1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Avoiding musical influences (hypothetical case).

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by yoshi, May 28, 2003.

  1. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Hi, I was talking to a freind about where influences for music comes form, and I wondered what kind of music someone would make if given an electric guitar and extensive theory knowledge.

    ~for example if you got a kid, and raised him/her in a strict environment with no music whatsoever (I know tahts probably illegal), what kind of music would they produce? Something weve seen, or somethingtoally new?

    Think of it this way if you like - Beethovan was deaf, so had no musical influencing as far as sounds go, and look at the 'revolutionary' stuff he churned out.


    Edit (see below)
  2. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    I think you have Mozart confused with Beethoven.
  3. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I think your right, I'll edit that one :oops:
  4. beethoven lost his hearing, he didn't start out deaf.

    i can't be sure, but i think the only thing he wrote after completely losing his hearing was his ninth. can anyone confirm that... i'm curious.
  5. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001

    Would said child be taught theory, or no? - I'm assuming yes from mention of "extensive theory knowledge" in your first paragraph. I'm having trouble understanding how you can teach theory extinsively without using examples of how it's applied. From what I've read from many pro musicians, the more influences the better. If I had to make a guess on what would happen in the scenerio you describe - I would say that the child would have no interest in music, a lot of trouble learning theory or how to play an instrument at all and would use the instrument only to make noise. That's my guess.
  6. Oddly enough an author has explored this. Orson Scott Card. there's a collection of short stories called 'Maps in a Mirror' that has a story called 'songbird' i think... or 'mikael's songbird' (one's the short story, and the other i think is the book it developed into)

    neat story of children raised to make music having never heard any outside music...or so i remember. it's been a few years since i read it. i highly recommend the author anyway. science fiction, but not 'way out there' SF.
  7. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    My guess would be that he/she would churn out bland regurgitations of theory. like Dream Theater! Kidding!

    The same is the case for people who know a ton of theory but don't listen to much new music (not "new" as in contemporary, just music they've never heard before). Music is the end, theory is the means. If this kid knew a thousand scales in F#min, but had never heard any music other than himself, I propose he would be quite boring.
  8. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    i think andrew hill didn't listen to any music for awhile
  9. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    My beloved thread, its been turned against me!

    I thought of another example in way - Mike Oldfeild on tubular bells, according to what I was told he made that track during a period of time shut away in is house :eek:
  10. iplaybass


    Feb 13, 2000
    Houston, TX
    I think it would be interesting to teach the child no music theory whatsoever, and make sure they were never exposed to any noise whatsoever. That way we could see if pleasing tones are more enviroment or instinct. It would also be interesting to hear the modes this child would develop. Emotion and music are so intertwined!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No - Beethoven started to go deaf late in life, while writing his 9th Symphony - but before that he certainly listened to a lot of music and built on that - he was very partial to "God Save the King" - British national anthem, for example and also used folk melodies and birdsong.

    Virtually every great composer builds on what has gone before - they have lessons with other musicians, they isten to as much music as you can - to be a great musician - you have to really love music and there is no way you could do this in isolation.

    Music is a craft that is handed down and learned - but it is also a passion - both have to be present to make great music.

    It is a total myth that listening to other music or learning from other people somehow stifles your creativity - it is the complete opposite!! :rolleyes:

    The likelihood is that, in isolation - a child will find simple ttunes like "When the Saints Go Marching in" or "Twinkle Little Star" and think they are great - but it will take them like 6 months, of stumbling about, until they get it right - whereas a good teacher would show them about a dozen tunes like this in a week!!

    So - same with school rock bands - they all "discover" the same few chords on a guitar and think they are wonderful - whereas, listening to more music from the past and taking lessons would have got them past this in a few weeks and on to more original and challenging things - they would realise more quickly how far they could go - rather than being limited for months/years by poor technique and understanding of music.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    PS - lump where are you - they need telling again!! ;)
  13. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    My friend Ian put it great, learning music is like learning a language. We first imitate others, not neccesarily knowing what we're doing... but eventually it all starts to come together to where we can use our newly acquired language skills... same with music i suppose. So it would almost be like creating a new language. It wouldn't follow any traditional concepts. I dunno what i'm getting at... i think i need to go to bed.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think you're right about music being like the way we learn language - if we don't put it in context - by reading and listening to what others have done, how they have created phrases and sentences - then it is meaningless. Without the context and meaning, then it wouldn't be another language - it just wouldn't be music!! ;)

    So - language without this "context" is gibberish and sound without it, is noise!!
  15. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hmmm. I'm not really sure about that old music/language analogy myself. I think it only holds true to an extent.

    The thing is, language has the primary purpose of conveying tangible concepts, whereas music is far more abstract. By learning a language, you're learning a predefined set of sounds and symbols to convey specific things. So, if you don't know the definitions, language is meaningless. For example, if you don't know French, and you go to a lecture in French, it's completely lost on you.

    Whereas, music doesn't represent something so tangible, and doesn't necessarily rely on definitions. Music elicits a personal, emotional response, which transcends any predefinitions. You don't have to learn what any particular chord "means" or what any particular scale "means" in order to "understand" the music. Because, there are no definitions as to what a particular chord or scale or note "means" - it's all about personal interpretation. It's not like there's some rule that says "Major = happy, Minor = sad" that you need to know in order to "get" the music.

    When you go to hear a solo pianist, for example, it doesn't matter what "definitions" he may be following, because the music speaks to you in a way that transcends these. It elicits an emotional response, rather than just an intellectual one. You won't completely miss the meaning because you're not familiar with the "language" he's using. In this way, music is not like language.

    Obviously, when musicians are playing in a band, it is a different situation, in that they need to communicate with each other. So there does have to be some predefined language. But the music is still eliciting an emotional response, and that is the medium of communication.

    As regards the original question, I don't really know what would happen in this situation. It will depend entirely on the individual. Your average person, shut in a room with an instrument and no musical influence is one thing. But, imagine if someone like Jaco, or Mozart was in this situation? I'm sure that would be quite a different situation.

    I'm sure what they come up with would not be "noise". Because those guys were naturals, they were very inspired, and naturally creative musicians.

    But, it's all speculation really. I don't know what would happen in the hypothetical situation you describe.
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Oh, and BTW...


  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the Jaco thing is an example against yours and the original point actually - so he played with as many other people as he could, every night from when he was about 12 years old - he was playing sets until the early hours of the morning every night!

    He knew about all sort of music and used these as influences - so he was building on what had gone before, quite clearly - adding in quotes from Stravinsky, Charlie Parker, Show Tunes etc - basically every type of music that had gone before.

    I think Jaco is a very good example of how the genius of a musician is to create something new out all that went before - not in isolation, but in full knowledge of every tradition and using every resouce and every teacher he could get.

    So Jaco is a great example of a musician working fully within the 'context' of where he was born.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I wasn't saying that, if you read more carefully - I was saying that how we learn language is like how we learn music - so by listening to others and repeating, hearing how they use it, their vernacular.

    If we had to learn language just from books and never heard another human being speaking it or using it then we would probably take much longer and might never learn to speak - same with music I think.
  19. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yes, this is true - but (and this is purely hypothetical), if he hadn't have had these influences, given Jaco's unstoppable creative spirit, I think it possible he would have still come up with something special. Very different from what he *did* come up with, of course. I could be completely wrong, of course.

    The thing is, it's all speculation. Everyone is influenced highly by the music they hear, so you can only really speculate on what someone would come up with when starved of musical influences.

    Suffice to say, I don't think that locking yourself away from all musical influences is a good thing :) Quite the opposite.
  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ok fair enough.