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Is a musician always an artist?
Old 6th January 2017
  #1
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Is a musician always an artist?

Had this discussion with some friends over the holidays: is a musician always an artist?

Personally I don't think so, I don't think a painter or a writer is always an artist just because they do something that is considered an art form.

I think only musicians who are creating something that hasn't been done before should be considered artists, otherwise you are a musician, and everything is fine with that, some people's dreams are to be the best players and play the biggest venues and tour the world, others' are to make songs as similar to their favorite artists as they can, other people dream about making a new sound, blending influences and creating new stuff, in my opinion those are the artists.

What's your opinion on this?
Old 6th January 2017
  #2
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To me, only when I'm not singing a cover song. Which unfortunately, is the bulk of my gigs. Sometimes I can slip an original in from time to time on a set, but it depends on the crowd and the venue too.
Old 7th January 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfilipee
I think only musicians who are creating something that hasn't been done before
Is Pablo Casals not an "artist" because he is only playing things that have been "done before" like Bach or Schubert?


Quote:
Originally Posted by allengriswald View Post
To me, only when I'm not singing a cover song.
So you are saying John Coltrane isn't an "artist" because when he played My Favorite Things, he was "covering" Rogers and Hammerstein?



what a dumb premise
Old 7th January 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Is Pablo Casals not an "artist" because he is only playing things that have been "done before" like Bach or Schubert?




So you are saying John Coltrane isn't an "artist" because when he played My Favorite Things, he was "covering" Rogers and Hammerstein?



what a dumb premise
what's your definition of doing the same thing? playing the piano or composing music? yea that's not my point.

are you really an artist if you're just rehashing Beatles songs? are you really an artist if all your songs sound like Radiohead rip-offs? no, you're just copying and imitating artists, you're not being the artist here.

Rachmaninoff and Liszt both did the same thing, but they sounded completely differently and brought new things to the table.
Old 7th January 2017
  #5
Art is about truth,... the rest is simply entertainment
Old 7th January 2017
  #6
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There was a huge thread awhile ago about art and artists. What is art, who is an artist, separating them out based on their motivations and whatever else.

IMO, it always comes down to people judging things based on their own biases and preconceived notions, and making a big deal of words like art and artist as if they mean something special.

Everyone who does art is an artist. Then people decide if they think they're good or innovative or whatever else. And everyone's opinion is different.
Old 7th January 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfilipee View Post
what's your definition of doing the same thing? playing the piano or composing music? yea that's not my point.

are you really an artist if you're just rehashing Beatles songs? are you really an artist if all your songs sound like Radiohead rip-offs? no, you're just copying and imitating artists, you're not being the artist here.

Rachmaninoff and Liszt both did the same thing, but they sounded completely differently and brought new things to the table.
There is an art to re-hashing Beatle songs, sort of like an impressionist. That's an art. What's wrong with that?

Why not just say The Beatles were great innovative artists? Why trash people for doing what they do just because they aren't what The Beatles were? 99.9% of artists aren't.

Being an "original" artist doesn't mean people think you are any good, but you get to be called "artist" because you are trying to be original? I guess that's something. But even The Beatles copied people and "ripped" things off.
Old 7th January 2017
  #8
What is art reincarnated with a vengeance!
Old 7th January 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfilipee View Post
are you really an artist if you're just rehashing Beatles songs? are you really an artist if all your songs sound like Radiohead rip-offs? no, you're just copying and imitating artists, you're not being the artist here.
so Joe Cocker is not an 'artist' because he is “rehashing” a Beatles song when he did “Little Help from My Friends?” No? Yet someone else I am sure you will say, is just “rehashing” those same songs. Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

Maybe to YOU some band’s songs sound like “Radiohead rip-offs”, but someone else can appreciate certain things that to their ear, are “bringing new things to the table”. Maybe you are the one missing the essence of what they are doing. Maybe even Radiohead themselves might say they are bringing new things to it! Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

wait, wait, don’t tell me…
the difference is what sfilipee likes vs what sfilipee doesn’t like.. That's the beginning, middle and end of it.

Sorry, but I have had it up to here with “definitions” of Art that always in the end, boil down to the personal musical taste of Some Guy On the Internet! It's the same damn thing in every thread like this. It's like people can't even be original in their insistence upon "originality'.

If you can’t come up with a definition of art rigorous enough that it can withstand the incredibly rare occurrence of someone having different taste from you, then all you are doing is starting Taste Wars.

I had a guy in my studio a few years ago who wrote the lamest songs ever. They sucked, but they were 'original' - they were boring and dumb and weird - yet they did not sound like any specific other person. To my way of thinking the guy in the blues band at the bar at the corner ripping some Albert King licks is more of an artist. Why? If I am honest, I will admit it's because I like listening to him more than the 'originals' guy.

I don't care what you like, and you don't care what I like. If you can't define 'artist' outside of that paradigm, then there is no 'definition' of artist possible here.

Quote:

Rachmaninoff and Liszt both did the same thing, but they sounded completely differently and brought new things to the table
oh Liszt, that copycat. He's not an 'artist'. Rip-off artist, maybe!
Old 7th January 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
so Joe Cocker is not an 'artist' because he is “rehashing” a Beatles song when he did “Little Help from My Friends?” No? Yet someone else I am sure you will say, is just “rehashing” those same songs. Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

Maybe to YOU some band’s songs sound like “Radiohead rip-offs”, but someone else can appreciate certain things that to their ear, are “bringing new things to the table”. Maybe you are the one missing the essence of what they are doing. Maybe even Radiohead themselves might say they are bringing new things to it! Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

wait, wait, don’t tell me…
the difference is what sfilipee likes vs what sfilipee doesn’t like.. That's the beginning, middle and end of it.

Sorry, but I have had it up to here with “definitions” of Art that always in the end, boil down to the personal musical taste of Some Guy On the Internet! It's the same damn thing in every thread like this. It's like people can't even be original in their insistence upon "originality'.

If you can’t come up with a definition of art rigorous enough that it can withstand the incredibly rare occurrence of someone having different taste from you, then all you are doing is starting Taste Wars.

I had a guy in my studio a few years ago who wrote the lamest songs ever. They sucked, but they were 'original' - they were boring and dumb and weird - yet they did not sound like any specific other person. To my way of thinking the guy in the blues band at the bar at the corner ripping some Albert King licks is more of an artist. Why? If I am honest, I will admit it's because I like listening to him more than the 'originals' guy.

I don't care what you like, and you don't care what I like. If you can't define 'artist' outside of that paradigm, then there is no 'definition' of artist possible here.



oh Liszt, that copycat. He's not an 'artist'. Rip-off artist, maybe!
You pretty much re-hashed what I said. Although you brought your own something to it, more wordy, and more 'Cockeresque'.
Old 7th January 2017
  #11
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cozmik Prod. View Post
Art is about truth,... the rest is simply entertainment
Disagree.

Art is anything but the truth. It's an illusion created as a substitute for the truth. In some cases it may be a reflection of the truth, and the purpose of the artist might have been to draw the viewer/listender into a deeper understand of a particular truth.

A security camera image is truth. An audio recording of a party is truth.

But nobody wants to see or hear the truth (except maybe in a criminal investigation). It's not art.

But an artist could take security camera footage, or sound bites from an audio recording of a party, and present that in a context that makes it catch our attention. Maybe it is so chopped up that it decieves us and leads us to a false conclusion. Or maybe it's just pretty and makes us think about colours. Little fragements of something meaningless to which we attach meaning in the eye/ear of the beholder.

Art can be simple or complicated - good or bad even - but it's never truth. But it can be used to draw people towards (or away from) truth.
Old 7th January 2017
  #12
Gear Guru
You don't have to like art for it to be art. I don't really like much jazz. But I still call it art.

All art is copying something at some level. But art is mainly about making choices, just because we can. Left brain logic thinkers don't like to make choices. In their world, 1 + 1 always makes 2. There is no freedom of choice - only true and false. A right brain creative thinker just places paint on a canvas - for any reason at all. The number of choices being made to make even the most simple art is phenomenal. That's why I think art is confusing to non-artists. Artists make choices ... in the absense of anything that says they *have* to make that choice. It's not logical, captain.

And yet - the right brainers fell the need to reduce art to a set of rules they can understand and judge. It's kind of painful to watch.

In my opinion, the guy writing original music that nobody likes is a better artist than somebody regurgitating stuff that is known to be liked and accepted. Or maybe the second guy is just a smarter artist. But it's all art - and whether it's good or bad is 100% in the mind of the beholder. Totally subjective.

Art is not popularity. Popularity can be voted on and counted. Right brainers can establish who is more popular. But that isn't a measurement of art.

Art just is.
Old 7th January 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hhamilton View Post
You pretty much re-hashed what I said. Although you brought your own something to it, more wordy, and more 'Cockeresque'.

but what if I hadn't seen your post? What if two people come up with the same idea independently? Is only the 'first' one an "artist"??
Old 7th January 2017
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
Disagree.

Art is anything but the truth. It's an illusion created as a substitute for the truth. In some cases it may be a reflection of the truth, and the purpose of the artist might have been to draw the viewer/listender into a deeper understand of a particular truth.

A security camera image is truth. An audio recording of a party is truth.

But nobody wants to see or hear the truth (except maybe in a criminal investigation). It's not art.

But an artist could take security camera footage, or sound bites from an audio recording of a party, and present that in a context that makes it catch our attention. Maybe it is so chopped up that it decieves us and leads us to a false conclusion. Or maybe it's just pretty and makes us think about colours. Little fragements of something meaningless to which we attach meaning in the eye/ear of the beholder.

Art can be simple or complicated - good or bad even - but it's never truth. But it can be used to draw people towards (or away from) truth.
Sorry but you are wrong

All great art tells the same story, over and over and over and it has been going on for thousands of years. Be it music or painting or poetry or dance or conceptual... All great art tells the same story.

If you fail to see that.... sorry but that is not my problem, and I'm not planning to make it mine by trying to explain this any further.

You'll see it when you get it, when you get it, you'll see it.

Old 7th January 2017
  #15
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Insanity is to art what garlic is to salad.
Old 7th January 2017
  #16
They are all just artificial labels.
I'm a 'drummer, I'm a 'musician', I'm an 'artist'. It doesn't really matter as long as you aren't being derogatory towards me.
Who cares.
This debate is already going meta. I agree, it's all about one's own use of language and set of values.
If you worry about who or who isn't an artist, you probably have too much time on your hands, or could be spending that time more constructively.
Old 7th January 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfilipee View Post
Had this discussion with some friends over the holidays: is a musician always an artist?

Personally I don't think so, I don't think a painter or a writer is always an artist just because they do something that is considered an art form.

I think only musicians who are creating something that hasn't been done before should be considered artists, otherwise you are a musician, and everything is fine with that, some people's dreams are to be the best players and play the biggest venues and tour the world, others' are to make songs as similar to their favorite artists as they can, other people dream about making a new sound, blending influences and creating new stuff, in my opinion those are the artists.

What's your opinion on this?
I think that for art to exist, it must, by necessity, intersect with talent within it's course.

For the majority of my life, I've been a visual artist, but from the earliest day, I strove for what would be labeled as 'realism'. For whatever reason, I took an intense disliking for 'work' by several well known people such as Jackson Pollack, and Van Gogh, and referring to their contributions as 'stupid' or 'childish'. I had no formal training, and came with what my instructors called 'innate' talent. Indeed, I only took art classes in order to ace them.

In contrast with that attitude, I agree with you roundly where music is concerned - I feel that exploring new ground is what truly makes one musically artistic. Bjork springs to mind. I think the girl is quite gifted.

Last edited by johnny nowhere; 7th January 2017 at 02:06 PM.. Reason: phrasing and tense agreement
Old 7th January 2017
  #18
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There is a very low chance you are just a musician and NOT an artist (as in "a bit crazy in the head").
Old 7th January 2017
  #19
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
so Joe Cocker is not an 'artist' because he is “rehashing” a Beatles song when he did “Little Help from My Friends?” No? Yet someone else I am sure you will say, is just “rehashing” those same songs. Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

Maybe to YOU some band’s songs sound like “Radiohead rip-offs”, but someone else can appreciate certain things that to their ear, are “bringing new things to the table”. Maybe you are the one missing the essence of what they are doing. Maybe even Radiohead themselves might say they are bringing new things to it! Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

wait, wait, don’t tell me…
the difference is what sfilipee likes vs what sfilipee doesn’t like.. That's the beginning, middle and end of it.

Sorry, but I have had it up to here with “definitions” of Art that always in the end, boil down to the personal musical taste of Some Guy On the Internet! It's the same damn thing in every thread like this. It's like people can't even be original in their insistence upon "originality'.

If you can’t come up with a definition of art rigorous enough that it can withstand the incredibly rare occurrence of someone having different taste from you, then all you are doing is starting Taste Wars.

I had a guy in my studio a few years ago who wrote the lamest songs ever. They sucked, but they were 'original' - they were boring and dumb and weird - yet they did not sound like any specific other person. To my way of thinking the guy in the blues band at the bar at the corner ripping some Albert King licks is more of an artist. Why? If I am honest, I will admit it's because I like listening to him more than the 'originals' guy.

I don't care what you like, and you don't care what I like. If you can't define 'artist' outside of that paradigm, then there is no 'definition' of artist possible here.



oh Liszt, that copycat. He's not an 'artist'. Rip-off artist, maybe!
I didnt know people would get so much in their feelings over this, that's wild man.

First of all, never once did i talk about my taste in music, I don't even care for The Beatles for example, I just gave two references so people could understand what I was talking about, there's a lot of bands that sound just like the Beatles, and other bands that made a career out of copying Radiohead (eg Coldplay)

now if you're talking about opinions, yea, that's exactly what's happening in this thread, i'm sharing my opinion on a topic, which is what discussion boards are for. Dont understand all the hype.
Old 7th January 2017
  #20
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Art is the language of communicating emotion, and all humans are artist, for better or worse. Great art sends a strong message, weak art is hard to get the intent of, but the judge here is in the eye of the beholder not the artist which is why opinions wildly differ. Manipulating these opinions to agree through skill and knowledge, that's music business.
Old 7th January 2017
  #21
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To succinctly answer one would need to understand your definition of what makes an artist.

That said, I know some musicians who cannot play a note if it is not written out for them so to me they are not artists. Artists create from their imagination. Playing what someone else wrote may involve a tad of artistry in terms of interpreting the tone, volume, accents etc but that to me is still based on the artistry of the composer. In essence it is just recreating someone else's artistry.

So an artist creates form his/her own imagination and inspiration where these types of musicians are simply recreating something based on skill. Skill is learned, artistry comes from the ethers.
Old 7th January 2017
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
You don't have to like art for it to be art. I don't really like much jazz. But I still call it art.

All art is copying something at some level. But art is mainly about making choices, just because we can. Left brain logic thinkers don't like to make choices. In their world, 1 + 1 always makes 2. There is no freedom of choice - only true and false. A right brain creative thinker just places paint on a canvas - for any reason at all. The number of choices being made to make even the most simple art is phenomenal. That's why I think art is confusing to non-artists. Artists make choices ... in the absense of anything that says they *have* to make that choice. It's not logical, captain.

And yet - the right brainers fell the need to reduce art to a set of rules they can understand and judge. It's kind of painful to watch.

In my opinion, the guy writing original music that nobody likes is a better artist than somebody regurgitating stuff that is known to be liked and accepted. Or maybe the second guy is just a smarter artist. But it's all art - and whether it's good or bad is 100% in the mind of the beholder. Totally subjective.

Art is not popularity. Popularity can be voted on and counted. Right brainers can establish who is more popular. But that isn't a measurement of art.

Art just is.
Damn Kiwi, this and your prior post are going to get ripped off and used as lyrics in a Rap song... so who's the artist... the writer? the rapper? in this case the rapper would be "The Wrapper" ? You would be the Song Writer (which is an Art, I cant write songs/lyrics too save my soul (self critic). The word (Artist) just has too broad of a meaning. I've always been (for lack of a better word) an "Alchemist" I could take something of no value and basically turn it into gold (so too speak) I never considered myself an Artist, it was just a natural ability... I could draw at a very young age and the older I got the better I got, and I felt more as a medium that my drawing's were channeled, because they were mind blowing, (and didn't come from me?) and I've been known to be possessed when playing guitar or drums. Now a days you can take a Big Ole Dump on a canvas, smear it around a little, and sell it for millions, and your an "Artist" Go figure I never thought of myself as an artist in any other way than my drawings or paintings/airbrush. I guess what Im getting at is that the meaning is way misconstrued, which is a shame, because that makes Everyone's occupation an "Artist" (and their Dog's) Need a term more like "Art Formacist"
Old 7th January 2017
  #23
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Carterlink's Avatar
 

“Art is theft.” – Pablo Picasso
Old 7th January 2017
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Occupation - Artist - person with income
Hobbyist Artist - person
Arsty Type - Enjoys art and the company of artists
Art - Something created for beauty and/or abstract representation
of reality and/or to keep oneself busy. Something different
than the form the materials were in previous to manipulating them.
Something out of no materials at all. (Writing with a word processor,
composing with digital bytes, graphic drawing with Illustrator.)
Anything that anyone calls art.

I've sometimes worked as a carpenter with firms in 20 million dollar
penthouses in NY. One particular one had a lot of art. In the entry
foyer was a piece on the wall. A clear plexiglass cabinet with
three different color retro upright vacuum cleaners hanging
in them, appeared to probably be fifties manufacturing.
The piece was lit from the inside. I told an artist friend
in NY I know about it, and she told me she heard of that
piece, and it's worth about five million dollars. That's
about a quarter of what the whole three story 20,000 sf
penthouse is worth. Now that, is art.
Old 7th January 2017
  #25
Is an artist anyone who makes art? That seems reasonable -- but it just kicks the can down the road: What, then, is art?

Is art anything crafted by humans that comprises aesthetically motivated elements, decoration, non-practical embellishments?

Are all paintings or crafted images done for non-informational purposes art?

If not, how do we define criteria to separate valid 'art' from other creative efforts of the same form? Do we try to erect some sort of objective qualifiers -- like the French Academie of old, erecting what ultimately must be arbitrary qualifications? And if so, who gets to define those qualifications?


Myself, I have no interest in one person or group's parochial definition of 'art.' Such endeavors are doomed to always be trapped in the subjective, the idiosyncratic, the arbitrary.

Moving beyond such a position, then, seems to prod me to the notion that art is what you make it and as you perceive it. And, by extension, an artist is someone who believes or feels he is making art. Not necessarily art that will please everyone or maybe even anyone. But it is art, to my thinking, by the act of having been made by man for purposes that rise beyond the practical.


Next up: What is talent?

Old 7th January 2017
  #26
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mbvoxx's Avatar
To answer the OP question with a question;

Is a guy who owns drums always a drummer?

artist is a level that would suggest one is creating art...not just banging on a set of drums

If I have a plunger does that make me a plumber? I can unstop a drain but that's about it.
Old 7th January 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
To answer the OP question with a question;

Is a guy who owns drums always a drummer?

artist is a level that would suggest one is creating art...not just banging on a set of drums


If I have a plunger does that make me a plumber? I can unstop a drain but that's about it.
[bold added]


Then who decides?

And based on what criteria?

Plumbers are 'defined' by professional boards, certifying agencies, government oversight and the like. And their performance is relatively easy to gauge by objective measures.

Art is a whole heck of a lot squishier.
Old 7th January 2017
  #28
Gear Nut
 

"an artist is someone who believes or feels he is making art."

That is absolutely irrefutable. That is a great statement.
And who else is going to tell them they are indeed not making art?
That's not art. Well what is it then? I don't know, but it sucks.
Well what art do YOU like? Well I like this art.
Well I like that art.

Ever see that old Kids In The Hall sketch?
Hey buddy, can I borrow your art?
My.....art?
Old 7th January 2017
  #29
Gear Nut
 

And after all this discussion, the guy's right. A musician isn't necessarily an artist.
A guy who learned enough bass guitar to play Just The Way You Are and Roll
Out The Barrel in a wedding band isn't an artist, and wouldn't call himself one.

How about this? This always blew my mind. Music art dictates your time.
Literature, films and plays dictate your time. To 'view' the art, you have
to sit there from the time it starts to the time it finishes, which was decided
by the artist.
Visual art, the time is yours. You can look at a piece of art on a wall
for thirty seconds or two minutes and either way you can say
you viewed the art. I always thought that was really profound,
though I never could say why. It's just time after all.
I personally don't even believe time is real.
It's just something we invented to measure the
deterioration of matter, and to get to work
when we're scheduled to be there.
Old 7th January 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post

but what if I hadn't seen your post? What if two people come up with the same idea independently? Is only the 'first' one an "artist"??
I think it's the one who wants it badly enough, the squeakiest wheel with the best publicist and the most panache.

My post went completely unnoticed, so you are the artist!
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