overcoming average(?)

because it’s something the world just needs less of

dec 11, 2010 (unified theory of musicians)

with 3 comments

now for my unified theory of everything…about musicians. i’ve been thinking about this for a long time now and told a few of my fellow musicians about it. it seems to make sense to them, so i think it’s time to present my theory to the world at large.

it’s my opinion that there are three types of musicians. there are only these three types, but a musician can be any combination of them, even up to all three. most musicians are only one kind though and i believe it to be extremely rare for a musician to be all three. i think it cuts across all instruments, even singing. before i start, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these types of musicians. i happen to personally believe that each of them have their place though, and that we often get “bad music” from musicians being in places where they maybe shouldn’t be. also, the words i chose for each type are where i believe each kind of musician plays from, so to speak. here it goes:

the first is what i call “the hands.” these kinds of musicians are the ones who can play anything you throw at them. the fingers can move easily and eloquently across a keyboard or fretboard no matter how many notes need to played or how fast they need to happen. the physical act of playing music is easy for them. the downside to these kinds of musicians that because it is so easy, it can tend to not be fun for them to play anymore. also, “hands players” tend not to be able to write songs that would be considered hits by popular standards. where i believe these kinds of musicians are perhaps best utilized is jazz, classical, and cover bands. also, more popular bands like dream theater, rush, even some speed metal bands seem to be comprised of these types of players.

the second kind is what i call “the head.” these are the types of musicians who have an intense knowledge and affinity for music theory. they know all the scales and modes and everything just makes sense to them. basically, these players know what everything is supposed to sound like, even if they can’t reproduce it themselves. the downside to these players is that they can tend to be a little awkward when it comes to playing on stage in front of people. i feel like these kinds tend to excel in the writing, composing, arranging, or production areas of music.

the last kind of musician is “the heart.” i hesitate to call it that because it sounds much more romanticized than i mean it to. a more accurate, but more crass way to put it is that these people play music from their balls. basically, these players “feel” each note rather than “play” each note. the big downside to this is that heart players don’t always even know what they’re doing and tend to be much more limited when it comes to any aspect of music that isn’t playing on stage in front of people. the one truly legitimate advantage these players have is that I don’t think it’s something that can be learned or even improved. as far as I can tell, you either have it or you don’t. again though, that sounds more romanticized than I want it to.

so there it is. my unofficial universal theory of musicians. what do you think? pretty accurate, or am I going crazy?


Written by matt

December 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm

3 Responses

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  1. what about the ones who play by ear 😀 and suck at theory hahah …
    i’ve always been jealous of ‘hands’ musicians as far as instruments go. but i’ve also lacked the discipline needed to really grow my instrument skills. oh well. i keep at it.

    Lori Jo

    December 12, 2010 at 12:05 am

    • the ones that play by ear are hand players to me. you can give them a piece of music, either sheet music or the actual song, and they’ll have it down in no time. always keep at it


      December 12, 2010 at 1:55 am

  2. Perfection, Professor Quillen! You know me/us/them so well. Kudos!


    December 12, 2010 at 7:01 am

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