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Playing like an artist

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, May 1, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've kicked this one around before, but want to put it back out there because someone in the the DB section started a thoughtful thread and I felt we needed one here.

    What do you all do, or do you do anything, to become a more artful player. I have always believed that there are musicians and there are artists. I consider myself an artist - for many reason. I grew up fascinated with lots of arts, creating constantly, I played every instrument I could get my hands on, wrote songs since I was 12, got heavily into theater in college... blah, blah, blah. I also have always had a burning desire to express my feelings in other ways than with my mouth, fists and penis.

    A musician on the other hand I feel studies music diligiently, learns how to read, learns everything about theory and the science of music, and strives towards being the best technical player they can be. I have friends obsessed with learning to do everything petrucci can do on guitar, and working day in day out to get as fast as they can and totally master their instrument.

    I'm not judging either - I think it's like a left brain right brain thing... and i think lots of people have both.... I'm rambling and I'm not entirely sure what my point is. :)

    The other day I was playing along with some drum loops and a recorder and I was obsessed with playing the lines I was playing with the best 'feel' I could possibly put into them. It's amazing when you really concentrate on the groove, heart and soul into the lines you play how much you can expand (or i can anyhow).

    What are your toughts on all this stuff. Do you do anything to develop yourself as an artist? Do you consider yourself an artist? Do you consider yourself a musician? Do you think there's a difference? Do you think I'm nuts? Wus up?
  2. Well, Joe, I can see the sense in your two definitions, but I don't necessarily buy into it. Just because someone has technical training or ability doesn't mean they lack "feeling". In my opinion the only thing that qualifies "art' is that it is fullfilling to whoever created/creates it.

    Personally I can see art in a very busy musical line, a technically proficient painting, well executed sculpture etc..... as well as in more minimalist, abstract, or even "primitive" art, or even a double whole note.

    I think technical proficiency in the absence of feeling is somewhat pointless, even possibly annoying......... as is any expression without feeling.

    The bottom line is, since we can't see into another persons psyche, we really don't know what their motivation might be. So, as long as they are following their own Muse, let art be art, and artists be artists. Regardless of the level of technical training they may or may not posess.

    and lastly...... yes I do try to devolop my technical knowledge, because I feel it helps me develop as an artist, just like an author needs a vocabulary.

  3. Hi,

    I agree with what you say there Joe - in my view, a technical god does not necessarily a good musician make. What we are actually doing is performing when we play - either live or in the studio. A good performance can be technically flawed, and this is fine as long as it communicates something to the listener.

    I have played with a few players who are technically superb, but lack the spark of a true communicator of music and do not connect with the crowd. I have also played with players who, whist being OK technically, seem not to focus on this side of things but just go with the music and the feel, thus putting on a better show. Passion and performance are what people pay to see, not the best technique.

    Rambling now - sat up here in England, 0315am, battling with the mother of all ear infections, cant sleep, head feels like it will explode. Oh, got an outdoor gig tom pm, so hope it eases by then



    cool MIJ tv vidoe on the website, btw :)

  4. very true, but the two are not mutually exclusive either. :D

  5. Yes, you are correct. I suppose all I mean is that without a feel for putting on a show/performance, technical brilliance is wasted on the listening majority. Don't get me wrong, as a musician I dig technical players and love to see it...but some players just have the knack of putting on a show and entertaining an audience - they use their technical skills as the tools with which to take things to the next level of performing and not as the end prodict :)
  6. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Musician, yes. Artist, absolutely not. I sometimes play what might be considered avant-garde music but I just do it for fun, not for artistic merit or self-expression. I will argue vehemently that it has no artistic merit and there's no self-expression involved on my part.

    My main goal when playing music is to make it as easy as possible for everyone else to sound good, even if I think I myself could sound better playing something else. That does NOT mean keeping it simple - sometimes I'd love to lay out but I thump out a beat to hold things together. Or I'd rather play whole notes but I play quarters to make the beat painfully obvious.
  7. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    I think of myself as an artist, But I am really in your definiation, both an artist and a musician.

    I play music, I study theory and everything, But I also put passion behind everyhting I play, and I alsowrite poems and short stories to boot.
  8. I guess when I think about it , is that I consider myself an artist striving to become the best musician that I can be by learning everything that I need to know as well as reading articles or books relating to music to better myself both mentally and physically
    ie: The book " Inner game of music " or working out to keep fit for those long gigs
    But also putting passion behind every note that you play like ireidt does and acting as proffesional as I can be
  9. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    dear jim...seems like you've never heard of berklee school of music... :p

    ps...to all you wonderful berklee cats who spent too much of yer life working in lee berk's store24 to pay yer tuition...I'M JUST KIDDING!!! :bag:
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I hate calling myself an artist, even though I have a BFA in fine arts and make my living as an "artist." I only use it in situations where people would assume I'm a house or car painter if I just call myself a "painter." Unfortunately, I have to refer to my stuff as art quite often just so people have a clue what I'm talking about. Same with music. To me I'm just a bass player, or a musician of sorts.

    There's too much pretense and presumption in calling yourself an artist, JMHO. I try to leave it up to the viewer or listener to determine whether or not my creation should be considered art whenever I can.

  11. I totaly agree.......... however in Joe's original post the question was not what you call yourself, but rather, what do you consider yourself to be? The two possible answers were, essentially, "Artist" or "Technician".

    My postion is that anyone who pursues one of the "artistic" disciplines for desire over other reasons, regardless of technical ability, can reasonably be considered an artist.


    p.s. yes I did forget about Berklee (and maybe that's not a bad thing) :D

  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Well, for me (not necessarily for anyone else), "not what you call yourself, but rather, what do you consider yourself to be" is the same thing, so I guess of the two choices I'd have to consider myself a technician, although I am not at all like the players I've known that I consider technicians-I'm just lumping myself in with them because of my dislike for calling myself an artist :)

  13. Points well taken. I think at this point the conversation is transcending labels, and getting into the area of pesonal identity. I too would agree that calling oneself an Artist can be somewhat pretentious, especially if used above the context of your specific art. Like, "I am an Artist", as opposed to "I am a Painter (or Sculptor, or Musician, or whatever)"

    I personally think of myself as a "Bass Player" and a "Musician" and an "Artist", but in that order. :cool:

  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Artist? No way. At best what I do is a craft.

    That's true of 99% of all musicians, actually.
  15. Musician to me, is a subcategory of artist, not of craftsman/technician. You need a certain amount of craft to pull off the art inside. For me, I get pretty bored with "art music" since it tends to be cerebral. I prefer soulful music without cleverness to clever music without soul, if those are the choices.
  16. Honestly, I think musician/artist is a false opposition. You can be both, or neither, or you can not even spend any concern or time on the question, which is sorta my approach. No offense to anyone, but to me such worries are a big waste of time. Just do what's in you to do. Play something that means something to you, and do it as well as you can.

    Personally, when I listen to music, I don't care whether the person I'm listening to thinks he's a musician, an artist, a craftsman, or a hack. I only care about how I feel about the music I'm hearing. When I'm playing with another musician, I don't care what he thinks he is either, I only care about how he plays and what kind of music we're making.
  17. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004
    I try to make the music very comunicative. But the trying part doesn't really come into play until I make up a tune or something, then I'm like ok what does this little scrap of music say? Then I work around that for other basslines. Maybe look through poems and lyrics seeing what fits best. And most of teh time my music is beautiful in its simplicity(not punk-like simplicity, no offense intended) but if it sounds good and says what I want I will use it.

    I am an artist as well, draw n doodle alot.
    In my opinion music is another form of art.
    it can be dark, kind, gentle, surreal, strange, familiar.
    I try to learn all teh theory and whatnot that I can, but I simply cannot play my instrument without feeling, to me thats just immpossible. Plyaing without feeling also impedes my creativity.
  18. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    I'm not an artist. I barely feel like I could be called a musician. I don't feel a need to express myself or anything. I usually don't come up with anything unless someone asks me to.
    I just like music.

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