While it is true that, “not all things should be measured,” let us turn our attention to the distinction between Musical Entertainers and Musical Scientists.
In one group, we have Andrew WK, David Lee Roth, and Gwar, to name a few polarizing examples. These are humans who dress up in costumes and jump around on a stage, attracting attention to their appearance. They engage the audience with their amusing antics. Most rock bands are more tame versions of this category, with varying levels of subtlety. Every performance group from Paramore to My Chemical Romance to Katy Perry is a variation of this same idea. In an instant, the listener can hum along and tap his / her foot, and much of the focus is on the personality and appearance of the performer. The music is a cheap jingle to advertise for the obnoxious dancing, which is only another superficial jingle to decorate and disguise the exchange of Wealth.
In the second group, we have master craftsmen like Morgan Agren, Marco Minnemann, and Virgil Donati. (Is it a coincidence that these are all drummers? The answer is no, as we shall see in the next paragraph.) These are advanced musicians who dedicate themselves to discovering new musical ideas and performing at a level that most non-musicians are unable to comprehend. As with other sciences, their discipline is not focused on serving an audience. The majority of their time is well-spent on the puzzling and creative world of their musical imaginations — finding new tricks, new combinations of sounds, and new ways to perform challenging patterns. Should other scientists be seduced to “dumb themselves down” for the sake of earning a living on stage? Or should they be free to study high-level theories and seek esoteric knowledge? How important is invention?
Not important enough, these days.
An easy way to determine whether a particular individual is a Musical Entertainer or a Musical Scientist is to ask yourself, “Is the person standing up or sitting down while playing?” Perhaps if all musicians were permitted to sit down as rock drummers and classical musicians are, the science of music would advance exponentially.
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