Do you need to make music in order to fully appreciate it??
ReubenTobias
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#1
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Do you need to make music in order to fully appreciate it??

What do you guys think?

Im split on this one, I mean one part of me thinks that you do not, and that like any art form appreciation is entirely subjective and therefore a 'listener' will not necessarily have a lower level of appreciation for music.

On the other hand, I have been in conversations, usually debating my love of electronic music (techno in particular) and I have found myself saying "ah but if you spent your time trying to produce similar styles you would appreciate just how difficult it is and would see it from an entirely new angle."

In the same way an avid jazz listener and performer might say "ah well unless you play jazz you cant possibly understand the intricacies and virtuosity and therefore cannot possibly appreciate it in the same way I do"

hmm...
#2
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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i think we just appreciate it in different ways. i have friends who are absolute encyclopedias of music knowledge, with collections that put my own to shame yet they've never picked up an instrument in their lives.
#3
17th May 2011
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From the observer's POV, I don't see one being better or worse that the other. I enjoy noticing the tech details.

From the artist's POV, I'd like to know that the audience is enjoying the total effect, not getting distracted by a specific progression or trying to count an odd time signature.
#4
17th May 2011
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i listen to music just as critically now as i did before i made music, the difference is i know the names for the different effects rather than just noticing them.
#5
17th May 2011
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No.
There is a difference between being moved by music from person to person.
Musical taste.

There is a difference between having musical appreciation and musical understandings. But they are really two entirely different things but do intersect.
ReubenTobias
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17th May 2011
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sometimes I am actually envious of people who can totally immerse themselves in the immediacy and emotion of tracks without a single thought of production technique/recording technique.

Although I am not totally void of this ability haha, I do sometimes get frustrated with my own over analysis of tracks.

ignorance is bliss?
#7
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
sometimes I am actually envious of people who can totally immerse themselves in the immediacy and emotion of tracks without a single thought of production technique/recording technique.

Although I am not totally void of this ability haha, I do sometimes get frustrated with my own over analysis of tracks.

ignorance is bliss?
I am with ya on that one - with constently trying to make my music better and learning about the science of music, techniques, equipment, business e.t.c i find i am now constently analizing music. There are few which i can actually enjoy for just the music its self and those seem to be the ones i feel are produced beaeutifully.
#8
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jinksdingo View Post
There is a difference between having musical appreciation and musical understandings. But they are really two entirely different things but do intersect.
Right, but I suspect the OP was asking whether you need to understand music in order to appreciate it.

Or, perhaps more specifically, does understanding music allow the listener to better appreciate it? (Which then makes me wonder: On some level does the understanding interfere with the appreciation?)
#9
17th May 2011
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No, but it certainly helps!
#10
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Do you need to make music in order to fully appreciate it??

I think it gives you a different perspective. But it's not the only one. I know musicians who are completely caught up in the harmonic cleverness of something. Others zero in on the tone or chops of one or more players. I think it's a bit harder for a musician (especially a highly studied one) to appreciate the overall gestalt of a tune the way a non-musician can. But it is possible to just take in the music and analyze it some other time.

I believe that musical training and personal musical abilities can allow a deeper appreciation of more facets, but it doesn't change the quality of emotional reaction one experiences.
#11
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Ignorance is definitely bliss for me. Before I started this journey of engineering and producing I could listen to music and just let it have it's way with me. Now, even if a song is great I dissect it and if say the kick drum is a little on the "woofy" side I obsess over it. I love music, but I tend to look for perfection in music now as opposed to looking for the sheer emotion
#12
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
What do you guys think?

Im split on this one, I mean one part of me thinks that you do not, and that like any art form appreciation is entirely subjective and therefore a 'listener' will not necessarily have a lower level of appreciation for music.

On the other hand, I have been in conversations, usually debating my love of electronic music (techno in particular) and I have found myself saying "ah but if you spent your time trying to produce similar styles you would appreciate just how difficult it is and would see it from an entirely new angle."

In the same way an avid jazz listener and performer might say "ah well unless you play jazz you cant possibly understand the intricacies and virtuosity and therefore cannot possibly appreciate it in the same way I do"

hmm...
I didn't really start playing music until I was about 20 -- but I was intensely involved with listening to music growing up (and I kept trying to learn but never got past a toe in square two until I finally forced myself to just plow through the inevitable frustrations awaiting someone who had been certified -- and not without reason -- as having 'no musical talent' whatsoever by at least two different music pedagogues as a kid).

My early fascination with electronics merged with my love of music when I built my first stereo when I was 12 and parlayed a fascination with tape recorders into some live recording of my cousin's bluegrass band for him when I was 14 (which was a real treat, since I got to use his bitchen stereo machine at a time when my own machine was a 5" reel mono job, and since I got to see that 17 and 18 year old girls were a lot cooler than the goony 14 year olds at my jr high ).

I was a pretty big jazz fan back then -- even though I knew nothing about music from the playing side. And classical, too.

In fact, I'm still a big fan of classical, but, for someone who's seen upwards of 140 symphony concerts, I'm probably vexingly ignorant of many technical aspects of classical music -- and have never been one of those guys who's on top of all the biographical details of my favorite composers. When I go to the symphony, I just give myself to the moment, to the extent I can.

I honestly think that even as having experience as a musician or technical understanding of compositional techniques can certainly inform one's appreciation of music -- it can also get in the way, filling one's head with details and minutiae and pushing one away from a full experience of the glory of the music in the moment.

Best of all worlds, of course, is to be able to give oneself to music totally whether he's listening to it or making it.
#13
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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No. Of course not. Sometimes people who don't make music are even better at appreciating certain aspects that musicians can take for granted. And some musicians take all of it for granted because they're so busy working on their technique that they forget what the goal is.

But it certainly helps if you deeply appreciate music before you make it.

This is, first and foremost, a social and communal art. We play music together to be together and to be like each other. We celebrate the emotional pathways we share by activating them together.

No matter how fast you are at pushing down the strings of a guitar, your music won't get past the elevator if you don't listen to anything that's meaningful to other people.

I used to believe that cover bands were bad becase they weren't "original," but then I tried taking that logic farther and decided any band that played existing scales was bad because they weren't "original." That lasted me about a week, before I realized what I like is not origination but creative imitation.

Lucinda Williams simultaneously singing like Robert Johnson and singing about Robert Johnson is more interesting than a hundred original concepts put together. I think that's part of why I try to sing about and sing like Lucinda Williams. This is not a creative art, nor should it be. This is a shared art, a shared culture, a togetherness, a unification.
#14
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Well 1st off, EVERYONE in the world appreciates SOME form of music. That being said:


-Do you need to make music to appreciate it?=NO

-Do you need to make music in order to FULLY appreciate it?=YES, absolutely


For example, could someone who does not play guitar ever fully appreciate the years of dedication to practice and playing (not even mentioning the sacrifice) that it takes to play Rock like Jimmy Page? Or Blues like B.B. King? Or even pop like John Mayer?

Could someone who does not play drums ever fully appreciate how difficult it is to get to a level of musicianship on par with drummers like Steve Gadd? Or John Bonham? Or Carter Beaufurd?



The key is to be able to disengage the producer/engineer/player button when listening to music for pure enjoyment....and it is possible, by the way.

My .02
#15
17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wink0195 View Post
Well, I started to appreciated colored chords and complex picking patterns more once I learned guitar. I'd say in the process of learning an instrument. You're training your ears to appreciate complexity and perfection. In a sense, you're tastes mature very quickly

Spot on.
#16
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Porto View Post
I find that I over analyze music these days, both as a musician and an engineer. It's hard to just sit and enjoy it...although there are certain substances that will help with that.
I definitely went through a phase of that when I was first getting started working in studios. I'd gone through a similar kind of thing when I was 13-15 and thought of myself as an "audiophile" and often listened to test records for fun...

It can be hard not getting caught up in that sort of thing, particularly when you're first learning your way around or addressing some new bit of kit and becoming obsessed with certain elements or aspects of things.
#17
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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I just know I'm always obsessing about the mixing, and production when I listen to music
#18
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
I would say no, since before you even play or make music, the music itself obviously inspires you to want to play it or eventfully create it.
In fact I think you appreciate it more when you can't play it.
#19
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I definitely went through a phase of that when I was first getting started working in studios. I'd gone through a similar kind of thing when I was 13-15 and thought of myself as an "audiophile" and often listened to test records for fun...

It can be hard not getting caught up in that sort of thing, particularly when you're first learning your way around or addressing some new bit of kit and becoming obsessed with certain elements or aspects of things.
Well, I'm 42, and I've been doing this since I was 17 (Mac 128k, opcode sequencer w/ Juno-106 and Tascam 4-track), so I don't think it's an age thing, at least for me.
#20
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
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I like the example about understanding the instrument/playing to fully grasp how badass something actually is.

I have plenty of friends who know how amazing Tony Williams is on a drumset, but they don't know why. Which is cool, and maybe a bleasing in disguise. I'm a drummer, I "hear it different" , but not really! I hear the same thing they do, but have a better understanding of why it's almost impossible to play, and how amazing it "actually is". They just hear some kick ass drumming.

I ENJOY technically picking apart a great production, but don't obsess on it. ENJOY your abilities to hear what's going on in a mix! Man, don't let BS get in the way of enjoying cool music. A good sounds a good sound (mix), not what you were going for? Make more music and try it again, but don't stress that's it not perfect, if it sounds good, it is good.

If you listen to some old Iggy Pop records, you'll never HEAR the MUSIC if you're wanting it to be produced like a Steelydan record. I've made records that I wanted to have a 70's vibe, but sound more 80's! ARGGHH! But then realized that the mixes and music sounded great together, it was some really nice work, and great sounds. Interesting results. I'll make more music, see if I can get closer next time. Sometimes you nail it, other times you get great results.

steely
#21
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
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This could be philosophy. If so, the first thing to consider: is the question as posed capable of a clear answer?

As this is an informal forum, the question really could have been (1) "Do you need...?", which is an invitation for anecdotes, stories, etc, etc. Or it could be asking (2) "Does one, that is anyone (meaning everyone), need...?", which is, uh, another matter. I'm going to duck. Instead I'm going to say that people's capacity to appreciate something, whatever, is not the same. What should matter to a person is that he/she should appreciate music (or anything else) to his/her fullest capacity. Anything more is impossible. Anything less is tantamount to robbing yourself. Anything other is of interest only to philosophers. Sometimes I need to refer to a score or a lyric sheet, but I don't think I'm missing anything when I don't.

But I suspect what is behind the OP's question is a dialectic (apposition) between making music (but it could be anything), and appreciating music (ditto). What makes it a bit interesting IMO is that it frequently aligns with the gender distinction. So one's views on gender are likely to inform one's answer.

For example, given a one-parameter view of gender (like in Kinsey), that is, a sliding scale type thing where something has one and only one unique value (at any one time), the tendency will be to construe the opposite ends of the scale as representative of "making" (=archetypally male) and appreciating" (=archetypally female). Reconceptualised and transposed, this gives rise to ("makes") the social entities we call "an artist" and "an audience" (and among other things, it implicitly deprecates anything - not just art - produced by women). Of course, artists have created art which highlights, or attacks, or attempts to eliminate, or invert, that division or separation or distinction between artist and audience. A simple way (even U2 could think of it!) is performers wandering about in the audience. Another way is to have the audience create the work. Still other ways are simply to deny you are an artist; or (pace Tracey Emin) to accept you are an artist, with the view that "it's art if I call it art" - which must imply equally that "it's art if you call it art".

The one-parameter view of gender is very common (still). It cannot tho be right. Far from James Bond and Pussy Galore personifying the match made in/by heaven, it implies they have nothing more in common than their own private drives, and the intimacy of the filmic climax is a transient moment, an accident of plot. You may assume the climax to have been been messy, but when the film was over, you were certain there wasn't going to be a Mr and Mrs Bond situation, or any little Bondlings.

Closer to home: the difference/distinction between "making" music and "appreciating" it seems to get aligned with the studio musician and the studio producer/engineer respectively. This is probably the view of the uninformed public. But while it sometimes happens that the musican knows exactly what he wants to do and does it, and the producer/engineer is thought merely then only to need to appreciate that the musician is aiming for a result X, and not Y or Z, any knowledge of the facts shows otherwise. The notable counter-example is George Martin's role with the Beatles. But my point is that this is not a social division of labour thing. When we look at what the musician is doing in the broadest sense of the word, and then at what the producer is doing, they are both doing something which can be described as "making", and which involves "appreciating". The notion of a musician "just making" notes or sounds with no element of appreciating what he is doing - perhaps as a reflex, or as an automatic action - is so bizarre that it appears only in rare and exotic contexts, notably as critical hype. Making music inherently involves selection and evaluation, which is involved in appreciation.

Likewise and conversely, I think the notion of a purely passive appreciation of music - err like too much dope, man - is an abstraction too far. The philosopher Kant argued that we make the world through our manner of apprehending it, particularly space and time. Neuroscientific research on cats brains has demonstrated how spatial lines of objects trigger different neurons. And while brain research get complicated after that, it seems clear that spatial perception involves processes similar to how computer graphics visuals are constructed and manipulated. What goes for visuals also goes for linguistic structures and auditory structures.

OTOH let's just relocate Mr Bond and Ms Galore into a contemporary setting. In this scenario Mr Bond does not enquire of Ms Galore if the earth moved, since Ms Galore is well able to make it move if she wishes; and Mr Bond natch appreciates that.
#22
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Well 1st off, EVERYONE in the world appreciates SOME form of music. That being said:


-Do you need to make music to appreciate it?=NO

-Do you need to make music in order to FULLY appreciate it?=YES, absolutely


For example, could someone who does not play guitar ever fully appreciate the years of dedication to practice and playing (not even mentioning the sacrifice) that it takes to play Rock like Jimmy Page? Or Blues like B.B. King? Or even pop like John Mayer?

Could someone who does not play drums ever fully appreciate how difficult it is to get to a level of musicianship on par with drummers like Steve Gadd? Or John Bonham? Or Carter Beaufurd?



The key is to be able to disengage the producer/engineer/player button when listening to music for pure enjoyment....and it is possible, by the way.

My .02
I agree.

The term "appreciate" is one that, in this context, has a variety of legitimate interpretations. We can appreciate beauty, technique, effort, rarefied references and subtle patterns, et cetera.

So this discussion can bear some fruit as long as we keep this in mind. One shouldn't rush to refute someone else's post, without first seeking to understand what they (i.e. the other) held as the subject of "appreciation."

Better yet, of course, posts should explicitly define their subject (i.e. subject of appreciation).

---

I think one can apply to this discussion Vladimir Nabokov's take on reality, insofar as it is an analogy for the gradation of detail-perception possible by a casual listener, a trained virtuoso, and members of the tiers in between:
Reality is a very subjective affair. I can only define it as a kind of gradual accumulation of information, and as specialization. If we take a lily, for instance, or any other kind of natural object, a lily is more real to a naturalist than it is to an ordinary person. But it is still more real to a botanist. And yet another stage of reality is reached with that botanist who is a specialist in lilies. You can get nearer and nearer, so to speak, to reality; but you never get near enough because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable.
A skilled, learned musician will be able to perceive in music certain intricacies and patterns that a layperson will not. So, if you define "appreciation" as a recognition of below-the-surface patterns, the maker of music "appreciates" music more than the layperson.

But is a lily less beautiful to someone who knows little about the science of flowers than to a scientist? Its power to evoke emotion, through its inherent beauty, isn't reduced by lack of understanding of taxonomy, its means of reproduction and energy generation, etc. So, if you define "appreciation" as recognition of beauty, and the ability to be affected by it, casual listeners can appreciate music just as much as anyone.

On the other hand, in songs there could exist some below-the-surface beauty that skilled music makers can perceive -- subtle indirect allusion to other works (as opposed to direct allusion [e.g. sampling] or obvious parody [e.g. YouTube - Dudley Moore Beethoven Sonata Parody]; and to clarify: specifically allusion in the music itself, not in the lyrics), motif manipulation in works of the classical masters, etc -- the rarefied stuff that goes over the head of the casual listener.

Beauty can come in the form of awe -- an ability to truly understand the amount of hard work required to make music and empathize with those who put in that hard work, which comes after setting out to do so yourself and either failing or having to put a shit load of effort in.

Or, perhaps, because making music is your job and hobby, you might be truly interested in (and derive appreciation from) the abstruse technical details of the processes of a wide variety of artists (e.g. which amp does X band use and which compressor was used on the drums of X track) -- just as a fledgling botanist might read, with zest, stuff about Leonhart Fuchs and Otto Brunfels; this, of course, being stuff that is of no consequence to regular listeners, who aren't exactly missing out, because they think that stuff is totally boring.

So yeah, I believe that people who make music can appreciate more (i.e. a wider range of things). But casual listeners can appreciate the emotion-affecting beauty (which is the lion's share of what there is to appreciate, imo) and don't at all feel as if they are missing out by not being able to glean from the music the more subtle and obscure and tangential things.
#23
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
  #23
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You don't have to know how to build a car to appreciate one,

and you don't have to know how to build a car to be able to discern between a good one and a bad one.


That said, a housewife might sit in a fantastic club racer and be totally uncomfortable and not understand all the noise and strange smells and the bumpy ride.
#24
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
sometimes I am actually envious of people who can totally immerse themselves in the immediacy and emotion of tracks without a single thought of production technique/recording technique.

Although I am not totally void of this ability haha, I do sometimes get frustrated with my own over analysis of tracks.

ignorance is bliss?
Thats what movies are for =p
Though bad folly and overdubs can get on my nerves..
I don't know enough about camera lenses and lighting to let it ever get to me.

All I know is if its good the average person usually doesn't notice it. However a terrible guitar tone or off key singer will usually turn off anyone listening. Rather quickly at that..
#25
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
  #25
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Although, I am more and more into the recording & mixing world, I am still able to listen to music without analysing it, but I have to say that now I appreciate it more because, now, I know how hard taking recordings to highest levels is and how hard to compose great music is.

In short, I love it the same way as in the past, but I appreciate it more.
#26
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
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you need to get into music at a very young age, then lose your hearing in an accident and only get it back when you are 90 years old to FULLY appreciate music
#27
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
  #27
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I think educating your self will allow you to grasp music on more levels. Classical music is a prime example. the level of appreciation from just listening as a laymen vs being able to appreciate the meticulous form, the key relationships, the use of motives and how they are used to make a piece not just sound good but structurally just blow your mind.

The opposite can also be true. Learning too much about music can quickly make lets say songs with chord progressions you might perhaps found catchy before and left it there make the listening experience painful when you are aware just how generic the song really is.

I think it gives you a greater ability to appreciate it but also a greater ability to really hate a piece of music as well.
#28
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadforBrad View Post
I think educating your self will allow you to grasp music on more levels. Classical music is a prime example. the level of appreciation from just listening as a laymen vs being able to appreciate the meticulous form, the key relationships, the use of motives and how they are used to make a piece not just sound good but structurally just blow your mind.

The opposite can also be true. Learning too much about music can quickly make lets say songs with chord progressions you might perhaps found catchy before and left it there make the listening experience painful when you are aware just how generic the song really is.

I think it gives you a greater ability to appreciate it but also a greater ability to really hate a piece of music as well.
I totally agree with this. Coming from a classical background and working a bit teaching music composition I often find myself overanalysing music that really shouldn't be given too much thought: Unobtrusive film music, background music at social stuff where I should instead be listening to what the person in front of me is saying, etc. It's a bit hard to switch off sometimes and just appreciate the music at more of a base level, or for it's intended purpose.
Still... not a huge burden to bear I guess...
#29
20th May 2011
Old 20th May 2011
  #29
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Quote:
Do you need to make music in order to fully appreciate it??
maybe/probably, but you don't need to make music in order to enjoy it.
that doesn't seem any less important to me, really.
#30
21st May 2011
Old 21st May 2011
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gogar View Post
You don't have to know how to build a car to appreciate one,

and you don't have to know how to build a car to be able to discern between a good one and a bad one.


That said, a housewife might sit in a fantastic club racer and be totally uncomfortable and not understand all the noise and strange smells and the bumpy ride.
but you are only appreciating the car on such a basic level. Not that you should appreciate on more but imagine knowing how everything works. Things that would not mean a thing to you will impress those that know.

the more you know, the more something will appear to offer.
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