Influence of appearance

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1724
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:01 am

I would conclude that it is a matter of degree.

In pop music, appearance is sometimes more important than music. I have heard of one "boy-band" where one of the "performers" was chosen because he had nice hair.

We would of course all like to think that classical music is more immune to such trends, as it is a more cerebral art form and attracts a more discerning audience.

I think this is partly the case, but record companies have tended in recent years to have a front-line of performers who may be visually appealing but not necessarily top-notch. For example, Katherine Jenkins springs to mind or Vanessa Mae. These people tend to sell a lot of discs, but also often play the "pop hits" of the classical world - the popular concertos, etc. I believe that Milos is the guitar example here, with the Beatles CD, etc. As I have said before, the guy is "good" but not "great" like, for example, Marcin Dylla.

Behind the front-like visually appealing players, there are a lot more accomplished musicians, some of whom don't even have any sort of recording contract, and only have Youtube videos and a very modest touring schedule.

A shame, really, but it's all about what will sell to a mass market, not a few hundred or a thousand or so people on a classical guitar forum like this one.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Composer
Posts: 6260
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:21 am

I've often felt that it(appearance) plays a bigger role than we acknowledge. In my view, the classical guitarist who illustrates this most clearly is Julian Bream. We all, myself included, adore Bream's playing, but isn't there something wonderfully engaging about his facial expressions and body language when he plays? I certainly think so, and I believe this contributes to the effect (and affect) his performances have on us without us realising the fact.

User avatar
lucy
Posts: 2033
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by lucy » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:45 am

Mollbarre wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:54 pm
We're primarily a visual species. If we're going to watch something, of course appearance is important.

I don't think you have be to beautiful or handsome - although that sells best, but you do have to present/costume yourself to at least be interesting. It's all part of the act.
I think it's just a fact of life. Gestalt psychology says it all. We are influenced by the whole picture, not just the specific thing we think we're interested in.

Anyway, even though I share people's reservations about how "looks" can punch more than their weight, it's only sensible for a performer, of any kind, to present themselves in the best way possible, for them, because everything is part of that picture, as far as listeners are concerned.

Denian makes an excellent point about Julian Bream. Yes, the marketing for him was not based on his "good looks", however, a lot of other things were emphasised.

It's called playing to your strengths.
"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world."
Robert Louis Stevenson

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1724
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:01 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:21 am
I've often felt that it(appearance) plays a bigger role than we acknowledge. In my view, the classical guitarist who illustrates this most clearly is Julian Bream. We all, myself included, adore Bream's playing, but isn't there something wonderfully engaging about his facial expressions and body language when he plays? I certainly think so, and I believe this contributes to the effect (and affect) his performances have on us without us realising the fact.
The corollary of that is; if we had never seen John Williams playing, would the number of people who describe his playing as "robotic" be far less? Do we think his playing is sometimes lacking in emotion because we are looking as well as listening?

In terms of what Lucy says, yes there is the aspect of playing to your strengths.

However, the question for me, is has the situation got worse over the years?

In an attempt to make an immediate impression (in an era of massively declining sales and Spotify), have record companies placed the appearance of their players at the forefront more than ever before?
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

Vonseggern
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:16 am
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Vonseggern » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:15 pm

mvp019a wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:51 pm
Has anyone noticed that most of the most well-known women in classical guitar are extremely good looking?

I have wondered before why more "plain Janes" haven't received acclaim? (And recording contracts.) Certainly, all the most skilled female classical guitarists can't be attractive just based on random chance...
How did the song go in the early MTV era? "Video killed the radio star."

I suppose we just can't overcome our human frailties. Watch the initial crude and demeaning reactions in the video of Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,
und freudenvollere.

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1724
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:26 pm

Vonseggern wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:15 pm
mvp019a wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:51 pm
Has anyone noticed that most of the most well-known women in classical guitar are extremely good looking?

I have wondered before why more "plain Janes" haven't received acclaim? (And recording contracts.) Certainly, all the most skilled female classical guitarists can't be attractive just based on random chance...
How did the song go in the early MTV era? "Video killed the radio star."

I suppose we just can't overcome our human frailties. Watch the initial crude and demeaning reactions in the video of Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.
You do know that all of those clips of people laughing etc, were pulled from a variety of sources?

This is why before TV shows begin, they will get somebody to tell the audience a few jokes before the show begins and film the audience, with a view to interjecting those clips into other parts of the show.

In addition, a decision was no doubt made to give Susan Boyle zero make up or dressing room treatment.

TV is so fake, but that's another discussion.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

Guero
Posts: 567
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:14 am
Location: Baltic Sea, Germany

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Guero » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:27 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:01 am
I have heard of one "boy-band" where one of the "performers" was chosen because he had nice hair.
I think it was Ringo Starr..

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 1724
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:30 pm

Guero wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:27 pm
Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:01 am
I have heard of one "boy-band" where one of the "performers" was chosen because he had nice hair.
I think it was Ringo Starr..
Very funny.

Whatever you think of the Beatles, they could actually play instruments.

Compare carefully with the modern phenomenon of the "boy band", where the word "band" is perhaps a misleading term (as it used to be a word of people who could play).
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Composer
Posts: 6260
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:36 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:01 pm

The corollary of that is; if we had never seen John Williams playing, would the number of people who describe his playing as "robotic" be far less? Do we think his playing is sometimes lacking in emotion because we are looking as well as listening?
Yes, is the short answer.

kirolak
Posts: 413
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:04 pm
Location: South Africa

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by kirolak » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:10 pm

Thank you for all the interesting responses!

I must add I never watch TV, but I do watch CG on YouTube. . I adore Julian Bream, but when my daughter asked me who "the funny little man" was, I saw him from her point of view for a (brief!) moment. I remember my piano teacher years back telling me to "emote more". I thought this meant I should act as if I felt something I really did not feel; perhaps I was too concentrated on the technique.

Improvisator
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:54 am

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Improvisator » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:35 pm

It is hard for beautiful people, to realise their career is not the real deal eternity wise. 😁

User avatar
Mollbarre
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:10 am
Location: Canada

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Mollbarre » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:55 pm

You've touched upon a serious issue.

'Beautiful' people are feted and told how good looking they are from birth. Things are often given to them - that the rest of us have to work hard for. People want to be their friends, just because of status. A less good looking person who hangs with a beautiful person will automatically garner greater acceptance (than a less good looking person who hangs with other less good looking folks, lol). 'Regular people' will follow beautiful people around and put up with a lot of their individual shortcomings as well. Consequently, a lot of beautiful people aren't very nice, have big egos and feel entitled. It's often not their fault.

It's best to be 'average' in looks. You don't want to be so beautiful that you fall in the above category, nor so bad looking that you're ostracized (another very serious issue). Thankfully, 90% of us are 'average'. :mrgreen:
2016 Fender CN320AS
2018 Cordoba C10 crossover
2018 Ibanez GA5TCE
...and miscellaneous bits and pieces.

User avatar
Peter Frary
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:40 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: Influence of appearance

Post by Peter Frary » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:44 pm

I don't think society has gotten more shallow. We've always been that way.
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

Return to “Public Space”