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Taste


Bill Heins

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How much does taste dictate your musical life? I'm listening to some Tribal Tech right now and realize the majority of the planet would say "Yuck!"

 

At what point do we compromise our taste and sensibilities to advance our careers and where do we draw the line? I know musician's who would sell their mothers to make a buck and others like myself that refuse to play, write, or otherwise have anything to do with certain types of music.

 

I always described it as there are two types of musicians in the world, the Businessman and the Artist and most of us fall between the two.

 

The Businessman could care less about the music. He learned how to play an instrument well and he will use that to make as much money as possible..to hell about the music it's all about the money! He doesn't really love or hate any kind of music as they only exist to make him money...his final goal.

 

On the other hand we have the Artist. He learns and plays in order to exercise his inner demons and is not interested in anything remotely business...it's all about the art. He will do what he loves for free and refuse what he hates though the monetary gain is enormous.

 

I think most people fall between these two extremes but lean more one way rather than the other.So what say ye?

 

Darkon the Incandescent

http://www.billheins.com/

 

 

 

Hail Vibrania!

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Originally posted by Darkon the Incandescent:

I always described it as there are two types of musicians in the world, the Businessman and the Artist and most of us fall between the two.

 

The Businessman could care less about the music. He learned how to play an instrument well and he will use that to make as much money as possible..to hell about the music it's all about the money! He doesn't really love or hate any kind of music as they only exist to make him money...his final goal.

 

On the other hand we have the Artist. He learns and plays in order to exercise his inner demons and is not interested in anything remotely business...it's all about the art. He will do what he loves for free and refuse what he hates though the monetary gain is enormous.

 

I think most people fall between these two extremes but lean more one way rather than the other.So what say ye?

I think it is a limited way of looking at things. In order to be consistently successful, you cannot put out a string of 'novelty' records ('Macarena'-type stuff.) If you're going to sell 60 million copies or however many 'Thriller' sold, it has to be good stuff.

 

Now, undeniably some in business do just try and put out whatever and use marketing, but businesses really in it for the long haul need to have a commitment to quality (think of Japanese cars, for example.)

 

I don't know how anyone could actually work continually on music they really don't like at all.

 

Some people are good at 'commercial' music, some aren't. Very few are capable of consistently creating 'hit' records (and those that are, are often sh*tted on by others and told that they are talentless.) However, there certainly are two different approaches to creating a song: one is to create it for yourself, one is to create it for an 'audience.' If you create something for yourself, it doesn't matter if anyone else likes it or gets it. For some strange reason, though, writing for 'yourself' tends to garner more respect than writing accessible material, when in fact, the latter is probably harder or much harder, demanding high levels of craft.

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There's the question, does making hit music make you a better musician...or does making anti-hit music make you the better musician? Or is it somewhere between?

 

And now we have to take into account why we play. Is it to be a popular artist or is it some form of artistic cartharsis...a soul-cleansing if you will.

 

I have to agree that it takes something to please the masses, but is that what we make music for, or is it something in our souls that's crying out to be heard regardless of how popular the message?

 

Darkon the Incandescent

http://www.billheins.com/

 

 

 

Hail Vibrania!

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Originally posted by Darkon the Incandescent:

There's the question, does making hit music make you a better musician...or does making anti-hit music make you the better musician? Or is it somewhere between?

Creating *good* music makes you the better musician. But 'hit' songs are hits for a reason.

 

Originally posted by Darkon the Incandescent:

And now we have to take into account why we play. Is it to be a popular artist or is it some form of artistic cartharsis...a soul-cleansing if you will.

 

I have to agree that it takes something to please the masses, but is that what we make music for, or is it something in our souls that's crying out to be heard regardless of how popular the message?

If you have the intention of selling your music, then I don't think you can just create it as a catharsis so much, though it's not impossible. But why restrict yourself to one or the other? One hit songwriter one said that he had 100s of songs he's done at home, but he won't play them to anyone. That doesn't mean, of course, that he doesn't like the 100s of ''commercial' songs he's done.
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I've reached a point in my life where I can afford to play exactly what I want to play; fortunately, I have excellent taste. ;)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Darkon the Incandescent:

And now we have to take into account why we play. Is it to be a popular artist or is it some form of artistic cartharsis...a soul-cleansing if you will.

I think it's more involved than this, and probably different for every individual 'player'. For someone to start with and stick to an instrument, there's got to be some kind of underlying connection he feels to it, possibly as a way of expressing himself in a way other than talking; as an artistic outlet, as you say.

 

As regards getting it out there, I can only speak for myself. My only reason for wanting to have a hit would be the access I'd then have to gear/facilities that I imagine would help to make my music better - for me. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't like to have my stuff publicly appreciated, but I could live without that. More importantly, I'd have no patience for the heavy publicity machine that is so commonplace in pop music theses days.

 

Unfortunately, achieving that commercial hit is a double-edged sword, as so many bands who've become successful have found out. They did indeed have access to the best studios etc. but then had little opportunity to use them because of touring or marketing commitments. At this point, I'd get out. But would I, having tasted the perks of this situation? [This is getting too hard to continue thinking about...] :rolleyes::confused:

 

...last thought: ideally, I'd have my own fully-stocked studio and make my living from ongoing live gigs where I could play my stuff as well as other music I liked. Anybody here living my dream? :)

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I think making a good hit requires a composer to take a step backwards, forget about his elite playing/composing skills, and simply be a minimalist where every note, and and every sound used counts 10x more than it would in a complex composition where there is a lot more freedom and posibilities to go with your notes.. That's hard to do, because you still have to sound interesting and appeal the masses.
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There's a book I'm reading called Good Business it interviews successful business people for whom the business is primarily a means of self-expression. A way to find out what we have to contribute to the world. I find that is a nice synthesis of the stereotypes (Artist, Businessmen) and can help us to rise higher than the "frustrated artist", and the "unfulfilled businessman".

 

The premise is that happy people are generally people who have found what they can contribute ... that is meaningful. Great artists and good businessmen are often in the same mental space. They have found the meaning they want to express.

 

Jerry

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Jerry makes a good point.

 

I think there are two scales here, one of your original premise of businessman vs. artist, the other of popular vs. let's call it limited. There are those who would say the first two go together (businessman and popular) as well as the second two (limited artist), but one can be popular and playing to their own muse. We call those people Really Lucky. While I know there is a lot of popular music created by "the machine," I tend to reserve judgement because without knowing the musician, I just don't know if they're the lucky type or the type doing it just be successful/popular/on the charts/number one. OTOH, the ones you see playing small clubs endlessly for years and enjoying the moment, you can tell they are in it for the creative endeavor.

 

Me? This is "just a hobby." It's a form of self expression to be sure, but I look to create music similar to music that has moved me. There's that feeling I get right in my center when good music gets to me and moves me, and I look to do that in my own music. If it moves anyone else, that's a bonus.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Originally posted by Darkon the Incandescent:

The Businessman could care less about the music. He learned how to play an instrument well and he will use that to make as much money as possible..to hell about the music it's all about the money! He doesn't really love or hate any kind of music as they only exist to make him money...his final goal.

 

On the other hand we have the Artist. He learns and plays in order to exercise his inner demons and is not interested in anything remotely business...it's all about the art. He will do what he loves for free and refuse what he hates though the monetary gain is enormous.

I've never met either of these 2 as you describe here. I can't see anyone ever learning to play an instrument solely for the purpose of making money. There is infintely easier ways to make a living than through playing music.

As far as the artist side is concerned, artists have to eat too. So unless they live off of some kind of fat inheritance, they have to make some minimum income from their craft. Unless of course they have a day job, and call themselves artists by night, like me ;)

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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I think both "commercial music" and "serious music" both have a place, and I've become a better musician for playing both. To me, it's amazing how many variations can come out of the relative constraints of a pop tune (length, melodic restrictions, harmonic restrictions) - a really good pop song is almost as hard to write as a symphony, in a certain way. My time has improved immensely from working with click tracks and drum programming.

 

Following what Joe wrote about dedicated musicians vs. the "we're only in it for the fame/money/etc" types, I think it's pretty clear in the music. A lack of passion or intent is audible, underneath all the Auto-Tune and compression.

 

Even though I have my preferences, the bottom line is always - do I enjoy what I'm playing (on any level), and am I playing it to the best of my ability?

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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