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NYC Composer

Senior Member
I got to go with Mike Fox here.

I rented a room for a few years in a studio complex and became pals with some of the pop and hip hop producers in other rooms. Their instrument is ProTools, and they are amazingly good with it. A few guys in particular were really good instinctual musicians and writers who used the technology (samples, editing, Autotune, effects, various softsynths etc) along with rudimentary keyboard (and sometimes guitar skills) to come up with pretty damn good pop productions very quickly. Also, I have old ears but these guys were seriously better mixers than I am.

OT-In the long run, one company there did buy a CRAPLOAD of legal software, but in general I was pretty disheartened by the joyful thievery.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Being a great musician can mean a lot of things, and while formal training has it's place, a lot of people just don't need it to be great composers/musicians
Sure, I agree, but what I said has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have formal training. What I'm saying is that it's much harder to become a great musician than it is to be good at using technology (with the exception of engineering, especially mixing and mastering; some of those people are awe-inspiring).

Obviously I'm not sneezing at anyone's hard-earned skills, and even more obviously we all have different talents, strengths, and weaknesses!
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
They may not think in “pitch” and complex harmony, but their sound design senses are worth some praise.
Again, yes. I'm just saying that not all skills weigh the same.

Also, someone mentioned Paul McCartney. Well, how many Paul McCartneys are there?! Never mind that the Beatles spent years in Germany playing 23 hours a today - he's as good a songwriter and performer as ever lived!

Edit: it was Mike Fox. Another thing: nothing wrong with Cobain, but... well, first of all, who knows whether he or McCartney pushed out music like it was nothing; I suspect it's a lot harder than it seems. But... we all have our taste, but I'd find it hard to place him anywhere near the same level as McCartney (or Lenon, or the Beatles).
 

Mike Fox

Senior Member
Sure, I agree, but what I said has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have formal training. What I'm saying is that it's much harder to become a great musician than it is to be good at using technology (with the exception of engineering, especially mixing and mastering; some of those people are awe-inspiring).

Obviously I'm not sneezing at anyone's hard-earned skills, and even more obviously we all have different talents, strengths, and weaknesses!
Well, you first need to define what being a "great musician" even means. I personally think this is a rabbit hole, and can be very subjective. For example, you have a hard time placing Cobain anywhere near McCartney, but there's a significant amount of people in the world who would strongly disagree with you. So who gets to decide what it means to be a great musician?

I'm also not sure if i totally agree that it's more difficult to become a great musician than it is to become great at using modern technology. That seems like somewhat of a blanket statement, but I feel like it's a grey area. Some people i know who are great musicians struggle with the technology side of things. Like you said, we all have different strengths, talents, etc. I just think it can go in either direction.

Regarding formal education, i thought you were trying to make the case that it's harder to become a "great musician" through that route than any other channel. Perhaps i read into it wrong?
 

Mike Fox

Senior Member
Again, yes. I'm just saying that not all skills weigh the same.

Also, someone mentioned Paul McCartney. Well, how many Paul McCartneys are there?! Never mind that the Beatles spent years in Germany playing 23 hours a today - he's as good a songwriter and performer as ever lived!

Edit: it was Mike Fox. Another thing: nothing wrong with Cobain, but... well, first of all, who knows whether he or McCartney pushed out music like it was nothing; I suspect it's a lot harder than it seems. But... we all have our taste, but I'd find it hard to place him anywhere near the same level as McCartney (or Lenon, or the Beatles).
That's why i said that they're the exception to the rule. ;)

Given the amount of hit songs that the Beatles were pumping out in such a short amount of time, it's not hard to assume that it they were naturals at it.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Given the amount of hit songs that the Beatles were pumping out in such a short amount of time, it's not hard to assume that it they were naturals at it
Right, and your innate talent only takes you so far. Again, the Beatles played all day long seven days a week in Germany. It doesn't happen automatically!

Yeah, there's serious grey area here.
Sure, and as I said, that grey area proves the rule.

Look, what I'm saying is bleedin' obvious no matter how hard you huff and puff and blow it down. Not all skills are equally difficult to master. 'Nuff said.
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
Right, and your innate talent only takes you so far. Again, the Beatles played all day long seven days a week in Germany. It doesn't happen automatically!



Sure, and as I said, that grey area proves the rule.

Look, what I'm saying is bleedin' obvious no matter how hard you huff and puff and blow it down. Not all skills are equally difficult to master. 'Nuff said.

lol seems like we might be a bit off topic, and this is too grey to make any sense now because a good musician is not necessarily a great songwriter..and a great songwriter is not always a great arranger, or engineer. Thats why we have an ecosystem of musical jobs that masters of their craft fill. Technology is filling in those gaps now so that the musician with poor mixing skills now has AI based automated mixing tools, and folks with good mixing skills but poor musical skills can push out a basic song. Perhaps its the times and our growing need to be the "master of many skills". AI will not make great musicians. I think we can all agree on that. As for what level of quality music it will make, or what kind of product it will make...time will tell.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
Sure, I agree, but what I said has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have formal training. What I'm saying is that it's much harder to become a great musician than it is to be good at using technology (with the exception of engineering, especially mixing and mastering; some of those people are awe-inspiring).

Obviously I'm not sneezing at anyone's hard-earned skills, and even more obviously we all have different talents, strengths, and weaknesses!
I'd like to think about that some more.
I don't find statements like this useful at all. Its a generalization, and doesn't cover enough ground to be meaningful from my perspective.

Much harder to become a great musician.
I'm trying to figure out what that means.
What is a great musician? Is it one that touches the most people? Well, pop music shows that it ISN'T the creme of the crop that get the biggest audience. But does that mean that the pop singer isn't great in their own way? Semantics perhaps, but important semantics. Its divisive talk which doesn't move thoughts and ideas along.

How about Aboriginal Australians - with zero formal training, yet training that is a constant part of their culture. A music culture that has completely carried their history for 10's of thousands of years. That's pretty damn incredible really. And the music can touch me as a white anglo in emotional ways in the same way the Rite of Spring does. Perhaps some of this could be considered some sort of folk music tradition. Though thats perhaps a pretty lazy reading / frame....

But it does bring me to folk music. Can folk music not be great music? How is that harder than many of the folk working with technology? The guys working on immersive audio at Barco. Damn they work on much harder things than I do... and what amazing stories they've been able to help bring to life through their audio technology.

A different side of the coin. I went and sat in on some recitals at the local conservatorium of music the other day. Oh man there was some absolutely incredible music coming from these guys. It took me back to my formal training days... they can play the pants off me. Completely. These guys are the wood-shedders. The practice every waking moment folk. They're not great musicians. Not yet at least. So they are in the camp of it being - er - hard. But isn't that the same for a software architect. Mate of mine was is a very well respected software architect. He's been at it 25+ years since uni. And he's only just thinking he's getting to grips with what he's meant to do / what he needs to do. How is that not as hard as a muso who spends 5+ years at uni then another 25 figuring out their voice? Or honing their songwriting / composing / arranging chops? So - he might have been considered "good" at using technology a way back, but his true understanding of it... the deeper meaning / use - that same deeper knowledge / feel / soul for music - that comes with wisdom. Age. Experience. From making tonnes of mistakes. From learning about your own limitations. From time.

Yet this is just one way of looking at it right? There's holes all over that argument. But that's kind of my point. Its not simple.

What is a great musician? What is it to be someone who is great with technology? What about that rare breed who cross between the two. (I feel like they really are in a position to do some incredible things in the future.)

Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick.
 

Mike Fox

Senior Member
I'd like to think about that some more.
I don't find statements like this useful at all. Its a generalization, and doesn't cover enough ground to be meaningful from my perspective.

Much harder to become a great musician.
I'm trying to figure out what that means.
What is a great musician? Is it one that touches the most people? Well, pop music shows that it ISN'T the creme of the crop that get the biggest audience. But does that mean that the pop singer isn't great in their own way? Semantics perhaps, but important semantics. Its divisive talk which doesn't move thoughts and ideas along.

How about Aboriginal Australians - with zero formal training, yet training that is a constant part of their culture. A music culture that has completely carried their history for 10's of thousands of years. That's pretty damn incredible really. And the music can touch me as a white anglo in emotional ways in the same way the Rite of Spring does. Perhaps some of this could be considered some sort of folk music tradition. Though thats perhaps a pretty lazy reading / frame....

But it does bring me to folk music. Can folk music not be great music? How is that harder than many of the folk working with technology? The guys working on immersive audio at Barco. Damn they work on much harder things than I do... and what amazing stories they've been able to help bring to life through their audio technology.

A different side of the coin. I went and sat in on some recitals at the local conservatorium of music the other day. Oh man there was some absolutely incredible music coming from these guys. It took me back to my formal training days... they can play the pants off me. Completely. These guys are the wood-shedders. The practice every waking moment folk. They're not great musicians. Not yet at least. So they are in the camp of it being - er - hard. But isn't that the same for a software architect. Mate of mine was is a very well respected software architect. He's been at it 25+ years since uni. And he's only just thinking he's getting to grips with what he's meant to do / what he needs to do. How is that not as hard as a muso who spends 5+ years at uni then another 25 figuring out their voice? Or honing their songwriting / composing / arranging chops? So - he might have been considered "good" at using technology a way back, but his true understanding of it... the deeper meaning / use - that same deeper knowledge / feel / soul for music - that comes with wisdom. Age. Experience. From making tonnes of mistakes. From learning about your own limitations. From time.

Yet this is just one way of looking at it right? There's holes all over that argument. But that's kind of my point. Its not simple.

What is a great musician? What is it to be someone who is great with technology? What about that rare breed who cross between the two. (I feel like they really are in a position to do some incredible things in the future.)

Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick.
This was basically my argument as well, and I proposed the same question. What does it mean to be a great musician? It's such a rabbit hole, and there's just no definitive answer. In a way, saying that it's harder to be a great musician than it is to be good at technology is an apples vs oranges type of argument. I'm just not even sure how one can demonstrate it to the point that it becomes fact.

Is it harder to become a great musician than become great at technology? The only fair answer I can come up with is that it depends. Context is king.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
What does it mean to be a great musician? It's such a rabbit hole, and there's just no definitive answer.
It means you make great music.

There's no hard line between a great musician and a not-great one, and greatness is subjective. That doesn't mean there's no such thing as a great musician.
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
It means you make great music.

There's no hard line between a great musician and a not-great one, and greatness is subjective. That doesn't mean there's no such thing as a great musician.
so a person who makes great music with no knowledge of music theory or ability to read sheet music can still be a great musician yeah?...how about someone who cant play any instruments but is really good at midi programming? How about someone who makes really great music with a lot of easy play tools like instachord?

What I would really like to see is what arrangements could be done by "great musicians" with a track provided by AIVA. Could they make it even more than AIVA initially presents? just as a challenge.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
so a person who makes great music with no knowledge of music theory or ability to read sheet music can still be a great musician yeah?
I don't understand why this argument is getting convoluted with the one about education, which frankly I don't find scintillating.

...how about someone who cant play any instruments but is really good at midi programming?
Only if he or she knows what a Picardy third is and isn't afraid to use one.

How about someone who makes really great music with a lot of easy play tools like instachord?
Now that depends. Was he was circumcised by an Othodox rabbi at a bris?
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
I don't understand why this argument is getting convoluted with the one about education, which frankly I don't find scintillating.
I think only because some of us are trying to understand the standard for the arguments presented here that great musicians make great music, or that its harder to be a great musician than be great at technology. Personally I would a say a great musician is a great performer of music. A great composer/songwriter would be slightly different in my mind. Still trying to keep this on track, AIVA is a tool, and a great musician/songwriter/composer would have the potential to make great music with it because they have the skills to do so. I dont think there’s a shortcut (yet) for that necessity.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
I think it would be hard to become a great musician without having played an instrument, but there are certainly lots of great composers who aren't great players. Of course they're great musicians.

A tool that writes music for you, bypassing the human soul, has nothing to do with that.
 
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