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Old 02-21-2012, 08:29 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I am not sure why this is even a question. Essentially you are wondering if a certain segment of people that create music are musicians. Based on that question, one could ask if music creators of ANY genre are musicians.

Whether or not one is considered a musician should be entirely up to the individual. It should have nothing to do with the genre they work in.
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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After a good 15 years of flip flopping on this very issue... I'm still on fence and leaning back on the 'no' side of things. It really depends on where you draw the line. Air is a perfect example of that blur between both camps.

Then you've got a pair like Autechre who (at least at some point in the past) created their music exclusively by using/creating mathematical formulas they'd then dump into their own homebrewed software and hope for the best.

I think Billy Corgan said it best back in the day (paraphrased) - If you can't play your new song on an acoustic instrument you don't actually have much of anything.


Yes, there's a certain je ne sais quoi with great electronic performers who can transform their laptop into something else. But ultimately a laptop is not an instrument, it doesn't create so much as replicate. If push comes to shove and there's a technological apocalypse in the near future how many of those 'musicians' and producers who work exclusively with DAWs and the like would actually be able to pick up an instrument and entertain their peers? Plotting a series of notes in a tracker is not at all the same as playing that same series of notes on a piano, nor does it actually make the individual a musician in my ears.
Setting aside for the moment the fact that I think Autechre make far better music than Billy Corgan, why on earth should acoustic instruments be the yardstick for measuring things? I feel like that viewpoint is akin to saying you're not a sculptor unless your work can be made with a hammer and chisel.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:45 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by steve0211 View Post
I am not sure why this is even a question. Essentially you are wondering if a certain segment of people that create music are musicians. Based on that question, one could ask if music creators of ANY genre are musicians.

Whether or not one is considered a musician should be entirely up to the individual. It should have nothing to do with the genre they work in.
This has nothing to do with genre at all... it has to do entirely with the means used to create the music. It just so happens that electronic music is the only genre created with a computer. So again, I dont care if they are making rock and roll or jazz on their computer the same question applies and has nothing to do with genre.

I tend to agree with Dave. I think it all depends on your personal definition of musician. A creator of such music has to have a knowledge of music theory, song structure, and all those type of things to be considered a musician. Some one can play guitar, piano, drums and not be a musician as well. If you can't tell what an Am or AMaj chord is and yet you make music then your are certainly no musician. Also you have to consider a big part of being a musician is live performances, and lets face it electronic music is not exactly conducive to a enaging live performance one you take out the drugs, light show, and stage antics. I always looked at the definition of musician though as :

An artist who plays a musical instrument.

So I think this comes down to another threads question of is the computer a musical instrument.

edit: On further thought I think making music as such does not necessarily take any knowledge of theory at all. I have a couple friends who know almost nothing about any theory or that could even match a pitch and make some pretty good music with their computers.
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Old 02-21-2012, 03:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:52 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm seeing a lot of problems here with what people's definition of musician is so here we go. According to Merriam-Webster, a musician is "a composer, conductor, or performer of music; especially : instrumentalist." So, technically, they would count. However, I have to lean with Mr. Dave on this one too because I feel as though a musician should have the capacity to perform on the spot for a crowd and in a dynamic setting such as with a band or other musicians... in essence, to jam. Then again, there are weird technologies like the Kaoss pad. I don't really know too much about them but my understanding is that its an outrageous looping and sound modulation device that can be used on the spot. I'm sure someone here can talk a little more about that in terms of whether or not that is an instrument or a computer and whether or not the operator is a musician or a programmer.
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I believe it's the thing of something relatively recent coming out, and those who are purists, for lack of a better word, aren't quite sold on its legitimacy yet.

I'd imagine that people were appalled by the electric guitar in much the same way at some point...the theremin...etc.

My opinion on the matter is that if you're creating music, using an instrument (regardless of how complex it is or isn't) you are making music. You can be bad at making electronic music, but I think there's still the possibility of someone being a legitimate prodigy.

So, yes, I consider them musicians.
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:47 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Also you have to consider a big part of being a musician is live performances
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I feel as though a musician should have the capacity to perform on the spot for a crowd and in a dynamic setting such as with a band or other musicians... in essence, to jam.
Ok what about Frederick Delius? Despite never playing an instrument in public and ending up blind and paralysed he still continued to compose music, at what point did he stop being a musician or would you even consider him one?
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:06 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Ok what about Frederick Delius? Despite never playing an instrument in public and ending up blind and paralysed he still continued to compose music, at what point did he stop being a musician or would you even consider him one?
Hey, I'm not trying to start a war, i just wanted a discussion and people's opinions. Quite frankly, I don't know, actually forget that... I just decided. Pre-paralyzing, I only consider him a musician if he played, whether by himself or to himself in order to compose. More over, I would only call him a composer because that is his job. He apparently made a living via composing, not performing. After becoming paralyzed, he's not a musician but a composer. I probably went back on myself somewhere but I don't care. Merriam Webster is full of it. A composer is one who writes music, a performer is one who plays and a musician does both at once, on the spot typically with other musicians. Good ol' Ludwig Van did both, he is a musician. This guy apparently mostly wrote music, so he is more of a composer. Highschool band students play songs, they're performers. Some do both some do one or the other. I hate evolution debates, keep it just a discussion.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Here we go... Conclusion: a "computer musician" can be a composer but not a musician. Thats my decision as of now. Unless more can be discovered about that Kaoss pad. That would be they're only hope so I hope someone can tell more about those things.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:25 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Here's a question to all of you:
I play several different traditional instruments, have been in many bands that have played live many times, and I also compose music on a computer, and have been doing so for 13 years. Now, I'm no longer in any bands, I can still play my instruments but I just noodle around here and there, and I still compose music on a computer (which I don't perform at all).

Was I a musician, or am I a musician?

Here's a different way to ask the same question:
An imaginary band called "Poop Chute Rockits" gets very successful playing rock gigs, lands a record contract, and sells music as their career. Suddenly, they flop and break up because the whole world started liking Dubstep and all the members decide to hang their hats because they could never bring themselves to making Dubstep, and would prefer to work 5 to 9s for their coin. To prevent themselves from the urge of creating Dubstep-like arpeggios and drum rolls on their instruments, each member burns their instruments and vows never to play music again.

Were they musicians, or are they musicians?

What I see is that you really have to define "musician" in a particular way in order to answer either of those questions. In my case, I no longer perform music, nor do I really play my instruments. Does the fact that I have the ability to do so qualify me as a musician, or the act of doing so regularly? Am I a musician because of my inherent abilities? Or do I have to put them to work in order to achieve the title of musician?
In Poop Chute Rockits' case, they no longer make a living as musicians, nor do they even play music. They burned all their radios and their favorite records too, in the very same bon fire as the instruments. When music plays at a restaurant, they leave. Are they musicians? If not, well they definitely were, but why aren't they any longer?
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