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Am I a bad musician?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Selta, Jan 14, 2005.


  1. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Hello everyone. This kind of entered my head last night in the few moments before drifting off to sleep...here goes.
    I'm 19 years old, and havebeen playing bass for roughly 7 years. Prior to that I played trumpet in Middle School band, and a little bit of piano at home. Besides trumpet for school, I've no musical training whatsoever. I know my simple chord progressions, I can improv when need be, and can play a fair blend of styles (jazz, blues, rock, 80s metal, nu-metal, alternative). I can hardly sight read (I've been working on it, since I play upright in a Jazz band). I can't really do anything fancy (for lack of a better term) like slapping/poping, solo, or tapping. I can make my away around on a guitar, but I've no clue how to build chords. I've no training in theory at all, besides what've I've read and practiced on (but nothing even remotly touching on actual theory). I've really no intention on learning any intense theory, sight reading, or techniques either..but, I am considering trying to find a good use keyboard eventually, but no where in the near future (mostly to be able to learn another instrument rather than techniques though).
    My question to fellow bassists, is that, does this coming of music, my background and the way I want to head off, would that make me a bad musician? I know it wont help me be anything good already, but I've never expected to be either. Is that a bad mindset to have? I'd really like to get a fair amount of input on this one. If I am indeed leading my playing into a never ending hole of sorts, what should I do to ressurect it? I still love playing every bit as much as I did when I first started, if not more so that I'm better now.
    Any and all input is great appreciated. Thank you.

    Ray
     
  2. DemoEtc

    DemoEtc

    Aug 18, 2004
    It sounds like you're basically saying you play the bass, don't know much about it except playing it, and don't really care to know much more about it than you already do, and are wondering if that makes you a bad musician.

    In my opinion, no.

    Well, unless you make horrible music, lol!

    But if you like the stuff you do and are more or less satisfied within yourself, then the only problem I can see is that you're comparing yourself to other, more trained musicians and feel you are somehow lacking.

    In my opinion, the 'comparison trip' is sorta self defeating, and you seem like you're not bothered by it - except that you're bothered about not being bothered by it.

    Don't worry about how you measure up to others. If you enjoy how you play, then just leave it at that and enjoy it for what it is. There's no pressure to excel in all these things that some of the people here (and elsewhere) excel in. It's not about them, basically - it's about you.

    Just take it as it comes, learn whatever you can learn on the way, and keep having fun at it. If you really enjoy a thing, don't feel like you have to 'enjoy it more' because others are somewhere you're not. Just be where you are and play because you love it.

    It's the only really important thing in the end. :)

    Take care.
     
  3. Really, your playing ability has very little to do with your ability to move people.
     
  4. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Well I would disagree with this statement entirely. The better you are at expressing yourself with your instrument the more people will be moved emotionally and will want to move physically.

    As far as the original post goes...I suppose if you want to look at things comparatively , there are many people who would look at you onstage playing whatever it is you're playing, and if you can get around decently they will think you're great. I've gotten compliments for playing some things I thought were incredibly silly or easy. So it's all relative. If you are having fun with what you do, that's what matters.
     
  5. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    Some of the best musicians I've ever heard/played with have been completely ignorant when it comes to theory and such. I think in certain situations, too much theory can get in the way of organic growth in music. Bob Ross used to use the phrase "happy accidents". When he painted and made a mistake, he'd go with it and make something positive from it. Too much theory in music, IME, can get in the way of these "happy accidents." If you always know what you're SUPPOSED to be playing, it kind of stifles the accidental "stumbling on to a cool progression" sort of thing that non-theoretical musicans thrive on. I've been playing around the same amount of time as you (it'll be 7 years since I got my first bass in Feb) and I've only recently started learning a little theory and such. I think after having such a long-standing relationship with theoretical ignorance, becoming enlightened won't hurt me too much. It shouldn't hurt you either. I think it's just when someone starts from the very beginning with lessons and theory when they tend to be robotic, and, IMO, bad musicians compared to those who play by feel.

    A superb technical drummer who recently departed my band Lohio to go to Berklee was a bad musician, IMO, because he was too technique-oriented, and like a robot. He doesn't play with feeling, and has very little interest in making GOOD MUSIC. He is only interested in the time signature, the changes, and the tempo. He plays with surgical precision, and for that I can respect his ability, but he's got no soul.

    To answer your question in a short way, I don't think there is anything inherently bad about lacking theory. As was said already, if you make bad music, you're a bad musician, but if you make good music, it doesn't matter whether you know theory or not. Good music is good music, and those who play good music are good musicians. :)
     
  6. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Well, I guess it wouldn't be so bad to do theory, it's not that I don't want to, I've no confidence in myself, and want a teacher to show me buuuuuuut I can't afford one, so I'm kinda on a catch 22 there. In one of my previous bands, my guitarist was a Berklee student actually, and when we'd play he'd dive off the deep end with "how can what you're playing sound that good", just because he didn't immediatly see what theory applied at that moment. We were told, and thought ourselves, that it sounded and felt good, so that's what I did, just went with what sounded and felt right. I dunno, I've just been questioning my playing a lot lately. Then I come on here and listen to these guys with 11 string basses with crazy chops layin' down a groove with a solo on top, then I sit back and play my like, I IV V progression (or whatever) and just go blah (for lack of a better word, but it suits, you get my drift). I feel my playing is adequte for what I do now, and for what I like best, what makes me happy, but I just sit and wonder sometimes, what's next though? ack. Stupid thread...

    Ray
     
  7. Perhaps you misunderstood what I meant me "ability to move people." I wasn't referring to "move" as in "get up and shake that booty", but rather to emotionally move. A long time back I met a pianist who had only been playing for 3 years. He played pretty simple stuff because he wasn't that advanced, and yet he put so much emotion and feeling into his playing I would've sworn he'd been playing for at least 10 years.

    But yes, I also agree that being a better player can make you better at expressing yourself with your instrument.

    So again, to answer the original post, I'd say not to worry about complexity and speed. Whatever you play, make it absolutely solid and groove.
     
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    It really depends on what you want to do with your playing. I aspire to be a professional jazz musician, and I've been an aspiring solo bassist since I first heard Victor, then Marcus, et all after only playing for 2 months, so I gobble up every opportunity for theory and technical training.

    IMO, you don't need theory or crazy chops to make money as a musician. You can play in a cover band and make (relatively) great money, and there's been many an original band play with what feels good and make absolutely FANTASTIC music. You don't need to be a chops wizard to play music.

    Do you have a day job? I just can't imagine anyone making their living as a musician calling their playing "adequate" and only now feeling a slight inclination to improve. You can call my playing self-indulgent, overplaying garbage, and you can call it the pinnacle of brilliance, but if you call it "mediocre" or "adequate", you'll get a slap across the face.
     
  9. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Well, I'm not so worried about doing it as a job (but if I could, I would do so in an instant!), but mostly, just for playing to have fun, to entertain people and to have that group of friends to do this with and get close with.
    Should I opt to try and find a teacher, and make myself better musically, or not worry about it?

    Ray
     
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    If you're just playing to have fun...then do what you want! :D If you want to become better, then get better. It seriously sucks when your escape from work starts to feel like work.
     
  11. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I think that last line sums up what I was more or less afraid of, the "fun" aspect getting taken out of it, and the "work" facade put onto it. Thanks guys!

    Ray
     
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    No problem dude...keep it toneful! :)
     
  13. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    "Bad" is a subjective term, and generally, it takes a lot to be bad. Some might base their opinion on lack of theroy knowledge. But the thing is you are doing what theroy is for, and that is making music. If you play something, and you think it sounds "Cool" a "Musician" might step in and say, "Well, the reason it's cool is..." and baffle you with what he says... but you are the one who did it.

    So you aren't a bad musician, you just don't know what the **** you are doing. ;)
     
  14. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    But does the fact that I don't know what I'm doing make me a bad musician? I just had a thought provoked by a guitarist, he said, maybe I know the theory by sound, just not the notation and words for it. Could that be true, or was he just BS'ing me? :p Thanks again

    Ray
     
  15. Ditto!

    I find that if you just stop caring about getting better and just have fun, you will get a lot better faster than actually trying to get better. Maybe that's just me, though.
     
  16. Dude, it doesnt matter at all that you dont know **** about theory. I dont know much theory other than the stuff i learn in High school band.

    Hendrix didnt have a clue about theory or any technical things, and he is a legend.

    Dave Mustaine didnt know any theory- selftaught he was.

    and theres plenty more.

    Jeff Beck , one of my personal favorites was self taught.

    Funny i only named guitarists :D

    Well i cant think of any bassists that i know for sure were self taught.
     
  17. pdusen

    pdusen

    Aug 18, 2004
    That very same idea has occured to me recently. Through learning basslines to various other songs I like, I have come to know my way around embellishment, so even though I still kind of follow the root to a degree, I can make some damned interesting fills. The guitarist I play with practicly exploded when I told him I'd only been playing 2 months (whereas he's been playing for a year with a ton of formal training).

    I plan to learn theory at some time, but I think, inadvertantly, I've come to know something about it already.
     
  18. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    He's a guitarist... what do you expect. :smug:

    That's actually more or less what I was saying. I consider it like using a big fancy word, and not knowing what it means. :D But it's more like, you are playing, you know how to play... when you play a riff, it is in some scale. And for all ou know, the riff you are playing is in some strange scale you've never heard of. Everything music related is theory, once a note you are playing is relating to another note, it's theory. Technically, any one note is theory.

    I'm in the same boat, four years behind me as a bassist, to a bunch of people I'm a great bassist. I've had a few people put me on the level of Les Claypool... one girl even said I was better. But they are also stupid. ;) I'm not that good by any means, but also due to my lack of theory. I don't think Claypool's music is very theory based despite his brief training, but that's just to let you know according to idiots, I'm pretty good.

    But I think I suck due to my lack of theory. I've been "inventing" chords lately because I don't know what they are. I'll string together random notes until it forms the sound I want. Technically, these chords already exsist, but I don't know what to call them. Why? I am a bad musician.

    So to answer your inital question, "Yes." :D

    Kidding: There are two ways to think about musician

    Someone who knows music or Someone who plays music. Whichever one of theses you find more fitting, will be your answer. And in reality, you should be trying to impress yourself first and foremost in music.
     
  19. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    This is a point uneducated bassists seem to love: In the realm of bass, Flea had no formal training.


    He did play some high school trumpet though, and theory transfers over. But as a bassist, self taught with some help from Hillel.
     
  20. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Interesting thoughts. I'll have to digest all of this a little bit before I actually respond :p.

    Ray