Does society appreciate musical talent?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Bernie Connors, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. I started this thread at the suggestion of Blackbird because of a post I made in another thread.

    Does todays society really appreciate musical talent? Why are extremely talented musicians like Hiromi, Fahir Atakoglu and Michel Camilo relative unknowns and Britney Spears and Green Day are made out to be musical superheroes?

    Do the people of today have that little musical knowledge or do they only care about going to a concert and seeing light shows and fog machines? I like to call that Music A.D.D. (no offense to anyone suffering with A.D.D.) They can only pay attention to what appeals to everyone of their senses at once. They have to experience sensory overload just to enjoy a piece of music.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    "Video killed the radio star"

    Record companies market to teens because that's where much of their money comes from. If their focus groups say teeny bopper girls want the Back Street Boys and Britney Spears and teeny bopper boys want Green Day or whatever, that's what's going to be pushed. With MTV, it just isn't the music anymore. You have products being marketed to the kids like videogames, cologne/perfume, zit-destroy and everything else. If the music/shows about the bands don't keep the kids tuned in, product sales goes down, advertising revenues go down, etc.

    It isn't near about the music anymore. It's all about keeping the kids tuned in until the next batch of commercials. IMO of course, YMMV.
  3. It's true that the business end of the deal is really killing fresh and creative music. I'll agree with you there.

    But if society showed appreciation and a demand for talented musicians, don't you think that the record companies would take notice and cater to that as well?
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't be so quick to blame society. It's not them entirely. I put more of the blame on the fact that the only way for someone to make it rich in the music business is to be rich already so they can pay the programming consultants and radio stations to play their music. Nowadays when you hear a song on the radio, it's every bit a commercial as much as the ad for Bob's Ribs And Beer, with the time bought and paid for. There was a time when the radio stations, while always accepting of payola, would actually play music just because it was good, but those days are long gone.

    However, people still buy the CD's that they want to hear in the end. And the non-musician's criteria for liking music, as it has been for a very long time, is "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it." I would also add "has a strong melody you can hum while you're taking a shower." Non-musicians don't know from modes and 13b5 chords, and the vast majority of this music that really great musicians write goes right over their heads. This is something I think a lot of the great musicians who write such challenging music forget. They feel like they're writing great music, and to other musicians they are, but to the average listener they're just writing a bunch of crap that they don't get.

    And this has been going on since time in memorial, so it's not a new thing by any stretch. Look at classical pieces...what's the most recognizable symphonic piece in the world? "Dun dun dun DUUUUNNNNN...dun dun dun DUUUUUUNNNNNN." Beethoven's 5th. Not one of Salieri's musically correct but non-melodic BS symphonies. Not one of Roberto Broschi's impossible workouts he wrote for his castrato brother Farinelli to sing. Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Beethoven, Bach...those are the composers we remember. Why? Because they wrote beautiful melodies that you can hum in the shower. And it's why everyone knows who Green Day is and have no clue who those other artists you named are. For all their perceived lack of "great musicianship" (which I totally disagree with), they have great melodies you can hum, great beats, and you can dance to it. And it's why Kenny G's a multimillionaire who plays arenas and Charlie Parker died broke. Nobody would argue that Charlie Parker was a much better sax player than Kenny G. But what would be an easier listen to your average person on the street? "Confirmation" or "Songbird"?

    So blame not the public when you play over their heads, or when a musician you think is so fast and amazing sells 10,000 CD's. Either you try to connect with the public or you make music for your own edification. And if you choose the latter, be prepared not to make a whole lot of money or be a star. People are not musicians and they couldn't give a crap what a musician thinks is great music. Hum, beat, dance. It's been that way since time began, it always will, and no amount of whining about MTV dumbing down the public will change that.
  5. dhadleyray

    dhadleyray Guest

    Dec 7, 2004
    Hell yes!!! The truth! Reality Check.... I concur. :smug:
  6. As mentioned earlier, its what the teeny boppers want. Yes there are still some amazing CD's out there, but most of society neglects them. Every single girl I know once loved BSB and N'Sync and whatnot, now they despise it, and while they still listen to something a bit better musically, it is still mainstream for the most part. I think as we age we begin to appreciate music more. I've certainly grown. I started out with the Beatles(mm, Beatles), moved back here, discovered metal and thats all I listened to for several years. Until one day I went to an underground jazz club(it was literally underground) and had my mind blown away. I heard probably the best Radiohead cover ever, but in jazz. Since then I've progressed to some more classical music(going to see the philharmonic orchestra several times and the university big band), jazz, funk, and still metal. I know I missed some out but my brain hurts.

    There are adults who do appreciate quality music and will purcase the CDs. There are even radio stations that play that music, but have so little funding behind them that the listeners make donations just to hear it. It's out there.

    And it is a business. Whoever can generate revenue, thats who gets promoted, aired on radio and tv, sells out shows and doesn't necessarily have to know more than 3 chords. Unfortunate, but apparently money is important.
  7. But there's more to music than something that can make you hum or dance. If that's all that any musician would have ever been concerned with than music would be in a lot sadder state than it is presently.

    What happened to people making music for the love of it rather than how many CD's they can sell or how mainstream they can get? Pushing boundaries and creating something that has a lasting impact rather than getting your name in lights?

    I know it's a product of the entertainment industry but it's a sad day when a musicians has to dumb down their music and what they really want to say because the only way they can make a living is to play something that is easy to hum to or dance to.

    Jazz lovers may be snobs but it's one of the only genres of music today that is full of creative expression and not a bunch of techno dance beats and power chords. If some people don't get it that's fine but dog on the people that do.
  8. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    People just want to be entertained.

    People like simple things.

    Talented music loses it's entertainment value often times to those who don't understand it or know how to appreciate it.

    Just a small part of my opinion, and thats all you're getting for you better like it
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    At the height of Bird's popularity, people were humming and whistling and singing not just the heads, but lines from solos. And yes, society WAS a lot different back then. You had people waiting for the next Lester Young record like they wait for Harry Potter today.

    we'll see if GreenDay has the same staying power as Mozart, but it ain't that easy to predict. Certainly there are any number of contemporary "pop" acts that transcend the lowest common denominator and write music that is likely to transcend its cultural petri dish.

    Charlie Parker died broke cause he was a junkie, not cause he was a jazz musician. Jazz WAS popular music in the 40's and 50's, Bird could have had the same life as Dizzy if he had the same lifeSTYLE as Dizzy. Plus you gotta be careful looking at money, is Michael a billionaire or is he in debt for millions? Most non-junkie musicians (and a number of junkies) have done more than "make a living". Sure they ain't Donald Trump, but the stereotype is inaccurate.

    Everybody has their own yardstick for measuring success, popularity and money seem to be enough for some people. But that's not why everybody does it.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too, Bernie. The people that make music to try to push boundaries, that's all great and there should be people who do it, but the people who make that kind of music have to accept that the audience is much smaller, and not blame the public for not liking it. That's just the way it is and it's nobody's fault.
  11. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Music is music, enjoy what you like. If your ideal concert is sitting in a jazz club watching a band stand static, have fun.

    But, don't trivualize bands who add a visual aspect as ADD music. I can think of many bands who are amazing that have a "stage persona/get up."
  12. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I suggest you search a little harder if you think most music outside of jazz is "techno beats and power chords."
  13. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Society recognizes musical talent...but many of them are too ignorant to know what musical talent is. People in general want something they can dance too or sing along with nowadays. Our attention spans are shorter, so you dont see too many 20 minute balads, cept maybe in the jam band crowd. As taught in our freshman design class, simplicity is the key to a good design. Thats cause its easier to grasp by the general public.

    Then you got things like people with money, not taste, making decisions, and folks counting on the next product selling, not making music.

    And I will be the first to admit, just cause its hard, doesnt make it easy to listen too. I can appreciate the skills required to play a difficult piece of music, but its not likely the CD Im gonna pop in while driving around town. I think for example Steve Vai is a great guitarist, and can play some very difficult things, but I cant stand listening to any of his music.
  14. AFAIK outside of the USA musicianship is (slightly) more appreciated.

    Also, at design one thing they teach you is that the common person grasps simplicity over complexity.

    What bothers me is that you once had great, well-constructed and fully-instrumented 5-8 chord songs coming from real musicians (The Police anyone?) and now it's a beat and two wimpy digital synth notes. Modern music sounds very hollow and lifeless now.

    Then again pressing a button is much more cheaper than a full backing band...

    BTW John Taylor is a good bassist AND has a stage persona... well, had back in the 80s but still...
  15. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    You can't pick and choose songs that fit your examples. I can think of tons of old songs that use a 2 or 3 chord progression.

    I had a demo of my favorite modern band that was song with a 21 chord progression.

    Great modern music is easy to find if you look. It will not be on the radio.
  16. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Yes and no. I blame Clear Channel for watering music down for the masses, haha. Seriously though, you always have to search and find on your own the music that moves you. Unless of course you're a teenage girl...then it's everywhere.
  17. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I think society appreciates musical talent. Many Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson and co.'s songs were played by session musicians and written by schooled songwriting professionals. There have been several threads about how well-constructed many of these songs are. And it's because they are so well-constructed that they become popular. The business end comes in that the face of the popstar is used to market the tune, so people think Britney, essentially, 'played' the song. It's not fair, and it is in someways exploitative, but just because their appreciation is misplaced does not mean it's non-existant. (And the issue of credit for session musicians is a whole 'nother can of worms)

    I'm curious as to what your definition of 'talent' is. Because I think that's key to the discussion. Yngwie Malmsteen and Elvis Costello, for example, both are very talented individuals but for vastly different reasons. Or, conversely, you might find neither very talented. Is talent one's technical ability? One's sense of harmony? Or ability to instill emotion in their songs? Anyone of these, and many other attributes could make someone 'talented', in one way or another.
  18. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    You are assuming that modern popular artists have no talent.

    As much as a lot of us hate Michael Jackson, we cannot deny that he is a very talented songwriter and performer. Probably more so than those musicians you cited.
  19. I agree with you. I'm not here as a voice for the musicians that don't sell a million albums. I'm sure they accept that they're not going to sell as many albums as Blink. They would have to be accepting of it somehow or else they would hang it up, I would think.
  20. Agreed.

    I don't have a problem with a visual aspect in a concert. I think light shows are great. But I don't think people should need to have one to enjoy a concert. Enjoy the music first.