners and losers.
That's fine for sports and games.
Humans relations should not be a competition, again "us vs them".

In music, it's fine to rank things by our own personal tastes. That is a subjective opinion, it's not a case of someone being "better" than someone else. There is no universal standard by which to measure music.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

egw wrote:
In a competition there are winners and losers.
That's fine for sports and games.
Humans relations should not be a competition, again "us vs them".

In music, it's fine to rank things by our own personal tastes. That is a subjective opinion, it's not a case of someone being "better" than someone else. There is no universal standard by which to measure music.


we are not ranking music, but musical skill..nor are we talking about anyone's value to society

we are simply talkng about those who can or cannot play their instrument well

some can ..some can't..so do it well..others are trying

thankfully the world's greatest music was created by those who can actually play their instrument well,

so we are not subject to a history of mediocre music

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Paul,

In a ideal world you would be right but I think there are a couple of social phenomena that mess it up. People tend to identify with certain groups and in western popular culture that´s closely related to what music you listen to. This makes it a competion in the minds of most people. Putting you music loud within a modern city is often a subconcious attempt to claim territory, or so I suspect. Some researchers believe music started as a activity young men engaged in in order to attract females, a competition if ever there was one!

You may prefer the music of those that know their instrument but many fans of styles like punk actually prefer the sound of people who are playing instruments they just picked up last month. I see no reason why that would be less valid except for matters of personal taste. Exactly what "playing your instrument well" means is not at all objectively clear, however everybody will feel that those who create "the world´s greatest music" play well.

Worse yet; some of the stuff I enjoy listening to and considder "played well" may not even be recognisable as music to many others.

It´s a quicksand covered by sandstorms. I think the only way out is realising that this does in fact not matter at all.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:

You may prefer the music of those that know their instrument but many fans of styles like punk actually prefer the sound of people who are playing instruments they just picked up last month. I see no reason why that would be less valid except for matters of personal taste. Exactly what "playing your instrument well" means is not at all objectively clear, however everybody will feel that those who create "the world´s greatest music" play well.

Worse yet; some of the stuff I enjoy listening to and considder "played well" may not even be recognisable as music to many others.

It´s a quicksand covered by sandstorms. I think the only way out is realising that this does in fact not matter at all.


it does matter...not everything is relative..

and regarding the myth about punk musicians who have just 'picked up an instrument last month' ..it is just that ..myth...what punk band is this anyway? can you name the band ?
these punk guys practice practice practice practice..and write song after song after song..all of which requires skills and discipline and lead to accomplishment

as far as
Quote:
stuff I enjoy listening to and considder "played well" may not even be recognisable as music to many others.


this is all about 'feel' and not skill...you may be referring to music that is technically played very well, but lacks feel or passion..this is not related to skill...

also, why does it imply that judging someone to be a skilled musician or some to be an undisciplined, un-practiced hack is 'competition'

it's a kid of co-operation..by using standards we collectively determine the most valuable and evolutionary ideas..and this requires a shared understanding of terms and some objective/subjective analysis

a good example of this is food...our ancestors already figured out which foods nourish well and taste good when mixed with this or that spice and cooked this or that way based on shared standards and objectve analysis on the value, for the purposes of collectively evolving

it is not all relative

so, in some one's own self created world, they may call themselves a musician, but it is up to the rest of the world to determine if this is really so or just a fanatsy of an ego

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well put Paul.

There are of course many examples of "lesser" music being just as great even though the muscians aren´t top notch. So.. what is going on here?

We haven´t yet touched the composing thingie here yet. I have heard some of the greatest muscians in there genre rambling away in their usual manner... great playing.. but contributing NOTHING to the overall performance or the piece. Some musicians compose whle they merely play, and some musicians acually make music.

There are many traditions and I guess we a agree on a musician should hopefully be more than "an excellent playback machine". If we rethink this set of ideas we end up with the idea of a composer being able to act as a muscian but what is missing in skills isn´t really relevant because the composition/the creativity can add more the resulting music.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
Worse yet; some of the stuff I enjoy listening to and considder "played well" may not even be recognisable as music to many others.


I have the same "problem".

Does it matter or not? Well, it might matter We are exploring pretty complex issues. Several posts here are seemingly proclaiming that everuthing is ok.. everything goes. This is democracy to the extreme and this in itself could be used to create a new set of values that could exterminate a lot of great music. However, I tend to see these posts as a way to try to touch some truth about music being more than playing sheet music well enough to get an A in your grade book.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:
it does matter...not everything is relative..


Is the combination of feeling that it matters and is also relative a option too?

Quote:
and regarding the myth about punk musicians who have just 'picked up an instrument last month' is just that ..myth...what punk band is this anyway? can you name the band ?
these punk guys practice practice practice practice..and write song after song after song..all of which requires skills and discipline


I´m not too knowledgable on the history of punk rock and would have to ask a friend who is for speciffic names since I can´t keep all the reportedly great bands that only released on 7" apart but people more knowledgable in the field asure me "it always goes wrong with the second record after they learned to play.".

Quote:

this is all about 'feel' and not skill...you may be referring to music that is technically played very well, but lacks feel or passion..this is not related to skill...


No, I am refering to music that consists of treated samples from a linear particle accelerator, sounds of skipping cd players or clicks and buzzes. Such works are not recognised as music by many people.

Quote:

also, why does it imply that judging someone to be a skilled musician or some to be an undisciplined, un-practiced hack is 'competition'


It doesn´t. Something in the comunication is going wrong here.

Quote:

it;;s a kid of co-operation..by using standars we collectovely determine the most valuable and evolutionary ideas..adn tihs requires a shared understanding of terms and some objective/subjective analysis


That would be a nice idea but it´s bound to fail. We can´t even agree on what is and what isn´t music. We can´t agree on what is and what isn´t a instrument either since this depends on both context and the obeserver. Thus we aren´t even able to objectively tell when anybody is making music, much less how good he is at it.

Quote:

so, in some one's own self created world, they may call themselves a musician, buti t is up to the rest of the world to determine if this is really so or just a fanatsy of an ego


That´s a nice point of view but are you prepared to accept it´s concequences? It means for example that as the opinion of the world in general changes your status may change too. People who are considdered the best musician of their time may change to being no musician at all a few centuries later. I´m not at all sure wether it´s even a majority of the world at the moment that plays polyphonic compositions with 12 tones to the octave. Depending on those numbers it might follow that you need to abandon seeing a good performance of a Bach piece as music according to your own definition. If "modern Europe and North America" is sufficiently large to count as "the rest of the world", is "the noise scene" or "the microsound comunity" too? If everything is absolute, what´s the minimal amount of observers needed to validate the quality of a certain musician? Does the quality of the work go into some kind of quantum flux if there are less observers or can we asume all works have a quality that´s discovered at the moment sufficient listeners have judged it?

How do you feel about pieces composed based on chance? How do you feel about pieces composed based on chance, then stored and not heard yet? could that opinion change if such a piece turned out to be either unlistenable or the most beautifull thing you ever heard after you were the only one to hear it?

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

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Kassen wrote:
Worse yet; some of the stuff I enjoy listening to and considder "played well" may not even be recognisable as music to many others.


I have the same "problem".

Does it matter or not? Well, it might matter We are exploring pretty complex issues. Several posts here are seemingly proclaiming that everuthing is ok.. everything goes. This is democracy to the extreme and this in itself could be used to create a new set of values that could exterminate a lot of great music. However, I tend to see these posts as a way to try to touch some truth about music being more than playing sheet music well enough to get an A in your grade book.


Indeed. It´s awfully hard to make a definition that includes all music and doesn´t include anything else. I think it´s impossible but I´m not sure it´s provably impossible. One of the hardest things is determining at which end to start. Do we start at the composer´s intention or the listener´s perception? What if something goes wrong inbetween? What if you preceive a skipping cd player as intentional and like the result? Does it change when uppon finding your mistake you record the cd player, then play the tape to a friend?

Tricky stuff. We could simply outlaw chance and accidents to rule out such hooligans as myself becoming a "musician" and accept the loss of Cage who we might no like anyway, but then what do we do with Mozart´s "musical game" which involves dice? It´s realy easy to come up with a definition that sounds fine at first but turns out to exclude classical composers and beloved pieces.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It seems we are talking a lot about judgement, and judging. I'm sure there are situations were it is approprate to make judgements of other people but this is very dangerous and life diminishing. I guess it gets down to ones core values and beliefs.

Practically, I've found that most of the time I have made negative judgements about art, I've regretted it later when I looked back with renewed eyes. I enjoy art, both my own and that of other people, when I withhold judgement.

So, to think that someone who is making music is not a musician because he lacks some predetermined definition of skill or talent is to miss an opportunity.

All that said, we are putting together the electro-music 2005 event and we'll have to make determinations if some music is approprate on not. If there is a downside to putting on this event, the possibility or rejecting an artist's work is one of them.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
That would be a nice idea but it´s bound to fail. We can´t even agree on what is and what isn´t music. We can´t agree on what is and what isn´t a instrument either since this depends on both context and the observer.


We might possibly agree on what music is. However, interestingly enough we are also talking about different styles/genres of music. Music is pretty much a systemic construction and a style does in fact contain rules. These rules aren´t strict, but it is intuitively easy to say that "THIS is not bluegrass". You might even judge a piece that evidently tries to be bluegrass but rather isn´t because of he rules aren´t handled well, to be a bad piece of music. So, in many styles of music there is a need to have very easily defined skills. If you cannot do this or that with a banjo, then you are no good at all. It is a paradox that we also are able to handle the idea of a musical joke. A parody of a bluegrass piece, where rules are broken and the skills aren´t quite top notch.. that one might possibly be judged as a great piece of music. So.. what is all this about?
I guess we have to agree on there being several layers of contextual systems interacting.
We have also seen that a singular piece of music can conect to different traditions and also create its internal system of logic and rules. Such a piece creates its own space and it is not uncommon that if the ideas communicated are deemed valid ( for some reason or another ) then the same piece also is deemed as "good music".

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