Sorry to keep banging on

Sorry to keep banging on

I made some comments here recently about the session I go to most, particularly the concern about the standard of the new people attending. It is extraordinary but it is getting worse.

There has been a lot of talk here recently about bodhrans. I am not going to repeat any of the points. The discussion often focuses on whether there is a role for the instrument at all. Or that it is capable of much more than people think. The argument can become polarised and heated, but I would be astonished if even its most ardent supporter would say that you needed three in a session. But that it what we had at one point on Saturday night.

I mention it because I am fascinated by the thought process that led to this, of the lack of it. Any musician on any instrument does, I would have thought, go through some process before they join a session: do you know the repertoire, are they playing at a pace you like or can keep up with. The point being that you make some judgement that you will be able to fit in and enjoy it yourself; and that the other players will get something from your contribution. As a fiddle player I enjoy playing with other fiddles. There is a contribution that a number of fiddles can make, and the slightly different emphasis all fiddel players have make the music interesting. I expect flute players have a similar view. And the mixture of different instruments gives a richness to the music.

None of this can be true for more than one bodhran player. they cannot play exactly the same thing, so the beat will become confused. And even if they could, what would be the point? What benefit would there be in two people pounding out the same thing? It would deafen the musicians and the people trying to listen. So there cannot have been a process of reflection and consideration on what they could add to the music. What clearly has happened is a thoughtless self preoccupation. At one point there was one melody player accompanied (swamped by?) three bodhrans, a poor guitarist and a poor bouzouki player, all of whom seemed to enjoy themselves hugely. The other melody players were left to watch. I decided to leave.

What is the answer to this? i do not know. I make this contribution to let off steam as much as anything, as I go the session only about monthly I do not feel it is for me to say. That is more for the people who go every week and have more of an investment. But I do think it is sad.

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I feel your pain. I guess I am just lucky, I live in a town where several years ago a local bodhran player (and teacher) had an epiphany where he realised more than one bodhran player going on at once could be disruptive. (He reached this obvious conclusion when he branched out to try an learn a melody instrument and had to battle through the random thumping of several of his brethren) He then made it his mission to make sure all the bodhranistas took turns in our local sessions. His skill on the bodhran was excellent and his large size and passionate argument made the rest of the local bodhranistas fall in line in short order. Several years later this code of conduct still exists. Our percussionists all alternate turns and everyone enjoys themselves with ample playing time for all.

The point is, it just takes one strong willed person to speak up and offer a solution. Or - take the martyrs route and suffer in silence.

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I think an immense challenge at your session is to try and identify the background of any visitor you have. After all, you and a group of people you know somewhat well are there every other week, when somebody walks in you don;t know, your first instinct is no doubt "hope they’re good" and somewhat influenced by what instrument they bring and how they conduct themselves. But even traditional Irish music sessions vary greatly, every musician may fall into a comfort zone they are used to at some other session and don’t realise they’re not fitting in, others are overly shy and don’t participate for fear of being cast out or treated with contempt at every individual mistake.
The problem is that is somebody turns up with a mouth organ and tried to improvise a tune that isn’t remotely close to what’s being played, ignores the blatant harsh stares and not so subtle hints to not play, including "don’t play for this set, the tunes change keys are very challenging", they still will, they still may even leave thanking everyone for the wonderful welcome, and short of Con O Drisceoil’s Spoon’s Murder solution, there is not a lot you can do to ensure somebody not up to scratch does not join in and a lot of pre emptive measures to prevent session crashing will render your session very unfriendly in the eyes of a better musician who is more aware of body language of others when he or she visits a session.

I did learn one week that if anyone sounds so attrocious that the patrons of a bar will be upset, the barman will take the required action and kick out the offending musician. So if you’re a pretty laid back and tolerant type to a point, just roll with the punches and think of all of the positives of unamplified and unregimented sessions 🙂

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I was at a session once with my guitar, and present was a flute player (the paid session leader), another guitarist, and a bouzouki. I wasn’t playing, and got asked by the other guitarist, "Why aren’t you playing? What’s wrong?"
Sometimes, you can add more with your silence than your playing, a concept I wish more people understood. And at the very least, what is wrong with listening to the music we love?

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A good musician understands the role they play and and the contribution they make. This rule always applies, whether to a fiddler, piper, guitarist or bodhrán player.

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I’m on the other end of things here as a bodhrán player but I agree with your point totally - one bodhrán at a time, please!

Even the pro rock drummers mess it up e.g. Phil Collins and Other Drummer with Zeppelin at Live Aid spending so much time keeping out of each others way that they weren’t listening to what was going on with the rest of the band. Result was a mess.

But maybe not fair to just pick on bodhrán players. We”re an easy and obvious target. But I’ve played in sessions that haven’t taken off due to overenthusiastic melody players who have no sense of rhythm and dynamics and who don’t listen to how everyone else is playing or how they themselves actually sound.

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Yes, a good musician does understand the role they play and and the contribution they make. And this rule does always apply, whether to a fiddler, piper, guitarist or bodhrán player.

But what makes the good musician/bodhran player (they do exist) be comfortable with contributing nothing more than an expansion of mere timbre?

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"Sometimes, you can add more with your silence than your playing, a concept I wish more people understood. "

I do think that the world would be a much nicer place if that were more generally understood. On the other hand, that seems like a perfect opportunity to pick a few tunes on guitar - you should have given them a blast of tunes on the six-string.

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Unfortunately, Jon, melody picking on the guitar is a skill that I have never mastered.

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Drums are for getting people to dance. If i can get someone to dance with my solo fiddle, why would i need a drummer? Another point, how many successful bands have more than 1 drummer play at a time? I like how the drum sounds, but only 1 drummer at a time.

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"Unfortunately, Jon, melody picking on the guitar is a skill that I have never mastered."

So it’s a new one to learn. It’s just like playing the box, only instead of moving the bellows with your left hand, you’re picking the strings with your right, and instead of pushing the buttons with your right hand, you’re fretting the strings with your left. Easy like pie. 🙂

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"Another point, how many successful bands have more than 1 drummer play at a time? I like how the drum sounds, but only 1 drummer at a time."

I heard some really beautiful stuff from Joshua Redman’s Double Trio about a year or two back, with Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. They each played about a third of the concert, and a third of the concert featured both of them. When they were playing together, it was not redundant by any means. It was really quite worth hearing. It can be done - there are also some rock bands, like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers who have had two drummers, and of course many bands have had a drummer and a percussionist on the stage - Santana often has several percussionists. And, in other musics, there’s the south Indian tradition which often features simultaneous tabla and mrndangam accompaniment. (if you want your head rearranged nicely, get a copy of Shankar’s record called "Pancha Nadai Pallavi" - that should do the trick, and the druming on it is really excellent)
So again, it’s not impossible.

That being said, it doesn’t justify the unprepared and uncoordinated simultaneous assault from two examplars of the same drum with basically the same sound, when one is generally more than enough.

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Ok Jon, i’ll have to look those folks up. Nice, i didn’t know they existed..

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If the head starts going back and forth like a pigeon’s and the eyes are closed, all contact with us mortals is lost. The offender has transported himself to his other realm, where he is God of Drum.

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Two types of session here: Llig’s (and others) preferred ‘tunes only’ session for melody players only, and the other session which likes to incorporate the other elements of music ie harmony and rhythmic accompaniment and percussion accompaniment.

In relation to the second of those session types, if you appreciate the other elements of music as well as the melody then the question of a musically sensitive balance is crucial if it’s going to be enjoyable.

Multiple bodhrans usually sound like a stampede which offers nothing of benefit.

Three bodhrans don’t sound three times as loud as one but give a different texture, but to be effective the players would need to be in absolute rhythmic sync. They would need the discipline to allow just one player at a time the others joining in at an appropriate dynamic level that doesn’t swamp the tune and any harmonies. They would also not play for every single tune.

However this requires organisation and a sensitivity not normally found in such sessions and I echo the OP to say I too think this is sad.

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Talk of double drummers in pop music should not miss out on James Brown’s masterful use of two kits. Back in the days where amplification was in its infancy, James Brown and his band developed an immense sound that must have been really great to hear.


ps. it’s not true that I prefer ‘tunes only’ sessions for melody players only.

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Pink Floyd also had two percussionists on their Division Bell tour.

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Apologies llig, I’d got the impression from previous discussions that you thought it was the tunes the tunes and nothing but the tunes.

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Frankly, if someone with a bodhran doesn’t know that more than one at a time is generally not good, that indicates a lack of sensitivity, etiquette, grace, or what you might even call "common sense", but the problem lies with the person rather than the instrument.

Sadly, there is an attitude of good natured encouragement of musical sub par-ness in trad music - its very all encompassing nature can lead to people banging away with no intention of ever embracing the tunes at all.

The crop of modern musicians who are trying to "big bandify" trad music leads to the pitiful spectacle of a lone bodhran player on stage with a full kit player. The rights and wrongs of kit drums in trad music aside, is it ever really necessary to have both? I don’t think so.
m.d.

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".. a lack of sensitivity, etiquette, grace, or what you might even call common sense" - or as we call it in Scotland these days, "normal".

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"trying to "big bandify" trad music"

I do not think they are trying. They have already done it to quite an extant.

Trad orchestra-type acts seem to be already out there and doing well economically.

Of course, we have long had the spectacle of, at a festival or revue, throwing up all of the acts together on the stage for one big jam. First saw the rphenomenon over there, then saw it at the Gran’ Ol’ Opry here.

So nice to see the likes of Kevin Burke, or Jackie Daley, or Sean Ryan stuck between keys, kit, two guitars, bass, and several "fronters" singing their gutties out.

Rant over.

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I agree with ALL points in this thread. Kind of a redundant contribution, but what the hey..

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well funnily enough, I’m not sure about the multiple bodhrans, it depends more on ratio, volume and playing ability.

I agree with Jon K’s point that if you’re a guitarist and frequently find yourself the second or 3rd guitar at a session and want to still contribute but don’t want to play across the regular player or negotiate some turns type understanding, learning the melody is nice and a very appreciated skill at a session. As per another post about bodhran playing, I think you’re accompaniment does improve when you learn the melody line too, although it is not the only method of improvement.

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Yup, agree with paudy too, to an extent. I guess like most insruments, it depends entirely on the people playing. I haven’t yet heard two bodhrans together sounding good, but maybe that’s because both players couldn’t coordinate, or one (mebbe both?) Were bad players or one was a beginner who are always terrible….. The list goes on. It’s a very long list.

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Sorry and to just to clarify and maintain balance, I am not opposed to bodhran players at all. One of the bodhran players at the session is well known, highly respected and has done a huge deal to keep this session going. One of the other objections I have to the new people is their lack of respect and knowledge for the contribution this player has made.

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Joey, a good place to hear a lot of bodhrans, occasionally played well together, is at the bodhran summer school Craiceann.

I heard a session with 4 melody instruments and 4 experienced bodhran teachers. None of that still gaurantees anything, but Rolf Wagels was kind of directing it and he’s a very simple and effective player which i think helped.

Respect for the music is certainly important when playing bodhran, I’ve never played accordian but when accompanying an accordian player on bodhran recently Iw as watching what he was doing really carefully to try and fall in synch with him as much as possible, he looked up and smiled to himself a few times and a sort of respect thing developed between us. I’m sure he thought my bodhran playing was a fair bit better than my fiddling but yeh, musicians appreciate when a bodhran player really tries to follow a tune I guess.

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I’m not a particularly experienced session player in the bigger scheme of things, but it seems to me that there is widespread confusion or at least disagreement about what a session is ‘for’.

So long as people maintain that the point of this music, and sessions in particular, is the personal fulfilment of those who play, I don’t see that anyone can complain about the outcome - whatever it may be. If three bodhran players all enjoy themselves bashing the hell out of a tune, then surely that’s all that matters? What it sounds like overall is immaterial, since we *know* that sessions aren’t meant to be performances.

If your sole enjoyment is derived from actively playing tunes rather than contributing to an overall ‘effect’, why would you *not* join in, if your sum total enjoyment would be diminished by not doing so? What’s more, the quality of your contribution really doesn’t matter either, since in its own terms, you can have just as much fun as an incompetent beginner as an experienced player, if not more.

I have quite often come across situations where people seem to have little awareness of their own ability/effect, nor the fact that they can sometimes add to the music by self-restraint – they are simply out to have as much personal action as possible, and while sessions remain the kind of benign anarchy that they generally seem to be, I don’t blame them. If you argue that self-satisfaction is the principal purpose of the session, I don’t see how people can complain that the overall sound is somehow spoiled by people who displease.

If the overall effect *is* important (to whom?), then some kind of restraint becomes necessary all round – and the problem then becomes how this should be achieved. But that would be moving dangerously in the direction of choreographing sessions in a way that seems anathema to most.

I’m playing devil’s advocate here, as someone who does try to judge what/when/how/whether he plays, in terms of what he might add to the total sound, but I get the feeling I’m in the minority. We can’t have it both ways.

Regarding the widespread confusion;

Sessions are for tunes.

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I disagree with that entirely. Far far far more important than an evening’s "personal fulfilment" is respect for the music. This always comes first.

I’ve never ever met anyone who was any good who didn’t always put respect for the music before their own "personal fulfilment".

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Re: Regarding the widespread confusion;

I disagree with Ian Stock, not you Babs Gordon

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>>I disagree with Ian Stock

you normally do, Llig. But as usual, if you had bothered properly to take in what I was saying, you would see that I was not for one moment promoting that view as desirable, simply observing (slightly tongue in cheek) that it seems to be quite widespread.

It’s something that you seem to complain about quite a lot yourself, given your intolerance of outlooks and attitudes with which you don’t agree. I’m just pointing out that while people like you seem to promote spontaneity and ‘respect for the music’ above any kind of co-ordination at a session, then you are inevitably going to get lots of different people all applying their own takes on that to the situation.

There’s no point in complaining about it - inless, by some bizarre chance you have been appointed Grand Inquisitor of trad music in my absence. 🙂

I’m not about to waste precious time getting into a big row about it. Considered point of view, that’s all.

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…and I very much doubt you would stop playing just because *I* took exception to what you were doing!

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‘Tongue in cheek’ is a difficult concept when using text. I should know. I’ve been misunderstood on this forum (and others) lots because of it!
‘Tongue in cheek’ is also a difficult concept for English speaking non Europeans. That’s why they always have to literally point out if something is supposed to be sarky, let alone ironic!
Similarky dead pan needs a face to go with it.

I hope your wig glue is still flowing and not turned green crispy snot-like.

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‘Similarky’- a new word is born…

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"… but it seems to me that there is widespread confusion or at least disagreement about what a session is ‘for’.

I think Ian has made a valid point there and this confusion has been the fuel and fodder for a great many heated debates here in Mustardia over the years. Generally speaking, folks fall into two camps; 1) It’s about the music, or 2) it’s about the shared community. However, there is also an independent voter block that allows for some bleed-over between the two political factions. I must admit that, much like politics, I have moved from the "liberal shared community" party into the conservative "It’s about the Music" party as I age.

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I think sessions, although each one differs. are generally a reflection of the Irish culture , tunes build atmosphere in a pub, in some parts of Ireland, especially Dublin, they build a nice pub drinking atmosphere encouraging some more punters to chance a song. The reason sessions in Ireland almost always take place in a pub is because it works.
Example: a pub I’ve played in the last 2 years, 2 of us played to around 15 people in a pub at the end of 2009. Now there are usually that many positions and quite often a solid wall of people standing as close to the music as possible. I am definitely not the best bodhran, guitar, banjo, fiddle player or singer, but whatever blend of musicians, punters and bartenders we arrived on worked perfectly in developing the session.
That said, from week 1 til now, it is not just for the enjoyment of the musicians. Once you play music in public, depending on how self conscious you are, you know how you would react if you heard somebody else playing it. You know by your developing musical ear how to improve on a tune or a song from week to week. And you know how to rub punters the right way so they keep coming back to what is your gig. Whether the pub pays you in pints or in cash, they will not host anything on their property that does not benefit them. If you somehow manage to cross the threshold where a regular Joe thinks of you as a great musician or singer, then you’re in. From then onwards, there are gradients in ability among the musicians for sure, but once you reach that critical mass of strong players, and in a singing focused place like Dublin, singers, you have a session. If you’re in a more traditional place like the Cobblestone or Hughes’ it’s going to more about the musicians, but last I checked O Donoghue’s with the plentiful supply of ballads does a great trade most nights, the same cannot be said of Hughes’ or the Cobblestone, even if the musicians are better there.
To cut that long story short, sessions can have an extent of the music being just for the players, but no sustainable session is going to operate by players simply turnign up and doing what they want, you at the very least have to play for each other to keep it going and, usually, you are to some extent a performer too

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I’m also in the ‘about the music’ camp - I think - but the problem is, what does that mean? I sympathise with Llig’s comment about respecting the music - but that can mean so many things to so many people.

It’s such a disembodied concept - and I suspect that the only place one is going to find such conformist ‘respect’ of such an abstract concept is in a church. After all, Llig woudl argue that the tunes don’t exist in their own right at all, and how he then separates ‘respect’ for a non-existent concept from his fulfilment as a musician (upon whom the tunes are totally dependent) is beyond me.

A degree of disagreement andf dischord (musical or personal) is the price we should rightly expect to pay for keeping this music close to its democratic roots.

Yaalhouse. I agree, I should stop doing tongue-in-cheek. It gets me into too much trouble 😉

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Ian’s post made me feel a need for someone to state the obvious. that a session is ‘for’ the time when it is happening. There can be a desire for ‘co-ordination’ with it being like a band practice. Along the lines of llig’s (IIRC) ‘musical conversation’. And it would apply to other communal music making that was not a practice for something, with other music being respected. But Paudy’s post makes me wonder if it is not obvious and maybe is wrong.

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David, I think you’re right. Our session is largely about the tunes, but there is also a strong communal tolerance of all involved, no matter what their standard of playing. But we also have a session leader, which implies a degree of co-ordination and compromise of personal autonomy.

And more often than not, an audience materialises, complete with applause, whether we like it or not. So it’s quite possible, and even desirable, to keep ‘for’ blurred. But that isn’t going to do much to cure the OP’s issues…

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A clear notice - "No more than one bodhran at a time" - right in the session area - does the trick in Pepper’s in Feakle.
Bodhran players tend to be left outside a lot of the chats in a session - tune names, keys, sources, etc - but they could at least talk to each other!

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I will, however, confess to a degree of impatience with people who play English tunes at our Irish session when there are several more English sessions locally and ours is the only Irish one for miles.

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Crossed, Ian’s first post. I mean, you don’t go to the pub to have a conversation with your mates for ‘personal fulfillment’ do you ? Even a good raconteur can be having fun with something they enjoy (and may think about in preparation) rather than be ‘showing off ‘. There area few people here who’s posts put a lot of coffee into keyboards and may well participate in sessions in the same spirit.

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Crossed again - and the ‘you’ wasn’t directed at Ian.

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"I will, however, confess to a degree of impatience with people who play English tunes at our Irish session when there are several more English sessions locally and ours is the only Irish one for miles."

Where on earth are you? I thought Irish sessions outnumbered all the others put together in every town in the British Isles?

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Nowhere near true, Jack, from my limited experience and those I talk to. Here on the Essex/Suffolk borders, there are at least three or four hybrid or mostly English sessions within relatively easy driving distance, but only the one reasonably Irish one. And even there I struggle for Scottish tunes…

I did some research a few months ago about the three other parts of England where I have live during my life, and the same would appear to be true, at least from an internet trawl.

Dare I suggest that you have put a finger on one of the common misconceptions of those who live in the heartlands?

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…and just to add to that, the four of us in the band live over a forty-plus mile spread…seems there are few others in the area, even wider than that, who are willing and able.

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"Llig woudl argue that the tunes don’t exist in their own right at all, and how he then separates ‘respect’ for a non-existent concept from his fulfilment as a musician (upon whom the tunes are totally dependent) is beyond me."

All the best tunes have such recognisable turns in them that they can still be recocnisable after being appallingly murdered. However, while the music itself may well be ephemeral and elusive, it is far from non existent and the respect for it is fueled by the fleeting grasp of it. And if anyone thinks that they can achieve that respect through the self indulgence of "personal fulfilment", it will remain forever beyond them.

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Strikes me that there are a few recording stars who’ve chased the tunes up their own innards and in the process lost the music. I’ve heard a few say, "I’m exploring what I have to say through the tunes."

Personally, I’d much rather listen to someone who gets out of the way and lets the tunes speak for themselves.

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Here, here!

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I don’t see that personal fulfilment is anything to be ashamed of. Perhaps you are reading more into the phrase than I had in mind. All I meant was the satisfaction and pleasure to be had from playing the music, nothing more precocious than that. Without that, why would anyone do it?

>>lets the tunes speak for themselves

Surely a false concept, particularly if you go with the view that the tunes only exist through the medium of the player. You may not like how someone else plays a tune, but that is another matter entirely. And if it is poor playing that is the problem, then I don’t see how you can blame people for just doing the best they can. I keep getting flashes of religious fervour in people who talk this way - but we are not talking about the Ten Commandments here.

I agree there is a sensitivitiy that one can develop for the music, but that is also a learning process, and I don’t see the point in bashing people who have yet to develop it, trying though they can sometimes be. The Music may be the important thing, but a lack of charity towards those who are still learning is one loss of community too far for me.

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"personal fulfilment" strikes me as being a very modern American (sorry yanks) "life coach" "therapy" kind of nonsense. You know the kind of thing. From that kind of psychological paranoia that assumes the default position that everyone is somehow mentally unstable and that by inventing thousands of so-called psychological "illnesses", cures can be found that usually involve the "patient" being asked to follow a "treatment" towards "personal fulfilment".

And the music is much simpler than all this selfish nonsense. I like what Will said, "I’d much rather listen to someone who gets out of the way and lets the tunes speak for themselves."

I think that to look at it in the terms of "the satisfaction and pleasure to be had from playing" is just too selfish to do the music any justice.

And while it’s true that the tunes only exist through the medium of the player, they can only really be any good if that player is not caught up in trying to satisfy his own selfish pleasure.

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Well I don’t disagree with any of that. Once again, maybe the curse of the internet strikes… I certainly didn’t mean some kind of trite, superficial ‘feel-good’. But I still think the sense of deep satisfaction to be had from "a job well done" is neither meaningless nor selfish. And it can be experienced through playing music as much as any other engrossing activity.

First day of school hols. Rather than drag myself out of bed at 06.30 and hit the A12, I got up in my own time, had breakfast and have just spent an hour playing the fiddle; luckily it was one of those times when everything seemed to go right - they’ve been in short supply recently. Deeply fulfilling way to start a day…

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Llig, I suspect you are thinking about Flow. Sorry, yes that is another psycho-babble type name, though it actually came from a Hungarian. The experience of deep immersion and loss of ‘self’ that comes from doing something demanding and engrossing. This has been mentioned before. The sense that one becomes a mere channel for something greater is part of that experience, as does the loss of awareness of time. Music does that for me too, but I don’t think there is any harm in acknowledging the pleasure it can bring.

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All this talk about "personal fulfilment". I’ll tell you what fulfills me. The music. Not just that, but a younger generation playing and enjoying the music. Check this out. At our session this week, one of the older guys brought his daughter. A youngster. 11 years old. A couple of sets are played before i got to hear her, but eventually, she led a set. Dudes, the kid was great. Since i’m the only live fiddle player i hear, for long periods of time, i have to put up with a lot of mucky, crappy, sloppy fiddle playing. Hearing this kid play was refreshing. It was fresh, clean, smooth, neat. It was fulfilling hearing such well played live music. Turns out she’s been playing for 3 years. I joked that i was half her age. I hope to be as neat and clean as she was, one day. But i have another year and a half to catch up ;)

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But aside from hearing great players, i love listening to well written music. Some tunes have phrases and passages that fill me all up. The Foxhunter’s Reel is a GREAT example. There are some tunes that have smaller parts that i really enjoy. Some have tiny little gems all throughout the tune. But it always feels good to hear the right sequence of notes in the right place.

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try the Foxhunters in G as well as A. It is indeed one of the really great reels. Also, try it a fair clip and also a nice steady trot. But also play it really slow. All the best tunes can handle many different approaches. Also, it can be a very dense tune, so make sure you let it breath, don’t overload it. Play it on the fiddle like you’d play it on the flute and literally take breaths by lifting your bow and leaving short notes out

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I just can’t reconcile playing diddley tunes as either being or attempting to be "a job well done". It just doesn’t register like that in my head. Maybe, when it actually was my "job", but even then, not really. Playing diddley music is just too ephemeral. I’d think that if I built something out of concrete it might be a job well done, but the music is not concrete and that’s the point I suppose. You play a diddley tune and you have nothing to show for it and to really get into the music you have to embrace that and love it for what it is. And I think that if you do it to get something out of it, anything, fulfilment, happiness, anything, you miss its essential ephemeral quality.

The question was asked, "Without he satisfaction and pleasure to be had from playing the music, why would anyone do it?"

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I don’t do it for satisfaction and pleasure. I like the way fiddlelearner put it, it’s simply, the music.

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Well, why would anyone do it then ?

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Could you give it up ?

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Well, I’m thrashing around here trying to find a form of words you can accept. I should have placed my bet on your last reply. At the risk of another bout of navel-gazing, let me suggest one more thing: unless you don’t accept the principle of cause and effect, there must be, or have been, something, some-when that caused you to start to play the music, and to continue to do so. So you must be getting some kind of ‘reward’ for doing what you’re doing, even if it doesn’t feel like that. Maybe you need to delve a little deeper?

‘Job well done’ may not be your favoured phrase (not mine either, as I said, I’m thrashing around looking for a form of words…) but have you never got satisfaction from ending a tune feeling that you played it well? And what about the raised-hairs-on-back-of-neck/lump-in-throat moment that music can sometimes give? If you never get that, then you’re missing out on something wonderful. But I suspect you do.

Another point about the motivation thing is that people don’t always experience ‘rewards’ as direct, conscious pleasure – the best example I read was the mountain-climber who, asked whether he enjoyed climbing said that he hated every moment – but the view from the top was worth it. People sometimes do things that they don’t actively enjoy because they experience some sense of imperative to do so. But there must still be some kind of long-term reward, however subliminal, otherwise there would be no reason for doing it.

Maybe ‘reward’ is the wrong word too, but I’m using it in a rather anthropological sense. Occasionally I get a quick ‘buzz’ from something that went particularly well, but mostly it’s a deeper satisfaction that comes from being able to ‘voice’ the music. I hope you do experience that, or at least being a worthy outlet for it - or else why do you do it?

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"Well, why would anyone do it then ?" Simply because it is what it is, the music. And why should there be a reason anyway? There’s an assumption that there should be a reason for everything we do. Why should there be?

Yeah, probably, but there’s no reason for me too. Ha ha.

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I agree with Michael, to a certain extent, but I’m not sure about the word "ephemeral". When the music sounds right, it has a timeless, ageless quality. Playing it is like participating in a ritual where the choices that you might make are limited. It’s easier to point out things that don’t seem right, like obvious manifestations of joy or excitement. The proper look is one of slightly blank concentration. There is nothing more annoying than the prats commenting on YouTube when some young people have played this music beautifully: "would have been better if you’d managed a smile, looked as if you were enjoying yourself.." So utterly wrong

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Sorry … could I give it up?

Yeah, probably, but there’s no reason for me too. Ha ha.

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Nor a reason for the moths but they still fly to the light.

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I started to play for the wrong reasons, vanity mostly. But that was a very long time ago and while the vanity persisted it was a persistent barrier to not understanding and therefor not getting any better … no matter how hard I tried and practised.

Richard, I think "ephemeral" is the perfect word. I agree that there can be an illusion of timelessness, but it is nothing more than an illusion.

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Well I can understand the idea of ‘things you just have to do’, but I’m not sure I can see why you would start to play from vanity. Unless you wanted to perform/show off - and you hardly chose the best kind of music for that…

I think the timelessness comes from Flow again - take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

I sometimes feel at the mercy of my ‘interests’ - there are times when something goes almost completely dry, and no amount of effort will resurrect the motivation - but when the rains come, as they always do, I have no option but to float the boat again…

I could never envisage not playing this music - just something I ‘have’ to do, even though there have been those drought periods along the way.

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I think it was all kinds of vanity, including impressing girls and just plain old wanting to impress myself with myself … the "looking at yourself in the mirror" thing. Narcissism.

And I still hear a lot of players, often otherwise good players with decent technique playing in a narcissistic way. It’s not nice. As Will says, you absolutely have to get yourself out of the way… your desires, your wishes, your cravings for reward etc. Once you can do this, you can start to really learn how to play.

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I am becoming increasingly confident in giving other people "because I want to" as the reason for doing things, but its not much good in a discussion and I am more curious than that. Runners will say they train because they want to, but they and researchers have known about the endorphins for a couple of decades. It seems to me that we must be ‘getting something out of it’.

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I just shrug my shoulders, I’m not interested in people who ask such questions.

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Good analogy, running.

I’m a runner and a fiddler (an okay runner, a horrible fiddler). On the bad days, I worry that I do both for the reason Michael noted: impressing myself with myself. On the good days, I know each of these things has more intrinsic worth than watching TV. I can’t articulate why, or even know whether this judgement is reflective of a personal value set or a universal value set, but on the good days I’m sure of it nonetheless.

When fiddling, I’ve yet to be able to absolutely get myself out of the way. I think I may have accomplished this while running, although that state may have been exhaustion and/or endorphins.

I wonder: when one really plays within the music, losing oneself completely, is that comparable to the zen-like "runners’ high" that I’ve experienced? Maybe not the same, but comparable?

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And you get the most out of it when you stop thinking about what you’re getting out of it and start really doing it.
Most of the frustrations expressed on this board - "session etiquette", inability to learn tunes, inability to execute ornamentation, etc - seem to stem from a goal-oriented approach. People have trouble learning tunes because they see learning tunes as a problem to solve. People see ornamentation as difficult because they see it as something to "add on" to the tune. People have trouble with interactions at their session because they come in expecting things to go according to a certain script.
All of that is a failure of the person having the problem, I’m sorry to say, and the failure is this: they are not playing the tunes, they are trying to play the tunes. They are not going to a session, they are trying to "go to a session".

llig’s right, Will’s right: if you want to play the music, play the music. Widgets and gadgets and books of tunes and books of rules are amusing artifacts, but they really don’t have anything to do with playing the tunes.

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Or rather, you’ve got to learn to not to want to play it.

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And that’s where the sport analogy always fails, of course. Because you can only win if you want to win.

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Well I don’t know if you read that link I posted just now – but here’s the bit on Flow and musicians for you…

“Musicians, especially improvisational soloists may experience a similar state of mind while playing their instrument. Research has shown that performers in a flow state have a heightened quality of performance as opposed to when they are not in a flow state. In a study performed with professional classical pianists who played piano pieces several times to induce a flow state, a significant relationship was found between the flow state of the pianist and the pianist’s heart rate, blood pressure, and major facial muscles. As the pianist entered the flow state, heart rate and blood pressure decreased and the major facial muscles relaxed. This study further emphasized that flow is a state of effortless attention. In spite of the effortless attention and overall relaxation of the body, the performance of the pianist during the flow state improved.”

It’s all very well for accomplished people to make comments such as Llig’s and Jon’s – but you are taking a lot for granted. I too can play a tune reasonably well without really thinking about it – if that’s what you mean – and I don’t go looking for any *specific* kind of reward from it. But that is not to deny that it is a satisfying thing to do, to the point that I’ll put up with a hell of a lot of frustration and even physical discomfort for the sake of getting it ’right’ now and again. If it weren’t in some way satisfying, I wouldn’t do it as the frustration and effort would become overwhelming. But I’m still a bit bemused how those of you who emphasise interpretation/expression/improvisation/generally doing your own thing with a tune can then come back and say it’s nothing to do with what the player is getting out of it…

Our piper has, for reasons best know to himself, decided that he also want to play the goat. He has been borrowing my older drum. I gave him a few tips yesterday – the interesting thing was that the harder he tried consciously to make the right sound by over-controlling the tipper, the less successful he was. So I can see where you’re coming from in that respect. But knowing that and doing something about it are two very different things, especially to a learner.

NewToItAll, I think your answer is in your own word, “intrinsic” – things that we do intrinsically are more rewarding than things done for mercenary reasons – I suspect that autonomy has something to do with it. But if I didn’t experience music as a positive activity, no matter how fuzzily, I can’t see why I would continue to do it.

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>>impressing myself with myself

I’m not into narcisim either, but there’s a big distance between that and taking satisfaction, and even a little self-confidence from one’s achievements.

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No there isn’t. It’s exactly the same thing.

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But there is a world of difference between "effortless attention" and "I can play a tune reasonably well without really thinking about it"

It’s another misconception, that it’s possible to play even reasonably well without thinking about it.

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"And that’s where the sport analogy always fails, of course. Because you can only win if you want to win."

I run solo. There’s nobody to beat and nobody to lose to. Winning doesn’t enter the equation. I enjoy it and it feels right on a very deep, personal level. As does playing the tunes; that was my comparison.

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Llig, how do you ever manage to get yourself out of bed and face the world every morning?

Yours (in?)sincerely,
Uriah Heep

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llig’s position is pretty close to the Buddhist take on why you do things. Forget the "self-help" crud and look at this:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/tib/cutting.htm

(I have no idea if llig identifies as a Buddhist or not).

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The ‘self-help crud’ is nothing of the sort, Jack. It is respected phychological research. I’m not dismissing Llig’s approach, even though I find it rather at odds with the ego and reasoning he projects on here much of the time. But it’s more proof that there’s more than one approach to this music, as with most things in life. My own hair shirt is thin enough that I can manage to pat myself on the back occasionally without feeling guilty about it! 🙂

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Ian, you may find this relevant, and the views are more attributable that wikipedia, http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html

Llig, how much of what you do when playing are you *conciously* giving attention to ? Do you have think to put a finger down in the right place, or tweak it a bit to fine tune the tuning to whatever else is going on ?

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Thanks David, I’m already familair with it. I have read quite a lot about his work, hence my comments.

Ian

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Ian, I am surprised you haven’t linked it before because I think it is more coherent than the wikipedia entry.

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Normally I recognize the point Llig is trying to make and almost always I agree with it. But this whole "I play music simply because its the music" sounds a little too cool for me. I personally play this particular style of music because I really enjoy it. When I can’t get to a session for a few weeks, I really miss it. Sorry Llig, but this new zen angle you’re working on is too heady for me. Why can’t you just say you like it? Playing it makes you happy? Jeez, I’d be exhausted if I spent as much time as some of you here constantly looking for hidden motives behind the simplest of joys in life.

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David, I think I posted that link at some point in the past. I just thought that the Wikipedia page gave a quicker overview - especially the diagram of flow. Not sure whether the film is more than people would want.

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Ian, maybe a just prefer a good lecture to an unsatifasfactry article. I found the article linked Jack C linked to be a good read and I can see why he thought it relevant to what Michael seems to be saying. For example "If you really appreciate an object of beauty, then you completely identify with it
and forget yourself".

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David, that chimes here. I’m not so sure I want to attach aesthetic experience quite so directly with spirituality though. I prefer Steven Pinker’s work linking our perception of beauty with an inherent, evolutionary empathy for the natural world.

I’m getting ready to go to Scotland in a couple of weeks’ time, and I’ve just been looking at some photos of the Highlands to get me in the mood. There’s something about those landscapes that awakens a feeling I really can’t describe, let alone explain, very deep inside. The music does something similar.

The only problem with this, which frequently causes issues on the M.B., is the deeper you go into such experiences, the easier it is to view them as an absolute truth, and forget that others may see things quite differently.

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I like the comments about not overthinking the music. As someone who tends to overanalyze things, I find it very liberating to play music that rushes by so fast that if I try to put my mind in the loop, I can’t keep up. I like giving up control to the music.
And not just when I am playing, I am drawn to this music because of its simplicity and lack of pretense. Unlike classical music, which tends to get analyzed and deconstructed to death, this music just is what it is.

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Maybe there’s a difference between ‘over-thinking’ i.e. deliberately delving for stuff that may or may not be there, and simply reacting in what is, to you, a normal way?

Some people naturally just let music wash over them, while others instinctively hear in a highly analytical way. I would say that you can appreciate classical music just as non-analytically too, it’s just that many people feel the need to over-intellectualise it because it’s what they think you ‘ought’ to do.

I agree with you about the simplicity and integrity of this music, which is why I am happy to take it as I instinctively find it - somewhere between the two extremes…

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There is no "instict" in music. Non at all. All of it is learned, every last bit of it.

And I’ve not read Steven Pinker, but if he is linking our perception of beauty with an inherent, evolutionary empathy for the natural world then he;s talking rubbish. There are so many different contradictory things that humans define as beautiful or not that there cannot possibly any evolutionary empathetic link (except for maybe a girl’s arse). Some people find bits of metal in peoples faces beautiful. Some people find anorexics beautiful. Some people find warthogs ugly. Some people find fields of wheat ugly. Some people find beauty and empathy with Scottish hills and glens … that have been brutally stripped of their natural forests then brutally stripped of those people who stripped the forests and replaced with sheep.

Jusa, I agree that "I play music simply because it’s the music" does just sound a little too cool, too pretentious. The truth is that I really don’t know why I play this music. I know I had many reasons for starting, but all of them have faded away. But what I do know is that the music is at its best when there is no reason for it. Once it serves a function, any function, something in it is lost. Or to put it the other way, for each reason to play that is shed, something in the music is gained.

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Saying, "I play music simple because it’s the music" may sound "pretentious", but the statement can be very very true. I mean, don’t we all play music because it’s music? It makes us feel the way we desire to feel, whether it’s a negative or positive emotion. And beauty lies in it, it’s just a matter of perception whether it’s beautiful to you or not. Some melodies and harmonies are refreshing. Some bring back memories. There is always a reason why we enjoy it. You can either appreciate it for what it is, or what it does. Either way, you still appreciate it.

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For some reason fiddlelearner, It sounds perfectly fine and honest coming from you. But it feels pretentious coming from me.

Maybe it’s because you are a young idealist and I’m old and jaded.

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Well llig, it’s time to be honest with yourself. See, i can relate to you in a way. When i first started playing piano, i played cause my pure heart wanted to learn music, but* when i saw what music could do, my heart became tainted and eventually i played for popularity and attraction(but the later backfired. even though after several years of practise, i became very popular, i learned that american girls view pianist as a type of nerd. even though girls liked my music, i was just too nerdy and it took more away from my attractiveness than the music added.) after realizing that popularity wasn’t fulfilling, i eventually went back to playing for the appreciation of music. That appreciation developed into a passion and created other passions, one being a passion for learning. So i guess we play music for a lot of reasons, but not all of those reasons may be pure hearted reasons.

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>>There is no "instinct" in music

If you’re talking about playing it, then I mostly agree, though I suspect that some people do the necessary learning quicker than others. There could be any number of reasons for that, but they could include nature as well as nurture.

However, before we can make music, we can hear it. Can you be sure that our reaction on hearing music is equally learned, rather than an innate response to certain types of sound? What starts to happen soon after birth, however, is that our hearing is increasingly shaped by that which we are exposed to, as with most other aspects of learning. That’s why people tend to like what they already know. Even then, some people are more prone to musical exploration than others.

You might find Pinker interesting. Try ‘The Blank Slate’. He claims that sensory experience is a physiological message about adaptive environments – i.e. something normally tastes good because it *is* good (for you). Poisons tend to taste foul. The sense of human beauty (whether arse or anything else) is a response to the reproductive urge. The thing about the arts is that they have learned how to manipulate and magnify these signals purely for the aesthetic kick they give.

Humans have learned to manipulate and distort their sense of natural beauty, which may explain your examples. Metal in people’s faces, skinny models etc. are not an aesthetic response but a socialised one. Pinker argues that much modern fashion, conceptual art etc. has lost the plot by trying to be too clever and over-riding the basic link back to nature.

But also, natural beauty is to be found in areas where we learn not to look for it, e.g. in old age, decay, dissonance – because they all start from the same natural functions. However this requires a degree of over-riding of instinct because such things are not beneficial to us. Manzoni was the ultimate con-artist in this respect!

So Pinker would seem to reinforce what you said rather than deny it. What you were describing is the way in which society has narrowed its acceptable perception of beauty through received wisdom, tribalism and the nurturing process.

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"natural beauty is to be found in areas where we learn not to look for it." Well i’m sure glad i know where to find it. If i hadn’t looked up at the sky the other evening, i would’ve missed a splendidly beautiful sunset. The sky was in pink and blue, cotton candy colors, which isn’t common around here. I try to find beauty in everything. Whether it’s in a short two measure phrase of music, or a womans’ eyes. The misty forests Basstrop, or the horses that run through them… sorry folks, got a little poetic lol.

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You got it, Jerone. Interesting thing is, unlike ‘art’ people very rarely disagree about natural beauty.

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Except that all the best sunsets happen because of air pollution.

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Apart from a very few base traces, girl’s arses for example, humans have no instincts whatsoever. We don’t even have the instinct to suckle … we even have to learn that. So the idea that we can have some kind of primeval base instinctual reactions to something as psychologically complex as music is just pure romantic hokum.

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Well, it’s another view of things - but as usual, I’d be interested to know what makes you so sure. You’re flying in the face of some fairly big guns there, even if the nature/nurture debate itself is old hat.

But to come back to one of your earlier points, music is best when it is just music. Just like sunsets are best when they are jsut sunsets. The trouble comes when we start to make comparisons or claim that we know better than somebody else.

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But in which case, how you explain the experience of deep beauty?

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Sorry to butt in at this late stage. I wasn’t going to join in this thread, but I think things went off the rails with the ""I play music simple because it’s the music" statement.

People don’t make music because they want to hear beautiful music (whatever their perception of beauty may be). If that was your only reason you might as well just listen to a CD.

People play music for the sense of achievement it brings. When you make music, whether you are playing in your bedroom or a stadium, you create something out of nothing. It’s that feeling of creation and achievement that feeds a musicians soul. It has nothing to do with whether the music is beautiful or not, the only thing that matters is that you made it yourself.

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Skreech, I don’t do it for "achievement." I don’t do it to "make" something—it’s too ephemeral for that. And I find I usually don’t enjoy music made by people intent on achievement.

I play because I enjoy the simple act of doing it, in the moment. It’s like going for a good hike. I climb a mountain three or more days a week just because I like moving my legs, traveling through the landscape, filling my lungs, and feeling my heart pound. The summit is 5,600 feet above sea level, but I rarely go to the top. That’s not the point. Simply walking around out there is the point. For me, playing music is the same thing.

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Skreetch, I’m in total agreement with you on that. But if it’s beautiful, then so much the better. On the few occasions that I’ve created something that I consider to be beautiful (not only music), then the sense of achievement was vastly enhanced.

I didn’t go further down that road because Llig seemed not to like the I do it for a ‘sense of personal reward’ argument. For ‘reward’, read achievement.

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Will, the fact surely remains, if you didn’t feel some kind of benefit to it, you wouldn’t do it - and you did use the word ‘like’. What that benefit may be is as individual as every one of us - but I understand where you’re coming from. For convenience’s sake, I still label it ‘intrinsic’. In the past, I used the noun ‘authentic’. Don’t read too much into the labels though, they’re not very important in real life.

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Skreech i completely disagree. Many do play music to feel achievement but not everyone does. If all music did was make me feel accomplished, i would’ve given it up a long time ago, because that accomplishment will never be complete. And it’s also false that "if thats the case you could just listen to a CD." Everyone knows that playing, or listening, to live music is waaaaaaaay better than any CD, no matter how good the quality is. And there aren`t manny things as fun as playing an instrument, hearing the music as close as one possibly can. Not only that, not every thing that exist, satisfies some of us. I compose music that relates to e and my emotions, so when i play it i know exactly how i’m suppose to feel. I never have to ask myself "what feeling is this song i composed, what inspired me?" But i have to do it often with other musics. There are too many people in the world to say that all of them play for the same "acheivement".

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>>"Skreech, I don’t do it for "achievement." I don’t do it to "make" something—it’s too ephemeral for that. And I find I usually don’t enjoy music made by people intent on achievement."

I don’t think you have looked at your own motives poarticularly carefully.

Ask yourself why you like to play a tune rather than just listening to someone else play it.

There are two possible answers to that question:

One is that you get satisfation from making the music yourself - a sense of achievement.

The alternative is that you think the music is better if you play it yourself - that you can play the tune better than anyone who has recorded it.

It’s the same with your hill walking analogy. Even if you don’t go right to the top, you’re still getting the satisfaction of having gone out and done it. If you really go up there just for the view, you might as well look at a postcard. And it’s the same with music. Your ‘not going to the summit’ idea implies that you think you can only get a sense of achievement from doing something perfectly. That plainly isn’t the case, and in music the achievement buzz comes from doing something well, of pushing your limits. Not just from achieving perfection. Even raw beginners get the achievement buzz when they play something as well as they can, even though they know that it is anything but perfect.

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>>"Skreech i completely disagree. Many do play music to feel achievement but not everyone does. If all music did was make me feel accomplished, i would’ve given it up a long time ago, because that accomplishment will never be complete."

Achievment and accomplishment are two completely different things.

If you weren’t achieving anything, if, no matter how many hours of practice you put in, you never got any better, would you carry on?

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Skreech, i know that your argument isn’t stable. I know because, i’ve recorded myself playing a piano piece. I’d rather play the music on a live instrument than listen to myself on a recording. If it’s my recording, that would give me the sense of acheivement, and if it’s my recording, how could i possibly do it thinking that i’m better than the musician on the recording when i’m that same musician? Thats propostrous. If i’ve acheived both of your motives already, why would i still want to play? Because! Nothing is like gracing those keys, and feeling the music as close as some can. Nothing is like feeling tthe vibrations of the strings come up through your arm when playing fiddle or guitar. Holding it, cradleling it as the music flows through it. Nothing is as rich as natural, live, acoustic, ambient music. It feels amazing. There is no acheivent in feelings.

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>>" I compose music that relates to e and my emotions, so when i play it i know exactly how i’m suppose to feel."

Exactly. You like your compositions because they are something you made yourself - one of your achievements. Not because they are intrinsically more beautiful than anything anyone else has written.

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Skreech, maybe YOU play to feel achievement and accomplished as a person, but don’t put that curse on everyone else. Of course if i didn’t get better, i wouldn’t play anymore. Because if i don’t get better, i’ll never be able to make beautiful music, when the entire objective, is to feel beautiful music. The objective would never get complete.

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You’re missing my point. I like the music because i can feel it more than anything else. I can’t relate fully to Yiruma, or Ludovico. But i can relate fully to myself. And also, i compose because i’m not satisfied with the amount of music that’s in the world. Yiruma and Ludovico have both composed pieces that i’ve never heard anything like. There’s not enough of it for me, and since i can’t find more of it, i make my own.

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The other thing, that I’m sure will get right up Llig’s nose, is the matter of possession. Why do people do things as opposed to watching others doing them? Why do people take photo’s? It’s a form of capture, of ownership. When I am inspired to model something, there is some drive inside that says looking isn’t enough - a deeper form of response is needed. And by adding it to my repertoire, it somehow becomes ‘mine’. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there is something a bit similar going on when I hear a tune I like. It’s not especially materialistic, but it is somehow acquisitive. Another factor, along with creation (capture?) of beauty and the sense of achievement.

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>>"Skreech, maybe YOU play to feel achievement and accomplished as a person, but don’t put that curse on everyone else. Of course if i didn’t get better, i wouldn’t play anymore. Because if i don’t get better, i’ll never be able to make beautiful music, when the entire objective, is to feel beautiful music. The objective would never get complete."

Once again, I have never mentioned accomlishment, that is something entirely different.

>"i’ll never be able to make beautiful music" What’s the important word in that sentence - ‘beautiful’, or ‘make’ ? All I am saying is that it is the making it yourself that is important, not the beauty of the product."

>"when the entire objective, is to feel beautiful music." If you just want to feel the music go to a concert or put on a CD, don’t waste your life practicing (and making and ‘FEELING’ a lot of un-beautiful music in the process).

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>>"And also, i compose because i’m not satisfied with the amount of music that’s in the world."

Ah, right. You’ve listened to it all have you? And got bored with it all, so now you have no alternative but to write your own.

And you don’t get any satisfaction at all out of writing your own music. No feeling of achievement?

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Concerts and CD’s cost money. Second, just because i’m another human doesn’t mean i can’t make music that’s beautiful to me. I’ve listened to enough genres, and styles, and instruments to know everything that i like about sound. The great thing about this is that i also know how to play instruments, so now i can play other people’s beautiful music, as well as compose my own. Skreech you have a mental blockage that doesn’t allow you to understand others’ understandings, beliefs, logic, and reasoning. I’m not going to continue arguing with this about you. As i’ve said, i’m sorry that music only makes you feel "acheived" but there is much much more to music than acheivement. I hope that one day, you could understand that.

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Satisfaction and acheivement are two completely different things. You could be very satisfied with your wife. I don’t know what acheivement has to do with that. You can be unsatisfied that there’s a new moon instead of a full one. I don’t know what acheivement has to do with that.

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*with this about you* Haha! you know what i mean lol.

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I don’t have a mental blockage, but I think you might, or else the word ‘achievement’ means something different on your side of the pond - you’ve twice confused it with accomplishment.

And despite all your denials and the claptrap about ‘not enough music in the world, you have admitted that achievement is your motivation:

>>"Of course if i didn’t get better, i wouldn’t play anymore."

So the reason you HAVEN’T stopped, the reason you still continue to play, is that you are getting better, you are ACHIEVING something. So how can you say that that isn’t part of your motivation?

You practice five note rolls not because you like the sound of badly played five note rolls, but because you want to be able to play them well. You want to ACHIEVE the ability to play them well.

You obviously enjoy composition and you claim it has nothing to do with achievement, but which bit of the process do you enjoy - the bits where you say ‘That sounds pants, I need to try something different’ or the bits where you say ‘Wow! that’s good!’ If what you say is true, and achievement isn’t what makes the process enjoyable, then you presumably enjoy both scenarios equally. I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed failure as much as success.

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What are you not understanding about the fact that people can enjoy music because it is beautiful to them? Remember, the objective is to play beautiful music. So what happens when i can play beautiful music. What do i say "Now i have acheived playing beautiful music, i shall now learn to do something different!" Nooooooo, that’s not what happens, you keep playing because you like….. I keep playing because i like how it sounds. I can’t afford a personal fiddler to play all the music i like in a live setting, so i play it myself. And if did, better believe i’d learn so i could play along with them. This is your mental blockage. You believe that people only play music to feel achieved, so if someone says there is another reason, you say you’re right and everyone else is wrong. You may play for achievement to feed your ego, but not everyone in the world does. Like i said, don’t put your curse on all of us.

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Accomplishement and Acheivement aren’t different you crazy person lol. They’re synonyms.

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To me. someone who is accomplished might be said to have reached a certain standard. Achievement is something that you can attain no matter what level you are at - simply a matter of reaching some arbitrary goal that you set yourself.

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Yes. Accomplishment is about reaching an end goal, achievement is about the little steps along the way. They’re not synonyms.

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They’re not completely different either. But either way, music is about more than Achievement, Accomplishment, and feeding your ego. Some of us play because it’s beautiful to listen to. Whether you play for your ego or not, that’s up to you. But i feel sorry that you can’t see past it.

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There obviously is a language difference across the pond.

A sense of achievement in the UK doesn’t mean feeding your ego.

A sense of achievement is ‘I feel good because I’ve made this tune’, not ‘aren’t I great because I’ve made this tune’.

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but it’s still wrong. i don’t feel good because i can play it(or made it). i feel good because it’s a good tune… I thought that’s how we all felt.

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>>"Some of us play because it’s beautiful to listen to. Whether you play for your ego or not, that’s up to you. But i feel sorry that you can’t see past it."

Not only are you totally blind to your own motivation, you’re now making wild guesses about mine.

Nobody plays because they like to listen to music, you play because you like to MAKE music. The listening aspect is identical whether it is yourself or someone else playing. So now think about why you like to MAKE music. And if words like ‘creativity’, and satisfaction’ don’t come into your explanation, then you really are weird.

As to my motivation, I’m a very mediocre fiddler. I knew (or rather my parents convinced me) at an early age that I was never going to be good enought to get anywhere playing music, but I still wanted to be part of it all, so I trained as an instrument maker instead. I gave up playing in bands in my mid 20s, and for thirty years didn’t play in public, but still got countless hours of extreme pleasure playing for myself when no one else was about. Playing for the sheer joy of making music, of achieving something creative. It has absolutely nothing to do with ego. And I think you’ll find the vast majority of people play for exactly the same reason. I certainly don’t think you’ll find many who claim they compose ‘because there aren’t enough tunes in the world, or that they play ‘because they prefer to listen to their own music rather than someone elses’ - that really is a bit egocentric.

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>>"but it’s still wrong. i don’t feel good because i can play it(or made it). i feel good because it’s a good tune… I thought that’s how we all felt."

What utter rubbish. If the only thing that mattered to you was how good the tune was, then you’d want to listen to Kevin Burke playing it, not yourself.

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"What utter rubbish. If the only thing that mattered to you was how good the tune was, then you’d want to listen to Kevin Burke playing it, not yourself."

Ummm, since when could i afford ANY fiddler, let alone KEVIN BURKE, to come play it for me whenever i wanted him/them to? I can’t. I can’t have live Kevin Burke all to myself. What a close mind you have :/ And i have YET to met ANYONE who prefers recorded music over Live Music. The feel is different, and it’s not the same.

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"So now think about why you like to MAKE music"

I told you already, because it feels good. And it doesn’t feel good because of achievement, but because it’s good music. You don’t believe me. No matter who plays it, if it’s a good tune it’s a good tune. Now if i butcher it, that’s my fault.

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A Kevin Burke CD would still be a better rendition of the tune than playing it yourself if all that matters is the tune.

And just how good is the listening experience when you’re actually playing yourself? How much of your mental capacity can you devote to listening while you are concentrating on playing?

What about all the hours of practicing, are you really doing that because you like to listen to someone practicing?

And do you really prefer the sound of a fiddle under your chin, bow scrape and all, to a recording made out front where the sound is projecting?

You are deluding yourself.

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One last point, and i’m done here. I’m the only live musician that i know, that i have 100% 24 hour access to. And i’m not that bad, so why not listen to myself play?

To open up your mind, here are *other* reasons why people play music.

It’s fun.
It feels good.
It’s good practice.
People demand it.
It’s an outlet/cope
It’s live, and often acoustic.
I’m sure there’s more, but these are what i’m use to.

Then there’s your reason, to feel achieved.

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>>"I told you already, because it feels good. And it doesn’t feel good because of achievement, but because it’s good music. You don’t believe me. No matter who plays it, if it’s a good tune it’s a good tune. Now if i butcher it, that’s my fault."

If you butcher it then ceases to be good music, so you won’t want to hear it. On that basis you wouldn’t want to attempt to play a tune unless you know you are going to play it well. So there must be some other motivation for attempting difficult pieces.

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"One last point, and i’m done here. I’m the only live musician that i know, that i have 100% 24 hour access to. And i’m not that bad, so why not listen to myself play?"

Piano and guitar more so than fiddle.

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"So there must be some other motivation for attempting difficult pieces."

And one point, they are no longer attempts, but actually sound good, played well and are beautiful even. But a mediocre musician wouldn’t know that now would he?

Bubye ;)

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It’s fun…………………… What makes it fun?

It feels good…………..What feels good - the aching elbow and bleeding fingers, or the feeling that you are creating something?

It’s good practice………….Practice for what, if you’re not trying to achieve anything?

People demand it……..Only in the latter stages, once you’ve done quite a lot of achieving.

It’s an outlet/cope……….Again, that is that is the creativity/achievement thing.

It’s live, and often acoustic……..So is shouting obscenities at policemen.

I’m sure there’s more, but these are what i’m use to.

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>>"And one point, they are no longer attempts, but actually sound good, played well and are beautiful even. "

Right. We might be getting somewhere now.

So you are prepared to go through a number of failed attempts in order to eventually get it right. What is the reward for that? Is it really just being able to hear what the tune should sound like (which you could have done at any time by putting a CD on) Or is it the buzz you get the first time you play it through without mistake. The buzz of having achieved something?

And what is your motivation for going through all those failed attempts - is it just that you like to hear failed attempts, or is it by any chance that you want to achieve the goal of playing it well?

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its simple or at least it can be………just say one at a time lads please…..or choose the best lad and name him-her as the only needed percussion….if none of them are adding to the mix in a positive way just say so…..

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I am one of those people who works at his music, who likes the feeling of accomplishment that comes with achieving a goal like learning a new tune, who feels the need to get something useful done each day. I don’t mean to approach it that way, it just seems to be the way I am. That drive comes from my traditional New England upbringing I suppose, and a general sense that life is about work and service.
But when am I happiest? When I am lost in the music, when there is no goal, there simply is the joy of playing. When I let go of all those obligations and am just part of the tunes.

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And Skreech said, "Even though my fingers are bleeding, and my elbows ache, that’s alright, because i’m acheiving something". But Jerone said, "I don’t care if my fingers are sore, and my shoulder is a little tense, i’m playing those tunes anyway cause they’re Awesome! XD"

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Couldn’t be bothered to read all this, but skreech’s notion that I "might as well look at a postcard" rather than hike my mountain shows a remarkable lack of understanding of why I hike and why I play music.

I’m soooo glad I don’t do this for a "reward," for a sense of achievement or accomplishment.

I do it because the experience itself is enjoyable. It’s always been that way. I didn’t persevere through "failed attempts" so I could feel the satisfaction of finally playing well. I just played. I enjoyed it then, even though it probably didn’t sound "good" to others. I enjoy it now, *in spite of the fact* that other people go out of their way to show their appreciation when I play.

What feels good? The swing of the bow, the pulse that vibrates through every cell, the synapses firing in a familiar tune pattern, the hands playing together, linked by strings that complete an electrical circuit from hand to brain to hand.

If it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. And if you’re pushing through the pain to "achieve" something, I don’t want to be anywhere within earshot.

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Will, if i’m ever in Montana, i wouldn’t mind stopping your session. But i think i would leave my fiddle at home, or at least leave it in it’s case, unless someone was curious and wanted to hear. But what i’m getting at is that i’d love to hear you play someday.

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*Stopping by!* Stopping by your session. I wouldn’t mind stopping *by your session. Sorry, MAJOR typo :/

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Jerone, you’d be pestered right away to get your fiddle out and join in. It’d be a hoot.

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"I knew (or rather my parents convinced me) at an early age that I was never going to be good enought to get anywhere playing music"

I’ve never really wanted to get anywhere playing music. Usually, playing music is where I want to get to.

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"Even if you don’t go right to the top, you’re still getting the satisfaction of having gone out and done it."

When I go for a hike, I get a lot more satisfaction from doing it than from having done it. Same with tunes, or conversation, or eating a good meal.

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…or getting drunk. I can enjoy getting drunk. I’m less fond of actually *being* drunk. 🙂

If skreech plays music for a sense of achievement, good for him. But he’s overreaching when he presumes to speak for the rest of us, or says Jerone is deluding himself or blind to his own motivations. I find that arrogant and unpleasant in the extreme.

Skreech certainly does *not* understand *my* motivations for playing music.

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"…or getting drunk."

The analogy holds for any number of things… try to guess which one I’m thinking of:

I know there are people who take pride in having played tunes, or having played tunes with someone in particular, or in having played tunes especially well - more so than they take pleasure in simply playing tunes with whoever they happen to be playing tunes with at the time. I’ve never found such people to be a lot of fun to have tunes with, or even to be around.

No points at all for guessing correctly 🙂

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Turn it around and it helps to see why some of us aren’t goal or achievement bound when it comes to playing music.

I don’t particularly enjoy mowing the lawn, but I am glad when it’s done.

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I don’t understand why people can’t accept plurality in discussions like this. Different people can quite legitimately have different, even contradictory, reasons for playing, and indeed for liking the music in the first place. Why does there have to be (only) One Right Way? ALL of the points made above seem perfectly reasonable to me – just depends on what floats your boat.

Skreech seems reasonable to say that a sense of achievement is important. I’m certainly getting that from my fiddle playing, though the sound is by no means particularly pretty yet (though it’s getting better…). Finding that I can do something I aspired to do, but couldn’t do before, is very rewarding; one day I even hope to be accomplished.

Jerone has a point that music is an aesthetic experience, whether that needs to be the narrower thing called ‘beauty’ or not. Creating something of beauty is powerfully satisfying – when you can do it. In the meantime, steps on the way will do.

Jon and Will have a valid point that the above are done best when done intrinsically. As soon as you start trying too hard to derive something from what you’re doing, that something has a mysterious habit of evaporating.

And I believe that my point about ‘capture’ is relevant – the reason why we don’t just stand and watch is the need for a deeper interaction with things that move us. By actively engaging, we also gain a deeper understanding of what makes that something what it is. And being Me is enhanced by having a few hundred tunes and some musical skill as part of me.

None of the above seems contradictory to me, and they are *all* components of why I do it. To come back to my love of rationale, Dan Pink and Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi sum it up admirably: motivation for doing anything comes variously from:

Autonomy: self-directedness, internal reasons

Mastery: the sense of making progress.

Purpose: a bigger reason, intrinsic value, the long-term aspiration

When doing it, we (can) enter a state of Flow which makes the doing of it deeply satisfying, for no other reason that we are doing it. Best achieved when the combination of skill and challenge are optimised. (Dislike of mowing the lawn is that precisely because it is low on both axes, and fails to hit most of Pink’s criteria, but is nonetheless unavoidable).

The fact that some people prefer not to question such things does not inherently stop them from being right; some people like to scrutinise, others don’t. Personally, I would find such a lack of self-knowledge rather unsatisfying.

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We accept plurality. We have multiple reasons for playing. But your crazy friend is the only one saying the *only reason people play, is to feel achieved. We’re saying *some people play to feel achieved, but we don’t.

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>>We accept plurality.

Which We would that be, Jerone, that you presume to speak for? I wouldn’t say an acceptance of plurality is a striking feature of some of the discussions here, nor indeed of some of your own contributions. Nothing wrong with having strong views, of course, just accept their limits.

And I’m not sure how you worked out that I have a ‘crazy friend’.

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We, being I, and the others that have an open enough mind to accept the expansive possibilities. Rather than limiting only to one possiblity. Your friend skreech is saying that all of the reasons we play, root back to wanting to feel achievement. Instead of saying that achievement is only one of many reasons that we play. But as soon as i disagreed with him, he said i was deluding myself, and that i need to ask myself why i really play. Then he called my *fact rubbish. As if he knows why i play my music.

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And also, no doubt i’ve probably been a bit opinionated, and biased at times, but if you look back at the things i argue against, it’s usually when someone limits the musical possibilities, rather than expanding them.

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Sheesh …

I don’t think there’s anything really wrong about playing music because you get a sense of achievement out of it. It just won’t be as good

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There’s nothing wrong with playing music for achievement. But if that’s all he thinks music is for, then i feel bad for him. Music is more than that.

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>>"We accept plurality. We have multiple reasons for playing. But your crazy friend is the only one saying the *only reason people play, is to feel achieved. We’re saying *some people play to feel achieved, but we don’t."
You’re tripping up with the language again. I’ve said you play for a feeling of achievement, not ‘to feel achieved’ . To ‘feel achieved’ has a ring of accomplishment about it, a finality. A feeling of achievement’ is simply a feeling that you are achieving something, creating something.

If you think you don’t get that feeling, or you think it’s not the sole reason why you prefer to make music rather than passively listening, then you have not the faintest notion of how the human psyche works.

Can you imagine a painter saying he likes to paint only because he likes to look at beautiful things? No. Every single painter will tell you he likes to paint because he likes to CREATE beautiful things. And it is the same with music. To say you only play because you like to hear good music is absurd. The pleasure that drives every single musician is the pleasure of creation, of achievement. Not the pleasure of passive listening.

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Jerone, I don’t mean to set myself up as any kind of paragon, I normally try to preach consensus - but if you look at your latest reposnses to that last longer comment of mine, thaat’s exactly what I mean.

1) You seem to think there is some kind of alliance between Skreech and me. I have nothing for or against him - he made one seemingly valid point - as did you.

2) You seem to have polarised the comments written. ALL of the points mentioned surely have some merit?

Still, this isn’t meant to be an attack on you. It’s just an example of people needing to polarise things that don’t need polarising.

Llig, I remain curious about how life is so full of certainties for you, that never seem to require any evidence to support them, other than your own anecdote. Especially when some of us have equally vehement, equally anecdotal but contradictory experiences. 😉

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>>"I don’t think there’s anything really wrong about playing music because you get a sense of achievement out of it. It just won’t be as good"

Well OK.

Supposing you turn up for a session a bit late, and there are already half a dozen quality musicians in full swing. You know that adding another fiddle will muddy the sound more than add to it. So do you just sit and listen for the evening, or do you join in anyway? My guess is that you, like most other people, would want to join in anyway - you want to experience the pleasure of creation, of achieving something yourself.

Which brings us neatly back to bad bodhranists and strummers, and what I see as the problem with open sessions in general. Everybody wants to play. I’m sure these people have a pretty good idea of the level of their own playing, but they still want to play because the reward they are after isn’t sweet sounding music, it is the personal feeling that they are part of the creative process, that they are achieving something.

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I reckon you’re onto something there. It may just not apply to some of the individuals on here, who do know better in terms of their own conduct.

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Skreech writes: "If you think you don’t get that feeling, or you think it’s not the sole reason why you prefer to make music rather than passively listening, then you have not the faintest notion of how the human psyche works."

Ian, there’s your intolerance of plurality. Disagree with skreech and you must be clueless.

My point (the same or similar to Jerone’s and Llig’s, hence Jerone’s "we"), is that not everyone plays for a sense of achievement. Skreech is insisting that we do, we’re just deluding ourselves. Not that he’s provided any evidence for his one-track argument. He’s just repeating enough that he believes it’s true and expects us to drink the kool aid too.

So Ian, read and think before you take us all to task for being intolerant.

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>>before you take us all to task for being intolerant

The intolerance is pretty much 360 deg from where I’m standing. And at which point you need to defend in all directions at once, which is what I think Skreech is doing now. I’ve been there. The situation would not arise if people could just accept that other people may have reason for their point of view - Skreech included.

Still no point in trying to find the mid-point, I suppose. A fruitless task.

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Why does this website have the ability to turn probably reasonable, civil, tolerant, good-humoured people (well, I’m normally one, anyway) into tetchy cynics?

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Perils of online communication. The simplest solution, which I think would greatly improve all sorts of online interaction, would be a delay, say an hour or six hours, between hitting "post" and the post going up.
Benefits would be huge, costs would be zero. It’ll never happen. Aggravation will continue. It’ll be okay.

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No Will, I’m quite happy for people to hold other views, to disagree with me, and even to prove me wrong. But the argument Jerone put forward, and which you are supporting is completely illogical, and I can’t accept it for that reason alone.

To argue that the pleasure inherent in making music has nothing to do with the sense of creation or achievement that is inherent in making anything is to argue that making music yourself is no more enjoyable than listening to someone else making music.

That plainly isn’t the case - if it was you wouldn’t bother making music for yourself. So the reason for making music is for the pleasure of making something, which here in the UK we would refer to as a sense of achievement. Certainly that sense of achievement has many elements, which will all be different for different people, you might enjoy playing a piece well, you might enjoy the feeling that your playing is improving, you might just enjoy losing yourself in the music. But those are ALL just elements of the sense of achievement. Because they are pleasures that you get for playing the music yourself, that you wouldn’t get if someone else was playing it.

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I sense that the word ‘achievement’ does mean different things in different places. From knowing a number of Americans over here (O.K., hardly a representative sample 😉 ), and reading some American books both on music and other matters, it seems to me that there is a tendency to quantify things more in the States than over here, or at least to look for a more tangible, clear-cut definition for things. Perhaps a greater desire for closure? There may be a whole lot of back-stories behind that, on both our accounts, if it is true…

For me, a sense of achievement need only be a vague feeling of progress or success, nothing more focused than that. But that feeling is nonetheless quite important.

Perhaps we also need to differentiate between people who consider themselves to be learners, and those already cruising at altitiude…

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Skreech writes: "To argue that the pleasure inherent in making music has nothing to do with the sense of creation or achievement that is inherent in making anything is to argue that making music yourself is no more enjoyable than listening to someone else making music. "

That’s nonsense. And I never said any of it. If you want to continue fabricating nonsense out of other people’s rational comments, go ahead. But don’t expect me to take part.

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Ian, I have an English Literature degree. I was once conversant in Chaucer’s English. I don’t think we have different understandings of what the word "achievement" means.

I suspect where the misunderstanding comes in is in your and skreech’s apparent inability to take someone else’s word for their own personal motivations. There’s no small hubris in that—assuming you know better than others why they play. And that they must be the ones who are deluded, or uninformed, or dim on the workings of the human psyche.

Sheesh.

I do *not* play music because I seek a sense of success or progress or personal betterment or any other need for achievement, accomplishment, fulfillment, or even sense of completion or having "done" something. I play music because in the moment of doing it, *it feels good.*

Frankly, I don’t care what it sounds like, or what anyone else thinks of it, or whether I’ve done justice to the music, or played "better" than the last time.

To suggest that I’d just as well listen to someone else play ***utterly*** misses the point of why I do it.

So please. Please please please. Quit telling me that *I’m* the one who doesn’t understand the terminology, and *I’m* the one who doesn’t know how my own brain works. I find that both offensive and rather hilarious, coming from two people who so clearly can’t fathom such a simple notion as momentary pleasure for its own sake.

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So if I understand you correctly, you’re subsuming all of the inherent rewards of playing tunes (or going for hikes, having a good conversation, getting drunk, or other activities) under the rubric of "achievement"?
That is, for you the pleasures of "achievement" include all of the pleasures of doing something for oneself? That’s not at all how I use the word, but if that’s what you mean I guess I’m just subdividing "achievement" a little more finely than you are.

What you’re meaning by "achievement" (apparently) includes the pleasure that a punk band plays in walloping out a load of tuneless noise, because it feels good, or the pleasure you get in private with another consenting adult, also because it feels good. Those would be in addition to the pleasure a writer gets from seeing their book on the shelf at the bookstore or hearing it praised by others or simply knowing that they’ve written a good book.
These seem like very different sorts of things to me, and not at all to be lumped into the same word. Are you sure that’s what you mean?

To be clear, the difference is the difference between "doing" and "having done", the difference between a momentary pleasure and a retrospective one. For me, it’s the doing, and for me, "achievement" just means the "having done". To me, having played tunes in a session is hardly an "achievement", any more than "having had a conversation".

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(that in response to skreech, of course, though I guess I took a while writing it)

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I’m reminded of a friend’s comment about a couple we both knew. The young man and woman were very practical, pragmatic. Everything they did was driven by goals and improvement. The friend said, "Jayzus, they wouldn’t have sex unless it burned calories and improved their cardio-vascular fitness."

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Ian: For me, a sense of achievement need only be a vague feeling of progress or success, nothing more focused than that. But that feeling is nonetheless quite important.


That would be reasonably called a sense of "achievement". The language is the same. It’s the motivation that differs.
Abstract away all of the personal goals - do you enjoy the simple act of playing a tune that you know? Not the ability to execute it correctly, or the joy in finding that your brain still retains an impression of how the tune goes, but just the act of playing it?
If so, for me that simple pleasure is what sessions are about, full stop. ("simple" meaning "not complex" or "unmixed", not "simpleminded")

If you can’t find that simple enjoyment of playing tunes - why do you play tunes?

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Well, degree or not, you still seem pretty prone to lack of differentiation between someone who is putting a few musings forward for general consideration (which is all I ever do) and someone who is laying the law down. Skreech can speak for himself - but lumping the two of us together is your first mistake.

I would not dream of telling you what applies to you, nor indeed anyone else. Only you can work that out - if you choose. But from here, it looks pretty much the same in the other direction, and that is no more the right thing to do.

Dismissing anyone’s comment outright as nonsense is hardly the most thoughtful thing to do. I’m reminded of whoever said, "no one has a monopoly on the truth". There seem to be valid points on both sides here - as I said earlier - but why let that get in the way of a good insult?

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Ian, I dismissed skreech’s twisting of my own post as nonsense. I don’t appreciate someone putting inane words—indeed, a whole inane mindset—in my mouth and then telling me I’m inane.

And you keep agreeing with him, so why not lump you together? You both seem incapable of understanding what appears to be a rather simple notion.

And when you assert that the intolerance is 360 degrees, you’re completely, willfully ignoring the comments some of us have made here. I myself said: "If skreech plays music for a sense of achievement, good for him. "

Skreech alone is telling the rest of us that we are wrong, deluded, without understanding of the human psyche.

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Well, all I can say is that if anyone picks up a fiddle for the first time and the playing of it releases endorphins, that person must be pretty remarkable. By the same token, if anyone has been playing for a number of years and that person has not experienced a release of endorphins, that person should seriously consider another pastime.
When I took up the fiddle, if there was no goal, or sense of achievement, from day to day, I would not have got very far.
Now, the motivation is probably 99% buzz value - but that other 1% is important. It helps avoid stagnation. On another bloated thread, there is argument over some people ‘gatecrashing’ a session who are considered to be not too accomplished in their playing. Some suggest methods of getting them to realise that they are not up to the playing standards of others in the session - so perhaps they need to set goals for themselves. If they are giving it laldy and getting a buzz, then why should they need to improve?
It’s surely down to a balance.
I play for much the same reasons as I cycle for miles - it’s got little to do with achievement these days. That feeling when you reach the crest of a hill after a long climb with the descent to look forward to cannot really be put into words - neither can the feeling of hitting the third reel in a set along with likeminded musicians - freewheeling to the finish. Naff all to do with acievement. It’s all in the moment.

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Why lump us together simply because I happen to recognise and agree with one aspect of what Skreech said?

Jon, of course I enjoy just playing tunes just for the sake of it. But somewhere, lurking, there must be a reason for that too. I agree that it can do at least as much harm as good to go looking too hard for it. But having done the playing, part of the enjoyment is the general satisfaction that flows forth, and at least with the fiddle, the feeling of making progress. I don’t experience the latter so much with the mandolin, because my ‘progess’ on that instrument is now so slow and marginal as to be invisible. And yes, there is also the desire to be as good as the people whom I admire, however futile an aspiration that may be.

Will, as for twisting meaning, again I can’t speak for Skreech, but I know for a fact that mine is regularly twisted by all and sundry, for all the care I go to to express myself clearly.

I think the one fundamental point that is often forgotten here, at least in respect to *my* contributions is that they are all mere suppositions offered up for general debate. They are not meant as specific comment on the outlook of individuals whom I have never met. How could they reasonably be? People who read them as black-and-white certainties probably do so because that is they way they see things themselves - and that is not *my* opinion but that of someone who has witnessed my frustration at the situation. But I do dislike seeing other people ruled equally out of order by the same process.

Skreech has a fair GENERAL point, that *may* have some traction in the general debate, whether or not it applies to you, or any other individual, in person. Why not concede as much?

It’s a shame that what started as an interesting general, civil discussion seems to be heading the way of all flesh. All because people can’t separate general matters of principle from individual specifics.

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My early days on fiddle taught me that focusing on progress was counterproductive, for *me.* When you first pick up a fiddle and bow, it’s easy to be totally demoralized by how hard it all is. As a beginner, you’re faced with a vast difference between the raw static you yourself produce and the wonderful music "good" fiddlers can coax out of strings and bow.

Martin Hayes likes to say that beginner fiddlers need a rich fantasy life, believing they sound better than they really do.

I got lucky. At the time, a good fiddler told me, "Never mind the squeaks and squawks, they’ll go away. Focus instead on the sounds you like. Let those shape your playing." This was hard for me—at the time I was more of a step-by-step, purpose-driven person. But I found that I enjoyed it more when I let go of any ambition to be good and just played. And that led to quicker improvement, even when I wasn’t earnestly trying to improve.

Am I a "better" fiddler than I was 25 years ago when I started? Sure. But not because I pursued goals or sought any sort of achievement.

I have friends who compete and place (and sometimes win) at the national level on fiddle. They’re very goal-and-reward driven. Doesn’t mean they play like that all the time, but it does dominate their approach to practice. Once, at a fiddle camp where several of us were teaching, we did a panel discussion, and we got into a debate about goal-driven practice, with me advocating an alternative—playing for the sake of playing—for people who weren’t interested in fiddle contests. All I was saying is that you can become a good musician despite not chasing goals and rewards all the time. The contest fiddlers struggled with that, and clearly didn’t like it. But lots of people in the audience thanked me afterwards for offering a different perspective.

That night, after our faculty concert, Barbara Lamb (a Nashville recording artist who played for years with Asleep at the Wheel) gave me one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten. She said, "We impressed the audience, but you moved them."

Importantly, I didn’t set out to "move" anybody. I just played music I like. By myself. (All the professional fiddlers did duets or had accompaniment.) What apparently "moved" the crowd was a very simple playing of Arran Boat Song.

I would suggest that *the tune* moved the audience. I just got out of the way.

I think the achievement mindset tends to lean people toward impressing audiences, or impressing themselves. Personally, I’m not interested in that. I know myself far too well to be impressed. 😛

I’m much more interested in simply enjoying the physical, emotional moment of playing music. Other people, when they happen within earshot of that, respond in kind.

Yo-Yo Ma says "Music isn’t about perfection. It’s about expression."

Martin Hayes says, "Usually, the more a musician tries to impress me, the less impressed I am."

Douglas Adams says, " There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it. The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and willingness not to mind that it’s going to hurt. That is, it’s going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard."

Yoda says, "Do or do not, there is no try."

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Yoda forgot more than he ever knew. Without try, you die.

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Ian, if skreech offered his "general" point in general terms, and without insulting the intelligence and sanity of those who disagreed with him, there’d be no problem, just a discussion.

Think again about who your sermon might best be aimed at.

FWIW, I ****did**** concede that achievement works for some people. And I’ve pointed that out to you twice now. So please stop hounding me for things I haven’t done.

Look, I’m all for having a conversation about digging into the reasons behind and beneath the surface of why we play music. I’ve thought about this my entire life. It’s intriguing. But there’s no need for anyone to claim their opinion is fact and that anyone who disagrees is "deluded." And skreech is the only one here to do that. Go bark at him.

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"Without try, you die."

Trying can be useful, depending on the situation and which sense of "try" we’re talking about.

I’m not one to recommend it when you’ve got one shot and/or the cost of failure is high. "Trying" to huck a scary 20-foot drop on a mountain bike usually results in broken bones. "Trying" that interesting looking mushroom by nibbling at it may land you in the ground, growing mushrooms yourself. In some circumstances, opening room for doubt can be disastrous.

But in other circumstances, trying is a healthy thing. Eating an unknown mushroom is one thing, but being afraid to "try" the escargot that everyone else is enjoying is a quick way to miss out on a lot in life.

So it is with music. When you sit down to learn a new skill or concept on your instrument, obviously you’re going to try it, and probably try it several different ways to find what works best.

But when it comes time to play for pure enjoyment, trying tends to get in the way. This is especially true when the person perceives pressure or risk in the circumstances, and it’s so widely recognized that it’s a cliche. Most young kids can perform their music for an audience with little or no self-conscious "trying." But adults new to performing "try" to measure up, "try" to play well, "try" to please the audience, and often end up scaring the bejeezus out of themselves and doing the music no favors.

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Well, I nearly quoted that very same Douglas Adams bit some time ago. One of my favourites of his. (He was a local boy of the town where I teach, FWIW). That does apply to me too: as I said , I also enjoy playing just for the moment, especially at the end of a hard working day filled with deadlines, and especially on those instruments where I don’t have to think too hard about the mechanics. That last bit may be significant.

I understand your points about the fiddle: I have given up on the lessons for the moment, having decided that I now have enough of the basics for the time being, and I need to spend many hours just playing before seeking more specific tuition.

But I am in a rather unusual situation with the fiddle: unlike the complete beginner, I have a very good idea of what I want to sound like, and I also have enough cross-over from the mandolin to be able to make quicker than average progress. I got a respectable tune out of it in five minutes - O.K. hardly Martine Hayes standard, but a lot better than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

What is satisfying is simply finding that things are just dropping into place simply by dint of doing what sounds and feels right. The ornamentation is coming, the tone and tempo are coming, and the squeaks and squawks are disappearing quite fast - but crucially I have enough knowledge to recognise what is happening, and it is all the more rewarding for that. That is not at all the same as being impressed by oneself, simply pleased with the way things are going.

But being able to agree with you on this simply reinforces my earlier point about accepting valid arguments from wherever they come, and differentiating between general principle and specific stipulation. Neityher does it rule out as valid *in principle* some of the other ‘paybacks’ for playing.

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Oops. Gave conflicting examples in my first full paragraph there. I meant that sometimes "trying" without certainty can be lethal (the mushroom), and in other cases, "trying" with a head full of doubt can catastrophically knock you off your game (the mountain bike drop).

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Cross post

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Ian, I’ve never said anything here that would rule out other paybacks for playing.

All I’ve said is that they matter little or not at all, to *me.*

Obviously, they matter a lot to many other people. I have no beef with that.

Ironically, you’ve mistaken me for the dogmatic eejit skreech has been. 😀


Good to hear that fiddle is fun for you! That’s most of my point here—you don’t have to be stellar at it to wring tremendous enjoyment out of the simple act of playing. And the more you dwell in that, the easier it gets.

I suppose for me it’s a bit of Occam’s razor: if you’re happy and "making progress" without aiming for progress and achievement, then you don’t need to invest in progress and achievement. Just a thought.

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"When you first pick up a fiddle and bow, it’s easy to be totally demoralized by how hard it all is."

Yep - and even telling yourself you can get there is a ‘goal’ in itself. There doesn’t need to be a set target - except perhaps to get anything like a pleasant sound out of it.
I overheard my mother saying that I’ll never learn to play the thing. At that point it would have been easy to give up - but there was an aim to prove her wrong that got me through that phase!
I would never have taken it up if there was not a goal of being able to play it one day. If I hadn’t felt I’d achieved anything after, say, a year of learning, I don’t think I would have kept at it.

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Well, I’m glad we agree on that.

But my reading of Skreech’s comments doesn’t conclude that he’s really saying anything so different.

"I’m quite happy for people to hold other views, to disagree with me, and even to prove me wrong… *I* (my italic) can’t accept it for that reason alone.

To argue that the pleasure inherent in making music has nothing to do with the sense of creation or achievement …is to argue that making music yourself is no more enjoyable than listening to someone else making music"

I can’t really see what’s so bad about that - apart from the fact that by using the personal pronoun one might infer that he means certain individuals, whereas I read it as "oneself".

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That really sounds to me like he’s making some universal statement about what people like, in general. That would be wrong. Since he has several people who have told him that his "universal" doesn’t describe their experience, and he insists that it’s a universal anyway, it begins to be rude, as he begins to insist that he understands someone else’s motivations in a way that they don’t.
And rude is bad.

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Perhaps it’s also helpful to look at the corollary: it’s not at all satisfying to play less well than you know you can. But you have to work through it, and look forward to when it comes right again. Can apply at all levels, but more so when starting out. Playing purely for the moment can’t carry you through that.

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Sigh.
Ian, go read all of skreech’s posts. He said Jerone was "deluded" and "blind" to his own motivations.

And in your quote of him above, skreech conflates two wholly different things while ignoring all the other motivations people here have given. "What’s so bad about that" is that he’s assigning an argument to us—"that making music is no more enjoyable than listening to someone else making music"—that none of us have made and none of us would subscribe to. His point there (if there is one) has nothing to do with anything any of us have said, yet he’s put the words in our mouths. It’s dishonest and not in good faith. Or it’s merely crazy. Whatever.

Sorry, beyond that, I’m not interested in helping you suss out other contributor’s input. But from where I sit, you’re not connecting the dots very well.

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Cross post again. Perhaps we have nailed the issue here. I don’t read Skreech as doing that at all. To me, he seems to be advancing a general point that can still exist in the abstract, even if a number of individuals have said it’s not applicable to them.I don’t take exception to that, indeed it’s the approach I often take myself, and it’s certainly never meant as a diktat.

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The real problem here seems to be the mis-match between those of us who argue in the abstract and those who take the same points personally.

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Playing purely for the moment can indeed get you through just about anything and everything. I speak from personal experience.

But only if you let it.


Weejie, you’ve cited some strong motivators.

I’m glad though that I never set out to prove anyone wrong about my chances on the fiddle. And I don’t recall ever setting myself the goal of becoming a fiddler. I just played, without much expectation of anything. I already played guitar, mandolin, and 5-string banjo, so I blithely assumed music would come out of a fiddle, too.

The longer I’ve played, the more persuaded I am that we play music in our minds, it just happens to come out on instruments. And letting it come out on instruments is 99.9% a matter of doing just that—letting the music out. If you’re focused on technique or mechanics or impressing someone or perfection, you’ll force it and the music grinds or withers.

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Granted, the point about Jernone is not in the abstract. Skrecch can explain that himself. But bitter experience tells me that the world is full of people who don;t really understand their own motivations for doing things - and often have never even thought to wonder. That may or may not apply to Jerone, but previosu arguments in this thread along the lines of "there is no reason to play this music" to me shout of people who haven’t looked deeply enough.

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>> we play music in our minds

Very likely - but its significance depends on who you are playing ‘for’. Those whose motivation is performance have more responsiblity to ensure that their music sounds good to others too. Yoir point is classic session-musician- think - and that is not an insult.

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Ian, it doesn’t matter whether it’s personal or abstract. He assigned a misguided, inane second point to a first point several of us made. That derails the discussion and projects inanity on anyone who made the first point. It’s dishonest rhetoric. Your continued appreciation for it doesn’t make it acceptable.

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One final thought before I turn in: in the bigger picture of reasons why we do this, where does seeing someone doing something brilliant, say a top fiddler, and thinking, "I want to do that too" come in? Pure aspiration. It’s part (but only part) of what moves me.

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Heh.

"Those whose motivation is performance have more responsiblity to ensure that their music sounds good to others too."

That’s one way to think about it. And it often leads to highly polished, technically virtuosic, ***horrid*** music. Or Justin Beiber, Neil Diamond, and Celtic Women.
🙂

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Hmmm. I’ve never been stirred to want to emulate "something brilliant." I’ve never aspired to ape a "top fiddler."

I’m inspired by the music, not the musicians.

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That reminds me of my first lesson with Kevin Burke. He played half of Silver Spear on a single up bow, full of lift and pulse. I realized right then and there that I’d never be able to do that.

But I still thoroughly enjoy playing Silver Spear.


Also reminds me of Martin Hayes telling about how he was surrounded by mighty fiddlers—his dad,, his uncle Paddy Canny, and Francie Donnellan and others. So instead of setting out to match them, he opted instead to "play simple tunes as well as they could sound."

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It’s what those musicians can do with the music that matters, not being them in themselves. Apart from a degree of awe at their skill.

And I didn’t say that performed music should sound good *only* on the outside. It has to come from within, but the gap that most of us have between what we hear in our heads and what is actually happening needs to be minimised when other people are involved.

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>>I realized right then and there that I’d never be able to do that.

Llig says you can: it’s all down to learning, no innate talent invoplved at all 😉 Don’t be so defeatist.

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Now you’re twisting what Llig actually said. 😏

And you missed my point. And I didn’t imply you said "only" on the outside. You’re being overly defensive

This ceased being a discussion a loooong way up the thread.

Cheers

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"One final thought before I turn in: in the bigger picture of reasons why we do this, where does seeing someone doing something brilliant, say a top fiddler, and thinking, "I want to do that too" come in? "

For me, it doesn’t. I love listening to a great fiddler, or any great player, for various reasons - lots of it is just because they make great sounds, of course, but also in this music I find that they show me things about the tunes that I wouldn’t hear otherwise. But I’m not thinking "I want to do that", I’m thinking "ah, I never thought of that". I learn from them, yes, but I don’t want to do what they do, any more than I want to write like Raymond Chandler just because I love his style.

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Some folks are arguing that they play music basically for the joy of it, or for reasons they can’t describe. Skreech says they wouldn’t do it unless they felt a sense of accomplishment, and argues that their argument is illogical.
I agree with that point about the counterarguments being illogical.
Playing for the joy of it is illogical.
But not everything can or should or needs to be logical.
Especially not music.

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Al, I would agree with you if instead of illogical we called it alogical. It’s got nothing to do with logic, thank goodness.

And that doesn’t mean it’s "deluded" or "blind" or uninformed about the human psyche….

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I might step out into murky grounds here, but I think that while I have no logical reasons for me to enjoy playing tunes with others - ie, it doesn’t advance my interests in any appreciable material way, it brings me no tangible benefit - this doesn’t mean that THERE ARE NO logical reasons for it.

I want to make that distinction clear: I have a logical reason for, say, wanting to go to the art museum. That reason is, there is a painting and I want to look at it, or if I’m a more shallow sort of person, I wish to be seen as a cultured person. I might say that I have a reason for wanting to look at the painting: perhaps, it makes me happy to look at it, or if I’m a more archaic sort of person, it moves me to some strong emotion which I can experience at some remove. Whatever. At some point, though, the logical reasons which I have must break down to "just because".

However, this is not the end of the story. Just because I don’t have access to the reasons doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. As Minsky observes, in order to understand the mechanisms of thought we have to break it down into things which do not think, and in order to understand consciousness we have to do it in terms of mechanisms which are not themselves conscious. (Thereby deflating Searle’s Chinese Room quite nicely: Searle’s position, it turns out, is that consciousness is not to be understood in those terms, which is to say, consciousness is not to be understood) (End of digression)
So there are presumably some reasons for my enjoyment of a particular painting, or of the act of looking at paintings, or for my enjoyment of playing tunes with my friends on a Wednesday night. Those reasons are presumably logical, and I would say that they may even be discoverable.

That doesn’t make them relevant, however. To me, as the topmost level, the outermost layer of this onion of consciousness, the only reasons that matter are the ones which I can get at: the others are interesting but of no use to anyone. (Obviously, I’m not much of a Freudian, either)

So I think that whether it should be or needs to be logical is not a question that concerns me, but whether it is - as a good right-thinking non-reductionist materialist, I have to say yes, it is logical. It’s just that that logical explanation doesn’t matter. At some point you stop asking and you do.

And, with that, I’m afraid I’ve kicked off another week with this thread, as soon as our man skreech comes back. Sorry, guys.

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Actually, it’s highly reasonable for an organism to engage and explore its physical and neurological abilities. We call it "play," which is what we do with music. Akin to otters sliding in the snow, dolphins riding bow waves, ravens flipping and swooping on the wind.

It’s what we do when no other biological imperative is driving us.

I play music for the same reasons these geese have gone surfing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQfSx6zEey0

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Wait wait wait a minute. What’s illogical about liking music because of what it is? Music is AMAZING, it’s crazy how little melodies and harmonies can make one feel. And what’s so illogical about playing music because of the music? I’ve always prefered live music over recorded music, and i’m the only free live musician i know that i have 100% 24 hour access to, so why not play it if i can?

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Jon, I don’t think any of us was saying that one should be in a constant state of analysis while playing the music. Just playing for the moment is absolutely fine, and what I guess we all do when in those moments. But occasional pondering on why it should be so is surely just a natural part of any thoughtful, reflective (educated?) person’s make-up.

Also fine that some people either prefer not to do this, or else to bury their motives deep if they feel they are counter-productive. But personally, I find that having some understanding of how things work allows me to direct my time and effort in a way that brings the greatest benefits - however you define them - i.e. once I know what I enjoy, I can do more of that, and less of the things that don’t work for me.

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Jerone, that’s absolutely fine if that’s how you want to approach it. But some of us have preferred to give some thought to what that ‘crazy’ is. Likewise, we’ve given thought to why ‘because of the music’ should be so important. The fact that you are content to accept it as such is fine by me, but I don’t accept that that is all there is to it..

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Will, the reason this stopped being a useful discussion ages ago is that has become an exercise in picking holes in other people’s words. Like most discussions on here.

I don’t think I twisted anything that Llig said, and therefore that is a meaningless response. Llig quite clearly said he believes that music is entirely learned. It follows from that that anyone can do anything if only they learn hard enough.

>>And you missed my point. And I didn’t imply you said "only" on the outside. You’re being overly defensive

I’m not the only one missing points. I feel you (amongst others) constantly miss mine - unless, as some people have suggested, it’s just those people’s cynical strategy. I’m not being in the least defensive, and I don’t see discussion as a matter of attack and defense, or even assertiveness, in any case. The only sustainable stance is one of curious humility, particularly on a public forum; most of the problems derive from people who don’t observe this. For such discussions to be any use, you need to get the egos out of the way, just as people advocate in the music, but of course this rarely happens. I try to do this and just get labelled defensive.

If you misinterpreted my comment about inside/outside, that’s no skin off my nose. I simply made a correction based on your reaction to my previous observation. If you see that as defensive, yet again you’re mis-reading me. That in itself is instructive.

The other reason this stopped being useful is that like some others on here, you seem to think you have a right to define the terms of the discussion. For example, your main objection to Skreech seems to be that according to your reading of his words, he has committed logical violations of the argument, and that is enough to torpedo everything that the bloke subsequently says. Well who gave you the right to arbitrate in that way? I for one don’t accept your reasoning there, and we all make errors in the way we express ourselves, so give the bloke a break. If you saw his comments as insulting your intelligence or world-view, that is just as likely to be your own over-sensitivity as anything he did wrong. As I said, I read his words in a completely different light, and I defy you to say that your is ‘better’ than mine.

On an open forum, one has no choice but to accept people’s statements entirely on their own terms, and look for whatever plausibility one may find within them, in relation to one’s own experience. The rest you simply have to let pass. The moment you start seeking to define the terms of the debate you are presuming too much. That is not to say you must like what you read, but to dismiss it out of hand because of that is not reasonable.

I assume you sat through a heap of unmiversity tutorials in your time? This is nothing more than the basic tennets of Critical Thinking on which academic enquiry is founded.

Pity; this discussion tempted me back to where I had decided I was wasting my time, but I’m coming back to the same conclusion.

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Jerone, the question is whether the enjoyment we derive from playing music can be explained in some rational fashion, or if it should be taken as something that "just is". It’s not a matter of "logical" as in "correct" or "proper".
The fact that we enjoy playing music is taken as understood; what’s at issue is whether it can be analyzed further than that, and in what ways. Al seems to suggest that it’s a primitive, that is "just is" and that’s okay. I don’t really have any objection to that view, aside from the one problem, which is that I don’t think it’s the case.
Saying something is "illogical" doesn’t mean it’s incorrect, and saying it’s logical doesn’t mean it’s good - I offer the science of economics as a rich source of examples. The logic is sound, but everyone with a conscience who understands it immediately goes looking for an alternative, because it’s grotesque.

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"On an open forum, one has no choice but to accept people’s statements entirely on their own terms, and look for whatever plausibility one may find within them, in relation to one’s own experience. The rest you simply have to let pass. …

I assume you sat through a heap of unmiversity tutorials in your time? This is nothing more than the basic tennets of Critical Thinking on which academic enquiry is founded. "

Let me guess… English literature in the mid 90s? That’s not anything like serious academic inquiry, though, and it’s got nothing at all to do with critical thinking - only with ‘critical theory’. If you go into a serious discipline you’ll find that the terms of the enquiry are exactly what make the discipline.

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I was worried that people would see my ‘illogical’ statement as negative, as Jerone did. Thanks for seeing what I was trying to say, Will and Jon. And Jerone, when I was your age, I thought everything had to be logical, too. You will outgrow that!
😉

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Not in my case. Geography and Economics in the early ‘80’s. Plus the extensive development needed to teach school students (16-18 yrs old) European Studies (i.e. politics) and Critical Thinking from 2000 to date.

The following may be informative:
http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/
http://www.criticalreading.com/critical_thinking.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OLPL5p0fMg


Given a public debate conducted in this way veruss one that degenerates into a shouting match between people who only choose to defend their own entrenched positions, I know which I prefer. How can *any* of us presume to make such cast-iron judgements on the lives of others whom we have mostly never met? The best one can do is posit points for general, impersonal consideration - i.e. aspire to something approaching detached reasoning a la academic study.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

"Jon, I don’t think any of us was saying that one should be in a constant state of analysis while playing the music. Just playing for the moment is absolutely fine, and what I guess we all do when in those moments. But occasional pondering on why it should be so is surely just a natural part of any thoughtful, reflective (educated?) person’s make-up."

Ian, I’m really not convinced that you’re reading what I’m writing. Putting it simply, I think I’ve made two basic claims in this discussion:

1) I, and several others here, report that our enjoyment of music is derived from a delight in the momentary experience of the playing itself, and specifically not in any sense of "development" or "progress" in our musicianship, nor yet in any sense of satisaction at the act of having played the music. You have said that a part of your enjoyment of playing tunes is at least partly grounded in the latter, and nobody has contested that, but I and several others have claimed that our experience is different, and therefore that your experience is not general, but particular to you and others like you.
We seem to have come to an unstable acceptance of this state of affairs all around.

2) Responding to Al’s observation that the enjoyment of music doesn’t necessarily have to be "logical", I took off at a tangent to consider what it might mean to say that "my enjoyment of music is logical", and came to the tentative conclusion that while Al is correct to say that it need not be logical, I believe (due to my philosophical predilection for a materialist view) that any fact about the world should be presumed to have some cause, which can be understood, and therefore that there must be some logical basis, in a sense, for a statement like "I enjoy playing music", or for the state of affairs that statement describes. However, since I believe that the mind is necessarily modular in construction, the underlying reasons for a preference or an inclination are not necessarily available to the ultimate experiencer of that preference.

[At this point, I abandon the word "simple" to develop that point a little more. ]

So really, this is partly a question for the phil of mind nerds - at what point is an explanation of the state of "enjoying music" unrelated to the sensation of "enjoying music"? I enjoy a meal, perhaps, because I am very, very hungry, and no matter how unpleasant the food might be in an aesthetic sense, I will enjoy it as long as I am in that state. That, I can logically accept as a basis for my enjoyment. But man, it has been pointed out, is odd because he eats when he is not hungry. My aesthetic enjoyment of a good meal can be explained in terms of chemistry, neurophysiology, evolutionary tendencies, perhaps localized cultural preferences or individual inclinations, and presumably a number of other esoteric fields (including, if you like, critical theory). Stipulating for discussion the truth of some given argument, what is its relevance to me, the person experiencing the pleasure of eating something simply because it tastes good?

As I say, this is purely a question of philosophy of mind. If my intuition is correct, and the answer is "no relevance at all", then the "logical reasons" why you or Jerone or Will or I take pleasure in playing music have no relevance to your actual enjoyment of it - and that would be an interesting conclusion.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

I meant to add this one in

http://www.scribd.com/doc/30548590/Cognitive-Biases-A-Visual-Study-Guide

Al, logic (in terms of behaviour) can sometimes be a convoluted and obscure matter. But I still subscribe to the general idea that people do more of what they find pleasant and less fo what they find unpleasant, or possible neutral. O.K., it’s a simplistic model of human behaviour, but not without its uses.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

" But I still subscribe to the general idea that people do more of what they find pleasant and less fo what they find unpleasant, or possible neutral. O.K., it’s a simplistic model of human behaviour, but not without its uses."

Trivial, circular, and simplistic, unenlightening when true and inexplicable when false. This might serve as a sort of base rule:

Rule 1 - do the most pleasant thing possible, UNLESS …

but on its own it’s hardly a useful model of behavior.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

>>I’m really not convinced that you’re reading what I’m writing

Jon, I think that experience must be common to al of us, because it most certainly is what I feel here too in reverse. Likewise, the tendency of people to pick up on some minor point and blow it out of proportion, while ignoring what you considered to be something far more important.

So far as I am concerned, your point regarding your own motivations are taken as a given. What possible grounds could I have for contesting them? All I can judge is the degree to which they do or don’t chime with mine. And of course the same has to apply in reverse. Where they don’t, the best we can do is agree to disagree, and perhaps shift our personal overall understanding a little.

I also agree that it is quite possibly beyond our ken to understand the finer points of our own motivation as it is sub/unconscious, which by definition isn’t fully intelligible. So it all comes down to speculation - which I assumed we all accepted. But that makes it all the more unwise summarily to dismiss other people’s contrary speculations since *none* of us has much firm ground to stand on.

However, we can cautiously speculate on the wider application of our own experiences, which is all I’m ever doing. I think, for instance, that the ‘process’ and ‘goal’ aspects of htis are more applicable to people who are self-consciously learners than those who have already mastered something. i.e. I experience it much more strongly wityh the fiddle than the mandolin, as I perceive I have a longer journey still to travel to get where I want to be. That makes ‘progress’ more precious and hence more rewarding. Taking up the fiddle has been the first concentrated learning I have done for a good while, and it has been very rewarding and challenging - a good reminder of the process involved. I am also a professional educator, of course, which does give me a degree of wider observation to go on. But I agree, this need not make such an observation universally applicable.

With regard to your last point, I return to the bit of Pinker, supported IIRC by the architect Charles Jencks, that struck me hardest: humans have the capacity for rational thought. With this, they have been able to identify those phenomena in nature that reward us with pleasure because of their adaptive advantages, and deliberately concentrate them. i.e. cheesecake is delicious because it packs multiple doses of nutritional hits. One or other of those two once described art as the cheesecake of the mind. Or put it another way, art is (natural) beauty squared. Not an easy concept to rationalise, let alone consciouly experience.

But I don’t for one moment have all that in my head while I am playing 😉

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Ian, I would tell you to stop trying to be logical, and go have some fun and enjoy your weekend. But if I understand what you said up above, what gives you pleasure is logical, therefore, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
In any event, not that it hasn’t been fun, but I am going to go take a swim, and listen to the Prairie Home Companion show rebroadcast from last night. They are broadcasting from Canada, and their musical guests are Le Vent Du Nord and Genticorum.
It’s been fun (and I guess logical, too)!
😉

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Ian, if as you assert, we can’t define the terms of the debate, then there’s no point of hope in this at all.

Which certainly seems to be the case.

And yes, it *is* entirely possible that your reading of this thread is wrongheaded and mistaken. You keep defending skreech. Perhaps it’s you who’s "deluded."

Oh, sorry. Did that feel like a personal insult? I imagine it did to Jerone, too, when skreech aimed it at him.

Wake up, shake yourself, and be reasonable for a change.

Posted .

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

"I also agree that it is quite possibly beyond our ken to understand the finer points of our own motivation as it is sub/unconscious, which by definition isn’t fully intelligible. So it all comes down to speculation - which I assumed we all accepted. But that makes it all the more unwise summarily to dismiss other people’s contrary speculations since *none* of us has much firm ground to stand on."

Ian, please read this:

The ONLY person to summarily dismiss other people’s ideas here was skreech. You persist in accusing the wrong people.

Posted .

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Will, there’s certainly no hope until such point as all participants accept that the terms of the debate are defined by NO ONE; they are a collective product of all the participants. All you can do is define your own bits of it. The only exception to that might be if you were the moderator.

Deluded doesn’t feel like an insult - that’s my whole point. It is
merely one person’s view, no more no less. I am not so petty-minded as to take it as an insult.

No doubt it looks like that to you, but then I could make similar observations in return. There is no absolute guarantee that either of us is ‘right’. What grates more is your apparent unwillingness ever to credit any of your adversaries with a single valid point; in my eyes that is a weakness. Taking personal umbrage (even on behalf of others) is an easier but less credible route, and one that too often happens in these discussions, even from people who are clearly highly educated. That amazes me. I tend automatically to downgrade routine dogmatists in my personal credibiltiy stakes.

It is of course quite possible that I am not ‘getting it’. It is equally possible that you are not; your failure to concede that is your greatest weakness. The most fundamental question anyone can and should ask in such circumstances is "What am *I* missing? Have you done the same?

An inability to concede (or even notice) a fair ‘hit’ from the opposition is a sure sign of the too-large egos that apparently you abhor when it comes to music.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

>>Ian, please read this:


Will, I have read it, but as I have just said, what makes you SO sure that it isn’t you who have misjudged? Apart from your apparent assumption that I am an eejit who doesn’t know what he is saying or reading. Repeat: I understood something quite different in Skreech’s words, and saw no greater intolerance in what he said than from anyone else. There is no evidence to show which of us is mistaken; in the end, it’s just a matter of interpretation. This is what I mea

Your insistence that I am accusing anyone of anything suggests that you haven’t realised that the discussion has moved on. Read my previous comments on that, please - and show the same humility in debate that you expect of others.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

>>This is what I mea

This is what I meant about the lack of acceptance of pluralism on here. It is quite possible for these two conflicting interpretations to co-exist, so long as all parties accept their limitations.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

LOL, Ian, you’ve appointed yourself quite a high horse. Are there any mirrors up there? Go take a look in one while you read that last post of yours.

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Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Will and Jon, if you two remember skreechs’ religious argument with Jon, you will remember that skreech continued to argue, and not have any type of acceptance for Jons’ point of view, even though he wanted Jon to accept his. If you remember Ian, in most places, if someone disagrees with him, or "misunderstands" him, he just keeps hopelessly talking, hoping that everyone will dismiss their own point of view and recieve his point of view. Which is why i stopped arguing with these two. If arguing were a competition, we’d all lose against these two.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Albrown, i didn’t really see it as negative. It just confuses me that it’s "illogical" to do something just because it gives you joy. I thought we all played music cause it gave us joy. But even though i don’t understand it, i won’t dismiss it and say it’s wrong. I’ll just accept that someone has a different idea than me. I would like for you to understand me, as well as i would like to understand you. But when something crosses our individual logics, we’re far past understanding. Now is the time for new knowledge.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Jerone - thanks for your advice. I think you’re probably right. Might as well give up now and turn to more productive pursuits.

As for the logical/illogical thing - I don’t think that Al mean to say it’s "illogical because it gives you joy", I think he meant to say that if it gives you joy, it doesn’t need to be logical. That is, you don’t have to understand the underlying reasons for the joy, you can just enjoy it.
And that’s true.
What I was saying was a little different: I agree that you don’t have to understand the underlying reasons, and I can certainly just enjoy it. However, in a more inquisitive mood, considering the matter, I come to the conclusion that there must in fact be something there to understand. All of the rest is speculation on what that "something" might be, and what might be like, and how it relates to the things I can apprehend directly.

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

fiddlelearner,
I don’t think you and I are far apart in our thinking at all. When you distill what I said to "joy is illogical," you miss my point. The English language needs a word that means "not logical" which does not always mean "contradictory to logic." Will coined a word up above, "alogical." I liked that idea, a word for things outside of what can be explained by logic.
There are things that I feel are beyond logic, things like joy, and love and faith. Places where logic cannot take us. Jon has captured what I said perfectly, when he said "if it gives you joy, it doesn’t have to be logical."
Jon also points out that I may not perfectly understand the logic and science that underlies what I call ‘joy.’ Perhaps he is right. But rather than pin that butterfly to a board and dissect it, I would rather watch it flutter on the wind, and enjoy its beauty…

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Conflicting ideas allowed to coexist on thesession.org? That’ll be the day.

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Are you trying to suggest that there is intolerance for dissension on the Squabble? I disagree with that. You know what that means:

Michael Eskin, between us now it is only war to the knives. Let the house of Eskin be uprooted and scattered to the winds!
Eskin dalenda est!

(how’s your session tour going, by the way?)

Re: Sorry to keep banging on

Session tour is going great, really nice sessions in L.A., San Jose, Santa Cruz, Nevada City, and Chico so far, next up tonight is Auburn. Great energy in all the sessions, but Chico always stands out for me as one of the most fun, I think because it’s just such a challenging venue and it takes a unified musical front to overcome the din from the appreciative punters.