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Is it the instrument or the musician ?

Wesley S 12 Aug 05 - 01:42 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 05 - 01:51 PM
Wesley S 12 Aug 05 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 05 - 02:22 PM
Wesley S 12 Aug 05 - 02:34 PM
Little Hawk 12 Aug 05 - 02:37 PM
Mary in Kentucky 12 Aug 05 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,HSA 12 Aug 05 - 03:42 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 05 - 04:27 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 05 - 08:17 PM
Dave Ruch 12 Aug 05 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,airhead vs. blockhead 12 Aug 05 - 10:21 PM
Willie-O 13 Aug 05 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,reggie miles 13 Aug 05 - 01:54 PM
John P 13 Aug 05 - 02:12 PM
JohnInKansas 13 Aug 05 - 02:21 PM
Cluin 13 Aug 05 - 03:15 PM
John P 15 Aug 05 - 08:01 AM
Wesley S 15 Aug 05 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,Skipy 15 Aug 05 - 02:50 PM
Liz the Squeak 15 Aug 05 - 08:35 PM
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Subject: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Wesley S
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 01:42 PM

This is a interesting idea - and I'm looking forward to hearing it. Here is a recording that will show how much of the tone is actually the result of the musician - not the instrument. David Grisman will put out a CD where 42 different musicians will record using the same two instruments. Read about it below. Yes - It's a copy and paste so the article below is an advertisement and it's a bit over the top.   



Tone Poets Set For Release From Acoustic Disc on September 6, 2005
By Acoustic Disc
Aug 2, 2005, 13:00


Tone Poets - From Acoustic Disc
Tone Poets (ACD-62), a unique 2-CD set from Acoustic Disc founder David Grisman, assembles a stellar cast of mandolinists and guitarists, all performing on the same vintage 1922 Gibson F-5 mandolin and 1933 Martin OM-45 guitar — revealing sonic secrets that only master musicians know. Tone Poets is a companion piece to the highly acclaimed Tone Poems projects, exploring the unique relationship between musician and instrument.

The 42 Tone Poets heard on the double discs (Solos and Duos) include David Bromberg, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, John Jorgenson, Mike Marshall, Ronnie & Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Andy Statman, Bryan Sutton, Tim O'Brien, Frank Vignola, Chris Thile, Frank Wakefield and the Dawg himself.

Tone Poets displays an amazing variety of sounds that each musician evokes out of these classic instruments—proving once again that, "It ain't the car, it's the driver!" Using flatpicks, fingerpicks, slides and bare fingers, in regular and alternate tunings, you'll find each artist rising to the occasion. The material is as broad as the cast of players—from Mike Marshall playing Bach to John Jorgenson's spin on Django Reinhardt's "Improvisation No. 1," to the Carter Family classic "You Are My Flower" by Tim O'Brien and Bryan Sutton. Producer Grisman and Tony Rice (the original Tone Poets) contribute a moving original tribute, "Blues for Vassar," dedicated to their friend and colleague, Vassar Clements.

This special package includes a 28-page color booklet of photos and notes. Tone Poets is a sonic masterpiece, recorded over a four-year period, utilizing the same two instruments, microphones and recorded directly to the same 2-track analog tape machine. Tone Poets is as pure as music can be.

--------------


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 01:51 PM

Thats really interesting, I'd like to hear that CD.

I've often wondered myself about this. I've had a sense of dissatisfaction with the sound of my fiddle lately, I was thinking maybe my instrument's a bit cheap, but other people seem to like my fiddle. Maybe it's me, having a case of never-being-satisfied-with-your-instrument..


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Wesley S
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 01:59 PM

Have you ever listened to someone else play your fiddle ? That might tell you what you need to know.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 02:22 PM

Yeah, my fiddle aounds ok when other people play it! I hope that doesn't mean it's me being crap!!

No, the problem is I think that with the fiddle being held right against your head, the vibrations go through your skull and therefore the sound you hear will not be what other poeple hear. It kind of gets distorted, is what I'm saying.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Wesley S
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 02:34 PM

The same thing happens with our own voices - remember the first time you heard your own voice on tape ?


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 02:37 PM

It's both. But the musician is the most vital ingredient by far.

You might just as well ask, "Is it the body or the mind?" A body without a mind is pretty much useless, unless something wants to eat
it.

Your own guitar or fiddle sounds better when you hear someone else playing it, because you're out in front of it, and you get to hear it much better.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 03:33 PM

I remember reading (but can't find the quote now) of Albert Schweitzer, who had an old upright piano shipped to him in Africa. (He had been a concert pianist before he went to Africa as a doctor.) When someone asked him about the quality of the instrument, he said it really didn't matter when you were playing Chopin. I suspect his talent was important too.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST,HSA
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 03:42 PM

I think it can be the instrument too.
I remember watching a concert years ago at Beverley Festival, where a young local hopeful was starting a concert billed as "rising talent". He had potential but the fiddle was pretty scratchy.
Anyway, he broke a string, and one of the Ridley sisters (who were topping the bill) lent him her fiddle. The transformation was stunning! All of a sudden a good amateur was changed to a marvellous musician.

I hoped his parents were there to hear and that they decided to buy a better fiddle!

Helen


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 04:27 PM

Yeah, I think the really cheap fiddles such as Lark can sound iffy. I started off using a Stentor student model, just a bit more expensive than Lark but much better in terms of sound. I've now got an Antoni which cost me £330 new, its ok for middling amateurs like me I think.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 08:17 PM

The musician. A real musician can make a piece of crap sing like Pavarotti. Musicians like me bring out a crappy instrument's most distinguishing quality: its crappiness.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 09:10 PM

Yes, the instrument for sure. I remember bluegrass mandolinist Jimmy Gaudreau talking one time about getting his hands on Bill Monroe's old Gibson mandolin, one of the most coveted and recognizable sounding instruments in the genre. He said the result was that it sounded just like Jimmy Gaudreau playing mandolin.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST,airhead vs. blockhead
Date: 12 Aug 05 - 10:21 PM

I'd have to agree with the previous GUEST 8:17 PM post about how a good musician can make an instrument of lesser quality sound as good as it could possibly sound.

I'd also have to agree with the previous GUEST @ 2:22 PM post about how the vibrations travel through (as best it can) one's skull and will ultimately sound different to each player depending upon how much resistance it encounters in there. To some there is, no doubt, a whole lot more reverberation and echo in their perception than others.

I further concur with previous posters that the instrument can make a world of difference in the ability of any performer. A poor quality instrument can be difficult to play and may not be adequate to produce a certain level or quality of sound. Of course it depends upon what sort of quality you're wanting to produce. If you merely want a stunt guitar, fiddle, or mando to pose with on stage because you're pantomiming a sound track, and when your cue arrives you're suppose to hose it down with lighter fluid and set it on fire, well then, you probably don't really care what it sounds like, as long as it burns nicely.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Willie-O
Date: 13 Aug 05 - 10:13 AM

"Your own guitar or fiddle sounds better when you hear someone else playing it, because you're out in front of it, and you get to hear it much better. "

That's why luthiers like Alan Beardsell have been building guitars with "soundports" in the sides, sending sound towards the performer as well as the audience.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST,reggie miles
Date: 13 Aug 05 - 01:54 PM

The Gibson Co. had a unique idea with one of their resonators on their tenor banjos. It had a trap door in the back that could swing open to also allow sound to escape via the back. The player could then get a little more volume directed toward his ears.

Why folks would have trouble hearing a banjo from any direction is beyond me.

I have not seen these alternate sound ports that you've described by Mr. Beardsell but I did have a particularly vivid and memorable dream some years ago and when I awoke I sketched out what I had seen while I slumbered. It was a similar idea regarding the addition of sound ports in unusual places on the body of a guitar. I've yet to incorporate the idea into one of my guitar projects but still hope to at some future date.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: John P
Date: 13 Aug 05 - 02:12 PM

A good musician will still sound pretty good on a crappy instrument, but will sound a lot better on a really good instrument. It doesn't much matter for a crappy musician -- bad music sounds just as bad on a great instrument as on a bad instrument.

I've had the experience of watching someone pick up a guitar that I knew sounded like crap and make it sing, partially because he quickly found the style of playing that worked on that instrument and went with it. I've also had the experience of playing a Flatiron octave mandolin and trying to use some of the octave mandolin styles I was hearing on albums and never quite being able to get there. I was assuming I was listening to musical magicians and that I was chopped liver. Then I got my hands on a Sobell cittern and could immediately play everything I was hearing in my head.

So, yes, a good musician can still sound great on a bad instrument, but also a bad instrument can hold you back from being able to play past an intermediate level. I would say it's both the musician and the instrument. It would be interesting to hear the same CD project using a $95 mandolin and a $150 guitar.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 13 Aug 05 - 02:21 PM

We have a couple of CDs:

"Tone Poems, David Grisman and Tony Rice, Acoustic Disk"
"Tone Poems II, David Grisman & Martin Taylor, Acoustic Disc"

Highly recommended.

On these, a couple of players play many different instruments. Good documentation and descriptions of the instruments in fairly large "booklet inserts" that accompany the CDs, and you can definitely hear the differences between instruments, when the same very capable players change to a different one.

The instruments are all "classic great" ones, so as expected they all sound good - but differently. I haven't gone into any "critical listening mode" analysis of whether - or how - the instrument "changes the player;" but this is appropriate source material if someone wants to do the analysis.

The "Tone Poets" description sounds like "the rest of the story," or maybe "the other side of the argument." If it's anything like the "Poems" CDs, it should be good listening as well.

John


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Aug 05 - 03:15 PM

Tape yourself playing sometime. Then put away the tape for a few months and listen to it again after that time. You'll probably be surprised at how good you sounded, because at the time you were concentrating on all your little flubs and squeaks and things. We're all our own worst critics and that's maybe how it should be.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: John P
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 08:01 AM

hmm, when I go back and listen to myself on tape a few months later, I still hear all the little flubs and squeaks and things and they still bother be just as bad, or worse.

JP


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Wesley S
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 10:35 AM

John P - I haven't heard it yet but Ed Gerhard has a CD that he recorded using off brand el cheapo pawn shop guitars.


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: GUEST,Skipy
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 02:50 PM

From a slightly differant angle (as usual!)
Put M Schumacher in a Minardi & lets find out.
Skipy
(WHFF 18,19,20 Aug 2006)


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Subject: RE: Is it the instrument or the musician ?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 08:35 PM

I'd have to agree with everyone... I've heard the most magnificent music reduced to caterwauling by an inferior 'musician' on an inferior instrument... but I've heard the same instrument sing like an angel under the ministrations of a better musician. The reverse is also true in every case.

I've heard a Steinway Grand sound like a pub piano under the hands of a person who claimed to be a pianist. Turns out he was a keyboard player and didn't know how to drive the real thing... it was the difference between a typist and a word processor operator - one uses all the fingers and types at a rapid pace, accurately, correcting as they go, whereas the other uses less than 4 fingers, pecks at the keyboard and leaves corrections to the end, or just doesn't bother. This person was a musical snob. He looked at a newly tuned Steinway Grand and said 'I can't play that.' He was right, but not for the reasons he thought.

LTS


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