Perfection or imperfection?

mikyok

Platinum Member
Imperfections are the human element in music. It's what makes a piece of music beautiful and gives it soul. Capturing someone's absolute best performance is better than perfect. I can listen to the isolated vocal and instrumental takes on Pet Sounds and I get goosebumps every time.

It's one of the reasons in my eyes that nobody buys music anymore. It's bland because the human element is taken away. Everything is put on the grid and autotuned or programmed or hits replaced. All that effort to make music boring!
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I feel like I'm hearing lots of justifications for not practicing lol.

I don't know about "perfection" but truthfully, this is a dangerous line to walk. It is only one step away from "It's all relative man! How can you say one guy is better than another person? It's all ART, Man!" Yeah, tell that to the bandleader when he listens to 5 drummers at an audition.

Was Neil "perfect" on Tom Sawyer? Is Vinnie "perfect" when he buries the click? Technically no but the level is so high that such discussion becomes irrelevant.

Imperfections are being treated on this thread as if they are the source of all things real and human and frankly, most of the time they're just bad.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
Imperfections are the human element in music. It's what makes a piece of music beautiful and gives it soul. Capturing someone's absolute best performance is better than perfect. I can listen to the isolated vocal and instrumental takes on Pet Sounds and I get goosebumps every time.

It's one of the reasons in my eyes that nobody buys music anymore. It's bland because the human element is taken away. Everything is put on the grid and autotuned or programmed or hits replaced. All that effort to make music boring!

well, there is still human music being made and played, it is just not in the mainstream...you have to dig for it
I feel like I'm hearing lots of justifications for not practicing lol.

same here in some cases (I play with a person right now ((guitarist)) who lives in that world...it makes gigs awkward)....THAT is what bothers me about the imperfection thing...in many, many instances it is an excuse for passive participation...and that ruins music for me

I don't know about "perfection" but truthfully, this is a dangerous line to walk. It is only one step away from "It's all relative man! How can you say one guy is better than another person? It's all ART, Man!" Yeah, tell that to the bandleader when he listens to 5 drummers at an audition.

Was Neil "perfect" on Tom Sawyer? Is Vinnie "perfect" when he buries the click? Technically no but the level is so high that such discussion becomes irrelevant.

Imperfections are being treated on this thread as if they are the source of all things real and human and frankly, most of the time they're just bad.

a-men!!!! And now you and I will get super flamed for admonishing people who don't want to refine their playing for whatever reason. <<---- that does NOT mean who want to get fast and technical, but who just want to go out and "be in the band"

And I also think imperfection is sometimes a result of not knowing your limits either. The MANY, MANY musicians I have played with over my lifetime who should NOT have been on the stage - yet - shows that to me...and I KNOW that in many instances in my teens,20's, and 30's that guy was me. The worst situations are playing with people who do not even know they are bad because they are blinded by the "fame" side of performing: "I must be good b/c all of the girls want to go backstage with me" or "everyone loves my outfit, so I don't need to practice"....

There are quite a few guys locally, and nationally, who are not actually very good musicians, but who got the "legends" rep because of being good at the "non-musical" part of being in a band....

so yeah, imperfection as an excuse to not actively participate - to me - is selling out everyone else who works to develop skill...in any endeavor, not just music
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
It really depends. If perfect means drum machine, then my choice is obvious. I’ve been really focusing on playing to a click lately. Long story short, my laptop is dead for now so I’ve been using the Yamaha Rec-n-Share app to play along to. Feeding a click into songs has never been easier. I’ve never been click resistant, but it just hasn’t been convenient when trying to match songs with an external click. Anyway, while the recording aspect of the app won’t work without something like the EAD10 and sometimes the app doesn’t get the right click setting, when it does, it’s easy to make the perfect/imperfect comparison from a time perspective.

When the click and music are right on the money, it’s like heaven, but if not, it’s a disaster. The best song is ruined when the two don’t lock. Turn off the click and it’s heaven again. If perfect vs imperfect means playing without mistakes, I’ll go for perfection. Glad most votes are for imperfection, cuz I can’t remember ever nailing a song perfectly, so there’s still room for me in the music scene.

when I’m out listening to a band, I really want perfection as much as possible. Most I see make an art of sloppy and it just doesn’t do the music justice!
 
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Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I recently had the pleasure of hearing master cellist Yo-Yo Ma impart his thoughts on the pitfalls of perfection. He said that, at one point in his career, he had the audacity to believe that he should strive for perfect performances. Eventually, when he found himself in the midst of one that was as flawless as possible, he was bored beyond description. It was then that he made a drastic determination: He would devote himself to the mission of expression, not to the tedium of perfection. It changed him as a musician in that he was conveying a living gift -- the intangible truth and beauty of music -- to his listeners rather than attempting to function like a machine. I think we can all benefit from that message, not only in the way we drum but also in the way we interact.
That's totally true, but Yo Yo Ma's on a level where his expression can still be "perfect."

Most guys try to get away with playing the hard parts slower and try to pass that off as "expression."
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Both!

Are you going to be the one to tell Tony Williams not to modulate the tempo? LOL

Flip side is Jan Hammer having a dozen sequencers going so you better be on the click!

Best part is they loved playing together. (y)

 

Jeremy Crockett

Active Member
but in the same way, half assing it, and then calling it "art" is unacceptable to me....imperfection due to laziness erodes the legitimacy of an activity to me

Jackson, freaking, Pollock.
 

C.M. Jones

Diamond Member
That's totally true, but Yo Yo Ma's on a level where his expression can still be "perfect."

Most guys try to get away with playing the hard parts slower and try to pass that off as "expression."
No doubt about that. An imperfect Yo-Yo Ma is still probably the best cellist in the world.

At the same time, though, embedded in his message is the warning that, no matter how exquisitely we might play, there's always the temptation to believe that we're falling short in some way and should incessantly make considerable strides in our execution, which can lead to a warped sense of expectation that drains all joy from musicianship, possibly dulling our capacity for "expression." While aspiring to the highest standards is praiseworthy, recognizing our mortality is just as admirable.

I've always tried to be the best drummer (correction, the best musician) I'm capable of being, but I've also tempered that endeavor with pragmatism, as well as with a healthy dose of lightheartedness in my approach toward music. For me, enjoyment must come first. Technicalities, though important, are peripheral.
 
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C. Dave Run

Silver Member
but in the same way, half assing it, and then calling it "art" is unacceptable to me....imperfection due to
laziness erodes the legitimacy of an activity to me
But what if this is the idea? Didnt the Ramones or someone do this? I seem to remember hearing something about a punk band that never practiced, only wrote and played shows.

I dont disagree with what you said. I see a lot of laziness in art though. Even Bob Ross has said something along the lines of not liking to paint traditionally because it takes too long. That's lazy.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
But what if this is the idea? Didnt the Ramones or someone do this? I seem to remember hearing something about a punk band that never practiced, only wrote and played shows.

I dont disagree with what you said. I see a lot of laziness in art though. Even Bob Ross has said something along the lines of not liking to paint traditionally because it takes too long. That's lazy.

yeah,, but the Ramones knew what they were doing, at least to me it sounds like they did. I think they were "rehearsed" to get their schtick down....so did GG Allin and even The Mentors...that was all planned "mess" in a way

that goes back to my "they knew their limits" kind of thing, and did not espouse to be more than what they were

a real good example for me of a band who was bad, but didn't know it was Cirith Ungol. I don't mean to offend anyone who had past dealings with them, but they have even sort of become known as a "head scratcher" band, meaning, people were going "how did these guys get signed?" back in the day. They reminded me of a TON of the "old guys trying to play metal" bands we used to play with back in the day <- the bands who would always brag" I only practice during sound check man!!! I am drinking all the other time!!!!" You know, the bands where you are even sort of embarrassed for them as they train wreck through another bad, out of tune hammer/tap guitar solo over lurching drums....
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
But what if this is the idea? Didnt the Ramones or someone do this? I seem to remember hearing something about a punk band that never practiced, only wrote and played shows.

I dont disagree with what you said. I see a lot of laziness in art though. Even Bob Ross has said something along the lines of not liking to paint traditionally because it takes too long. That's lazy.
It wasn’t the Ramones. Johnny Ramone was a slave driver and wanted every note perfect. Maybe you were thinking of the white stripes. They operated like that. But Jack White does practice and he’s darn good. He just doesn’t care if he makes some mistakes.
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
I remember seeing an interview with one of the drummers for W.A.S.P saying Blackie Lawless was so anal about mike bleed that he wanted the drum set parts to be all recorded independently, like record the bass drum part then the snare, hi hats.....etc. Luckily I've never had anyone ask me to do that.
 

C.M. Jones

Diamond Member
Maybe you were thinking of the white stripes. They operated like that. But Jack White does practice and he’s darn good. He just doesn’t care if he makes some mistakes.
The story of how Meg White became a famous drummer, even though she wasn't a drummer, is a charming one. According to an account I read, she sat behind a drum kit Jack had on the premises and started banging away. Her complete ineptitude intrigued him, so he decided to run with the concept. How many formally trained, technically proficient drummers would have killed for that gig? Life is strange.
 
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JimmyM

Gold Member
I feel like I'm hearing lots of justifications for not practicing lol.

I don't know about "perfection" but truthfully, this is a dangerous line to walk. It is only one step away from "It's all relative man! How can you say one guy is better than another person? It's all ART, Man!" Yeah, tell that to the bandleader when he listens to 5 drummers at an audition.

Was Neil "perfect" on Tom Sawyer? Is Vinnie "perfect" when he buries the click? Technically no but the level is so high that such discussion becomes irrelevant.

Imperfections are being treated on this thread as if they are the source of all things real and human and frankly, most of the time they're just bad.
I’m not seeing this thread that way. I just see a huge history of music where it wasn’t locked to a click track, and tempos didn’t line up perfectly with grids, and yet it sounded awesome anyway.
 

C.M. Jones

Diamond Member
I’m not seeing this thread that way. I just see a huge history of music where it wasn’t locked to a click track, and tempos didn’t line up perfectly with grids, and yet it sounded awesome anyway.
That's my interpretation too. No one here seems to be advocating slipshod technique, careless dynamics, or haphazard timing. To me, the discussion boils down to distinguishing between perfection and reality, with perfection being mostly a phantom no one can catch, regardless of how fast he or she chases. Great drumming isn't perfect drumming. It can't be.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I’m not seeing this thread that way. I just see a huge history of music where it wasn’t locked to a click track, and tempos didn’t line up perfectly with grids, and yet it sounded awesome anyway.
things don't have to lock to a click, but the musicians do. I really despise the notion of sloppy playing being “freedom to express one’s art”. There’s an element of respect that has to exist. Learning how to play cleanly is one of them.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
things don't have to lock to a click, but the musicians do. I really despise the notion of sloppy playing being “freedom to express one’s art”. There’s an element of respect that has to exist. Learning how to play cleanly is one of them.
Would Lady Marmalade or Heat Of The Moment be better and more popular songs if they lined up to a click? Would most Stones songs be better if Charlie’s fills didn’t sometimes speed up a tad? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I hated that stiff remake of Lady Marmalade because it had no flow compared to the Labelle version. Now when it comes to carrying a fill an 8th past the one, that’s not good. To me there is a big difference between slop and musical expressiveness that doesn’t always line up to a grid.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Would Lady Marmalade or Heat Of The Moment be better and more popular songs if they lined up to a click? Would most Stones songs be better if Charlie’s fills didn’t sometimes speed up a tad? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I hated that stiff remake of Lady Marmalade because it had no flow compared to the Labelle version. Now when it comes to carrying a fill an 8th past the one, that’s not good. To me there is a big difference between slop and musical expressiveness that doesn’t always line up to a grid.
The odd thing is, I just played Heat of The Moment to a click and it seemed to match up perfectly! Not exactly what I’m talking about though in reference to slop. Most of the bands I’ve played in have not used a click, but we weren’t pulling or pushing against each other either. I’ve come across several recordings I can’t seem to come in on 1 after the break to save my life. Great songs, but it’s not as much me coming in on the 1, but the recording itself. The band was likely following visual queues because there’s no way they were following a click. That said, they were locked and the music sounds great.

What I’m more referring to is playing with guys who whine about hampering their creativity when they can’t lock onto me worth crap, forcing me to adjust constantly. Recordings sounds like dog crap too and not fair to band mates and especially the audience. With that in mind, the best bands I’ve heard are locked. Whether they are using a click or not I have no clue. Those who don’t lock seem to keep making excuses about flow and creativity. Not obvious when someone is playing to a click. Not obvious when they don’t, but lock together. Super obvious when they don’t and have no prayer of staying on time or together.

I prefer to play without a click, but not if I have to herd cats to keep everyone on time. Off the original topic but no click doesn’t make a bad song. Generally, one can afford to be a bit “sloppy”, but two or more is a disaster!
 
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cbphoto

Diamond Member
I don't care if it's precision or slop as long as it sounds good and is enjoyable to listen to.

Sidebar:
Joel Zimmerman (Deadmau5) displaces his drum beats and percussive notes to bring less quantization to his music.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
I don't care if it's precision or slop as long as it sounds good and is enjoyable to listen to.

Sidebar:
Joel Zimmerman (Deadmau5) displaces his drum beats and percussive notes to bring less quantization to his music.

Check out the masters of deliberately playing just slightly behind the beat - J Dilla and Questlove who were doing it in hip hop and r&b/soul decades ago. Gives a real earthy and human element to what might otherwise feel robotic. Very hard to replicate.

That feel is technically imperfect but you can’t listen to the Roots or D’Angelo and not groove along to it.
 
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