Musician or Player?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
Rognvald
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Musician or Player?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:16 pm

Many of the discussions on this Forum seem to directly/indirectly revolve around this concept of musical performance. I believe the two(Musician/Player) are very different and produce very different results in performance. A "Musician" is a performer who has both the practical and theoretical foundations to play a piece of music. A "Player" is someone who has only the practical application of music with little or no theoretical training. Is it possible for a "Player" to exist in a figurative "void" and perform at the same level as a Musician? For the average person(savants excluded), can his or her lack of the "meat and potatoes" of Music be overridden by physical skills alone? What do you think? Playing again . . . Rognvald
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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:38 pm

You can be an excellent guitarist, but a poor musician. I am not sure if you can be a poor guitarist but an excellent musician...
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:29 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:38 pm
You can be an excellent guitarist, but a poor musician. I am not sure if you can be a poor guitarist but an excellent musician...
I feel this is mostly true. But being a "good musician" is a relative term. Theory is relative too.

When I have read high end reviews of classical guitar, one of the concepts discussed is clarity and blending of bass, melody, harmony(ies) and fill(s) - all at the correct volume and emphasis in the mix. That's one level of theory that a good player could pull off. But if you need to work out the vocal melody and 3 part harmonies for Gaudete, good luck without any theory - maybe with deep experience.

When I work with academically trained musicians I feel like my theory sucks. But when, for example, we are doing family singing with guitar accompaniment at Christmas, I cannot use the vocabulary of music theory because the participants have no such knowledge. Yet they can sing and handle their parts just fine.

Lastly, as soon as I work with another musician, our knowledge of theory is immediately put to use. Even playing by ear requires a lot of theory to communicate well. And I can play far better than some of the musicians I work with who I think are actually better musicians. In many ways, their knowledge of theory actually boxes them in to well defined scales and patterns - some would say it limits creativity - I don't know if I'd go that far... :D
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lagartija
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by lagartija » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:34 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:38 pm
You can be an excellent guitarist, but a poor musician. I am not sure if you can be a poor guitarist but an excellent musician...
I believe you could be an outstanding musician but physically unable to play guitar well. That would be someone who lacks the technical skills on a particular instrument to execute their musical ideas.

Likewise, one could have great technical facility on the instrument but be devoid of musical ideas.

Our friend Rognvald seems captivated by the problem of defining who merits the title of “musician” or “artist”. I would say, dear Rognvald, that even if one lacks a fully developed background in music theory, that a normal, thinking, feeling human being can say something with the music. This goes back to the musical intuition thread. At some level, all humans can respond to music (even those who can’t hear but feel the vibrations). It may be in an unsophisticated way, due to lack of education and/or experience, but it is a mode of expression for human beings and open to all who wish to avail themselves of it. You may not enjoy the unsophisticated way in which they express themselves, but it is still a creative process and an outlet for their emotions. Sometimes, what they say with their music or art can have an effect on an audience which outweighs the lack of sophistication in its construction or execution.
The title means little to those who see the person before them as a human being first and whatever status they may have in society as secondary.
Titles are meant to imply status and educational achievement in a society. Only doctors can practice medicine. Should the same be true of musicians? Should those who have not been able to fully understand music theory be forbidden to make music?
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:41 pm

"I believe you could be an outstanding musician but physically unable to play guitar well. That would be someone who lacks the technical skills on a particular instrument to execute their musical ideas." Lagartija


Hi, L,
The Cambridge dictionary defines a musician as "a person who is skilled in playing music, usually as a job:" This is very close to most common definitions of a musician. Therefore, the above statement might define a player . . . but not a musician. Secondly, being judgmental is a human trait. If we say "John has a nice garden," Bill's a great tennis player, ' or Alison is a sexy woman," we are making judgments about people in life. Why would it not be appropriate to say "Mary is a sensitive, talented musician?" Lastly, I would love to see everyone play a musical instrument since I believe Music brings sanity into people's lives but similar to potatoes in a grocer's stand, some of us prefer those that are free of bruises, rot, and certainly good tasting. And, it is these distinctions that we must ask ourselves about the music we and others play. So, when we sort out, for ourselves, these distinctions, we enable ourselves to define what WE believe, and others of a similar ilk define a musician or a player. Playing again . . . Rognvald
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Christopher Freitag
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Christopher Freitag » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:31 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:38 pm
You can be an excellent guitarist, but a poor musician. I am not sure if you can be a poor guitarist but an excellent musician...
When I was in high school I played Algernon Moncrief in a production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." My first line, delivered to my butler as I walk in from a room where I have been playing piano, is (as best as I can recall without looking it up):

"Did you hear what I was playing, Lane? I don't play accurately--anyone can play accurately--but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte."
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Rognvald
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:06 pm

Christopher Freitag wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:31 pm
Erik Zurcher wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:38 pm
You can be an excellent guitarist, but a poor musician. I am not sure if you can be a poor guitarist but an excellent musician...
When I was in high school I played Algernon Moncrief in a production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." My first line, delivered to my butler as I walk in from a room where I have been playing piano, is (as best as I can recall without looking it up):

"Did you hear what I was playing, Lane? I don't play accurately--anyone can play accurately--but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte."
Nice quote, Christopher. I happen to agree with Algernon since there are far too many "music machines" today masquerading as musicians. There is, in Music, learned expression and that which, I believe, is intuitive as is being fleshed out in another post. Both can be used successfully in communication but the latter speaks more to an individual's nature and spirit rather than his acquired skill set. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Christopher Langley
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Christopher Langley » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:25 pm

My dad is an absolute creative powerhouse, he can pull things out of thin air, despite limited skills on guitar. He uses his gut to create, he has spent many many years playing from the gut alone.

I have fair skills on guitar, but sometimes just lack to motivation to create on my own. I often rely on theory to create or expand ideas (often stolen straight from dad), sometimes theory does really feel like it boxes me in.. but, at the same time often I can see things my dad won't, so I wouldn't give it up.

Together, we can make a great team.

Or a horrible one. Just depends on our moods, I suppose. It's nice when it works. This morning wasn't one of those times. haha.

I can teach him some theory and he can teach me to cut loose and just create and have fun, so we have learned a lot from each other, even if we don't always see eye-to-eye.

We sound best if I play rhythm and just let him do his thing over it.. He surprises me often, given his lack of theory.
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Tremeggio » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:18 pm

A player who over many years learns to listen eventually becomes a musician.

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Lawler
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Lawler » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:27 pm

Christopher Langley wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:25 pm
My dad is an absolute creative powerhouse... I often rely on theory to create or expand ideas

Together, we can make a great team. Or a horrible one. Just depends on our moods, I suppose. It's nice when it works. This morning wasn't one of those times.
What a great connection you've had with your dad.
I'm a dad. Your story inspires me.

"This morning wasn't one of those times"... I hear you. One moment at a time...

Playing music is personal. Sometimes the terms we use, like "musician" and "player", are just semantics.

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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by jscott » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:18 pm

So...more theory will automatically make me a better player and musician? And people who teach theory and have it coming out their ears are always the best musicians?

Is Paul McCartney a musician? I know theorists who answer, 'yes'.

I think it has to be true that a better understanding of the mechanics of musical theory has to help in understanding most pieces. But interestingly, I don't recall theory coming up much or at all in the master classes I've watched. And those discussions tend to be about interpretive approaches to the music. Even Benjamin Zandry doesn't talk about theory, and he's all about making players more fully hear and realize the music at hand.

So...maybe things aren't entirely cut and dried.

Are most players thinking of theory when they perform?

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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:57 pm

"Is Paul McCartney a musician? I know theorists who answer, 'yes'." J. Scott

Hi, J,
My response is no. He is a professional entertainer who has written/performed some popular "folk music" to great popular acclaim. Although Sir Paul is not quite the ubiquitous three-chord guitarist, he is hardly a master of his instrument. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:43 pm

jscott wrote:Is Paul McCartney a musician?
Rognvald wrote:... no ...
Hilarious.

The problem Jscott is that, although occasionally entertaining, good old Rogger's debating style is rather akin to that of Charles Dodgson's re-imagined Humpty Dumpty (though with somewhat less than scholarly grammar).

Thus the metamorphic and transient nature of key terminology renders reasoned discussion pointless; in fact it's dificult to know whether he (or she) is sometimes being deliberately capricious, then obtuse by turns simply as a trolling strategy.

Of course Paul McCartney is a musician, even if not one that I enjoy particularly - he's certainly not a plumber or an airline pilot. As for:
Someone wrote:... not quite the ubiquitous three-chord guitarist ... hardly a master of his instrument.
Well the guitar isn't his instrument is it?
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:26 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:57 pm
"Is Paul McCartney a musician? I know theorists who answer, 'yes'." J. Scott

Hi, J,
My response is no. He is a professional entertainer who has written/performed some popular "folk music" to great popular acclaim. Although Sir Paul is not quite the ubiquitous three-chord guitarist, he is hardly a master of his instrument. Playing again . . . Rognvald
He isn't trying to be a master of his instrument. (In fact he is pretty competent on bass guitar, guitar, and piano).

He is a songwriter.

Judged by standards of songwriting, he is the most successful songwriter of the twentieth century.

Don't think for a single second that the aim of every musician is to master an instrument on a technical level akin to John Williams.

Ever heard of Antonio Carlos Jobim?

By your blinkered viewpoint, he is probably a pretty rough around the edges chordal player and singer. Maybe you would also dismiss him as well as being a "professional entertainer".

In fact, both McCartney and Jobim have had a monumental influence on the development of music - as evidenced by the number of cover versions of their "folk music" (your seriously misguided terminology) in classical, jazz and almost every other genre.

Please stop to think about these issues.

It might better inform your level of debate.
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:13 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:43 pm
jscott wrote:Is Paul McCartney a musician?
Rognvald wrote:... no ...
Hilarious.

The problem Jscott is that, although occasionally entertaining, good old Rogger's debating style is rather akin to that of Charles Dodgson's re-imagined Humpty Dumpty (though with somewhat less than scholarly grammar).

Thus the metamorphic and transient nature of key terminology renders reasoned discussion pointless; in fact it's dificult to know whether he (or she) is sometimes being deliberately capricious, then obtuse by turns simply as a trolling strategy.

Of course Paul McCartney is a musician even if not one that I enjoy particularly - he's certainly not a plumber or an airline pilot. As for:
Someone wrote:... not quite the ubiquitous three-chord guitarist ... hardly a master of his instrument.
Well the guitar isn't his instrument is it?
WAIT A MINUTE ... the fact that Sir McCartney has been knighted must make him a musician demigod. Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger are, of course, well know demigod musicians! :D Just kidding, of course! :D

On a more serious note, I consider McCartney and Elton John to be wonderful musicians. Guys like Muddy Waters was a great player. Rod Stewart admitted he is a terrible musician, but "people seem to buy my records." Cindy Lauper is a great musician. Conductor Zubin Mehta is a great musician - and he never has to play anything ! Well, at age 82 the verbs might really be "was" and "had."
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