Dying Breed

02008-04-24 | Music, Musings | 3 comments

steve1 comments on this entry:

“Are musicians, and by that I mean people who study and play a traditional musical instrument, a dying breed?”

Yes. I fully expect the instrument I play and have studied for 40 years (the double bass) to completely disappear within the next 50 years.

Maybe, but I actually don’t think that’s going to happen. There is a delight in drawing sound from an acoustic musical instrument that affects both the player and the listener. Sure, at this point we are fascinated by the possibilities and choices offered by electronics and computers, but I believe we will find that nothing can replace that primal joy of hitting a drum or making that guitar or bass sing. Sometimes the most simple food is the most nourishing – last night I had dinner with friends at Aqua Santa and ordered lentil soup and that felt/tasted better than any fancy dish would have.

It is very possible that you are correct, Steve. I also think it is indeed possible that the classical orchestra will vanish (as expressed by another musician here), but I also feel that while the professional orchestra is at risk because of the sheer cost of it and the lack of public interest, we might see the rise of amateur orchestras. Let’s remember that until less than two hundred years ago most orchestras were made up of amateurs.

Maybe that image from Kham/Tibet happened because the kids were not exposed to MTV and the internet, but I think we might all quite possibly return to that fascination with “real” musical instruments at some point.
I mean, there is nothing like the sensation a bassist gets from playing the upright… it’s a very physical sensation, the resonance of the wood, the feeling of the low notes through one’s body. There is a physical pleasure that derives from playing an acoustic instrument that is unlike anything else.
Performance at Zhechen
Eventually society will see the importance of teaching music and fine art in all schools. A life without art and artistic expression is an un-elegant life indeed. Words alone will never express the un-expressable as well as the stroke of a brush or a melody. And while I appreciate the cerebral ideas that are so current, they can never extent me the physical pleasure of acoustic music. In the meantime many musicians have to just weather the drought.


  1. Carol

    When we look at a Van Gogh painting we look deeper than the picture. He painted so much of himself into it, we feel what he felt. He still lives because of his paintings.
    When I hear music, I want to know more than the instrument behind it. some artists like Ottmar put so much more than mere notes and rests. and even if an electronic device could somehow duplicate a lot of it, it would take away the life and feelings of the man behind the instrument. It would remove the closeness we feel to the artist himself. Well wouldn’t it be much like a copy of a great masterpiece compared to seeing the original.

  2. rodaniel

    You touched on a particular peeve of mine:

    “Eventually society will see the importance of teaching music and fine art in all schools.”

    It chaps me beyond belief that the school systems have devalued and pushed aside music and other artistic endeavors to make more resources available for sports.

    (It adds insult to injury that more than 50% of the taxes I’ve been paying for the past 25 years has gone to support public schools – a system that I have no voice on the directions of nor have I had children who were using the services of. But that’s a rant for another time!)

    Extrapolating on (what some might consider an extreme) tangent, most common (American) sports – football, baseball, & basketball – are largely full of morally-bankrupt, ethically-corrupt, and just generally distasteful people. To a considerable degree, it seems to me that the demoralizing environment of professional sports breeds money-grubbing, self-centered punks who’re not remotely anything like the sports figures who were role models when I was young.

    But let’s look, for example, at professional ensemble musicians… When was the last time you heard of some bad boy cellist getting busted for illegal gambling, acquiring the services of prostitutes, or ingesting boatloads of drugs?

    Which path would I prefer to nudge my new son towards? You can rest assured that I intend to do my best to encourage the arts, where the values I’m working hard to instill will have much greater chance of NOT being on the block for the highest bidder.

  3. steve1

    Ottmar: “there is nothing like the sensation a bassist gets from playing the upright… it’s a very physical sensation, the resonance of the wood, the feeling of the low notes through one’s body.”

    ABSOLUTELY! ESPECIALLY when playing con-arco (w/bow) …The sustain, the tone, … words fail me. A completely transcendental experience (one that is made even more so when playing ‘cello suites of J.S. Bach)


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