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  #31  
Old 05-17-2012, 01:18 PM
Hucklebilly Hucklebilly is offline
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It's also important to stress that you are not in the grip of any emotion while playing. You have to remain fully in control. There may be intense emotions communicated by the music, but they are achieved through very small and subtle techniques, that require consummate conscious control.

It's like being actor: an actor can communicate intense emotions without actually feeling anything at all at that moment; he needs the complete control in order to perform the techniques that will communicate the emotion accurately. If he wants to communicate sadness, it's no good if he breaks down and cries. He'll just look like someone crying.

IOW, you have to "keep the channel clear". Real emotion will clog it up. The emotion in the music will only get through if you remain somewhat detached.

It might seem counter-intuitive to want to minimize emotion, to play music effectively, but it's necessary:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRjE...feature=relmfu
YES! This is the key. A true musician focuses on the emotions he/she wants to stir in the AUDIENCE. This is the Copernican shift that separates artists from technicians.
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  #32  
Old 05-17-2012, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Paikon View Post
true but you cant teach musicality
No, but any half-way decent student can define it to suit themselves.

Look at all the musical greats in history who were panned and hated when they started out. Their compositions despised, their performances derided, their music dismissed as noise or primitive grunting. They didn't change. Stravinski's "The Rite of Spring" didn't transform from the riot-inducing cacophony it was on introduction into beautiful music... the audience changed to recognize the cacophony as beautiful. The same has been true every single time music shifted. They booed Bob Dylan for using an electric guitar, once. He didn't go back, the audience moved forward.
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  #33  
Old 05-17-2012, 02:03 PM
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You don't have to be incredibly skilled technically, however, to be expressive. You just to play within your limits. Even a relative beginner can be an expressive player, and play with feeling. They only have to be in full command of just what it is they need to play - it might just be a couple of chords.
This is encouraging. You’re saying you don’t have to wait until you’re a technical master to play with feeling. I think you’re right - some of the most emotional/ soulful performances I’ve heard were not technically advanced, or perfect. That’s not to say we shouldn’t aim for technical excellence, but it’s reassuring to know that nearly anyone can play ‘with feeling.’
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Of course, you have to know what it is you want to express in the first place! You have to feel the tune or the song is saying something you yourself want to say. It's not about having some kind of feeling in yourself, and then trying to express it through music. Nor is it about trying to enter the mind of the composer and guess what he/she was trying to say. It's about feeling an affinity for the tune, that you recognise what it's saying. (That's probably why you want to play it in the first place.) You understand it, because you feel the same way (often or sometimes). It's something you can't put into words (otherwise it wouldn't be music!,), but it feels "right".
I had to read this quite a few times, but I really like it. I don’t have to duplicate the original emotion, so to speak, but I have to understand/ recognize the message.
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It's also important to stress that you are not in the grip of any emotion while playing. You have to remain fully in control. There may be intense emotions communicated by the music, but they are achieved through very small and subtle techniques, that require consummate conscious control. It's like being actor: an actor can communicate intense emotions without actually feeling anything at all at that moment; he needs the complete control in order to perform the techniques that will communicate the emotion accurately. If he wants to communicate sadness, it's no good if he breaks down and cries. He'll just look like someone crying.
So it’s kind of like acting then! It’s not about duplicating the emotion, but it’s about faking it?
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  #34  
Old 05-17-2012, 02:07 PM
Paikon Paikon is offline
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No, but any half-way decent student can define it (musicality) to suit themselves.
hmmm i dont know...
some students have musicality even when they start and others with very good technique never do but they cover the luck of it with expression tricks
anyway i agree that musicality and a good technique makes a good musician
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  #35  
Old 05-17-2012, 02:10 PM
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And this is a good part of what I’m struggling with – how does one go about finding this passion?
Steve
well, trying expressing the lyrics of the song is a good start ...is it happy,romantic ,angry, funny ? express it
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  #36  
Old 05-17-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mc1 View Post
take up another instrument.
But then, I run the risk of being a ‘technician’ on multiple instruments 
The article about practicing is priceless – thanks for linking to it
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Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
You don't learn to speak the language of music by drilling your fingers. It's something that happens in your mind: the ability to manipulate musical ideals fully in your head.
Mind-shaping Thanks for the link
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Originally Posted by Bern View Post
I'll be honest...the definition of 'musician' doesn't interest me at all. Why should it ? I play guitar because I like the guitar as an instrument, I like how it sounds and I can create and play music using its sound I enjoy. Personally, it's my choice of what to learn about playing the instrument. What else is there ?
I don’t really care about the definition either. I just know that I don’t always perform (guitar and voice) with the level of passion and intensity (soul?) that I want to achieve. I want to get more soul.
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It's about having the feel, and ear, needed to produce sounds that people enjoy hearing. Even that comes down to "good musician" vs. "bad musician."
No intention of putting any one down here. I simply crave being able to “feel the music and be able to make sounds people enjoy hearing.” And I’m exploring every possible way to get there…
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  #37  
Old 05-17-2012, 03:07 PM
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No intention of putting any one down here. I simply crave being able to “feel the music and be able to make sounds people enjoy hearing.” And I’m exploring every possible way to get there…
I know, I was just pointing it out because if you are laboring under an impression you got from someone who was trying to be insulting, well, maybe that's not the best way to go about things. And if you weren't, maybe repeating the insult isn't great either.

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It's like being actor: an actor can communicate intense emotions without actually feeling anything at all at that moment; he needs the complete control in order to perform the techniques that will communicate the emotion accurately. If he wants to communicate sadness, it's no good if he breaks down and cries. He'll just look like someone crying.
And then in the 20th century they invented something called "Method Acting" wherein an actor deliberately causes themselves to experience emotions (e.g. deliberately thinking about a sad personal experience while portraying a sad character) in order to give the audience the experience of watching an emotional performance.

Approximately 80% of all Oscars given to date have gone to Method Actors. Classically trained actors (of the sort described in the quote above) can make a good showing, but it is a rare and difficult talent. Most people who try communicating emotion they don't feel end up looking like clowns.
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  #38  
Old 05-17-2012, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Paikon View Post
true but you cant teach musicality
Hi Paikon...

I disagree.


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  #39  
Old 05-17-2012, 03:15 PM
Paikon Paikon is offline
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Hi Paikon...

I disagree.


i respect your opinion
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  #40  
Old 05-17-2012, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
So it’s kind of like acting then! It’s not about duplicating the emotion, but it’s about faking it?
"Faking" is a loaded word!
It suggests cynicism, which is not the right attitude at all.
The point is - IMO - that the "emotion" contained in (or communicated by) a piece of music is not something that can be expressed any other way. It can't be duplicated, IOW. It's something that happens when the music is played right.
Music is what it is; there's nothing hidden, no secret messages. Play it right, and it will do its job. I talked about "meaning" before, but music doesn't "mean" anything beyond itself.

Stravinsky had a couple of great quotes, expressing the same idea.
"If music is a language, it's an untranslatable one".
"Music expresses nothing but itself."

IOW, music is a strange kind of proto-language. It resembles language in many ways: we can talk about "phrasing", "vocabulary", etc. But it doesn't represent anything. It just presents. (Rather like the way an abstract painting is not a depiction of anything; it's just an object in its own right.)
Its "message" is not even classifiable as "emotion" IMO, in the sense of feelings we can describe as "sadness", "anger", "joy", etc. Those things are mundane, caused by a mix of biology and human interaction. Music is beneath and beyond all that: both more primal and more transcendent.

If music moves us to tears - and it can sometimes - we never know why. It probably won't be a "sad song" that does it. It'll just be some kind of sudden connection with our unconscious, like a memory we can't quite recall, or a dream we just woke up and forgot.
If music makes us laugh, it won't be because there's a joke in it. (I often laugh at Thelonius Monk's music - because it's just so "right". It's "witty", but there's no way you could translate that wit into verbal terms. It isn't comedy, but is like the musical equivalent of comedy; the kind of comedy that reveals the truth.)

In short, you can't "fake" music. You can only play it well, or play it badly. Playing it well means accepting it, in a sense. Not trying to impose your own agenda on it.

If you've enough experience of playing live, you know the feeling when it all just "clicks". People talk about being "in the zone". It's like the music is playing itself, and you're just being carried along, like surfing a wave: you might start out with a conscious plan, an idea of controlling the situation, but once you're "up" you know the wave is in command.
An audience will recognise that when it happens, and they will "get it". The weird thing is, even though it's totally mysterious, nobody regards it as strange. It's just a "great gig". Sometimes we might be tempted to put it down to the audience just having drunk more than usual (because we don't think we actually played any better than usual). But if they get into it, then so do we, and it becomes a feedback loop.

That's music's purpose, IMO. Something that binds us in groups, in a way that feels as if it goes way back to prehistory. We might only be playing a tune that we know was recently written, but somehow - when performed live - it connects into a motherlode, a "collective unconscious"; it becomes an expression of that, not of any trivial idea we might have had when writing it.
I once had a lesson in Latin music with a great Brazilian percussionist, and he liked to describe the clave (the 2-bar rhythmic "cell" at the root of most Latin music) as something that was there in the air all the time, like a radio signal. When you played, you just kind of "hooked on" to it; plugged into this invisible, inaudible web and made it manifest.

That idea goes way back to ancient Greece and the "harmony of the spheres": the idea that the planets produced tones as they moved across the sky.
The crude interpretation of that is that one ought to be able to hear it, like actual music, but IMO it's more like an idea of music: a reflection of the sense that there is an underlying order to nature, which we express - in a more or less clumsy form - in the act of making music.
It's as if, when we play music, we are saying: "Here: this is how the world really IS. If the laws of nature made sounds, they would sound something like this."
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  #41  
Old 05-17-2012, 06:17 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Jon, that depends on perspective. The philosophy is that the widget has a value and the cost of making it must not exceed its value in the market place. So, to be successful one must not pay attention to the manufacture of the widget to the exclusion of the business economics.
Sure. Maybe we shouldn't pursue this further into the Marxist notions of "use value" vs "exchange value"...
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Similarly, a musician will be more successful by paying attention to the music produced just as much as his or her part in making that music. A single player in an orchestra will be a better musician by hearing the whole composition and contributing accordingly to the whole sound rather than focusing only on his or her part to the exclusion of the whole sound. Singers do the same thing when singing harmony. All must be conscious of the mix and final sound produced.
Absolutely. (I think the widget analogy, entertaining though it is, brings up other irrelevant considerations...)
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I understand what you are saying here and I agree that there are many players who focus on the tricks (shredding comes to mind) rather than making actual music. However, I think you are referring to artistry or artistic expression rather than what constitutes a "musician." When I played baritone horn and trombone in orchestras I had a few conductors get irritated with me for employing artistic expression! In their world, a good musician will play the music as written. I know this to be true in choirs as well...vocalists are preferred to sing without vibrato or inflections of feeling. I don't think anyone would say that the players in an orchestra are not musicians. So, feeling the song and expressing it accordingly has a place in music, but it isn't a prerequisite to being a musician. It is, however, essential to being a good musical performer/entertainer and absolutely required to be a successful soloist on any instrument, IMHO.
Absolutely. As I said above, one has to perform in a way that allows the music to "speak". That means - at least if one is in a group - refraining from imposing one's own personality on it. The music is not about ME; it's about itself. As a musician, one has to be a clear channel. That requires technical skill, and the avoidance of emotional "noise" which risks distorting the signal.
Of course, it's different if you're a solo player performing your own compositions. Especially if the audience knows you, and wants to see some aspect of your personality as part of the performance. (They might be mistaken in that, but the customer is always right... ... we're back to widgets again... )
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  #42  
Old 05-17-2012, 06:48 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
But then, I run the risk of being a ‘technician’ on multiple instruments
A small risk - I think it would actually be quite difficult to be doggedly over-technical on more than one instrument, at least if the techniques required were extremely different.
(Eg, a guitarist adopting mandolin or banjo might not change his approach much, or learn anything significantly new. If he took up the saxophone, however, things ought to be very different....)
The important thing that playing more than one instrument does, is reveal the limitations of ALL musical instruments. It throws the nature of "music" itself into sharp relief.
Ie, if you play the same tune on guitar and (say) trumpet, it will sound different, of course. The differences are instrumental. Everything that is the same is what the music IS. In a sense, it's what's left when you take the instruments away (or rather when you take away the specific textures that each instrument adds)..
Then again, music is nothing without instruments! (I include the voice). The limitations and quirks of instruments dictate the music, to an important degree. Sometimes when we write music, we imagine it in some "perfect" abstract form, an identity that can (in theory) be communicated by any instrument (or voice) that might perform it. Other times, we write for a specific instrument, or voice, or group, to exploit their characteristics. That music would make no sense played on a different instrument (or would make a different kind of sense perhaps).
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Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
I don’t really care about the definition either. I just know that I don’t always perform (guitar and voice) with the level of passion and intensity (soul?) that I want to achieve. I want to get more soul.
The "soul" is not in you, it's in the music. You don't impose your emotions on it; you allow the music to speak through you.
I know when I get the deepest emotional charge from playing music, the most passionate connection, it's always when I've managed to play it honestly and correctly, with no emotional input from me (just the desire to hear it properly).
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Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
No intention of putting any one down here. I simply crave being able to “feel the music and be able to make sounds people enjoy hearing.” And I’m exploring every possible way to get there…
Right.
IMO, the secret (if there is one) is in the detail. Make every note count. Great players can make very simple stuff sound amazing.
It's called "expression", of course, but that's a tricky word. I think it's about having the utmost respect for the smallest elements of the music.
Like brushwork to a painter: if a painting lives and breathes, it's down to the attention to the brushwork. If each mark wasn't perfectly controlled, the whole thing would not work. You wouldn't say a single brush mark was "expressive" - and the painter certainly was not feeling any emotion when he put it down. But he controlled it just so (through a combination of experience and judgement).
(And IMO the analogy works for Jackson Pollock as much as for Rembrandt : if Rembrandt is "classical", Pollock is "jazz" - it looks splashy and uncontrolled, but constant taste and judgement is being applied; accidents are accepted if they work. A jazz musician may often not know how what he is about to play will sound; but he plays it anyway, listens, and goes with it, maybe to somewhere else. Again, it's about giving the music enough respect, allowing it say what it seems to want to say.)
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  #43  
Old 05-18-2012, 08:57 AM
Hotspur Hotspur is offline
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Therefore, a good musician must consider the end product and any self expression must be limited to the boundaries of the whole.
But this is true of almost any piece. Even the most intensely improvised music is almost always limited in some ways by the boundaries of the piece. Whether you're talking about a key center or a series of modal choices or something else - an improvisation where an individual musician is free to ignore the constraints of what everyone else is doing is very rare indeed.

In an orchestral situation, you are more limited than you are in say, a blues jam (eg, you don't have a choice of notes) but the ways in which you are limited are a continuum.

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Therefore, even though classical musicians can certainly self express within a performance, I would be hard pressed to say that the ability to self express defines a musician. Does that make sense?
I understand what you're getting at, but I disagree. I doubt there was ever a successful classical musician who didn't have that ability. (In fact, it's often how they get the job!) So rather I think an orchestra is a situation where musicians subsume a whole bunch of their individual expressive capabilities (but not all of them) in service of something bigger.

But that doesn't mean they lack the ability, even in a highly-restricted context.
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  #44  
Old 05-18-2012, 11:11 AM
Bob1131 Bob1131 is offline
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I understand what you're getting at, but I disagree. I doubt there was ever a successful classical musician who didn't have that ability. (In fact, it's often how they get the job!) So rather I think an orchestra is a situation where musicians subsume a whole bunch of their individual expressive capabilities (but not all of them) in service of something bigger.

But that doesn't mean they lack the ability, even in a highly-restricted context.
I don't think you do understand what I was trying to get at here. I never said that classical musicians DON'T have the ability or somehow lack the ability of artistic expression. My point is that THE ability itself, is not required for someone to be "A" musician. I agree it is needed to be a GOOD musician, and in a previous post I even stipulated that I believe it is "essential" to be a good performer and soloist. However, the idea that one cannot be characterized as a musician because one lacks the skill to express emotion or feeling within music is simply a put down to anyone learning to play music on an instrument.
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Last edited by Bob1131; 05-18-2012 at 11:19 AM.
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  #45  
Old 05-18-2012, 11:43 AM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
I don't think you need to know any theory to be a "musician," but if you can't be bothered to learn a few things about music, you better have a darn good ear and a clear way of explaining things...

Really, theory is only necessary for certain musicians...but some fundamentals...now that stuff seperates the men from the boys--whether they know the stuff through formal training or intuitively...
I agree. There are a number of very talented musicians who don't "know theory", but they are generally the exceptions and in all cases they have a ton of experience. Anyone in the beginner to intermediate range who considers themselves a guitar player and not a musician should learn theory if they are interesting in changing that. Theory is the fastest and easiest path to becoming a musician. Lots of things start making a lot more sense after a person learns theory.

A person with a good grasp of theory is almost always a musician.
A guitar player may or may not be a musician.
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