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Bass Player but not a Musician

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Maz, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Maz


    Jan 9, 2011
    I am not a Musician. I don't play an instrument for a living. I can't read music. I'm not just a roots & fifths player but I don't have much music theory knowledge either. I'm ignorant about keys and timings, but I can hold it down with the right notes generally, and I'm told I understand rhythm. I'm just a bass player, and I'm not even sure about that since I quit my band.

    I think the distinction is important, do you? How many of you are Bass players, but not musicians?
  2. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I consider myself a musician first and a bassist second although I am a solid bassist.
  3. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I'm a bass owner.
  4. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Important why, and to whom?

    I see what you are getting at, but as far as I know musician is not a registered profession with specific skills or skill levels. If you are on stage playing an instrument you are a musician. Maybe not a professional musician though, if it's not your main source of income.

    Unless you play music in a professional capacity where you may need music theory and maybe academic credentials to get work and to be able to communicate efficiently with song writers, other musicians, producers etc, I don't see why it matters what you know and what label you put on your playing. Just play and have fun.

    That's my take on it anyway.
  5. esa372

    esa372 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've seen "bands" that would make you eat those words... :eek:

    Right - but that does not make one a musician. Just like shooting hoops in the park every Saturday does not make one an athlete.
  6. kai_ski


    Apr 14, 2007
    Wenatchee, WA
  7. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    You may be a musician, and not realize it.
  8. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    @OP- if a hot chick asks you are you a musician, for the love of god say yes!
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    That's about the way I feel...somehow, over these past 40 years, I have been able to play with some killer musicians (who may or may not have been killing on their chosen axe)...so I know I don't have it.
    When I was 17 (back when I thought I was good), I happened to see a younger Victor Wooten with his brothers.
    A bit later, a young Oteil Burbridge shows up in-town...another mind freak.
    About then, I thought it best to work on being an all-around musician vs. spending every waking moment trying to be a gunslinger bassist.
    You can be both (like Wooten/Burbridge)...I realized a long time ago that I am not that gifted.
  10. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Sure it does. Whether you're a good or bad musician, or a good or bad band, is another matter.

    Bad analogy, I think. What it makes you is a basketball player.

    I know what you mean, but it's the same as with for instance the label "photographer". It's not a registered profession, all it takes is holding a camera and snapping a picture to make you a photographer.

    Having said this, I don't call myself a musician or a photographer, I like to prefix it with "hobby" or "amateur" to not pretend to be a professional.
  11. The Mouse

    The Mouse

    Jun 2, 2009
    I have no musical training or knowledge of theory. I play live every week, both covers gigs and original music. It is my primary source of income and has been that way for over 20 years. Obviously I don't get the "reading" gigs but I get calls for everything else.

    So I'm not sure what that makes me..
  12. jerrod


    Mar 8, 2011
    If you play music you are a musician.
  13. "You can be both (like Wooten/Burbridge)...I realized a long time ago that I am not that gifted."

    You don't have to be a great technician to be a great musician, but it sure helps. You don't have to be a good musician to be a good bassist, but it helps.

    When I was starting out in music, I remember hanging out with a bandmate and paying large amounts of attention to his older sister, who was an accomplished and quite skilled pianist with many exams, certificates, and accolades. Put a sheet of music in front of her and she could play it like she was born to do it. She, in turn, was envious of our band and its members because we could *jam* and *improvise*, and we could listen to a theme she played and riff off it and make good music, all things that she could not do. Who, I ask, was the better musician?
  14. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I have this discussion with my kids all the time. They are musicians. They read, they know theory, they do recitals, they know their scales and notes in the 3 octives of each of their instruments. I am a player. I can find a place to play with most any band and fill in. I do read (a little), charts mostly, but I can read music. I know roots and 5ths, I have learned minors, major 7ths and mixolidian. I have learned scales (mostly patterns though), but I am a player. I don't usually know why a note goes somewhere, but they sound good. That is what makes me a player not a musician
  15. MisterEd


    Jul 28, 2013
    You killed me!!... HA!... HA!... HA!... am not alone...
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I see a lot of things in this thread. Delusion, brain fapping (a LOT of brain fapping), respect, self deprecation, critics.
    I play music, it is fun do to. Not sure how much I care about the rest but very little for sure.
  17. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    This made me LOL!
  18. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    "I ain't an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player." John Kruk
  19. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    According to my bandmates, I am an effects pedal player who uses the bass guitar as a controller for making spaceship noises.
  20. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    I don't think about it much. In recent years ive used the term musician which i'd deliberately kept from using for years but it might carry with it certain expectations which I do not meet.

    I can't read music, I don't even know the notes i'm playing, I have a good ear, I can improvise to a certain extent (if you keep throwing key changes ill get lost...) and I think i'm fairly creative and alright at the songwriting thing (at least within my favored genre) which is 100% the reason why I picked an instrument to begin with. To write songs. Not to play professionally (I mean like studio musicians or gigging musicians) or play covers. I also play guitar and keyboard. Not terribly well, not too bad either. None of my favorite artists are great musicians...I mean, on a technical level or like..in terms of knowledge of theory and different genres.. I just wanted to do what they did. I've never had any ambition to learn theory and as for technique, just what I need to write the music I want to write (actually im a little technically better than what the music I write requires), I'm generally not that adventurous that i'll start playing styles of music I don't really care for.

    So no I guess i'm not the kind of musician (if I am one at all..though i'm pretty sure the definition only implies that you be playing an instrument which I certainly do) to call on for any project or gig, im not very versatile, but I never wanted to be that. I mean I did try it for a bit, and it did work in the sense that, I didn't have problems finding bands that wanted me as bassist, but I found that too limiting and frustrating, to have so little input in the songwriting process. It made me resent being in a band really especially since i'm not that good socially that I felt comfortable expressing what I thought or wanted.