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  #41  
Old 07-01-2010, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Players like that will get majority vote every time unless their "competition" is other weavers of musical magic. There's simply nothing finer :)
I have to disagree. I don't think most people pay any attention to the drummer and could not be trusted to judge quality. Its like me with diamonds. I could not tell you which diamond is the better diamond or if I am looking at a cubic zirconium. My opinion on the subject would be completely baseless and meaningless, just like the average Joe's opinion on good drummers would be.
  #42  
Old 07-01-2010, 04:51 PM
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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.
Accepted, and my disagreement was probably a bit pedantic anyway.


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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.
Medicine is a field I know nothing about. Nevertheless, medicine is an empirical science with measurable results. This is something that I do not think anybody would deny. After that I do not know of a basis to talk about what makes a good doctor a good doctor. I do not know what it would mean for a surgeon to show finesse while operating. But I do understand that medical science has recordable, measurable results, and hard data that can be studied and judged objectively.

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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.
I did not say that you measured musical excellence by technique. I was making the point that there is conceivably a way of making an objective judgment about the technical ability of a musician but not the music they create. I pointed out that the aesthetic and artistic merits of a band/musician cannot be measured by their technical ability, and then asked the question of which method we could employ to make an objective judgment about music itself. How do we quantify aesthetics? This is a question you need to answer to maintain your position. You cannot claim that some opinions are objectively closer to the absolute truth than others, without any idea of the method we would use to determine where a given opinion would be situated within the hierarchy. If we are to "believe such measurements even exist", then we need to know what we are measuring and how.
  #43  
Old 07-01-2010, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by Average View Post
I have to disagree. I don't think most people pay any attention to the drummer and could not be trusted to judge quality. Its like me with diamonds. I could not tell you which diamond is the better diamond or if I am looking at a cubic zirconium. My opinion on the subject would be completely baseless and meaningless, just like the average Joe's opinion on good drummers would be.
Yes, you're probably right and I'm just projecting. When I think about it, the number of times I've been amazed at the "bleeding obvious" things that people miss in this life (and let a few pass me by too) ... well, there's a lot of people out there I wouldn't trust to tie my show laces let alone act as a reliable judge of quality.

Okay, I'm convinced. I'll go for "no" ... and dairyairman's "overall popularity is a way to judge musicality, but it's just one of many ways".

The issue is that musicality is only one thing that can make music popular. Often it's personality. Some people get off on flashiness - the musical circus. Some go for power or certain timbres. It could be functionality - a boppy band playing for a drunk crowd. And, of course, it could just be hype.
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  #44  
Old 07-01-2010, 05:30 PM
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@Larry, let me answer your question first. No. Even if 100% of the population said A was better than B, that just means A is more popular than B.

Now the fun stuff. I really don't know why so many people seem to hate dictionaries. Did you even click the links I put in my very first post to this thread? Do not understand that words actually have meanings? Do you understand that the claims you make contradict the meanings of the very words you use to make them? You want an absolute truth? The word 'good' has a definition. It has been defined. If you don't like the definition, invent a new word to replace it.

Matt, I thoroughly read and re-read your posts. You say all these things you say very matter of factually, as if you are God and you deemed these things to be without contest. Just for once, why don't at least try with even 0.1% of effort to consider another point of view? I'll throw out every question I've ever asked you and just ask this one. What color is better, red or blue?

Some of you keep bringing up this point about equality. That's not the issue and the straw man argument won't save you. No one ever said anything even remotely similar to John Bonham is equal to an infant holding a pair of sticks. Again, no one ever said that. What we're saying, more or less, is define "better." I always see folks saying things like, "You can't compare jazz to rock. It's apples to oranges." Aren't both forms of music? Aren't apples and oranges both fruit? If you can't compare forms of music or types of fruit, how can you compare humans, which are infinitely more complex and dynamic than any piece of fruit could ever hope to be. Why don't you take the same stance and say, "You can't compare Rich to Bonham. It's apples to oranges."

There's a ton more I'd like to say, but I'll let this sink in before I go overboard. In closing I'd just like to point out one thing. I may have said this before, but too damn bad. It's perfectly legitimate to ask, "In your opinion, what's better: A or B?" Have you ever been asked, "In your opinion, what's one plus one?"

EDIT: I lied. One last thing on the medicine thing. Uh, yes. 100% empirical science, dude. All the "adaptability" and "technique" stuff is measurable, teachable, and part of a process of elimination. You know, deductive reasoning and such?
  #45  
Old 07-01-2010, 05:34 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

this discussion reminds me of another thread where we were discussing some very old poll in which the unschooled masses were asked to pick "the best" drummer. in that particular poll somehow karen carpenter came out ahead of john bonham. not to take anything away from karen carpenter, but in no way was she better than john bonham. better looking maybe. to me this is an extreme example of the kind of results you can get when you ask a broad population to pick "the best" drummer.
  #46  
Old 07-01-2010, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by motojt View Post

Some of you keep bringing up this point about equality. That's not the issue and the straw man argument won't save you. No one ever said anything even remotely similar to John Bonham is equal to an infant holding a pair of sticks. Again, no one ever said that. What we're saying, more or less, is define "better."
Sir,
you are a very very very articulate writer and arguer. I think the reason Matt has brought up the issue of equality in this case is that you seem to be saying that there is no "better." If there is no "better" than everyone must be equal right? Just because it is difficult to define "better" does not mean that "better" does not exist. Its like trying to define pornography. There is certainly a difference between a Divinci nude and a gap shot in Hustler. Defining EXACTLY the difference is very very difficult. You know it when you see it. Ugg, even I hate the way that sounds. I wish I had better words.

Quote:
EDIT: I lied. One last thing on the medicine thing. Uh, yes. 100% empirical science, dude. All the "adaptability" and "technique" stuff is measurable, teachable, and part of a process of elimination. You know, deductive reasoning and such?
This is actually something that I know quite a little about. PM me and I will tell you exactly why and you can verify for yourself that I know what I am talking about.

There IS, in fact, especially in surgery, an art to medicine. You are correct that the results in the end are quantifiable, but there is something extremely difficult to define about great surgeons. I wish I could explain it better, but there it is.
  #47  
Old 07-01-2010, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Spinozalove View Post
I did not say that you measured musical excellence by technique. I was making the point that there is conceivably a way of making an objective judgment about the technical ability of a musician but not the music they create. I pointed out that the aesthetic and artistic merits of a band/musician cannot be measured by their technical ability, and then asked the question of which method we could employ to make an objective judgment about music itself. How do we quantify aesthetics? This is a question you need to answer to maintain your position. You cannot claim that some opinions are objectively closer to the absolute truth than others, without any idea of the method we would use to determine where a given opinion would be situated within the hierarchy. If we are to "believe such measurements even exist", then we need to know what we are measuring and how.
I've made this argument several times in the other thread. Adding to it, if the "great musicians" can't even quantify such things then how can we be expected to believe such things can be quantified?

@Average, first off thanks for the compliment... or insult depending on your point of view. ;)

I have actually said many a time that better obviously does exist otherwise there would be no word for it, but better is dependent upon a given set of criteria. Sometimes measurable, sometimes not. It's the 'sometimes not' that causes so much trouble.

On the medicine thing, I think I might have an idea what you're getting at. Some doctors seem to have a sense of intuition as well as knowing when to go against logic. I'm sure it's not 100% of all times, but I think much of this comes with experience. There's always that "human factor" in all things after all.

Last edited by motojt; 07-01-2010 at 06:02 PM.
  #48  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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.
for me the answer is a big absolute no

Last edited by Hedon; 07-01-2010 at 06:19 PM.
  #49  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

This is really a no win argument because the people who spend their lives devoted to the study, development and performance of this craft really do not need to be defended against the Lady Gaga's of the world. And those of us who spend our lives doing such certainly know the difference.

I was talking to a drummer the other day about Vinnie's minimalistic playing on Sting's Ten Summoners Tales, and how people love that album. One of the things that make it so great is the impeccable placement of the drums, esp the snare. So my boss says,"Well, you don't need to be a Vinnie to make it in the music business." So I said "Certainly, coming to understand why a Vinnie or a Steve Gadd is so great is a a step in the right direction." And he said, "Any one who doesn't understand why Steve Gadd is so great really shouldn't be a drummer. " I reminded him that when I first met him I told him Steve Gadd was my favorite drummer, and he couldn't understand why.

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  #50  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:38 PM
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I was talking to a drummer the other day about Vinnie's minimalistic playing on Sting's Ten Summoners Tales, and how people love that album.
Now there's one of the best examples ever to support the view that technical ability is the bedrock of delivering the most simple of passages. Vinnie isn't playing anything mind blowing on that album. I'm pretty sure I could nail it, but would it sound as good? No way. Why? He's playing so far below his ability, it gives him so much breathing space to concentrate almost exclusively on the dynamic & delivery. His performance is more about playing the spaces than anything else. If I was playing that piece, almost all my concentration would be on getting it right, because it's at the higher end of my skillset, leaving very little room for delivery. The net result is that his version sounds superb and my version would be flat & lifeless. Sorry for the slight thread departure, but couldn't resist it after DD mentioned that album. Even more rare, KIS extoning the virtues of technical ability and recognising the contribution to feel. Ahhh, I need a drink!
  #51  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by motojt View Post
I have actually said many a time that better obviously does exist otherwise there would be no word for it, but better is dependent upon a given set of criteria. Sometimes measurable, sometimes not. It's the 'sometimes not' that causes so much trouble.
Agreed. I think the problem is that in the "sometimes its not" measurable catagory, maybe it is measurable but we don't have the tools/language to do so. That is a limitation of language moreso than anything else.

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On the medicine thing, I think I might have an idea what you're getting at. Some doctors seem to have a sense of intuition as well as knowing when to go against logic. I'm sure it's not 100% of all times, but I think much of this comes with experience. There's always that "human factor" in all things after all
It isn't just intuition and experience that is difficult to define and measure in medicine. As Matt said, there really is an artful way to do certain surgeries. Things like maximizing efficiency of movement, gentle handling of the tissues, knowing which details to pay particular attention to and which to ignore, etc. These are things that are extremely difficult to teach. Indeed, experience doesn't necessarily give you those things either, as I have seen many surgeons late in their careers who I would say cannot operate their way out of a paper bag. Here is where the similarity to the better musician debate comes in to play:

The average person with very little medical knowlege may not be able to know whether surgeon A or surgeon B is better. The average person relies on the judgement of a trusted physician to help him make that determination. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We're only human after all, and the "trusted physician" may have a vested interest in referring to an inferior surgeon for monetary gain. (for example that surgeon may be a part of the group that the 'trusted physician' is in, and referring a patient outside of the group represents a loss of revenue.)

The same thing can be said of the "better drummer" question. Yes they do exist. A band leader has to pick the right drummer for the right situation. If the bandleader doesn't know much about drums, but needs a drummer, he probably should ask someone who does know about drummers, or he won't be a successful bandleader.

I personally don't care about the "better" distinction, other than in the context of choosing the right drummer for the right project.
  #52  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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.
Yes.

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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.
They are in control of popularity for the time being Larry, but contemporary popularity is rarely anything more than that. For example few people out of a 200 mile radius knew of Bach during his lifetime. There were at least 100 guys back then better known and popular than Bach. Other than Vivaldi and Handel and to a lesser extent some guys named Telemann, Purcell and Lulli where are those guys now in the history of music? They don't exist now because those boss's opinions are dead with their bosses. And when that's all you got that's what history does to the almighty opinion. 1000 years from now Larry, popularity doesn't mean a thing because music unlike people either lasts forever or dies with those who selected it over something else. Regardless the final judgement outlives the people every single time.

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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?
That depends Larry. Sometimes popular opinion and greatness are in fact one in the same. Bringing up Beethoven again, he was supposedly as popular during his lifetime as anyone who ever lived, while the larger number consider the impeccable and insanely popular Lennon/McCartney compositions among the greatest examples of 20th century song. Then you have some really bad #1s that people liked for a brief time but that history will throw out with the trash. I am told that people in the early 60s thought Herb Alpert was a great trumpet player. In the 70s Toni Tenille was supposed to be an iconic pop singer. In the 80s Vanilla Ice was supposedly for a couple of months a great rapper, while Miley Cyrus's dad was a great 90s country singer. But seriously now, how many of these people do even the nonmusicians see as they once did?

I think sometimes it takes a minute for the Kool Aid to wear off because nonmusicians will often feel the initial hype as much as the music itself. That's why the hype exists in the 1st place. But after a while in most cases even the nonmusicians see the mistakes for what they are or in these cases were.
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  #53  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:48 PM
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Now there's one of the best examples ever to support the view that technical ability is the bedrock of delivering the most simple of passages. Vinnie isn't playing anything mind blowing on that album. I'm pretty sure I could nail it, but would it sound as good? No way. Why? He's playing so far below his ability, it gives him so much breathing space to concentrate almost exclusively on the dynamic & delivery. His performance is more about playing the spaces than anything else. If I was playing that piece, almost all my concentration would be on getting it right, because it's at the higher end of my skillset, leaving very little room for delivery. The net result is that his version sounds superb and my version would be flat & lifeless. Sorry for the slight thread departure, but couldn't resist it after DD mentioned that album. Even more rare, KIS extoning the virtues of technical ability and recognising the contribution to feel. Ahhh, I need a drink!
Very well put. I would posit that the drumming on that album is in fact superb beyond belief and much more complicated than it sounds on the surface. Just taking one song - Seven Days. There is literally a ton of superimposing of time signatures in that song. And Vinnie does it mostly by subtle variation in the accents on the hi-hat etc. Listen to almost every song on that album and you will find extremely subtle technical details that add layers of complexity to the music that are incredible. He is very often superimposing 3/4 over 4/4 in that album. Really, it is a masterwork of drumming, and I knew it was the first time I heard the album, even though at the time I did not know exactly why it was.
  #54  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Spinozalove View Post
If we are to "believe such measurements even exist", then we need to know what we are measuring and how.
But see that's the problem, we /I assume you mean everyone/ does nothing until they have the ability to judge any quantifiable indicator selected. For some that would be the equivalent of discerning alien technology from Roswell. Aesthetics isn't a Drumometer where you just read the meter. But that is not to say that quantifiable doesn't exist. It's just that it's entirely an internal assesment that comes form getting closer to music itself. The problem is that many just don't like that answer. Still I also believe that music could care less because it functions with its own mysterious set of rules that are often not understood by all until its original population is dead and buried.

You make a lot of good points that I need to consider Spinozalove. Thanks for playing.
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  #55  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:19 PM
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Default Re: Judging musicality

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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?
It may be all those science classes that I took, but if we treat "best" as one of those odd concepts that are constantly changing, the vote may work. Take for example the concept of "normal", as I understand it, it basically encompasses the largest majority with similar traits. However, "normal" will change from time to time if certain traits become the majority. Ultimately I think the vote would decide the best at that time but give it a few years and the idea of "best" could shift, and the vote would most likely shift with it.

While I am at it, I have to wonder how to control the all the variables that would go into the performances, and what variable would have to be controlled to make for a truly apples to apples comparison. Do the bands the drummers are playing with have to be the same, does the song have to be the same.

Something tells me I will be pondering this one for the rest of the day.
  #56  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:22 PM
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...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 couldn't help but instantly think of Invisible Sun (what with the Sting connection and all) for the single tom tom smack that defies technique. I always thought that was the most musical drum part ever. Does he accent on the one anywhere in that song? (not including the hi hats on the choruses, I count exactly once). Very simple, elegant, and breathtaking in its effectiveness at painting a bleak landscape that refuses to resolve.

Of course, nowhere in there did he prove he could solo, but that's another matter ;)

@Matt - The point of refusing to make such value judgments is not because anyone is thinking in terms of equality. That line of reasoning is bogus.
  #57  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:36 PM
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Very well put. I would posit that the drumming on that album is in fact superb beyond belief and much more complicated than it sounds on the surface. Just taking one song - Seven Days. There is literally a ton of superimposing of time signatures in that song. And Vinnie does it mostly by subtle variation in the accents on the hi-hat etc. Listen to almost every song on that album and you will find extremely subtle technical details that add layers of complexity to the music that are incredible. He is very often superimposing 3/4 over 4/4 in that album. Really, it is a masterwork of drumming, and I knew it was the first time I heard the album, even though at the time I did not know exactly why it was.
I said I could probably nail it, but I didn't say how long it would take me (lol). It's a total masterclass of reserve and depth. Very similar in greatness to the drumming on Nick Kershaw's "The Works". Stunning, just stunning. And when I say I could probably nail it, it's those details of multi time signature accenting that would almost certainly elude me. It's one thing to copy such a masterpiece, it's quite another to conceive it in the first place.
  #58  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:47 PM
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I
@Matt - The point of refusing to make such value judgments is not because anyone is thinking in terms of equality. That line of reasoning is bogus.
People do it on forums all the time Mike. That's where the phrase It's all just somebody's opinion comes from. That certainly does not celebrate the qualified assesment. It is an attempt to level the playing field. In fact the entire point of this thread is to determine this very issue.
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Old 07-01-2010, 07:48 PM
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I'm gonna check out The Works post haste. Ordering from amazon. Any other suggestions along those lines before I place the order?

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I said I could probably nail it, but I didn't say how long it would take me (lol). It's a total masterclass of reserve and depth. Very similar in greatness to the drumming on Nick Kershaw's "The Works". Stunning, just stunning. And when I say I could probably nail it, it's those details of multi time signature accenting that would almost certainly elude me. It's one thing to copy such a masterpiece, it's quite another to conceive it in the first place.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:04 PM
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I'm gonna check out The Works post haste. Ordering from amazon. Any other suggestions along those lines before I place the order?
Not off the top of my head. "The Works" by Nick Kershaw is one of Vinnie's finest album performances IMO. As a bonus, Jeff Porcaro plays the last track on the album. Although I think "Ten Summoners Tales" is about as good as drumming gets, there's something even more impressive about "The Works". The fact that Vinnie has such a naked pallate to work from. It's straight pop without the benefit of atmospherics that the Sting album brings. As a sidenote, I think Nick Kershaw is possibly one of the most underrated pop acts of all time. Check out some of Vinnie's fills on that Kershaw album. How the hell he conceived then, I'll never know.

Hey Average, check this track out from "The Works". It's a very famous Vinnie fill at 3:15. I've never heard a fill in a pop song fit so well as this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdB2YPvugMg Enjoy!

Last edited by keep it simple; 07-01-2010 at 08:14 PM.
  #61  
Old 07-01-2010, 08:14 PM
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@Average, on the side topic of medicine, everything you mentioned is actually a tangible skill. One couldn't say, "I found the way the he moved his wrist to be very unattractive. The way he handled those delicate tissues, however, was very appealing." Well, I suppose you could, but what I'm saying is you can quantify that said doctor is very efficient in his movements, and quite able in handling delicate tissues.

In music or visual arts one might say that a certain piece may instill or convey an emotion or mood in the audience. Can such a quality be quantified? Is it an important quality? Is the specific emotion or mood important? If it instills anger in some, but sadness in others, is that good or bad? While a surgery may have an emotional outcome, the act itself is merely technical. The technical aspects of drumming can definitely be quantified, but for the truly artistic ones opinion is required. Maybe we could restate the question as, "Who is technically better, A or B?"

Finally, your final comment is in line with my point. Yes, there is better, but it depends on the context, does it not?

@Matt, all your points from the one post prove is that Beethoven had some lasting appeal. I know people who still like Ice Ice Baby. I know other people who don't like classical music at all. And they're musicians. Your response likening high level musical talent to alien technology just dumbs down music to magic. Yes, we're all amazed that he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, but there are distinct steps of motions the magician made to accomplish that goal. He can write those steps down, break down the process, so that a child could do it. What he can't break down is the charisma, the part that draws the viewer in. That's not quantifiable. Much like musicians, there's more than technical measurements to being a good magician. And that is judged by opinion. Again, no one is saying opinion is the end all, be all of rating systems. It's just a part of the whole.

EDIT: @Average, re-read something you wrote and I'm going to adjust my stance a bit to agree with you. To paraphrase, you said the intangibles probably can be measured, but we lack the tools and/or language to do so. I fully agree with you, but therein lies the paradox. If we (as humans) lack the tools to measure certain aspects, is a judgment based on partial knowledge a valid judgment? Matt, in his stance that us lowly hacks are not qualified to judge the greats, must say no. I would have to agree. So, in the limited context of human understanding, we have two answers: 1) In the context of measurable criteria, good, better, or best can be had. 2) In Matt's "absolute truth" context, while good, better, and best may exist, it is impossible to determine.

Last edited by motojt; 07-01-2010 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:57 PM
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People do it on forums all the time Mike. That's where the phrase It's all just somebody's opinion comes from. That certainly does not celebrate the qualified assesment. It is an attempt to level the playing field. In fact the entire point of this thread is to determine this very issue.
The point of this thread concerns how to go about judging musicality. I, for one, don't think you can (at least not in any universally accepted way) because different players have different personalities that come out in their playing - it's what makes one player different from the next - and that every listener has their own set of criteria on which they base such things.

I don't see anyone trying to level the playing field - that sound like paranoia. I'm not worried about someone trying to demote Buddy down to the Ringo level on technique (I've never seen anyone try it, but I do know musos and drummers who prefer Ringo). The fact that Buddy's band ended up doing Beatles covers ought to tell you something, though (that style, independent of technique, counts for something).

I'm well qualified to judge and assess other drummers - according to my own taste. It doesn't mean I can do everything they can do. Rather, it just ends up being whatever resonates with me for whatever inexplicable reason. There are lots of drummers who can do things that I can't whose styles annoy me, while there are other drummers where I can do anything they can, but I still marvel at what they choose to do.

It ends up being less about technique in the end, and more about aesthetics.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:06 PM
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...1) In the context of measurable criteria, good, better, or best can be had.
I would argue that you're still going to run into trouble because, even in theory, I don't think it's possible to account for all the variables that go into the mix. It's all those damn intangibles!
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:19 PM
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I would argue that you're still going to run into trouble because, even in theory, I don't think it's possible to account for all the variables that go into the mix. It's all those damn intangibles!
You're comment would actually be referring to my option #2. In #1, the one you quoted, I'm just talking about actual, technically measurable things like strokes per minute, accuracy, versatility, etc. For example, Joe Morello has insanely fast rolls and he is competent in at least a couple genres, but his swing and style can't be evaluated in option #1. So the wording would have to be something like, "Technically speaking, Joe Morello is a better drummer than Meg White." (shameless plug for the Official Drummerworld Megometer Rating Systemô)
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:38 PM
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So the wording would have to be something like, "Technically speaking, Joe Morello is a better drummer than Meg White." (shameless plug for the Official Drummerworld Megometer Rating Systemô)
You're right, I screwed that up... and the intangibles might look like, "You know, there's just something in Meg's mojo (beat placement, playing for the song, staying out of the way, etc...) that trumps Joe's obvious and formidible skills for me. Besides, even when Joe was young, he looked like he was about to fall asleep - at least Meg looks like she's trying..."
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:51 PM
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Plus Joe doesn't have a sex tape...
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:04 PM
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Plus Joe doesn't have a sex tape...

LOL!!! You sure?

..............
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:12 PM
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Christ, I hope not. Though he could do some serious lovin' with those one handed rolls...
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:18 PM
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It's funny- now that I think of it, Ringo's playing is actually more important to me than Buddy's. If I was going to try to decide who was "better", here are some of the things I'd be thinking about:

- Career - Ringo is known for his playing with the Beatles over a roughly <10 year period, and basically nothing else. Buddy's had something like a 60+ year career playing with many of the biggest names in the business, and with his own bands.
- Technical mastery - Buddy is one of the great virtuosos of the instrument, and Ringo clearly isn't.
- Depth of musicianship - Buddy could and did play masterfully in a wide variety of styles, and knew a vast body of music; I'm not aware of how much musical knowledge he had beyond what he needed to be a drummer and bandleader. Ringo is a pop drummer who sang and also wrote I think one pop hit and more mediocre songs.
- Creativity - Ringo created more memorable parts- I suspect that he was heavily influenced by McCartney, Lennon, and George Martin, but what's important to me is the result, not the person. Buddy was a jazz musician and was therefore always improvising, but is not necessarily remembered as an innovator.
- Recorded output - Buddy is on a lot of great records with a wide variety of artists, but it's hard to compete with the scale of those Beatles albums. In general I think to be considered a great musician you have to play on great records, though there are exceptions to this.
- Influence - both were hugely influential- both inspired a lot of people to take up the drums. I think of Ringo might've had a better influence musically- to me he was one of the early guys bringing drumming forward in the music, out of that light, early 60's, back-in-the mix thing. Buddy unfortunately seemed to inspire a lot of people to display their chops.

Back to Larry's original question: I don't think you can ignore these issues in evaluating the stature of an artist. Since most people do just that, I don't think their opinions are worth anything.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:28 PM
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Why is it so hard to understand that human beings can develope the cluster effect type of measurement system I mentioned in the other thread. Think of it this way, if you know the game Go it's the best example, but I guess chess will do too. A great player, can see very fast which is the best move in the time frame he has on his hand. Some times he has infinite amounts of time and he can really dig in to the analysis with books etc and really look closely and measure the details. This 'better artist' thing is more like judging the best move in Go in a very short amount of time. Good player just sees shapes, uses some intuitions he has _developed_ and knows what stuff to use the little time he has for thinking on his turn for.

Sometimes there are couple of almost as good moves to make, but it rarely matters in the big scope of things which you choose then. Just like it is with drummers, I would hate to start thinking about "vinnie vs gadd". But my _developed_ cluster tells me immediately that vinnie is better than meg.

But not all games are the same. Sometimes we use handicap, sometimes you are playing against such an opponent that even the move "meg" can do just fine, and might even be interesting for this one time that you aren't in the danger of losing because of such a move.

Add Averages diamond analogy and surgeon analogy and I think we are a bit closer to the truth.
Old 07-02-2010, 12:28 AM
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:53 AM
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@JPW, I fully understand your cluster theory, but there are two problems.

1) Your Go (and chess) analogy doesn't work at all because at the end of the game there's one winner and one loser (or a stalemate). The only possible outcomes are defined by a set of concrete rules. You can back-trace and analyze every move and factually say, "This would have been a better move as it would have led to a better outcome." With music the end result is a collection of noise that some may call a song. A subset of those may like the song. No concrete definitions there.
2) Your explanation of the cluster theory is a bit sparse, but from what my understanding of it, it's just another name for consensus.

Also, the jury is still out on the surgeon analogy and the diamond one doesn't work because there is a set of rules and color, transparency, and refraction scales for judging diamonds. It's not just some old dude's opinion of whether or not it's pretty.

I'm telling, we're totally blowing it here. We should just be hashing out the details of the Megometer™!

Last edited by motojt; 07-02-2010 at 01:25 AM.
  #72  
Old 07-02-2010, 01:57 AM
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Well, truthfully, isn't is always a popularity contest? It's always about consensus. Beethoven is a great composer because all the great conductors told us that. Vinnie is a great drummer because all the great drummers tell us that. There does need to be some substance there. As far as Meg, I use her for my beginning students, you know, something they can play on the first day. Sorry Polly . .:P
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:15 AM
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Vinnie is a great drummer because all the great drummers tell us that.
Maybe that's how it works for you, but for me, Vinnie is a great drummer because I love the way he plays - not because some dogmatic force told me to like him.

Actually, now that I think about it, there have been situations where I didn't like his drumming, like with Megadeth and the Buddy Rich Big Band (where Gadd and Weckl blew him outta the water, IMO). There's something very staccato in his playing that doesn't always work if you ask me.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:03 AM
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Moron, my post was somewhat satirical.

I'll ask your opinion when I need to be reminded why people don't want to post here.

and BTW. I studied with Morello.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:26 AM
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Aw, why don't you two just kiss and make up? No hanky panky though, 'kay? This is a family place. ;)
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:34 AM
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You know, JT. there's is only so much any one can take from certain people. Maybe he should just learn to stay out of my way.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:06 AM
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I really don't think he meant anything by it. We're just kinda having a food fight right now. While it does sound a lot more fun, we don't need to upgrade to rocks just yet. ;)

In a pathetic attempt to lighten the mood, I think it's cool as shit that you studied with Joe Morello. I always thought he seemed like a really cool, down to earth, dude-type dude. I got his two videos and the thing that resonated most with me was his advice to have fun with it and not take it all too seriously. I've never made a fuss about any other human, and I'd never be bothered to ask for an autograph or kiss some celebrity's ass. That said, Joe Morello is the only celebrity type person I've ever bent that rule for. I sent him an email a while back just to tell him that his playing, and eventually his videos forever changed the way I looked at the drums and wished him well. The funny thing is that up to then I didn't even know who he was. I just knew that his work on Take Five was and still is one of my two favorite drum tracks of all time (the other being Eric Kretz's work on Big Empty by Stone Temple Pilots. Yes, I know, I'm weird). By the way, I'll bet you $5 he'd get a kick out of the sex tape comment. hahahaha

Last edited by motojt; 07-02-2010 at 07:18 AM.
  #78  
Old 07-02-2010, 09:29 AM
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The point of this thread concerns how to go about judging musicality.
Then it immediately goes into reasoning for why everyone's judgements are equal based on universal assesments/ If more people take Travis over Buddy, then boss's opinion counts for something etc. That is absolutely the leveling of the playing field based on universal consensus///in other words making all opinions equal as long as there are enough of them. Larry's not coming into this discussion with any kind of agenda. I think he really wants to know. But it did then immediately go down this road.

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I, for one, don't think you can (at least not in any universally accepted way) because different players have different personalities that come out in their playing - it's what makes one player different from the next - and that every listener has their own set of criteria on which they base such things..
But again, most listeners have their own set of criteria based on limits in their understandings, while over the course of history personality has had little to do with aesthetic enrichment.

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The fact that Buddy's band ended up doing Beatles covers ought to tell you something, though (that style, independent of technique, counts for something). .
My old man played those tunes in Buddy's band. He says Buddy just liked the way Beatles tunes sounded, I doubt few are going to disagree about the high quality of those tunes. I don't think he really took it any farther than that.

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I'm well qualified to judge and assess other drummers - according to my own taste. It doesn't mean I can do everything they can do. Rather, it just ends up being whatever resonates with me for whatever inexplicable reason. There are lots of drummers who can do things that I can't whose styles annoy me, while there are other drummers where I can do anything they can, but I still marvel at what they choose to do. .
Exactly, we agree. The fact that you are an experienced drummer gives you uniquely weighted perspectives, that are superior to those without this skillset. And like all of us here, you cannot necessarily do everything some of the special drummers can do, but because you are closer to the music you are able to make certain qualified judgements better than others who don't play at all.

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It ends up being less about technique in the end, and more about aesthetics.
Technique is but one component in the aesthetic package, but with aesthetics being more of a soup as opposed to an individual course it would be hard to differentiate one from the other.

BTW, thanks for your thoughts regarding that other thread.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:55 AM
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It's funny- now that I think of it, Ringo's playing is actually more important to me than Buddy's. If I was going to try to decide who was "better", here are some of the things I'd be thinking about:

- Career - Ringo is known for his playing with the Beatles over a roughly <10 year period, and basically nothing else. Buddy's had something like a 60+ year career playing with many of the biggest names in the business, and with his own bands.
- Technical mastery - Buddy is one of the great virtuosos of the instrument, and Ringo clearly isn't.
- Depth of musicianship - Buddy could and did play masterfully in a wide variety of styles, and knew a vast body of music; I'm not aware of how much musical knowledge he had beyond what he needed to be a drummer and bandleader. Ringo is a pop drummer who sang and also wrote I think one pop hit and more mediocre songs.
- Creativity - Ringo created more memorable parts- I suspect that he was heavily influenced by McCartney, Lennon, and George Martin, but what's important to me is the result, not the person. Buddy was a jazz musician and was therefore always improvising, but is not necessarily remembered as an innovator.
- Recorded output - Buddy is on a lot of great records with a wide variety of artists, but it's hard to compete with the scale of those Beatles albums. In general I think to be considered a great musician you have to play on great records, though there are exceptions to this.
- Influence - both were hugely influential- both inspired a lot of people to take up the drums. I think of Ringo might've had a better influence musically- to me he was one of the early guys bringing drumming forward in the music, out of that light, early 60's, back-in-the mix thing. Buddy unfortunately seemed to inspire a lot of people to display their chops.

Back to Larry's original question: I don't think you can ignore these issues in evaluating the stature of an artist. Since most people do just that, I don't think their opinions are worth anything.
This is a nice attempt of objectively comparing two drummers.

I think to compare two musicians (assuming one wants to do so anyway) the most important thing is to find as many parameters as possible.
To make the link to Larry's simple question
(If 75% of people in the world think drummer A is better than drummer B, then is drummer A better?)
If drummer A got 75% of the votes - there is at least one parameter that makes him superior to drummer B: His playing reached and somehow touched more listeners. I'm not sure if that makes him better over all, but at least from this point of view.

This would be the "measurable" part of one's skillset.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:58 AM
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@JPW, I fully understand your cluster theory, but there are two problems.

1) Your Go (and chess) analogy doesn't work at all because at the end of the game there's one winner and one loser (or a stalemate). The only possible outcomes are defined by a set of concrete rules. You can back-trace and analyze every move and factually say, "This would have been a better move as it would have led to a better outcome." With music the end result is a collection of noise that some may call a song. A subset of those may like the song. No concrete definitions there.
2) Your explanation of the cluster theory is a bit sparse, but from what my understanding of it, it's just another name for consensus.

Also, the jury is still out on the surgeon analogy and the diamond one doesn't work because there is a set of rules and color, transparency, and refraction scales for judging diamonds. It's not just some old dude's opinion of whether or not it's pretty.

I'm telling, we're totally blowing it here. We should just be hashing out the details of the Megometer™!
Fisrt of all, you clearly have no idea what I was talking about if you think my 'cluster theory' is just a synonym for consensus. So no, you don't "understand it fully".

You failed to understand my go analogy too. In the analogy the end result of the game had nothing to do with this discussion here. The right move in the current situation in the game was being analogical to the choice of a better drummer for the situation, see me drawing a parallel between Meg and the worse move to make in the game for an interesting twist.

Consensus is formed between people. What I'm talking about with the cluster is sort of consensus with your own criteria that you have been gathered about the subject over the years. A Go player doesn't need to know every possible outcome (and in the case of limited time which I think is more analogous with this drummer subject, it's obviously impossible anyways). We just call it intuition, but I hate to use that word because it misleads to think that some is just born with it or that it's something supernatural. It's just like the surgeon, he has limited time to make the decisions, some have developed their intuition (or cluster of ideas) further than others and are therefore better surgeons. And THIS IS IMPORTANT, it's the value of opinions we are talking about here, not the betterness of a drummer. The surgeon is analogous for the guy that has the opinion about the better drummer. I get that you won't be satisfied with the diamond expert analogy, but it's just a simpler analogy.

But judging from your last few paragraphs I think you just don't understand this theory on a very fundamental level. Because you are the sort of person who just refuses to get analogies if there's a single thing that isn't the same as the subject of the analogy. But that's just how the analogies work, they aren't the same, they never are. So just tell us if we just won't be able to use them with you and we stop. There's always something wrong with them: "A != B if B != A".

Also you always shoot down only one or two points and think you won the discussion. But in the end you just weakened 'the cluster' but it still prevails. It's like real life trials. You have a set of evidence, some are proven not to be true but the accused may still be guilty. He also might be guilty even if we aren't able to prove it but everyone still knows it's obvious. Those things happen and it's exactly the same.

PS. if everything about music is subjective, then explain me the pentatonic scale and why is it so widely used. =P All human beings have much more in common than what we would like to have. Music is such a fundamental thing for this thinking ape that it pierces through cultures. Even gorillas communicate via drumming. They have different rhythms for different 'words' like 'hello' or 'go away'.

Last edited by JPW; 07-02-2010 at 12:12 PM.
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