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  #1  
Old 06-30-2010, 11:09 PM
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Default Judging musicality

That whole exchange between Matt and James got me thinking about something. James said you can't prove that Travis is better than Buddy. You can however take a vote. So if you got together a few million people (humor me here) and did a versus thing with videos of each, and took a vote, would that count for anything if one was the clear winner? (operative word clear) I'm going with yes. If I'm right, then is that proof? I'm stickin with yes. Feel free to shoot holes in my theory.
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:19 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Are all opinions equal? Pick a 1000 15 year olds and your result will be much different than if you'd pick 1000 teachers from music universities. =P
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Obviously you would have to have as wide a variation of people as possible. Let's just say the entire civilized world, for arguments sake. That way the jury can't be weighted.
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

BANG! BANG!

Huh?!?!?...your opinion seems to be impervious to my bullets!
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  #5  
Old 06-30-2010, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Well I start off with what I think is right, unless someone can convince me otherwise.
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:33 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

I don't think it works that way. You can't judge something you don't know much about. There are artists that are really musical but most people just don't get it. So while popularity can be measured by voting, I'm not sure musicality can.

What is musicality?
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:59 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
So if you got together a few million people (humor me here) and did a versus thing with videos of each, and took a vote, would that count for anything if one was the clear winner?
It would give you a clear winner for the title of "most broadly appealing of the two video clips" but not much else. Most people are not qualified to judge musicality/musical ability or much of anything else relating to music- the only thing they can really tell you is whether something conforms to their taste or not.

I missed the original discussion- Travis who?
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Wasn't there already an album out called "50,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong"?

Or was that 5,000,000? Well, there you go.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
That whole exchange between Matt and James got me thinking about something. James said you can't prove that Travis is better than Buddy. You can however take a vote. So if you got together a few million people (humor me here) and did a versus thing with videos of each, and took a vote, would that count for anything if one was the clear winner? (operative word clear) I'm going with yes. If I'm right, then is that proof? I'm stickin with yes. Feel free to shoot holes in my theory.
I agree with you wholeheartedly Larry... Except for one thing. But this is actually going to give more creedance to your argument


Quote:
JPW ...I don't think it works that way. You can't judge something you don't know much about. There are artists that are really musical but most people just don't get it. So while popularity can be measured by voting, I'm not sure musicality can.

What is musicality?
The premise is that musicality is subjective. What I like may not be what you like. Even, though this is true, it has nothing to do with musicality. I am going to push JPW's statement even further. I am going to include most of us are on the list of people who cannot distinguish what TRUE "musicality" talent is. (Sorry to burst your ego dudes, almost all of us fit into this category.)

Instead, if you were to take the top one hundred symphony conductors in the world, they have what it takes and CAN define and identify the "musicality" of a person.

If we could get them in a room and analyze a group of drummers, guitarists, keyboardists, or any instrument, they would be able to accurately quantify and and identify their skills.. They do this all the time, and they're good at it

These people (conductors) are just amazing.
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  #10  
Old 07-01-2010, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

It comes down to semantics again:
Point #1 Musicality
Point #2 Musical
Point #3 Talent

So musicality is possessing a quality that is defined as a subjective thing or a subjective measure of a subjective thing. Subjective because what's appealing to some, may not be for others, and what's artistic to some is crap to others. Some people like gangsta rap, but I sure as hell don't. I like hip-hop, but I know a lot of people who don't. I think taiko is annoying as piss, but most Japanese folks seem to like it just fine. So I might hear some guy beating on some drums thinking he's just making noise, but taiko lovers would recognize it as being musical. Is abstract really art or is it just a bunch of random lines and splotches being called art by some hippy douche who can't paint apples and bananas? So, by definition, yes, all opinions of what is musical are equal.

To directly answer your question, no, you wouldn't have a definitive "more musical" drummer, you'd have a consensus of people who believe that drummer is more musical. You'd basically have the Drummerworld version of American Idol.

On a side note, I don't know why I argue semantics so much. I think it's my OCD. We all get to have at least one, right? :p

EDIT: So I'm sitting down to take a shit and I had a thought on JPW's point about not being qualified to judge something. It really sounds good, really, you just don't get it. You know, that point. Anyway, say Tony Williams and Buddy Rich are hanging out one day. Right then and there Buddy writes what he believes to be a great song and plays it for Tony who thinks it's shit. Who's right? Do they have to get the opinion of Joe Morello to break the tie? Is three people enough? Shouldn't they get input from non-jazzers too? What if all the drummers in the "master drummers" club end up 50/50? If Tony bangs on trees and hubcaps making random noise and calls it music, is it music? Is a singing bird really making music or just random sounds? Music is in the ear of the beholder. Anyway, I gotta wipe now. What do you think, Larry? Mummy hands?

Last edited by motojt; 07-01-2010 at 02:04 AM.
  #11  
Old 07-01-2010, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by motojt View Post
It comes down to semantics again:
Point #1 Musicality
Point #2 Musical
Point #3 Talent

So musicality is possessing a quality that is defined as a subjective thing or a subjective measure of a subjective thing. Subjective because what's appealing to some, may not be for others, and what's artistic to some is crap to others. Some people like gangsta rap, but I sure as hell don't. I like hip-hop, but I know a lot of people who don't. I think taiko is annoying as piss, but most Japanese folks seem to like it just fine. So I might hear some guy beating on some drums thinking he's just making noise, but taiko lovers would recognize it as being musical. Is abstract really art or is it just a bunch of random lines and splotches being called art by some hippy douche who can't paint realistic looking things? So, by definition, yes, all opinions of what is musical are equal.

To directly answer your question, no, you wouldn't have a definitive "more musical" drummer, you'd have a consensus of people who believe that drummer is more musical.

On a side note, I don't know why I argue semantics so much. I think it's my OCD. We all get to have at least one, right? :p
I mildly disagree with this. There are many different styles of music. But,musicality is musicality. Most things we tend to measure; I think musical ability cannot be quantified, but it can be identified, It can be assessed, It can be judged, and it can be compared.

I'm going to go back to my last post because classical music is so very special. Most of these musicians are extremely musical. The ones that are first chair in the big orchestras and symphonies are just unbelievable musicians. They are the most technical, and they have the ability to play a piece with not only their own feeling, but, also borrowing the feelings of someone else, the conductor.

The ability to assess the musical abilities of these individuals is much easier due to the style of music they play. It puts their abilities and skills right out there where you can see it.

However, these skills are the same skills that anyone that is musical possess. It's just a little more difficult to spot them with different types of music.

I would still bet my life on my opinion that these people who train the best, who conduct the best, they are qualified and possess the ability to accurately assess anyone's musical abilities. And, they have the ability to transcend styles of music they do not prefer and see individuals for what they are.

Don't get mad at me motojt,My OCD is acting up too.... @:-))
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  #12  
Old 07-01-2010, 02:10 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

@Chip, the first musicians in history created the standard by which we now decide what is acceptable as music. To an infant, the noise of the dishwasher is musical. Neither every person, nor every society appreciates western classical music, or western music at all for that matter. Why should the rules of our ancestors dictate what we appreciate as music or disregard as noise? Would Bethoven have appreciated the blues? If not, does that mean the blues is not music?

And don't worry, I never get emotional on internet forums. It's all just code to me. :)
  #13  
Old 07-01-2010, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
That whole exchange between Matt and James got me thinking about something. James said you can't prove that Travis is better than Buddy. You can however take a vote. So if you got together a few million people (humor me here) and did a versus thing with videos of each, and took a vote, would that count for anything if one was the clear winner? (operative word clear) I'm going with yes. If I'm right, then is that proof? I'm stickin with yes. Feel free to shoot holes in my theory.
I think your question/theory about musicality is way to specific and well-defined for us to discuss. Pick something fuzzier to discuss.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:21 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

What makes fuzzy musicality?
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipJohns View Post
...I am going to include most of us are on the list of people who cannot distinguish what TRUE "musicality" talent is. (Sorry to burst your ego dudes, almost all of us fit into this category.)
I don't know what your definition of TRUE musicality is, but I'm pretty sure that it's unique to you. The problem is is who gets to define what TRUE is? Is it you, or is it in your next paragraph?
Quote:
Instead, if you were to take the top one hundred symphony conductors in the world, they have what it takes and CAN define and identify the "musicality" of a person.
They wouldn't be a bad place to start, but they're inevitably as biased in their musical opinions as the rest of us are, so making a value judgment from their collective opinion probably wouldn't favor a Ringo, for example, so asking them wouldn't answer the question.

Anyway, I'm still baffled by the habitual need to make it a competition - to be able to quantify who's "better" or "best". It's art, for crying out loud, and there isn't a standard all-encompassing metric that we will all ever agree on, so to keep trying is just to bang your head against a wall.

It goes straight back to that joke someone posted recently about the letter to "The World's Greatest Drummer". (I loved that one!)
  #16  
Old 07-01-2010, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
I don't know what your definition of TRUE musicality is, but I'm pretty sure that it's unique to you. The problem is is who gets to define what TRUE is? Is it you, or is it in your next paragraph?
They wouldn't be a bad place to start, but they're inevitably as biased in their musical opinions as the rest of us are, so making a value judgment from their collective opinion probably wouldn't favor a Ringo, for example, so asking them wouldn't answer the question.

Anyway, I'm still baffled by the habitual need to make it a competition - to be able to quantify who's "better" or "best". It's art, for crying out loud, and there isn't a standard all-encompassing metric that we will all ever agree on, so to keep trying is just to bang your head against a wall.

It goes straight back to that joke someone posted recently about the letter to "The World's Greatest Drummer". (I loved that one!)
Pretty interesting. I have been a little perplexed with this and after about 45 minutes of research and reading I found the answer that you gave in your post. I should have just checked here sooner.

We all are expressing our opinion on the subject. If one of us would say, " Let's find the most musical drummer using "these criteria," we may be able to get closer to an answer of how to do it. But each of us have our own definition of what musicality "truly" is and we are all right. EXCERPT OF SOMETHING I READ: "Reimer warns of the dangers of
creating a definition of musicality that imposes “rigidity.” In his words, a definition
should be used as “tools for thought rather than a prescription to be followed slavishly” - http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Jaffurs3_3.pdf

But you are 100% correct Mike. I am making statements with the presumption of what my definition of musicality is. and this is fine from the perspective that I am thinking, but, it really doesn't go any further than my own nose!

I was trying to figure out why I felt so strongly about being right on this and now I clearly see the flaw in my analysis. It's not incorrect in and of itself, its just prejudiced. @:-)

Second point: It's funny because I also agree with you. Generally speaking I hate to compare musicians from any standpoint as to whose better. As a matter of fact way back in high school, the band I was in talked the school into making the talent show, just that and NOT a competition. They went for it and it was the best talent show ever! All the bands pulled together and had a great time.
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  #17  
Old 07-01-2010, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

To clarify, the vote is asking who do you think is the better drummer, not who is more musical. I really misnamed the thread. It should have been named, judging betterness ha ha. That changes things. Better is very vauge, but when you compile millions of votes, a pattern should emerge.

Last edited by larryace; 07-01-2010 at 06:21 AM.
  #18  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
Anyway, I'm still baffled by the habitual need to make it a competition - to be able to quantify who's "better" or "best". It's art, for crying out loud, and there isn't a standard all-encompassing metric that we will all ever agree on, so to keep trying is just to bang your head against a wall.
Damn straight. It's like asking who's better, Monet or van Gogh.

If, however, you really, really want to start rating people, as I said in the other thread, we shouldn't ask, "Who's a better drummer?" Instead we should ask more than one question. Such as, "Who is more diverse?" "Who is more technically proficient?" "Who is faster?" "Who has created more unique music?" We can then use the answers to those questions and add our own opinions to the intangibles like style, swing, influence, etc. Then we can take the final tally and apply the Megometer™ score as discussed. ;)
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
What makes fuzzy musicality?
The whole concept is talked about more than it is understood. I have no idea what "musicality" means, or how many different meanings it might have to different people.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:18 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

It's just that people have a need to quantify. All along everyone has said you can't say someone is better than another. I'm not so sure about that. I don't need to prove anyone better than anyone else, I'm just questioning status quo, can't help it..
If you have 75% of the people who think Buddy is a better drummer than Travis, that's gotta count for something. If this were a court of law, pitting one drummer against another, I think that guidelines could be established.
  #21  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:26 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

How about polling musos in your scene? Which drummer would you most like to play with, and importantly, why?

That would be useful feedback.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:39 AM
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@Larry, turn it around. What if 75% said Travis was better. Would you change your stance to my side of the argument? If every drummer you ever thought was great rated in the lower percentile of your poll, what would you think of the idea of a universal rating system? By the way, not to nitpick, but judging by the sheer number of people on this forum, in magazine polls, and general conversation rating drummers, I don't think the stance held by Mike and me is status quo.

<rant>
You know, this whole need to categorize and rate things isn't just human nature, it's also social programming. It's everywhere we go. Everywhere you look there's a 5 star rating system, percentiles, thumbs up, hearts, Meg, etc. Most western humans I know of have a need to voice their opinion, and the world encourages it by asking us what we think. I seriously don't give two shits what people think. I have more enemies online and in the real world than anyone I know. Is it because I'm a twat? Maybe. I think it's because if someone asks I will flat out tell them in full, painful honesty what I think. They'll say, "Hey, that's not cool!" To which I typically reply, "Hey, man, you asked. Stop being a fuck-up and you'll get a better answer next time." I'm not saying I'm perfect or Zen or anything, but at least in the things I do, I do it to please myself and the specific, few people I'm doing it for. The rest of the world can kiss my sexy white ass. You didn't like that fill? Sofa King what? Come to the can and listen to me take a shit. Sound better?

I wish people would get over their little insecurities and just be happy. I've wondered for the past ten years if modern civilization is really as modern as we think it is. Sure we have all this pretty, shiny technology to make things easier and faster, but are we really happier? Does modernization only apply to material goods? Shouldn't it also apply to our happiness and well-being? Before the western migration Native Americans lived off the land. They took only what they absolutely needed and used every bit of what they took. The air and water was clean and for the most part people were happy. Can we say the same?
</rant>

Last edited by motojt; 07-01-2010 at 07:06 AM.
  #23  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:46 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

As with the classical conductors, record producers do this all the time. Who is the best (that I can get) for this song? At that point it's more a matter of appropriateness to the song and what they are trying to get it to sound like. But there's no doubt in my mind that a top flight producer will consider drummer A to be "better" than drummer B. Drummer A can give him what he wants.

What he wants, the critera, may be all over the map. Maybe he needs a great reader, someone with a loose street feel, someone who can hang with polyrhythms and a Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock won't lose them (narrows that field down quite a bit), and so on.

Better at one doesn't necessarily mean better at another. Although you may find a few Vinnies who can manage all of it, so you would say that they are "better" than drummer B because whatever drummer B is trying to do, they can do it better.

Below that level, it's largely a matter of the applied criteria. In classical music that's pretty well codified. They have competitions and getting the next teacher up the ladder usually involves an audition. Jazz has sort of started down that road (at least by Wynton and folks like him). The more "street" the music; blues, hip-hop, punk, etc, the more nebulous the criteria. Back to the blind men and the elephant.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:22 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
To clarify, the vote is asking who do you think is the better drummer, not who is more musical. I really misnamed the thread. It should have been named, judging betterness ha ha. That changes things. Better is very vauge, but when you compile millions of votes, a pattern should emerge.
Agree with the concept Larry. In theory I think it would work to the point someone may even be able to build a computer model to test it, but, I can also think of real-life examples where it doesn't work. So I don't know how I feel on the matter.
  • Real-Life Example 1: American Idol
  • Real-Life Example 2: The U.S. Presidential Elections
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

I have extracted this quote from the other thread. I would also ask that anyone truly interested in this discussion read my entire post before commenting.

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Originally Posted by cooldrummer95 View Post
i haven't been able to read all the posts but about the "who's better" discusion.....why does it even matter who is better and who plays a different style so they cant be better than someone else and etc. etc.? why even argue about who is the better musician or the circumstances with which to define a "better musician/better drummer"? i think that music is possibly the most subjective subject. why cant we forget who is better/worse and just have fun making music?
A couple of years ago I watched this science fiction movie about a world that allowed some supreme diety to make everyone entirely equal with the thought that such an act would create the ultimate altruistic fairness. After all, if no one was better than the other there would be no wanting for what the other had, which would in turn vanquish envy and create overall peace in the world.

For a year or so the set up was good for everyone. Nations stopped going to war, and the guys who never used to get dates were finally getting women. For the previous have nots of that world it was paradise.

But as time went on, it all went terribly wrong. Yes the have nots had been elevated. But oops it turned out that the world was really being pushed forward by those haves that everyone had previously resented and called nonessential, or in the case of this discussion nonexistent. When a bridge needed repairing no one could repair it. Most science disappeared, hunger resurfaced with a vengence, and yep all the art was bad, because although everyone could play a couple of pop tunes on a guitar or successfully navigate a paint by numbers kit, nothing decent was coming out, and yeah you really could tell the difference.

After a while the people went nuts. Eventually there was worldwide insurrection, ending with people taking their old weapons stockpile and destroying themselves, so as to escape the agony of mediocre sameness.

IMO there will always be people who will want to make things entirely equal out of an altruistic sense of fairness. The history of the world is full of such examples, some more successful than others, while some were total failures, with perhaps the only successful one being equality of individual liberty. And even that one /IMO the best of the lot/ still has its share of problems, although it supports numerous best intentions.

Art in of itself is not created out of a sense of equality, because it is not a human being in need of such things. It exists in of itself. It doesn't exist exclusively for enjoyment either, although many people use it for that purpose. For example, I seriously doubt that Beethoven enjoyed a single day of writing music. He wrote music to elevate music, nothing else. He saw the music as a higher purpose and could care less if people even listened to it. And of course as we all know, Beethoven couldn't hear his own music, so he certainly extracted no enjoyment from it.

Therefore to claim that everyone creates music merely to enjoy it would not be entirely correct. Some believe it or not create music for no other purpose than to elevate music, while the best of that is so great that it serves the dual purpose of enjoyment and cultural/ aesthetic elevation. Some music comes out of the gate with no intention of elevating culture alongside the enjoyment factor. That alone proves my contention that all music is not equal.

And alongside this unequal music will be unequal musicians. Now before somebody pulls the inevitable arrogance card, let me clarify. You may be a fantastic functional music player. You may even have a number of world class technical skills, although some in this discussion will try to tell you none of that exists either, always hiding behind the magical musicality tree to compensate for inadequacies they can neither define or explain in an attempt to eradicate the importance of technique.

But because that functional player is without aesthic considerations he is not a player equal to one who is.

That is an absolute truth, and such things are not subject to opinions, likes/dislikes and public consensus.

Now let's get real for a moment, because this is where it always gets sticky. I'm no musician like Tony Williams or Jack Dejohnette and I don't have Bonham's feels or Vinnie C's versatility, nor can I sight read like the current guy sitting in the drum chair of the North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band. But my ability to judge better/best is absolutely better than someone with lesser musical skills or no skills at all. And in doing so, I can also tell you without a boubt that these differences do in fact exist.

I will also say that for some /not all ex. Larry etc.../ the discussion starts off disingenuous because far too many on the other side of it don't like the existence of absolute truths, because it makes them feel bad about not being equal. So then the conversation subsequently becomes an issue of making things equal so everyone can incorrectly believe they are something they are not. Believe me too that I am fully aware that most who are flagrantly hostile/ not in disagreement, but hostile/ about my point of view are almost exclusively people who cannot play as cute as they talk. I'm sorry guys I saw it far too many times during my WFD days to not know it's true, because a lot of the garbage a lot of us used to get back then was just a cheaper version of the same thing. You know, I think all the time about how I wish I could do all things Elvin Jones did, but you know what? It's just not an equal landscape, also meaning that Elvin's evaluation proccess is superior to mine.

I now believe that art, politics, and sporting event judgements are the only three disciplines where everyone sees themselves equal and in all 3 cases it's utter nonsense. After all, can you see people judging all doctors equal because it's all totally subjective? Isn't also amazing that when Mom needs heart surgery how everyone suddenly wants to read the nonexistent meter of good/better/best.

Sure people can walk around as long as they want thinking that everything is just a feel good subjective opinion. In the meantime I'll choose to live in the world where there is a quantitative measurement of good and bad, because that is the world where all the gigs exist, alongside the pro musicians who see it this way and whose community I want to join for the long term. All that other stuff is just an Internet illusion. Sorry, but it just is.
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  #26  
Old 07-01-2010, 12:12 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by mattsmith View Post
And of course as we all know, Beethoven couldn't hear his own music, so he certainly extracted no enjoyment from it.
Matt, I've read your entire post through a few times. Although I agree with a lot of your observations, I still believe you're looking at some aspects from a jazz centric hierarchical POV. Quite understandable given your upbringing, but dismissing an alternative POV simply because it doesn't sit within your absolute truth radar, is blinkered. Take your selected statement above. I suggest you watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU3V6zNER4g before coming to an absolute conclusion on the perception of others. I'm sure Evelyn Glennie isn't only about the advancement of music.

Just in case your not familiar with Evelyn Glennie (although I'm sure you've heard of her), she's profoundly deaf.

Last edited by keep it simple; 07-01-2010 at 12:26 PM.
  #27  
Old 07-01-2010, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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And of course as we all know, Beethoven couldn't hear his own music, so he certainly extracted no enjoyment from it.
Beethoven was not born deaf, and had already written a lot of music before he went deaf. He certainly did hear quite a lot of his own music.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:11 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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I now believe that art, politics, and sporting event judgements are the only three disciplines where everyone sees themselves equal and in all 3 cases it's utter nonsense. After all, can you see people judging all doctors equal because it's all totally subjective? Isn't also amazing that when Mom needs heart surgery how everyone suddenly wants to read the nonexistent meter of good/better/best.

Sure people can walk around as long as they want thinking that everything is just a feel good subjective opinion. In the meantime I'll choose to live in the world where there is a quantitative measurement of good and bad, because that is the world where all the gigs exist, alongside the pro musicians who see it this way and whose community I want to join for the long term. All that other stuff is just an Internet illusion. Sorry, but it just is.
I think you are confusing different issues, or different kinds of judgment. We can talk about doctors being better and worse because medicine is an empirical science with measurable results. We might be able to say that drum technique can be measured. The technical ability of musicians can probably be measured in some way, but when it comes to aethetics, how are we to measure? What would be our method? We cannot, for example, measure the aesthetics of a band by their technical ability, or we would begin to say that bands like Dream Theatre produce good music. And clearly, to a large number of people, they do produce good music, but I think they are terrible. That is an aesthetic judgment which is, by its very nature, subjective. No amount of reasoning and argument is going to bring me round to the idea that dream theatre are good, no matter how technically proficient they are.

The question is, then, are there any objective ways of judging music other than by the technical ability of the musicians themselves?
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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@Larry, turn it around. What if 75% said Travis was better. Would you change your stance to my side of the argument?
It seems you're assuming I think Buddy is better. If 75% said Travis is better, then like I said, that's gotta count for something. I'm just putting forth that a vote could break the stalemate, and a generally accepted consensus of who is the better drummer could be quite clear, with opinion as the criteria. Not that I really care to rate people, this is truly a "do you think this is a valid way of 'measuring' ability" type hypothetical question.

To oversimplify:

If 75% of people in the world think drummer A is better than drummer B, then is drummer A better?

A yes or no is what I'm after.

I'm still with yes.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by Spinozalove View Post
I think you are confusing different issues, or different kinds of judgment. We can talk about doctors being better and worse because medicine is an empirical science with measurable results. We might be able to say that drum technique can be measured. The technical ability of musicians can probably be measured in some way, but when it comes to aethetics, how are we to measure? What would be our method? We cannot, for example, measure the aesthetics of a band by their technical ability, or we would begin to say that bands like Dream Theatre produce good music. And clearly, to a large number of people, they do produce good music, but I think they are terrible. That is an aesthetic judgment which is, by its very nature, subjective. No amount of reasoning and argument is going to bring me round to the idea that dream theatre are good, no matter how technically proficient they are.

The question is, then, are there any objective ways of judging music other than by the technical ability of the musicians themselves?
Before we get started, let me first of all get it out of the way that I of course know that Beethoven lost his hearing at age 29. However, his most memorable /and yes/ his greatest works were written after that time, while anyone knowing the story of how he got around to writing his 9th Symphony, is aware that his horrific struggle to finish that work had absolutely nothing to do with an enjoyment of music. It was a titantic battle of wills and human self sacrifice to honor the relevance of music as a genre. He even said as much in his own letters at the time and since they were his words about his struggles I will accept them as fact.

And KIS, yes I am aware of Evelyn Glennie, but seeing as she is not Beethoven I respectfully do not see the comparison issue for raising the Beethoven analogy or for pointing out what you believe is a jazz hierarchical PV/forum code for jazz snob/ . And although I know you're a good guy, there's no reason to sneak the jazz snob devaluation in there as a way of claiming I dismiss entire musical genres, especially seeing as how you know that I also perform quality original pop music. If making a case clearly is a jazz hierarchical point of view, then maybe we should call it something else for everyone of similar clear perspectives who do not like jazz.

Mostly, I would like to keep this discussion on track. I neither attacked nor devalued a single musician or genre. I merely stated the obvious classifications of functional and arts for arts sake that are taught in every music appreciation class on Earth. The fact that we do not like them in general discussions does not eliminate their existence.

And Spinozalove, would a great heart surgeon really agree with you that medicine is /exclusively/ an empirical science with measurable results?

I was under the impression that the best of those guys saw themselves as artists of the highest order. They first measure the quality of their hands /technique/ then marvel how the best of them calmly travel from one maneuver to the next, taking great pride and care in their work, often producing what most consider miraculous improvisations and establish life saving timing grooves at a moments notice/the aesthetic/. I remember my grandmother going through heart surgery, and hearing my grandfather say how one of the doctors was textbook perfect in every measurable way/ your empirical measurement/ but that he wanted the doctor who showcased finesse and adaptability, none of which can be measured on an empirical scale. Still one was considered better than the other. In the case of my grandfather, had the patient not been his wife his judgements would most likely have been lackluster. One could only assume that his sense of aesthetic understanding was raised considerably when considering the incredible consequences of his choice in surgeons.

Additionally, not one time did I measure musical excellence in terms of technique. Again what I said here and in the other thread was that one must get as close as possible to an absolute truth to be able to judge it as well as can be expected, while no judgement is ever perfect. Still, as someone most likely in the center/not bad, not great/ my judgement/not opinion-judgement/ is of course more qualified than one with nothing at all to bring to the table, or for that matter anyone who refuses to believe such measurements even exist.

All opinions are not equal while most semantics claims are only thrown out there to level a playing field that has no business being leveled. I think the mistake too many make is to throw out the arrogance term the minute someone takes this tact. No one has done this here yet, but I remain amazed at how often people do that when in truth, seeing all opinions as equal regardless of skillset seems to be to be extremely arrogant, although many /I believe/ assume this approach not seeing themselves as anything else but people with the best of intentions.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:29 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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If 75% of people in the world think drummer A is better than drummer B, then is drummer A better?
i know where you're coming from with this thread. i've seen what you've written in other threads and i know you're the kind of drummer who plays for the crowd. you've said many times that the most important thing for you is to see girls up on the floor dancing, so i can certainly understand where you would value the opinion of the unschooled masses to decide who is the "best" drummer.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:33 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Matt, help me out here. In the context of voting between 2 drummers based solely on opinion, are you saying that non musicians opinions aren't as valid as a musicians in this situation? A yes or no would really be great.

After all, the world audience, which I'm assuming is heavily weighted on the non musicians side, makes up the buying public. So even if they got it wrong from a musicians standpoint (Meg is better than Elvin eg), they are the ones more or less in control of the popularity of someone, so to me that makes them the "boss" in a way. And the bosses opinion matters.

Basically the question boils down to, if the majority of people think drummer A is better than than drummer B, skillset notwithstanding, is majority opinion of predominantly nonmusicians a valid yardstick?

Last edited by larryace; 07-01-2010 at 03:51 PM.
  #33  
Old 07-01-2010, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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It seems you're assuming I think Buddy is better. If 75% said Travis is better, then like I said, that's gotta count for something. I'm just putting forth that a vote could break the stalemate, and a generally accepted consensus of who is the better drummer could be quite clear, with opinion as the criteria. Not that I really care to rate people, this is truly a "do you think this is a valid way of 'measuring' ability" type hypothetical question.

To oversimplify:

If 75% of people in the world think drummer A is better than drummer B, then is drummer A better?

A yes or no is what I'm after.

I'm still with yes.
I take it you're assuming that the people asked were objective, that there was no media hype involved etc. Two drummers playing one night - music that they feel comfortable with - and no one knows anything about them, hearing them with fresh ears and open minds. Then I'd say "yes".

Matt is right - there are absolutely objective hierarchic standards, and they form the basis of auditions, who's chosen for sessions etc. But there's also a heap of subjective "truths" - the blind man and the elephant, as had been said.

Let's make it concrete - Lenny White and John Bonham. Who's better? Lenny would be technically better by most measures. However, you'd hire Bonzo for a hard rock gig before Lenny. You'd hire Lenny for a fusion gig every time.

On the other hand, there may be someone who absolutely loves Bonzo's monster beats like When the Levee Breaks or Kashmir and finds Lenny's playing wimpy by comparison. Is there logic in love? Not really. You just love it. Or maybe they really adore Lenny's snakey, groovy playing in Land Of the Midnight Sun? and find Bonzo's big beat cumbersome and unrefined?

The flipside of quality is compatibility - the matching of complementary flaws.

We usually don't prefer "the best". If we did, most genres wouldn't even exist. There was a thread a while ago about our "guilty pleasures" - those idiot songs that somehow grab us even if we know they are nonsense. That idea is at the core of artistic subjectivism. For example, I love My Sharona. A totally goofy song but that riff and groove gets me every time. It would be laughable to say it's a better track than Giant Steps, but I like it more :) ... but if we're talking about Alabama, that's a whole different story.
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  #34  
Old 07-01-2010, 03:43 PM
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i know where you're coming from with this thread. i've seen what you've written in other threads and i know you're the kind of drummer who plays for the crowd. you've said many times that the most important thing for you is to see girls up on the floor dancing, so i can certainly understand where you would value the opinion of the unschooled masses to decide who is the "best" drummer.
And to be fair, there's nothing wrong with that, because it all has its own extremely beneficial purpose. However an exclusive attention paid to functional music ignores that music that exists in of itself, while yeah both kinds can represent highly qualified aesthetic principles.

However, the best of this music defies opinion because it starts out of the gate with a recognizable set of quantifiable criteria that explains why it is of better quality, while ignoring that falsely eliminates its deserved higher status. What angers people is how everyone cannot make this quantifiable evaluation equally. I certainly can't do it on those higher levels. Yet that doesn't mean that such measurements do not exist. It simply means that I'm not up to seeing them yet.

This also explains why most people prefer lesser music to great. If music isn't my main thing in life, why in the world would I want to go to all the trouble to see it on those highest levels? I'd probably have my own life to lead and wouldn't want to take the time when it would be best spent doing something else.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

...

I'll have to go with a no, Larry.

I oversimplify, but anything that is judged by popularity alone, is by definition appealing to the maximum number of people.
People of varying tastes, levels of appreciation etc, etc. For anything to be accessible to such a wide cross section, the offering has to be simple enough or 'dumbed down' enough to the level of the Lowest Common Denominator.

How could that possibly be the best?

...
  #36  
Old 07-01-2010, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

overall popularity is a way to judge musicality, but it's just one of many ways. if we used overall popularity as the only criteria for musicality, then we'd have to accept that what's playing right now on top 40 radio is by definition "the best" music out there.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

To get straight to the point:
Are all opinions on who is a good drummer equal?
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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And KIS, yes I am aware of Evelyn Glennie, but seeing as she is not Beethoven I respectfully do not see the comparison issue for raising the Beethoven analogy or for pointing out what you believe is a jazz hierarchical PV/forum code for jazz snob/ . And although I know you're a good guy, there's no reason to sneak the jazz snob devaluation in there as a way of claiming I dismiss entire musical genres, especially seeing as how you know that I also perform quality original pop music. If making a case clearly is a jazz hierarchical point of view, then maybe we should call it something else for everyone of similar clear perspectives who do not like jazz.

.
Matt, I in no way brought in the jazz snob vibe. Nor do I regard jazz hierarchical POV as code for jazz snob. You can take a defined better to worse, or grading perspective whilst still being completely open to the value of work produced by less technically able players, or work that's not a carbon copy of the original. Sorry, but I don't accept the two are the same, but irrespective of that, I had no intention of linking the two, and it's my intent that really matters.

That to one side, of course I'm aware that Evelyn is not Beethoven. The reason I highlighted her was in response to your assertion that someone who's deaf cannot therefore gain any enjoyment from music. I think she proves the opposite can be true.

I agree that the ability to pass judgement of how good a player is diminishes with lack of ability or understanding. Of course, the opinion of someone who is immersed in the subject will always carry more weight than someone of little or no ability/knowledge. If Simon Phillips tells me I'm crap, I'm going to take that on board much more than the same opinion expressed by someone who's never progressed passed their bedroom.

Equally, I agree with your general observation that equal doesn't really exist in any aspect of life. The fictional world you described, where everyone is equal, clearly demonstrates the horror of the benign. I very much look up to some performers with amazement, wonder, & admiration for their talent & sheer hard work. If we were all that good, where would be that sense of wonderment. All the spine tingling moments wouldn't exist. Despite this, I get the same spine tingling experience if I hear a perfectly placed single tom strike in a musical passage. When that single tom strike is so perfectly placed that it elevates the passage without any reference to technical ability, is that player the best player for that piece. Hell, yes. Is he/she a better drummer than drummer A or B? In that moment in time, yes.

I think this better thing only becomes contentious when players are very close to each other in both ability and style. It's clear cut when comparing players who are most obviously poles apart. Am I a better drummer than Simon Phillips? No, never, not under any circumstances. Is Bernard Purdie better than Simon Phillips? What a bloody stupid question. There is no comparison criteria that can be applied. Is Tony Royston Junior better than Simon Phillips? Well, now you're starting to get close. Maybe there's something in that discussion. Is Carmine Appice better than Simon Phillips? Now you have a skillset basis to work from. The answer to that one, IMO, is no. I hope you get where I'm coming from.

To answer Larry's OP, I'm in the no camp. The most popular drummer is exactly that, the most popular. That said, it is the only truly definitive measure. Even an opinion expressed by the most talented and accomplished of players is just an opinion.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:32 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

Two drummers ... Vinnie and Green Day's Tré Cool. They each get to play with a house band at a pub. Who would the majority say is better?

Anyone can tell the obvious cases. I also think that almost everyone picks it when they see a magical musician - the kind of player where the music flows from them astonishingly. Take people like Jimi or Papa Jo or Miles or John Lennon or Joni Mitchell or Ralph Towner or Jaco ... when you see that kind of talent you can't miss it.

Players like that will get majority vote every time unless their "competition" is other weavers of musical magic. There's simply nothing finer :)
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:35 PM
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I think this better thing only becomes contentious when players are very close to each other in both ability and style. It's clear cut when comparing players who are most obviously poles apart.

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner! Its a very difficult call to say who was better, Tony Williams or Elvin. It is NOT a difficult call to say who is better, Tony Williams or my 5 year old daughter. Tony Williams, on every measure concieveable, was a better drummer than my 5 year old daughter. And it doesn't matter if I personally think my daughter is better, she isn't. Just because some of us are delusional does not change the reality.
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