Are we playing the music we want to play?

aydee

Platinum Member
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I had some musician friends over for dinner last night, and we spent a great evening discussing this topic. It was partly triggered by a combination of Phil's Piracy music thread and my Kenny G thread.

We were listening to a recording of a great Japanese guitar player, and the track was, well very 'Japanese -sounding'.
Now one of the guys at dinner knows this player personally and tells us that he is a fantastic jazz blues player and thats really all he plays and thats what he loves to do, but being Japanese, the record label wants him to do something Japanese sounding.

To market himself, he also needs to create some Japaneseness in his playing, to be taken seriously by booking agents, clubs, etc

Does who makes what music make a difference? Do we musicians stereotypes ourselves? Does the color of skin determine what music you play?

If it does, is it still music? Or are we making some 'processed sound'?. For the benefit of others? Labels, audiences?

Does Hip Hop not sound right unless an African American with big chains is playing it? Is metal not real metal if a Scandinavian band isnt playing it? Music is not supposed to come with picture or visuals, right? ( Screw MTV for now )

What do you think of a musician who for example plays metal, but because the people in his town arent big on metal, plays some watered down stuff ?

I understand if its about paying the bills, but is it still music? Isn't music expressing who you are? Isnt music about being true to yourself? Are you playing the music you want to play?

So, this was a heated debate with no winners, late into the night. Thought I'd share this with you guys, see what you think.

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theindian

Senior Member
I think everyone has to make some sort of compromise to play within a group setting, especially drummers.

I play in top 40/classic rock cover band, I like a lot of the tunes, stay in the pocket, no big fills or really flashy stuff. Some of the tunes I don't like but I do it b/c I love playing music, and make money from it.

I also play with another group, all original music that pretty prog-influenced. There is more room for me to play creatively and it is generally more fun. However, it doesn't generate half of the money the cover band does. I pretty much do it for fun, creativity, and love of playing music.

It seems like a lot of big name musicians, who have been around for awhile, had to pay their dues as backups, or make more mainstream stuff before they got to a point where they could release more self-indulgent albums.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Through different gigs I've had that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen to take, I've learned so much about music. From the African marimba band to the Gypsy jazz ensemble, from the Middle Eastern hand-drumming group to the acapella quartet, from the singer-songwriter's group to the classic rock cover band...it all has something to teach, something to offer, and something to communicate.

I don't necessarily consider genres something I'm worried about crossing or stereotypes something that I'm called to fall into. What I WANT to play is quality music with good musicians. The groups I'm involved with are just that. Some pick-up gigs, though--eh, not so much. So yeah, maybe I will sell my soul a little on the side for a paycheck, but even then, I try to learn something from the experience (even if it's just to never work with that group again...)
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I've played something close to my first preference music around 30 years ago. The rest of the time I've played what other people wanted. Even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted I still found the music had some appeal.

When it comes to expressing The Real You (which I'll call "TRY" for brevity's sake), that's a pretty nebulous thing in music or any other sphere of life. To a fair extent we are a collection of masks that we bring to each role - be it as offspring, parent, partner, friend, acquaintance, workmate or DW member. Of course TRY permeates everything you do to some extent, some more, some less.

It should always be said that music often expresses who we want to be rather than who we really are.

Whatever, I think it's less of an issue for drummers than it is for singers / frontpersons, who are usually much closer to the pointy end the music's expression.

It's all still music, even the totally cynical stuff. The premise of music "expressing who you are" and "being true to yourself" is highly contestable. The closer music is to TRY the more powerfully it will resonate with those who relate to TRY (and the more it will annoy those who find TRY unpleasant). So music with very broad appeal is either avoiding sincere expression in favour of a blandly pleasant face or the TRY of the musicans really are blandly pleasant :)

If you want your audiences to be the kind of people who relate to, then you would want to express yourself musically as truly as possible. For the most part, if you want to play drums regularly, you need to compromise like crazy.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I'm sort of split on this. I often find magic in the most unexpected places. Went through Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" at band practice last night. No technical challenge whatsoever but a big cross band musical performance challenge. Unexpectedly, found myself right in the zone, eyes closed from start to finish (that's Andy guage of getting off on the music).

Then there's the other side of me. The side that desparately wants to play original uber heavy funk but stands no chance of finding the players to make it happen. I love that stuff, technically challenging, wholesome, moving, inspirational, the whole deal. This is my dream gig. I suppose you could say therefore everything else I do is a compromise, a sell out if you wish.

Dreams aside, although I'll almost certainly never get the opportunity to do my heavy funk project, I'm still finding great enjoyment & satisfaction in what I do now. I'm playing a landmark gig this coming Saturday. The venue will be packed to the roof and I know we'll have the best time imaginable. It doesn't get much cooler than that for me. I'm very happy in my shell!
 
B

Big_Philly

Guest
I also think it's a matter of compromise. The problem is that I want it all - and I am pretty certain I am not alone in this. I want things to be transparent and easy listening, but also want it to be a technical challenge. I want a fairly heavy sound, but also wanna play some funk every now and then. The solution is to play in several bands, which I don't have the time for. Best thing that can happen is an experimental band that likes their songs to be dynamic. I have a band like that :) And being a decent player also provides enough leverage in the band to get some of your ideas and wishes through (without nagging).
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Fortunately, my band let's me make my drum-parts, my way(more or less). And the music we make is a mix of what genres I typically listen to.
I remember when playing in coverbands though, that I was bored out of my skull(especially with playing Sweet child of mine 3 times a night). It's hard to be creative and "happy" when playing other peoples drum-parts. Better than nothing, I suppose. The pay was good too.

I also see alot of session musicians go and play fusion-stuff for a creative outlet. The baked potato-pub/bar/club is a prime example of this. Sessionists come there and blow off steam.
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
Fortunately, my band let's me make my drum-parts, my way(more or less). And the music we make is a mix of what genres I typically listen to.
I remember when playing in coverbands though, that I was bored out of my skull(especially with playing Sweet child of mine 3 times a night). It's hard to be creative and "happy" when playing other peoples drum-parts. Better than nothing, I suppose. The pay was good too.

I also see alot of session musicians go and play fusion-stuff for a creative outlet. The baked potato-pub/bar/club is a prime example of this. Sessionists come there and blow off steam.
a, pretty funny how after i do a rehearsle with my rock/ soul band ( aretha franklin, mustang sally type stuff), i come right home and play some jazz!......

whether you like something or not, it's still expression, if someone is a slave and is forced to play music for their master, they are still expressing themselves, even if they don't like what they are doing.......what you will play will always sound different to everyone elses, there will always be subtle nuances.

i think that expression is simpley something that comes out of you....you can express yourself by means of cleaning the dishes!
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I understand if its about paying the bills, but is it still music? Isn't music expressing who you are? Isnt music about being true to yourself? Are you playing the music you want to play?
Sure it's "still" music. You don't turn down work because the music you're being hired to play doesn't suit your taste.

I don't think music is about being true to yourself. I think life is about being true to yourself, and if you want your life to be about getting paid to play the drums then you'll have to be ready and able to play whatever you're hired to play.

Learning all you possibly can in order to do the best job you possibly can is being true to yourself if you want to live the life of a professional drummer.

The bonus is that whenever the time comes for you to play the music you really want to play you'll be playing it with professional musicians.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
As a teen, of course I had this mental imagine that I'd only play music I was 100% passionate about, and I'd be a success doing so.

But then the reality of the music business is quite a bit difference.

Fortunately, I like, or am at least open to, a wide variety of music. And I realized the experience of playing different types of material could be very rewarding in the experience and the pocket book.

In an original band, you do have to be passionate about the music you're playing, but it doesn't mean you have to love every song, every lyric, or every section. Part of any band is compromise, unless you're the band leader and can afford to pay everyone around you to do what you say.

When I was getting close to 30, I admit I freaked out a bit over not being a successful as I had hoped, and compromised a lot, and put everything on the line in one last ditch effort to be in a signed band. And we were negotiating a record contract when the band fell apart. But overall, I don't look at the music I was playing right then very fondly. I'd gotten too far away from anything I believed in.

Now, I focus on what I like, and just what I like.
To the extent I've begun writing my own songs. Of course, this doesn't lead to any gigs, or any pay, but at this point in life, I'm OK with that. Maybe when I my kids are older I'll find a cover band or blues band to fill in the live gap, but I'm pretty happy doing what I want to do.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Sure it's "still" music. You don't turn down work because the music you're being hired to play doesn't suit your taste.

I don't think music is about being true to yourself. I think life is about being true to yourself, and if you want your life to be about getting paid to play the drums then you'll have to be ready and able to play whatever you're hired to play.

Learning all you possibly can in order to do the best job you possibly can is being true to yourself if you want to live the life of a professional drummer.

The bonus is that whenever the time comes for you to play the music you really want to play you'll be playing it with professional musicians.
Very well said. You nailed it.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I do not like playing many covers and I have never played in a cover band. There is an infinite number of beautiful songs that no one has ever heard, because no musicians have yet brought them into existence. I want to spend my talent and passion bringing doing that during the short time I have on Earth.

I don't write songs much. I see my role mainly as helping songwriters and other musicians render their creations. When I am doing that, I am playing the music I want to play.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I do not like playing many covers and I have never played in a cover band. There is an infinite number of beautiful songs that no one has ever heard, because no musicians have yet brought them into existence. I want to spend my talent and passion bringing doing that during the short time I have on Earth.

I don't write songs much. I see my role mainly as helping songwriters and other musicians render their creations. When I am doing that, I am playing the music I want to play.
You nailed exactly where I'm at with it. I have a day job to cover the bills so that I can always play the music I want to play and create new and interesting drum parts that bring something to the music. If the music starts heading in a direction that I don't want to go, I just look for other players. It's very liberating not to have to worry about the $$. I have no taste for the business side of it.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Yes I am, thanx so much for asking. And on the kit I'll probably keep 'til I die.
I'll admit though, that Japaneseness is a tough nut to crack.
I see the room is done, Harry! Kit looks very inviting too.

Japanessness, I think translates into working in some Japanese scales into the playing and some Koto and Shamisen sounding bends & tones worked into his sound. Quite pathetic in my view really because the dude is dripping with the good juice without any of this dressing anyways.

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toddy

Platinum Member
Sure it's "still" music. You don't turn down work because the music you're being hired to play doesn't suit your taste.

I don't think music is about being true to yourself. I think life is about being true to yourself, and if you want your life to be about getting paid to play the drums then you'll have to be ready and able to play whatever you're hired to play.

Learning all you possibly can in order to do the best job you possibly can is being true to yourself if you want to live the life of a professional drummer.

The bonus is that whenever the time comes for you to play the music you really want to play you'll be playing it with professional musicians.
+1 / 100%.
i'm a slut for music, don't care what i play. as long as i don't have to work in mcdonalds 9-5 then i feel priviliged.
 
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