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When I first started playing I had this discussion with another musician about skill vs. talent. At the time I lamented how much it would suck to spend countless hours gaining skill only to discover that I wasn’t actually very talented.

His position was that base intelligence made you marginally “talented.” As long as you had decent eye-hand coordination and could learn to think in notes instead of words you could become at least a passable musician. Maybe not sell any records, but you’d have fun.

I read some of the discussions here and it makes me wonder again. I admit, Mr. Gorelick’s music is not my favorite. But I’d say that anyone who supposedly held a note for 45 minutes has developed a degree of skill (in circular breathing, if nothing else).

But most of us almost bitterly agree that his music doesn’t reflect a lot of “talent,” record sales notwithstanding. So then how do we exactly define talent?

Going further, take the other Kenny G (Garrett)—hearing him blaze through “Sing a Song of Song” to my ear there’s no question of technical skill or musical talent. He sounded like a man with something to say that was important to him.

But what separates “playing with passion” from being simply self-indulgent? We’ve probably all been to a jam session where someone was feeling himself a bit more than he should be, but what separates that guy from James Carter blurting and honking and biting his reed all over the place? How is one showing off when the other is artistic expression?

I know it may be a esoteric, but given the strong feeling people have about it I really have to wonder.

Thoughts, postulations, ideas anyone?
 

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I think you can get much farther with more skill than talent than you can with more talent then skill.
 

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"base intelligence made you marginally “talented.” As long as you had decent eye-hand coordination and could learn to think in notes instead of words you could become at least a passable musician"
Reasonable point I think.

I think that talent is the degree of ease with which one can acquire or develop their skill.
Or the skill level one is capable of attaining with the necessary work applied.

It has nothing at all to do with what one's skill level actually becomes.

"artistic expression" interesting description.
Art is skill or craft combined with unusual insight.
Inspiration is a personal feeling and doesn't necesarily mean it's accompanying
anything "artistic". Someone could feel very inspired not produce anything
that would be generally agreed on as "artistic".
Inspiration without craft is just "expressive" and I would think is predominatly self indulgent. Craft or skillfully rendered work without a good idea is also not art.
I'm trying to figure out of "self expression" is inherently self indulgence.
To some degree I think it may be. Some people play music because they get to "express themselves", some play just because they can and find it fun and it feels good in some way. But isn't that indulging in "feeling good" which is a non shared "self" pleasure. Or maybe because you like to please others by sharing music. But that's because it pleases yourself to please others. Help.
 

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Rowka said:
I think you can get much farther with more skill than talent than you can with more talent then skill.
Skill is actual. Talent is potential.
Skill is the product of applied talent.
No talent=no possible skill.
Tremendous talent=tremendous possible skill.

The newborn Mozart had more talent than anyone ever perhaps, but I wouldn't hire him for a gig.
 

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Skill+talent+good marketing= $

Skill+talent-good marketing= you are only as good as your next gig

Average skill+average talent+good marketing= $
 

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There are some researchers in the area of music learning who use the terms "aptitude" and "achievement". Aptitude (which the researchers say is pretty much set by about the age of 9) is the part that some might call "talent." Achievement is what you do with it. So, one's development as a musician is the result of a blend of those two things.

High Aptitude/High Achievement = those really special players who have the "talent" and discipline to capitalize on that.

High Aptitude/Low Achievement = those frustrating types who "waste their talent" by not doing enough work to get it together. But they still might do just enough to hang in.

Low Aptitude/High Achievement = those for whom it may not come easily, but their discipline and dedication allows them to realize much of their potential. Quite possible to succeed as a working musician.

Low Aptitude/Low Achievement = those for whom it doesn't come easily, and since they don't work at it, they never "get it". Quickly dropping out of band, or continuing to sit last chair.

We all exist somewhere along those axes, and for those of us over nine years of age, there's no use fighting the aptitude part. So we just continue to work of the achievement part.
 

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Some things you're just born with---great ears, for example. Maybe great ambition, too. What you do with it is up to you.
One small comment about the G'ster: holding a note for 45 minutes, (or whatever), in order to get a line in the Guiness Book of World Records is just the sort of thing that gets his G'ness dissed by his fellow musical brethren. What an ego! How irrelevant.
But since you bring him up, I would have to say that Kenny G is quite talented, IMNSHO; he plays to the crowd well. He pushes the right buttons. I, for one, can't stand, (what I consider to be), his bright, whiny tone or his monotone noodling and many other musicians feel the same way, but why should he care? This is certainly not due to a lack of talent or ambition......it's all about choices. What matters to you?
 

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I always use Neil Young vs. Yngwie Malmsteen when this topic comes up. I love the solo in Cinnamon Girl, even though it's pretty much only one note. It's really nothing special technically, but the passion just pours through. At the other end of the spectrum is Yngwie Malmsteen, worlds fastest guitar player, yet he puts me to sleep because there's no passion in his music. And I think that's why most people don't know how to pronounce Yngwie.
 

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axemanblue said:
When I first started playing I had this discussion with another musician about skill vs. talent. At the time I lamented how much it would suck to spend countless hours gaining skill only to discover that I wasn’t actually very talented.

His position was that base intelligence made you marginally “talented.” As long as you had decent eye-hand coordination and could learn to think in notes instead of words you could become at least a passable musician. Maybe not sell any records, but you’d have fun.

I read some of the discussions here and it makes me wonder again. I admit, Mr. Gorelick’s music is not my favorite. But I’d say that anyone who supposedly held a note for 45 minutes has developed a degree of skill (in circular breathing, if nothing else).

But most of us almost bitterly agree that his music doesn’t reflect a lot of “talent,” record sales notwithstanding. So then how do we exactly define talent?

Going further, take the other Kenny G (Garrett)—hearing him blaze through “Sing a Song of Song” to my ear there’s no question of technical skill or musical talent. He sounded like a man with something to say that was important to him.

But what separates “playing with passion” from being simply self-indulgent? We’ve probably all been to a jam session where someone was feeling himself a bit more than he should be, but what separates that guy from James Carter blurting and honking and biting his reed all over the place? How is one showing off when the other is artistic expression?

I know it may be a esoteric, but given the strong feeling people have about it I really have to wonder.

Thoughts, postulations, ideas anyone?
Its about right and left brain. You can get skillful but you may be not talented. By saying talent what I mean is creativity. How you make something bad looks good how you make something good looks awesome. How you arrange those notes in C major scale sounds very nice to please people.
Talent is not something inherited from your parents, its more about training your creativity.

Training can leads to self indulgence but wont make you passionate enough only when you play with love and soul then you balance your left and right brain.
 

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My grandfather joined the army when he was 14 and was put into the Army band and told to play the clarinet. I do get the impression that he had very little talent and would probably have preferred to do something else other than music. But he still mad e a living off the clarinet and sax for more than 30 years and I'm told that he was technically brilliant.

Now that I'm learning the (his) sax I regret not having heard him play.

Ciaran
 
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