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  #1  
Old 12-29-2014, 10:44 PM
soulfly28 soulfly28 is offline
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Default Let's Talk Definitions

Ok, so my neighbor and I got into a friendly and kinda heated debate earlier today. The definition in question was musician. Simple enough, right. Well, I guess I was wrong. He brought up Skrillex, to which I kinda internally rolled my eyes. I knew where this was going.... Anyway, I find this coming up more and more. As a musician, it seems fairly obvious. I made the argument that Skrillex (among others) are more arrangers or composers for a lack of a better term because they actually do not play any instruments. He countered (quite wisely I might add) that you also have lead singers. He asked if I would consider them as musicians. My answer was no, they do not play any instruments. He then brought up a great point. While they do not play anything, they do have to remain on key while applying the craft they have been give. Just curious on everyone's take on this. Since we are now in a world where there does not have to be a single instrument played on a recording, I feel this debate could start happening more and more. Your take?
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:20 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Did you look it up in a dictionary? Did that definition not work for you? Why not?
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:27 PM
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BacteriumFendYoke BacteriumFendYoke is offline
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Oh Christ, this again?

Right. I'll put it down in simple terms. A 'musician' is somebody that organises sounds within an intentional framework.

That doesn't judge their ability, what 'technology' (including instruments) they're using, what kind of sounds that they're arranging or what intentional framework they're using. It doesn't mean they're any good at what they do, or that what they do is original.

There's nothing new about this debate. It just throws up vitriol. I'm just getting my punch in first.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:08 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I think it counts, personally.

Real DJ guys who get up there and mess around with records (or even sound files) are applying sounds to make music. It's not any less valid than anything else in my view. If they aren't good at it or musically talented, it doesn't sound like something people want to listen to. If they don't have rhythm or understanding of how music gets people moving, it doesn't work.

What about a scenario where a programmer programs arguments into a computer which then generates music from randomly picked samples and sounds. The programmer isn't touching the music or sounds at all, and yet new music is the end result. Is he a musician? Is the computer a musician? Both?

Is the guy who blows snot-rockets onto canvas an artist? It's not like he's using actual art medium like paint or pencil. Even if we don't think it's "good" isn't it still art if he sets out to make art? Does the same hold for music? If we set out with the intent to make new music or recreate old music, regardless how we do it, aren't we still musicians?
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:21 AM
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What about a scenario where a programmer programs arguments into a computer which then generates music from randomly picked samples and sounds. The programmer isn't touching the music or sounds at all, and yet new music is the end result. Is he a musician? Is the computer a musician? Both?
Hell, I've actually done this...

As the one with overall control of the system, I'm the composer. Unless we invoke Attali and now is not the time for that debate...

The system I created has twenty samples that can be inputted, played back at four different speeds and put through a delay effect. All of the playback is determined using random number generation. I can create the samples using random arguments as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wy-...EehVPdXOFvCrSA

That's one example of my system's output. It hasn't been normalised, just captured raw - hence why it's quiet.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:44 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I find it funny that this is coming up on a drum forum. If any instrument gets a hard time about its players being musicians it's the drumset. We don't even deal with the melodic and harmonic sides of the equation.

Here's some food for thought: Is the musician who does not compose any original music but rather plays from a repertoire more or less a musician than a composer?

The actual creation is the art in my book. So playing an instrument can't be the heart of the issue. As others have stated here, the medium is irrelevant because the creation is independent of that.

You seem to be describing an instrumentalist. (By the way, the singer is an instrumentalist and his instrument is the voice. Many would argue that the human voice is capable of more music than any other instrument).

Don't get hung up in possibly antiquated concepts. Think of kids cartoons. For years, they were done by drawing thousands of stills and running them at speed. Now its CGI. The ability to draw with a pencil has been replaced by the ability to "draw" with a computer. Any guys sitting around holding their pencils, complaining that their cartoons are "the real deal", are out of luck and out of work.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:46 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

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Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
Hell, I've actually done this...

As the one with overall control of the system, I'm the composer. Unless we invoke Attali and now is not the time for that debate...

The system I created has twenty samples that can be inputted, played back at four different speeds and put through a delay effect. All of the playback is determined using random number generation. I can create the samples using random arguments as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wy-...EehVPdXOFvCrSA

That's one example of my system's output. It hasn't been normalised, just captured raw - hence why it's quiet.
That's pretty cool. Still, you wrote the program, but didn't create the music. A handy analogy might be if a father taught his child a few basic rules about making a song, and the kid made up a song with those rules. Would you agree that the father is not the musician who wrote the song? Does the answer change if say, as in your case, the father also provided the sounds to use, but did not instruct the kid where to use them?
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:54 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I think an English or science teacher would first make you define music. Without that definition, trying to define musician would be worthless.
Some might like the sound of a pair of windshield wipers doing the rhythm and some sounds as music. So would the car be the musician or the one who turned on the wipers and determined their speed.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:57 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

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I think an English or science teacher would first make you define music. Without that definition, trying to define musician would be worthless.
Yea, in the end it's all very useless for the most part. But I still like to argue, especially when it's interesting.
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Old 12-30-2014, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

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Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
That's pretty cool. Still, you wrote the program, but didn't create the music. A handy analogy might be if a father taught his child a few basic rules about making a song, and the kid made up a song with those rules. Would you agree that the father is not the musician who wrote the song? Does the answer change if say, as in your case, the father also provided the sounds to use, but did not instruct the kid where to use them?
To me it's the act of direct organisation that's at hand. The child in your analogy is a free agent and is not directly organisable. A computer is not a free agent and follows the laws directly.

When I defined my concept of a musician earlier, I stated that a musician is somebody that organises sound within an intentional framework. The word 'intentional' is important. It means that an intelligence has created it, or created that organisational framework. Modern computers are not 'intelligent' in that they are not capable of fully independent thought and action and instead follow strict sets of instructions (that may be written with 'random' output or 'organised' output as a goal). As a result, I'd say that the computer does not have compositional intent and that I do in this case.

If the computer had been given an intelligence and was capable of acting outside of instruction then it would be the composer - but it isn't so it's not.

Computers only read what we give them. If we give them 'bad' input then 'errant' output may give the illusion of independence but in reality, it's a result of 'bad' input.

There's a rabbit hole here that I can just see getting poked... I'll leave my argument there for now...
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2014, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

For something to be music it needs to be heard and it needs to have an effect. The effect sounds have on people may be music. Therefore the sound of windshield wipers may be music. Clocks, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74aPL1VgLe8


But... that doesn't make the clockmaker a musician. That the ticking affects our brains is a side effect. You could purposefully use a ticking sound in your song for musical affect, however, and that would be the province of a musician. You have to "play" a music instrument and in this sense you would be "playing" a clock.

The fact that you would have to go out and record the ticking sound, run it through whatever effects, and play it back mechanically wouldn't have any bearing. Set up time doesn't change the quality of the musicianship. Neither does difficulty. If it did, then we'd all turn ignore the singing and drumming in OK Go's This Too Shall Pass and just listen to the sound of the machines clinking along. Or we'd all know the names of the WFD guys.

Skrillex would be a musician because he plays sounds to make music. Whether he pressed keys on a piano keyboard or pressed keys on a computer keyboard wouldn't make a difference. He would also be a composer, in the sense that a composer writes music for others to (may) perform. Case in point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmJ2QRGghtY
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Old 12-30-2014, 04:30 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Everybody is a musician to a certain degree. Who is to say that someone talking isn't music? It's all about perceptions, yours and others. Talking can be considered the organization of sounds with intent. So can "real" music. Ever hear someone say that music is a conversation? I'm sure some people will say that their lovers voice is music to their ears. Everybody is a musician in an abstract way. Everybody gets a trophy lol.

Music is communication, which can take on many different forms. You can communicate without sound. You can't say this person is and this person isn't. We all are, with some to a much greater degree than the rest. Bye bye.
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Old 12-30-2014, 05:10 PM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Since when is voice not an instrument? Voice is one of the original instruments. Right after drums.

Also, if we're okay with acoustic/electric instrument players overdubbing and editing to produce a final product (i.e. a song, an album) - I think we have to allow that Skrillex, Bill Laswell, and that whole dub genre is legit music.

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Old 12-30-2014, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I thought a musician was a person who "performs music"? Doesn't qualify how? So spoons and a kazoo can make music as a guitar and cajon.
Well wrong again it does qualify in Wikipedia:"A musician (or instrumentalist) is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented, or one who composes, conducts, or performs music. " Seems to cover all the bases just the same.
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Old 12-30-2014, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Good point larryace-even bird songs are quite musical. Dove cooing and luring in a mate is quite soothing as others. Hmmm "music" perhaps just isn't unique to human animals but likely quite a few would qualify as musical-and surely natural sounds have influenced our music like a rain stick.
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:04 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Birds are organizing sounds into sequences, changing/managing pitch, and I think one could probably even argue that especially certain birds also manage and can copy rhythms they hear or make up.

I once had a parakeet that would hang on the side of it's cage, head-bang, and squak in literally perfect time (and usually wouldn't stop until way past when it was fun, but anyhoo). I would play along on my pad sometimes which really served to get him going.
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

Music is not the sound of an animal, or the sea, or an especially enjoyable fart.

Those are just simple interpretations of something that is pleasurable because it can be heard without the listener being too perturbed.

The hard work which established cultural significance was built through centuries of promoting reasonable ideas and has given us the structure of what is long lasting and motivational.

Music promotes the aesthetic understanding of the balance between rhythm and harmony and because of that, itís long lasting and motivational.

Without cultural significance itís not music. It might sound pleasant, but it wonít effect discernment.

So, the DJ is a musician, but a bird is not and therefore cannot be considered music. Although I cannot speak to an understanding of bird culture, so maybe it is music to just birds.
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Old 12-31-2014, 07:21 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I just want to know what happened to the OP. He's the guy who had so much to say on this subject. Starting a provocative thread and then disappearing is basically trolling.
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Old 12-31-2014, 09:44 AM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

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Originally Posted by Wally Young View Post
Music is not the sound of an animal, or the sea, or an especially enjoyable fart.

Those are just simple interpretations of something that is pleasurable because it can be heard without the listener being too perturbed.

The hard work which established cultural significance was built through centuries of promoting reasonable ideas and has given us the structure of what is long lasting and motivational.

Music promotes the aesthetic understanding of the balance between rhythm and harmony and because of that, itís long lasting and motivational.

Without cultural significance itís not music. It might sound pleasant, but it wonít effect discernment.

So, the DJ is a musician, but a bird is not and therefore cannot be considered music. Although I cannot speak to an understanding of bird culture, so maybe it is music to just birds.
A well thought out point....and I'm not trying to be difficult, but respectfully, I'm not so sure. From what I can gather, music is subjective. If that is indeed the case, then that means you can't pigeon hole it, because it's different things to different people. I think. Kind of like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I want to say it's the same principle. Thoughts?

Also, just throwing this out there to anyone who has an opinion...Can you have music without sound?
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

The end result of any one of Skrillex's endeavors is a piece of music...thus, he is a musician. He might not be a player of an instrument, but he produces and composes melodic audio art.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:41 PM
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Default Re: Let's Talk Definitions

I think defining what isn't music or a musician is a much more simple task!
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
A well thought out point....and I'm not trying to be difficult, but respectfully, I'm not so sure. From what I can gather, music is subjective. If that is indeed the case, then that means you can't pigeon hole it, because it's different things to different people. I think. Kind of like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I want to say it's the same principle. Thoughts?

Also, just throwing this out there to anyone who has an opinion...Can you have music without sound?
It may be true that it's a subjective opinion of what constitutes music, but I like to think that in my heart the word means to me more than the freedom of being a disposable concept.

The etymology of the word deserves respect because it's built on ideas which have lasted through time.

I think maybe, you can have music without sound, but there would have to have been sound in the first place to give it perspective, and then it would only be an interpretation of music, so maybe then you can't have music without sound.

I think I remember Bieber was once a talented musician, but I guess he fell into the waste bin.
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