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Debate: Player vs. Musician

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by quatre03, Aug 15, 2005.

what do you think

Poll closed Aug 20, 2005.
  1. Yes i agree with you, you have to have a concept of music to be a musician

    15 vote(s)
  2. No i dont agree with you anyone who makes music is a musician

    33 vote(s)
  1. quatre03


    Aug 20, 2004
    Now I know what the dictionary says so dont quote it.

    What does it mean to you to?
    please read the whole thing before posting or voting!!

    Ok so myself an 2 of my friends, one of which is a fellow music major, sat down and got into this big conversation about what it is to be a musician.

    One of my friends argued that a musician is simply one who makes music, and that music is the art of sound. He believes that anyone who creates noise in hopes to express them selves is a musician. bottom line.

    I an my friend on the other hand believe that to be a musician you must be educated in the ways of Music to be a musician, other wise you're just a person who plays an instrument. I said that you must be able to fluently read, write, and speak the language both on and off your instrument wether they still play or not. I debated that it was like comming to america from another country, just because you're here in america dosent mean you are an american nor have the rights that is given too all americans. My other friend said that its like being a Doctor, you can give me a stethascope(sp?) that dosent make me a doctor. You're required to have a level of profesionalism and prefiencey at what you do.

    My friend argued back saying that we're saying that anyone who is uneducated, no matter how good they are, isnt a musician.

    We argued back saying they're making music, yes, but they are not musicians. Why are some musicians able to read, write, and speak so well while others arent able to break out of the place they're in. its because its the line between Musician and Player of an instrument. Someone who knows how to play an instrument has to be very valuable in one situation, but put him/her in a sessions position, or a big band where they are fored to read on spot, or compose for a smyphony, that they'd crumble because they dont know what they're doing. my friend went on to say that yes there are ppl who make music very well who arent musicians(Jimi Hendrix) and ppl who are just the opposite they're musicians but make crappy music(Kenny G).

    so basicaly whats your stand??

    do you agree with me

    I'm not saying you have to have a degree in music, i'm saying you have to have a strong grasp on musician principals and concepts
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Back when rock-n-roll was first invented by "uneducated" players, the educated jazz musicians called it noise. I personally don't think rock is noise, nor that it is as "educated" as jazz, classical, and other more theory-heavy music forms.

    So, in my mind the makers of that "rock-n-roll" noise were in fact musicians. To me its the ability to express yourself artistically through sound.

    Unless your a rapper, of course . . . . ;)
  3. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    pretty arrogant on your part , imo ...

    i'd bet there are plenty of "uneducated" people in this world
    who are fantastic musicians ... don't judge a book by it's cover .

    so , do i agree with you ??

    no , i don't ...
  4. Would Picasso not be considered a painter if he had no art classes? How many great musicians had little or no formal training? Lots.

    This does not belittle musical training/theory. It clearly is helpful. But some people have a knack for hearing something cool in their heads that they are able to translate to their fingers, without necessarily knowing WHY it sounds so cool. And some people with lots of musical training produce technically correct garbage with no feel.

    Musical theory is certainly an advantage, but is in no way a prerequisite to produce music.

  5. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    A player and a musician are the same. However, I think there's a difference between a "rock star" and "musician".

    A "rock star" would be someone like David Lee Roth. Someone who's in it for the women and the drugs. Someone who wants that lifestyle, and music is just a tool to get there, a bi-product of the lifestyle.

    A real musician is someone like Frank Zappa.
  6. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Interesting as I have been thinking about this recently. I don't think it's arrogant at all to hold this position.

    I personally feel that anyone who can play the notes they see written on a page or play a chord chart etc and that's it, is not a musician, period. They are playing music but they don't understand what they are doing when it comes down to the workings of music. I don't think it should be brushed off as "oh it's just theory," it's called reality. Just because you can hook up your entertainment center, it doesn't mean you're an engineer. Copeland wrote that many of the players in symphonies can play through all of this fantastic music they are given but they spend their entire life totally ignorant of music. I'd bet most people don't really realize that or think about it.

    IMO there is a huge difference between things such as rock music and "jazz"...especially when it comes to the musicianship required to be successful in the genres.

    So is someone who knows how to play a few triad based chords and can play a bunch of pop tunes, and perhaps writes some tunes based on these standard chords used over and over a musician?

    How does that compare to the person who devotes their time to studying rhythm, harmony, scales, and knows about reharmonizing, scale subtitition, obsesses over the composition of his melodies and the usage of harmony in his pieces, as well as practicing his given instrument to where they have a unique voice among his peers, and is virtuosic in their playing?

    The two players simply don't compare. There aren't many of the second types I described, but there are boatloads of the first. Most of these types couldn't do anything whatsoever if you asked them to write some music other than "write" the simplest of chord progressions and in the most basic of song forms. I guess this is similar to most of the music you hear on the radio, but that kind of music drives me nuts in it's asinine nature. I realize these are generalizations but I could probably easily write a test that 99% of people shopping at guitar center, for example, would utterly fail.

    So no, I don't feel people that don't know music backwards and forwards are musicians at all. They are just people who casually play music. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but there is a huge difference in mentality between the two types in my opinion AND my experience.
  7. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    The best people I listen to have training. It's usually the people without training or some kind of knowledge that are producing garbage. By far, in my opinion.

    I seem to notice an undercurrent of people who are either not good or don't have knowledge to bash people with great chops or a lot a talent for writing great music that come from a "theory" backround.

    Now I'm not trying to say complicated music is automatically better at all, sometimes simple music is fantastic when done right. But I read a lot of people ripping on certain others who are extremly musically proficient for the very reason that they ARE musically proficient and it's annoying.
  8. I don't disagree with that at all. I just think that there ARE people who are able to make great music without much formal training. I would agree they are certainly in the minority, and generally those with theory have a big leg up on those who don't. The question was do you "have" to have musical knowlege to be a musician. Not is it helpful, of course its helpful.

    Lots of older jazz was probably created by guys that didn't know why it worked, and the theoreticians come by later, analyzed it, and figured out why it worked. Inspiration can precede explanation.

  9. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Let me add I don't consider myself a full musician yet at all but I'm working on it.

    I also don't think you have to be what *I* consider a musician to play great music or write a good song necessarily. But there is a definite difference in what I described above. Kind of a strange dichotomy but I feel strongly about it.
  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I think you can be relatively uneducated and still be a musician. Personally, imo, for me, YMMV..etc. I see a musician as someone who understands music. Studying it is a means to understanding, but that is not requisite to understanding. There have been countless examples throughout history of musicians who might not have ever been trained, but they simply understood music.

    Jaco comes to mind, a guy who thoroughly understood music, he received a lot of lessons and training from various cats he'd play with, but that was supplementary to his fundamental understanding of what music is. He had music in his bones so to speak.

    One of the things that corroborates this is that some people seem to learn theory very naturally, they have no problem absorbing it, applying it, an understanding it. I would argue that they are still musicians even if they didn't take all the time to learn the theory and such, music is in them, and they understand it thru and thru.

    One good thing to look at is electronic music. Are electronic cats musicians? surely they make music, but they aren't doing it in conventional ways. But, to be so unconventional surely requires an understanding of music first and foremost, lest they won't make anything at all worth listening to.

    Well, it's the type of debate that there isn't really an answer to without drawing arbitrary lines in the sand to get to. :p
  11. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I think being a musician is a medium between the two: knowing what works, but not necessarilly having no control over anything, and there has to be a passion there too. My dad's been playing guitar for 6 months, and he most is certainly NOT a musician, while, I playing sax for 10 years, bass for almost 5, and a few others, feel I can call myself a musician. While not classically trained, I know what works and what doesn't whether by ear, by reading, or what.

    Then there are those people who can play anyone's else's stuff, but can't compose. They aren't musicians. IMO, a musician has to create, not REcreate music in order to achieve that title.
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    I agree. I think that a key component to being a musician is the drive to create. Art is useless, but we make it anyway and all that.
  13. Some truth to that...

    Remind me of a joke... People are always talking about how advanced aliens would be that make it to Earth.

    But there's a big difference between the aliens that DESIGNED the spacecraft and those DRIVING the spacecraft, just as there's a big difference between the people that DESIGNED Winnebagos and the people that DRIVE them.

    Similar idea to those who make music, and those that read written notes to reproduce other peoples music. Between reading a novel competently and writing one.

  14. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Why would aliens even want anything to do with us? If they can travel intergallactically, and we can barely get a shuttle off the ground without things falling off of it?
  15. Well if humans are any indication, it wouldn't be for friendship. They would probably consider us to be like the spiders/bugs that get sealed inside new house as its constructed. Essentially, a food source. :p Or maybe a pest to be pushed aside.

  16. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Whoa, your name is Randy?!??!
  17. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    You are taking a very narrow minded and elitest view of what it takes to be a musician.

    Yes, there is a difference between a musical instrument operator and a Musician. A Musician has a degree of command over his instrument (not necessarily theory) that allows him or her to communicate an intent. Level of proficiency is irrelevant. An operator simply plays the instrument without any ability or intent to communicate.

    So yes, as a Musician you can just be an operator but if you are just an operator you are not a Musician.

    When we first start out playing, we are operators. Then we get a 'light bulb moment' and a Musician is born.



  18. quatre03


    Aug 20, 2004
    this is exactly the way I see my self
  19. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Cointidentially, last night happened something that may illustrate my position about this topic: We had a gig with my tropical music band. We were playing a Salsa tune that has a piano solo (an excerpt of Chopin's Revolutionary study) in which, after eight silent measures, the trumpet players must play some long notes. But the pianist did a mistake and decided to repeat two measures of his solo, which I inmediately noticed, and these stupid trumpet players were counting measures and they played in the right place if the pianist didn't mess his part. I was shaking my hand at them (I'm the bandleader -supposedly-) but they had their eyes on the sheet music. I had to yell at them because they completed the mess that the pianist started and after the set finished I told them: "Look: A band will never be really good if there are people inside it that DON'T HEAR WHAT'S HAPPENING. You have no f***ing idea about the music. You're only reading those stupid dots." I was really angry! :mad: I studied at the university and I know how to read music (I write the arrangements for the band, BTW), but sheet music is a hassle for me. Of course, if I'm going to play something I've never heard and don't have a recording, I have to use the sheets, but I try to get rid of them the quickest I can. So my point is: You can be an educated player but if you don't HEAR the music, you're not a musician. Only a player. And I know really good ones! But I prefer someone not so dazzling as a player but someone clever and with open ears that can make right decisions when things don't go well. That's a sufficient display of musicianship to me.
  20. I agree completely with this -especially the last sentence. I think that people who really see themselve as musicians try to improve themselves, whether it's learning theory*, another style of music, another instrument, etc. They seek that balance of natural talent and education eventually.

    I find it interesting that a lot of the people who voted "yes" are people who are/were actively involved in more classical music training. I have had tons of classical training since around the age of 6 when I started to sort of teach myself piano = through high school- through college, where I was a tuba performance major for 2.5 years.

    What' interesting, is I'm just now really focusing on hearing the music. Learning bass has been really helpful for me in this area - it's forced me to sit down with a CD to learn a song, learn the chords, etc. - and often the songs break some of those rules of traditional theory.

    *When I say theory, I'm talking about chord progressions and key changes, not just reading notated music.