Musician or Player?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
dory
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by dory » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:05 am

Couldn’t someone be a great composer but play no instrument at above a mediocre level? Especiallg now with computer aided composition? Wouldn’t that person be an excellent musician but poor instrumentalist? I don’t know any examples off hand but speaking theoretically....
Dory

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Julian Ward
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Julian Ward » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:40 am

AKim wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:43 pm
  I reserve the title of musician for those who play with fluid competency and are driven to play, perform, and commit to excellence. And the title of player belongs to those who range from dabbling to being satisfied with playing “good enough” but never attain any real level of proficiency. That’s just my take on it. I’ve grown out of the idea that only those who have achieved some ridiculously high level of education can be called “musician”.
This. I don't know if the thread is still on topic but this is exactly the right 'answer' in my opinion. :)
Classical guitar teacher

ddray
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by ddray » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:30 am

dory wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:05 am
Couldn’t someone be a great composer but play no instrument at above a mediocre level? Especiallg now with computer aided composition? Wouldn’t that person be an excellent musician but poor instrumentalist? I don’t know any examples off hand but speaking theoretically....
If I'm not mistaken neither Tchaikovsky nor Mussorgsky were professional-level at any instrument. I don't seem to recall that Wagner, Mahler, Strauss, Verdi or Puccini were particularly noted as instrumentalists. And then there are probably examples of several conductors who were only mediocre players of whatever. So yeah, I think "excellent musician but poor instrumentalist" is quite possible, if we look at "musician" in a larger sense.

ddray
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by ddray » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:58 am

dory wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:05 am
Couldn’t someone be a great composer but play no instrument at above a mediocre level? Especiallg now with computer aided composition? Wouldn’t that person be an excellent musician but poor instrumentalist? I don’t know any examples off hand but speaking theoretically....
I came up with a few more to add to the "great composer, blah instrumentalist" group: Berlioz, Schoenberg and (surprisingly, to me) Ravel.
I think it might be something like we see sometimes in baseball or (American) football. Sometimes the greatest managers and coaches are (and were) those who might've been in the major leagues for a few lackluster years. They weren't stellar players but they know the intricacies of their sport inside and out.

Dirck Nagy
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Dirck Nagy » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:16 pm

ddray wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:30 am
dory wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:05 am
Couldn’t someone be a great composer but play no instrument at above a mediocre level? Especiallg now with computer aided composition? Wouldn’t that person be an excellent musician but poor instrumentalist? I don’t know any examples off hand but speaking theoretically....
If I'm not mistaken neither Tchaikovsky nor Mussorgsky were professional-level at any instrument. I don't seem to recall that Wagner, Mahler, Strauss, Verdi or Puccini were particularly noted as instrumentalists. And then there are probably examples of several conductors who were only mediocre players of whatever. So yeah, I think "excellent musician but poor instrumentalist" is quite possible, if we look at "musician" in a larger sense.
Do you mean Richard Strauss? He was trained as a Horn player (following his father's footsteps) and was also a competent enough pianist (able to perform) and violinist.

From what I hear, Verdi was a pretty good organist.

But I'm under the impression that Wagner was pretty terrible at the piano. Weren't there jokes circulating about the "Wagner style" of accompaniment? He composed at his desk.

Berlioz dabbled in flute and guitar among other instruments, but couldn't play anything well enough to really publicly perform.

I don't think any of the Russian "Mighty Handful" were professional-level players either, with the exception of Balakirev.

cheers!
dirck

ddray
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by ddray » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:53 pm

Yeah you're right about Verdi and Strauss, but nevertheless it's surprising when you delve into it how many great composers and conductors really weren't such great shakes as soloists. But I'd still call them "musicians". I guess here is where we get into semantics.

Tonit
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Tonit » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:04 am

In replying to the original question, I agree with someone who might have possibly noted that it is quite possible for a "player" to outperform a "musician" as discussed in the original post by Rognvald, simply because music was there first before any theory that was subsequently found or established out of the music then existed (except for few kinds of music that are oftentimes referred to as "experimental" kinds of music). Some folkrolic musics are passed on even without any systematic theory, because they are best compared with our language that we use daily without thinking about grammatical knowledge, and successfully make sense to the others with or without grammatical mistakes.

And more importantly regarding the anlalogy to language, the music theory has been constantly changing as the music has been changing, just like our linguistic grammar that has also been changing, so that we might not be able to fully understand some "classics" from decades or centuries ago with today's grammar.

As such, however, systematic education of a musical concept or theory (if any) is highly desired to facilitate and fast-forward our learning curve, even if we can go without it and could possibly unerstand and perform as good. Classical music is one of those kinds of music with a long established theories and concepts that have been taught worldwide, so that we better make use of them.

ddray
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by ddray » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:25 am

On the other hand, is it possible that someone can play breathtakingly beautifully with near-flawless technique on whatever instrument and still not know what sonata form is, or how a fugue is constructed etc? (I.e. a "player".) And would that person be somehow "incomplete" as a "musician"? Is there such a thing as a "complete" or "consummate" musician?

jscott

Re: Musician or Player?

Post by jscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:01 am

ddray wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:25 am
On the other hand, is it possible that someone can play breathtakingly beautifully with near-flawless technique on whatever instrument and still not know what sonata form is..."
No. Even without formal training this type of musician would have to have understood basic forms just by coming across them while playing. And this fine a player would have had to have had at least one teacher who would have explained the basics. Maybe they couldn't write a fugue but in a similar way they would have to have grasped that form in order to play 'breathtakingly'.

How much formal training did Bream have? did he study theory at university?

Wuuthrad
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:20 am

jscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:01 am
How much formal training did Bream have? did he study theory at university?
From a young age Bream was studying guitar from books that his father, also a Guitarist and Banjo player, sourced rather fortuitously even with the wartime shortages in England.

He was gigging as a Jazz Rythm player and working for BBC films
in his youth, and was later given free study at the Royal College of Music due mostly due to his talent, and also the financial struggles of his Father at that time.

I learned this watching the Bream's Stellar Auto-Biographical Film "My Life in Music" which is available to watch on YouTube.

I must highly recommend it to anyone, guitar players and everyone else, it's a real gem!
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

ddray
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by ddray » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:27 am

jscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:01 am

No. Even without formal training this type of musician would have to have understood basic forms just by coming across them while playing. And this fine a player would have had to have had at least one teacher who would have explained the basics. Maybe they couldn't write a fugue but in a similar way they would have to have grasped that form in order to play 'breathtakingly'.

How much formal training did Bream have? did he study theory at university?
I'm not so sure of that. I'd say there are loads of very young intermediate pianists who can play Mozart's K. 545 beautifully by simply playing what's written without having much knowledge of sonata form. *It would seem to me* that the lack of knowledge about the structure of what you're playing doesn't necessarily preclude the ability to play what's written down technically well. And yes, I take it that Bream studied at the RCM so I assume he got some theory under his belt along the way, and is a multi-instrumentalist to boot...although I'm not saying that formal study in a brick-and-mortar institution is required.

Rognvald
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:11 pm

"As such, however, systematic education of a musical concept or theory (if any) is highly desired to facilitate and fast-forward our learning curve, even if we can go without it and could possibly unerstand and perform as good." Tonit


Your statement is an important point, Tonit. At an early age, I began writing my own scores for music I performed. Throughout the years, I have studied Music Theory, in all its facets, to facilitate my writing/scores/compositions. The testament to one's personal musical growth can easily be seen when you dig through old arrangements/compositions and rewrite sections that can be said in a better, more interesting way . . . less musically naive, so to speak. Recently, I have been rewriting some arrangements I wrote before my recent 6-year hiatus from music and have reshaped phrases and said them in a way I could not have said them in the recent past. This is a combination of both personal "seasoning" and increased knowledge of music. So, yes to the above remarks and well said. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Tonit
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Tonit » Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:29 am

Hi Rognvald,
Rognvald wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:11 pm
Your statement is an important point, Tonit. At an early age, I began writing my own scores for music I performed. Throughout the years, I have studied Music Theory, in all its facets, to facilitate my writing/scores/compositions. The testament to one's personal musical growth can easily be seen when you dig through old arrangements/compositions and rewrite sections that can be said in a better, more interesting way . . . less musically naive, so to speak. Recently, I have been rewriting some arrangements I wrote before my recent 6-year hiatus from music and have reshaped phrases and said them in a way I could not have said them in the recent past. This is a combination of both personal "seasoning" and increased knowledge of music. So, yes to the above remarks and well said. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Thank you for affirmative and additional remarks.

In addition to what's been said, music theory helps me (and us hopefully) in memorizing lengthy pieces as you always know exactly what whould happen next according to the "grammar". In a sense it's like you are not reading out something which doesn't make sense to you at all but does to the audience.

But again "grammar" is not necessarily required to know what's written if we talk in our native command, and that's probably my point.

And we are not conveying any rocket science or lawmaking, but our heart and emotions and passions through our music and instrument, so it is more like what we send out not to the brain but to the heart of the audience (and again it is only "more" and we also send out some to brain that I should admit, and maybe something like jokes that makes us laugh out of absurdity that we understand by brain...).

So and so, I would say, nobody appreciates if the theory is served raw, but can be a key ingredient.

Cheers,

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:46 am

ddray wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:27 am
jscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:01 am
...How much formal training did Bream have? did he study theory at university?
... yes, I take it that Bream studied at the RCM so I assume he got some theory under his belt along the way, and is a multi-instrumentalist to boot...
Bream was at the Royal College of Music, first part-time, from a scholarship he was granted for winning a National piano competition at the age of twelve (at which time, he studied the cello at the RCM). Then later, he was admitted to the RCM as a full-time student, for at least three years, during which time he studied piano, composition, and cello. I'd say that qualifies as "formal training".

Incidentally, I have read numerous accounts by various composers who have worked with Bream, all of whom have commented on Bream's vast knowledge and understanding of music theory (Birtwistle, Henze, Brouwer, Berkeley, Anderson, etc...).

Don't ever underestimate Bream -- he is far more educated and erudite than his often down-to-earth, overly-humble public persona reflects.

Wuuthrad
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Re: Musician or Player?

Post by Wuuthrad » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:07 am

Lovemyguitar wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:46 am
ddray wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:27 am
jscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:01 am
...How much formal training did Bream have? did he study theory at university?
... yes, I take it that Bream studied at the RCM so I assume he got some theory under his belt along the way, and is a multi-instrumentalist to boot...
Bream was at the Royal College of Music, first part-time, from a scholarship he was granted for winning a National piano competition at the age of twelve (at which time, he studied the cello at the RCM). Then later, he was admitted to the RCM as a full-time student, for at least three years, during which time he studied piano, composition, and cello. I'd say that qualifies as "formal training".

Incidentally, I have read numerous accounts by various composers who have worked with Bream, all of whom have commented on Bream's vast knowledge and understanding of music theory (Birtwistle, Henze, Brouwer, Berkeley, Anderson, etc...).

Don't ever underestimate Bream -- he is far more educated and erudite than his often down-to-earth, overly-humble public persona reflects.
Quite interesting, I had never heard this before about Bream's early years, and it's not at all how he describes his life!

In Bream's own words, he tells of getting an audition at the RCM due to a mutual friend whom had met him as a child after playing a private party, due to the exposure he received for playing guitar for a feature film. At the audition, after performing a Minuetto by Rameau, arranged by Segovia, he was asked to improvise over chord changes on guitar, and further describes how the director said since we cannot teach you guitar here, can you play something on Piano, which Bream describes as: "I made some sort of fist of it" which "wasn't too bad" after which he was afforded a scholarship at no charge.

Also interesting is that Bream first taught himself guitar as a child by listening to Jazz on the radio, reading from tablature and playing in Dance bands. His love for Classical Guitar began after hearing Segovia playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra on a 78 RPM record.

Upon joining the Army, and driving to enlist in his van with Lute and Guitar in tow (which were not allowed,) he broke down in tears during bayonet practice. Afterwards, his superior officer recommended he buy a local shop's Epiphone guitar, which Bream quickly electrified for playing Jazz in the Military Dance Band! He spent his Army life "sneaking off" to play clubs on the weekend.

And about his later life experience: "wanting to replenish my spirit," thinking "India might be the place," he jammed with and recorded an improv with sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, about which he rather famously said:

"He seemed to me just about the finest musician that I had ever met in my life... I just admired his mastery... it was above the normal professional mastery that most of us have upon the instruments of our choice...his was something else...I think it was because his improvisations were so interesting, so fluid, so inventive, so evocative, so exciting, that I felt this was the way to play music- not write all this down stuff and get the tempo right and get the metronome speed correct- this was the way to make music: JUST SIT DOWN AND DO IT!"

And the after hours Jazz Dance Partys Bream hosted and played at his crib when the Pub closed???!!!

WHAT A HOOT! :guitare: :chitarrista: :guitare: :fume: :mrgreen:
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

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