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  • "talent"???

    [continued from the M-Audio Venom thread...]

    this is a pretty old debate, but still interesting enough to bring up every once in a while.

    - multi track recording is invented and now said bands can share their songs with everyone. but
    they still have to play them to record them. access was limited to only the most skilled.

    limited to the most skilled? were The Troggs a 'skilled' band? how about The Ramones? there's always been "unskilled" people out there making records. how skilled does one need to be in order to record a song that other people might enjoy?

    - computers start taking over doing everything and digital recording is given to everyone so
    even tone deaf people lacking rhythm can make "music" making them feel like they are amazing
    thanks to quantitization/autotune. they don't know anything about music except how to loop a beat and
    rip off other artists that know how to piece together notes in a fashion to form music. instead,
    the new breed Cuts and Pastes and it is done. No playing a musical instrument, no knowing music.
    the end result shows the slop, the lack of talent, the poor workmanship.

    Endtroducing by DJ Shadow and Paul's Boutique by The Beastie Boys/Dust Brothers are two perfect examples of "cut and paste" and "ripping off other artists" that showcase anything but a lack of talent or poor workmanship.

    Would you enjoy food in a fine restaurant made by some guy calling himself a "cook" that didn't know
    ANYTHING about cooking? Would you want your brain operated on guy calling himself a "neuro surgeon"
    that didn't know ANYTHING about brains or surgery? Do you take your car to the LEAST KNOWLEDGEABLE
    mechanic you can find? Do you want a handy man with zero skills working on your house?
    Do you want talentless people making music? I don't.

    most of these analogies are completely irrelevant. could i appreciate a painting by someone who hasn't studied art history or gone to school for it? sure i could.

    I feel rap was the beginning of the end as far as pop "music" goes or the redefinition there of. Instead of
    making a glorious, melodic celebration of life, which is where real music originated from all the way back to
    those cavemen, rappers yell about their fake lives and all the bad things that happen. "Music" takes
    a back seat to "Aggression" as a form of entertainment.

    oh geez. "glorious, melodic celebration of life"? as for "aggression", what are your thoughts on heavy metal? are those guys talentless too?

    At some point in the future we will just be listening to STATIC and calling it music.

    "we" already are.

    At what point does music cease to be "music"? Many will claim Art is a personal perspective, but I say
    replace the football with a golf ball and it is no longer the game of Football. Same with music and art. Take away
    the required talent and skills, the melody, the celebration of life... replaced with no talent needed, no
    more melody or interesting alignment of notes, a celebration of depravity and negativity... and the "Music"
    is gone. The chemical make up has changed completely and it is no longer what it used to be.

    Yes, pop music has always been close to empty headed, but at least it was MUSICAL in it's path.
    Now the hits require the F word to be interesting. And much I hear is more like random production
    experiments than well thought out compositions.

    I guess I consider talent the people that still create music and not noise. Maybe one could even
    guage music and talent by that which will play over MUZAK in the future. I can pretty much guarantee
    rap will not be on that menu. One was that one famouse song from 5 years ago? Oh that's right
    they don't play it anymore because it was worthless and disposable. Yet new radio stations pop up all the
    time play all the older songs (the ones that were musical) because people don't want to hear worthless
    and disposable after the age of 14.

    man, you really need to get out more. don't get me wrong, i love a lot of different types of music (going back to the 50s, at least) and ask myself every time i hear an old Motown hit why nobody makes anything these days that sounds remotely like it. but i can still see/hear worthwhile elements even in today's music, pop radio not withstanding. i completely enjoy a lot of stuff that is made by people with no real musical "talent" as well. it must be tough being so closed-minded.

    Giving the untalented tools to be amazing without any effort ends up
    making pathetic music.

    i was checking out some synth demos today by 'keybdwizrd', a guy that most anyone would consider quite talented musically. you know what? sometimes it's the people with all the talent that make "pathetic" music.

  • #2
    Okay, I can give you a proper answer to this but I have to unpack things a bit.

    In classical music, there has traditionally been an unwillingness to credit pop artists (or non-classical musicians in general) with anything like the same level of skill normally accorded to even a classical student. However modern musicologists now recognise that there are aspects of musicality - say, rhythm and timbre - which, though not thought of as upon as having primary importance in a composition in traditional western music, are heavily utilised in non-classical music. Thus, things are changing: modern musicologists now see more clearly the very high level of skill often utilised, though hidden from common view, in the construction of an ostensibly unsophisticated pop song.

    This is analogous to your discussion: Where you may be seeing something which is to you superficially simple, there is, much more often than not, a high degree of skill utilised in its production. It is a maddeningly false myth that to "sell out" is quite easy and we are prevented only by our sense of righteousness. In fact, even in top 40 pop (and pretty much everything else) which succeeds in appealing to its audience, there is a large amount of intelligence, skill and professionalism involved in its creation. This is even true of those minority of acts which seem to intentionally defy common ideas about musical skill and expertise.

    When we enjoy a piece of music because it is beautifully uncomplicated, this is not to say that it hasn't been carefully, intelligently, insightfully and skillfully conceived. The hard part is that it often doesn't suit other musicians to admit this, who are struggling with their own sound and careers.

    It's definitely not fair to find a bunch of music which you enjoy and (probably without properly understanding things) claim that it has been created "with no real musical "talent"". I find it amazing how much this meme is sold on internet forums.


    • #3
      What's interesting about this discussion (or at least the future of the discussion) is the reason WHY we find something good. Some listen or find something good because how technically complicated it is and how a mere mortal could never play it (music by Steve Vai or Jordan Rudess come to mind). But some listen or find a something "good" just because the song is just a good song, regardless if a 9 year old could play it or not. This comes to mind for me on beautifully simple:

      Response from John from American Musical Supply on why I have received 2 used/damaged Korg M3's and 1 reboxed M3 from Guitar Center (a.k.a. why I'll never buy from AMS again): Footfall wrote:What you're experiencing with these units is the result of our warehouse crew intentionally "overpacking" this product.Current Korg Gear: KRONOS 88 (4GB), M50-73 (PS mod), RADIAS-73, Electribe MX, Triton Pro (MOSS, SCSI, CF, 64MB RAM), DVP-1, MEX-8000, MR-1, KAOSSilator, nanoKey, nanoKontrol, nanoPAD 2


      • #4
        oh man, the Troggs hehehe

        The Ramones are actually my favorite rock band. trufax. from a discussion on another board, the Ramones weren't great musicians in the 70's prog/fusion/classic rock sense but they didn't need to be as they were simply very good at being the Ramones. And their music and punk in general was actually a rejection of most 70's aesthetics. Punks made exceptions for stuff they liked - usually they liked glam, Joey Ramone liked AC/DC, Johnny Rotten liked Kraut.

        Virtuosity is nice - but it's not the only ingredient in great music and it doesn't even have to be a major one. And virtuosity just for the sake of virtuosity can be wankery.

        Talent's another thing. Ramones songs may be easy to play but few bands have ever come up with songs as catchy and as stupidly funny as "We're a Happy Family" or "Teenage Lobotomy"... even a nice sad ballad like "Questioningly"... 3 great punk albums, one mostly out of left-field pop album all in 4 years.

        Or the Clash, their early stuff is very simple but they got more complex quick and besides being one of the few groups of white people able to pull off doing reggae. by the end of it, they're doing crazy stuff with samba rhythms and dub and sometimes their best stuff is still the simplest but sometimes it all comes together on tunes like "Straight to Hell" which is really mindblowing.


        • #5

          This song is like EVA in that it always makes me happy.


          • #6
            Thanks for biting! I typed up a very detailed response explaining only to have it sluffed off as "old man speak" even though I made
            many valid points.

            In summary, TALENT is having some advanced skills to do something cool that many people don't have.
            Unlike pressing a single button and having a finished song pop out. Coming soon to a DAW near you.
            RARELY would a large number of people take a listen a grunge punk rock band and say, "Wow they are sooo talented"
            Where as MOSTLY people might view a video of some great guitarist or pianist and go, "Man, that guy is TALENTED!"
            Why? Because they have some advanced skills to do something cool that many people don't have.

            Merriam Webster defines TALENT:
            a : a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

            A >>SPECIAL<< aptitude. Not a COMMON or MOST TYPICAL aptitiude. Any idiot can downlaod a daw and start making "beats" and call themselves a producer.
            Doesn't mean they are ACTUALLY talented. They just press buttons... like a monkey

            Now to dissect some responses:

            1. I was talking about limited recording access in the beginning: studios were rare and expensive. I don't recall their being much bad music getting recorded in the
            early history of recording. Mostly MUSIC from TALENTED people. Now that everyone can do it, they do. They fart at the mic and call it creative.

            2. DJ Shadow Beastie Boys/Dust Brothers: I'm sure their reproduction of cutting up other people's music has fine, tight production with COMPUTERISED accuracy. Do you believe NO ONE ELSE could have achieved this using the same tools? I don't. I personally believe I could accomplish the exact same thing, with little talent for it.... it's just cutting. I just pulled up some DJ Shadow Endwhatever on Youtube, heard typical repeating loop, and closed it. Yawn. Same old talentless, hack job to me.

            3. analogies: feel free to enjoy your telentless hack job art. I'll stick with "Music" while enjoying Lobster and Prime Rib prepared to a savory ecstasy

            4. if one is not celebrating and enhancing life, what IS one doing? The opposite perhaps? No thanks.

            S. Static ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

            6. I'm not close minded, you don't know anything about me. Thanks to shampoo/salon commercials, I was embracing TRANCE before anyone else knew it was even available. I've been in to ambient and still am before it became main stream, I supported Windam Hill records and Hearts of Space when they were upstarts, I listen to POP, Jazz, Classical, Trance, Rock, AC, Space ALL (yes I mean all) on a DAILY basis. Being into commercial pop for almost 40 years, I keep up on all that too. Billboard charts, sound scan, local and national radio charts, who's tearing it up, who is falling, who is new and fresh, who sucks and is not talented. I do hear worthwhile elements - I don't recall ever saying ALL OF IT EVERYWHERE is crap - don't ever generalize EVERYTHING people say on the net.

            7. Glad you noticed kybdwizrd IS talented. He makes DEMOS in demos, not finely crafted, finished, talented music. But you know what? Even his DEMOS are much better then repeatative junk I hear from talentless hack jobs.


            • #7
              Pro tip: if you have to reiterate that your points are "valid" in your view, you're not convincing anyone.

              Another tip: quoting a dictionary entry (esp Merriam-Webster) is pedantry and a sign that you're not a very good writer.

              1. I used to be big into jazz (pre-bop for the most part) and pre-WWII vocal pop, a lot of utter crap got recorded then and more still in the 50's (despite the rise of rock 'n' roll) and 70's and beyond.

              2. Shadow used an MPC on Endtroducing so far as I know. I personally never really dug him while preferring Ninja Tune peeps like Coldcut but its horses for courses. I loved Paul's Boutique but prefer hearing the original songs they sampled from. Both Shadow and the Dust Brothers who did the PB instruments for the Beasties are good at what they do.

              3. "enjoying Lobster and Prime Rib prepared to a savory ecstasy" lol - good thing you're not a food writer.

              4. I suppose blues is rubbish then. Oh well.

              5. lol wut

              6. "Thanks to shampoo/salon commercials, I was embracing TRANCE before anyone else knew it was even available" ahahahahaha, if you were liking "TRANCE" because of fraking shampoo commercials, it was already quite mainstream and over 9000 people had been listening to trance for years. Praising "shampoo commercial trance" makes any argument you have about good music invalid.

              Really shampoo commercial trance isn't crap and hip-hop is?

              "I supported Windham Hill records and Hearts of Space when they were upstarts"

              Are you some sort of Bizarro World hipster? "I was into Windham Hill before anyone" ...erm, Windham Hill was something of a bad music joke. See also: shampoo commercial trance

              7. One can be a good player and make crap music. I don't really know enough of kybdwizard to judge and it might not be polite to say if I really didn't like it.

              Are your trolling? If you're trolling, it's been real. I'm bored today, so I'm just having fun. Oh, I'm off yr lawn btw


              • #8

                limited to the most skilled? were The Troggs a 'skilled' band? how about The Ramones? there's always been "unskilled" people out there making records. how skilled does one need to be in order to record a song that other people might enjoy?

                I say there is more than one nature to talent rather than only for technique (even technique being a deceivingly narrow concept in this context). One can be mediocre as a musician traditionally speaking, but naturally driven to put himself out there through his art, in a way that is truly distinguishing and not easy to come by. Also, it shouldn't be absurd to say it can involve talent to operate machines to achieve desirable noises. Or whatever being good at something worthwhile can be.

                I don't get why people feel the need to steal positive concepts to themselves in an us vs them fashion, like what they do should be art and what others do is obviously rubbish. Let's embrace diversity and just say "gee, I couldn't do that, and I'll admit it's kind of cool, even if it's not my thing".

                It will make us better people.


                • #9
                  Music that "celebrates and enhances life" is by and large the worst music by the least talented musicians on the planet. Unless I'm missing the point. Which I commonly do.


                  • #10
                    A lot of what we're arguing about here hasn't a thing to do with music (specifically), anyway. If a certain singer/guitarist is mediocre but persistently driven to present him/herself to the public, and has found a way to do that, then what we're really talking about here is marketing intelligence, not musical talent. Successful marketing of oneself = $$, and those with the $$ call the shots in the music industry. I learned that a long time ago, and there's nothing any of us can do to change that fact. It doesn't mean that you can't play the music you enjoy the most, and to hook up with like-minded musicians to do said activity.
                    Korg Z1, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-350, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M, Arturia CS-80V, VAZ Modular, co-author of MinimogueVA and Arppe2600va.


                    • #11
                      Talent is a lot like intelligence--hard to measure and not much use without education and technique. Some quotes:

                      Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
                      Erica Jong

                      No one respects a talent that is concealed.
                      Desiderius Erasmus

                      It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
                      Albert Einstein

                      I don't have a lot of respect for talent. Talent is genetic. It's what you do with it that counts.
                      Martin Ritt

                      No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent; work transforms talent into genius.
                      Anna Pavlova

                      It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
                      Rene Descartes

                      Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
                      Samuel Johnson

                      Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind.
                      F. Scott Fitzgerald

                      In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts.

                      A lot of humans believe they are intelligent, but it's more of a mainstream notion of what intelligence is. 'Intelligence' on this planet is usually made up of 10% actual intelligence, 40% self-importance, 30% arrogance, and 20% finger-pointing at those who are less intelligent and talented as if they could somehow fight genetics and burst forth into brilliant glowing beings of light and wisdom if they would only try hard enough.
                      Duane Alan Hahn
                      All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)


                      • #12
                        A lot of what we're arguing about here hasn't a thing to do with music (specifically), anyway. If a certain singer/guitarist is mediocre but persistently driven to present him/herself to the public, and has found a way to do that, then what we're really talking about here is marketing intelligence, not musical talent.

                        Enlighten me. Would that apply to Paris Hilton, The Ramones and Kurt Cobain, all alike?


                        • #13
                          People with the most finely tuned marketing intelligence pay close attention to what is going in in the society at large, not just in public musical taste (or lack thereof). In 1963, a smart lad named Brian Epstein paid close attention to what was going on America after the Kennedy Assassination and saw a ripe opportunity to turn traumatized American women on to this exciting group of 4 lads from Liverpool, and he made a killing. Because Brian realized that those 'traumatized' women who would become the screaming fans of Beatlemania had lots of money to spend from their middle class daddies. So there, I can even take the greatest pop band in the world as an example, and not get too romantic about them. $$ makes the world go 'round.

                          But that was 1963 and now is now. The most successful pop producers in today's world work with the environment they have in front of them. If they are intelligent enough to realize that, with the economy the way it is, the average citizen (whose life is governed by the daily whims of financiers more than they realize... and way different than it was during the middle class surge of 1946-1976) is not going to have any idea of power of the forces that now govern their lives, and that lack of fact-based information translates into personal rage. Then, the smart marketer understands to appeal to the public rage through art-forms that allow that rage to come to the surface to be expressed.

                          What this translates into, in effect, is the debasement of any art-form that puts personal meaning into people's lives. It's easy, then, to see how even bringing up the idea of "glorious, melodic celebration of life" is going to be ridiculed to death in such an environment.

                          Yes, $$ rules the world. But what most people today don't understand is that $$ is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. One can hardly imagine living in a ratty apartment, sitting on the floor in your dirty underwear, surrounded by large piles of green cash... being an interesting life in itself. It's all about what the cash can get you. It can get you things, or it can be used to leverage the minds/attitudes/behaviors of the human beings that surround you. Thus helping to shape the world in the way you would like it to be shaped.

                          That's the way of the world, dude. That's what happens, Larry.

                          Korg Z1, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-350, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M, Arturia CS-80V, VAZ Modular, co-author of MinimogueVA and Arppe2600va.


                          • #14
                            i'm just going to spray the area so to speak, i don't have much in the way of elaborations to make where others will probably do a better job.

                            talent is overrated. give me hard work and taste any day. god often gives "talent" to jerks who don't respect it. the guys who don't practise but are always impressing people down at the blues open mic or punk rock show.

                            wow, mr wwjd .. that line about DJ Shadow being a talentless hack job is hilarious. i don't even know how to respond to that. i know that you think "talent" is the same as "skill", so what you meant to say was that he was a skill-less hack.

                            any criticism of the democratisation of music technology as being a bad thing is frustrating elitism. there is nothing bad about availability of art or the tools to make art. if you get upset because "monkeys" make beats and call themselves producers, where do you draw the line exactly?

                            before i learned how to play keyboards or manipulate hardware sequencing technology, i first made music with a computer. 15 years old with a 386, 2-op FM sound card, and Voyetra Sequencer Plus software. should that have not been available to me because i wasn't talented?
                            main: http://suitandtieguy.com
                            Lawrence Miles style rants: http://suitandtieguy.livejournal.com
                            handbuilt boutique synthesiser modules: http://stgsoundlabs.com
                            my digital albums: http://suitandtieguy.bandcamp.com


                            • #15
                              Enlighten me. Would that apply to Paris Hilton, The Ramones and Kurt Cobain, all alike?

                              Joey Ramone and Kurt Cobain probably didn't understand these dynamics, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Joey lived long enough to realize later on what had happened and where his place in the scheme of things was. Kurt didn't. His rage got the best of him too early.

                              Paris Hilton, on the other hand, has exquisite marketing intelligence. She knows exactly what she's doing. And she has the inheritance funds to back it up.
                              Korg Z1, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-350, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M, Arturia CS-80V, VAZ Modular, co-author of MinimogueVA and Arppe2600va.