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Old 09-15-2012, 09:39 AM   #1
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Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Interesting food for thought (from an interview with Lester Bang):

This brings up the famous ''I'm not a musician" quote from early in his career, which confounds fans and critics alike to this day. It seems like a conceit turned inside out, inasmuch as I've got almost a dozen albums of his music sitting here. "Again," he almost sighs, "it was a case of taking a position deliberately in opposition to another one. I don't say it much anymore, but I said it when I said it because there was such an implicit and tacit belief that virtuosity was the sine qua non of music and there was no other way of approaching it. And that seemed to be so transparently false in terms of rock music in particular. I thought that it was well worth saying, 'Whatever I'm doing, it's not that,' and I thought the best way to say that was to say, Look, I'm a nonmusician. If you like what I do, it stands in defiance to that.'

"When I say 'musician,' I wouldn't apply it to myself as a synthesizer player, or 'player' of tape recorders, because I usually mean someone with a digital skill that they then apply to an instrument. I don't really have that, so strictly speaking I'm a non-musician. None of my skills are manual, they're not to do with manipulation in that sense, they're more to do with ingenuity, I suppose."

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Old 09-20-2012, 06:10 AM   #2
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

This brings up the question if any formal knowledge of music (composition, harmonics etc.) or the ability to READ music is essential for making electronic music or any music. One of the most fascinating things I read about Jimi Hendrix was that he was unable to read music an attached the names of colors to moods. So in the studio he would say to his technicians (who were tuned into him) things like: I need a violet tone here. Etc. Later is his life, when he was wandering towards jazz, he was very impressed and intimidated by Miles Davis who had studied at Juiillard and other jazz musicians who could read sheet music. He would feel very unsure of himself, even though the admiration from the jazz world for his music was sincere.
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:15 AM   #3
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

yea, i dunno...i just know a tad of music theory...scales mostly...and a bit about chords...mostly I think of myself as a beat maker and sound sculptor...if I can get a melody or chord progression right at this point that's a bonus : )

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:06 AM   #4
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

He means "instrumentalist" rather than "musician", but synthesisers and tape decks are musical instruments.

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Old 10-10-2012, 07:04 PM   #5
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

he is to shy to straigh things up: i'm the best - deal with it
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Old 10-13-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Many of the krautrockers and post-punk people also called themselves non-musicians. There was a definite idea around then that synths allowed people to make music without being musicians.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:37 PM   #7
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Quote:
Originally Posted by relic View Post
yea, i dunno...i just know a tad of music theory...scales mostly...and a bit about chords...mostly I think of myself as a beat maker and sound sculptor...if I can get a melody or chord progression right at this point that's a bonus : )
Same here. That said, theres more then enough music that sounds good without much of a discernible melody in the traditional sense.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:51 PM   #8
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

The question really is; what is a musician? I'd say that it's anybody who can produce musical sounds, Brian Eno does that it's just that he manipulates timbre more than melody. Anybody can write a song in C major, it's tough to define these things.

PS. Music theory isn't essential but it helps to know as much as you can, especially when you're working with fluid music like ambient, jazz, etc.

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Old 10-31-2012, 08:02 PM   #9
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

I think synthesizers and most MIDI controllers are instruments and I've been playing piano for 15 years. I see electronic artists as musicians, as long as they actually generate their own sound, not let their tracks play through while they pretend to look busy. That's just my opinion.

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Old 12-04-2012, 04:27 PM   #10
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

I think this is looking into the word musician too much. A musician is someone who composes music as far as I am concerned.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:59 AM   #11
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

sound artist yo
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:33 AM   #12
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Is Eno's sound art music?

In my opinion is just teeters somewhere on the edge between music and not music. That tension is what has made him famous.

It's exactly the same tension with Andy Warhol for example. Warhol's graphic media were bordering right on the edge between art and graphic design. He deliberately played with that and got famous.

The quote is just there to throw fuel on the fire and get people talking about him.

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Old 12-09-2012, 01:00 AM   #13
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Eno's sound IS music, but again, you don't have to be a musician in order to make music. Music has existed for nearly as long as humans have walked this earth..and our early ancestors clearly knew fuck all music theory..so that is proof in itself.

Its the same as asking do you need a degree in English in order to be a writer. Again, clearly you don't. Many authors out there the world over never had the privilege of a good education, but still they have gone on to become writers of published works.

Sometimes I think we get lost in the terms themselves..when all we need to do is remember if it looks like a bird and it flies, then is more than likely is a bird..instead of debating what kind of bird it is and which one flies the highest, if you know what I mean.

I think of myself as being the same as Eno, in that I obviously make music, but I have no classical musical trying and only a rudimentary understanding of music theory..but these facts have never stopped the process that takes place within me..or hindered me in anyway from producing an end result that is musical in nature.

And to be honest, if others say I am not a musician, then that's cool..it doesn't really matter to me one way or the others..my work speaks for itself..and as long as others like what I do and get enjoyment from it, then all the critics in the world can go and take a running jump!
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:26 PM   #14
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Quote:
Originally Posted by AMechanics View Post
Eno's sound IS music, but again, you don't have to be a musician in order to make music. Music has existed for nearly as long as humans have walked this earth..and our early ancestors clearly knew fuck all music theory..so that is proof in itself.

Its the same as asking do you need a degree in English in order to be a writer. Again, clearly you don't. Many authors out there the world over never had the privilege of a good education, but still they have gone on to become writers of published works.

Sometimes I think we get lost in the terms themselves..when all we need to do is remember if it looks like a bird and it flies, then is more than likely is a bird..instead of debating what kind of bird it is and which one flies the highest, if you know what I mean.

I think of myself as being the same as Eno, in that I obviously make music, but I have no classical musical trying and only a rudimentary understanding of music theory..but these facts have never stopped the process that takes place within me..or hindered me in anyway from producing an end result that is musical in nature.

And to be honest, if others say I am not a musician, then that's cool..it doesn't really matter to me one way or the others..my work speaks for itself..and as long as others like what I do and get enjoyment from it, then all the critics in the world can go and take a running jump!
Well put sir.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:24 PM   #15
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

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Originally Posted by Jonah_Mann View Post
He means "instrumentalist" rather than "musician", but synthesisers and tape decks are musical instruments.
Bingo. I think he was pushing against a tendency at the time (late '70s at this point, right?) to equate musicianship with ability to play instruments live -- which he did plenty of during the Roxy Music phase, of course, but generally hated. I also recall another '70s interview where he's talking about ambient music and says that he wishes he didn't have to call it "music" at all, but something else entirely.

Of course, nowadays, recording artists who compose sounds for recordings (as opposed to, say, comedians) are generally considered musicians. But this wasn't really a thing until the 1980s, I wager.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:33 AM   #16
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

If there's rhythm, melody, harmony, and structure of some time... then it's music. Period.

Ambient is music is the same place where hymns were sung (which is the first form of music) so long sustaining notes found in ambient music are same as hymns and Brian Eno makes ambient music.. so there ya go!

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Old 01-15-2013, 12:33 AM   #17
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

What makes something "music" is terrible interesting. I always wondered, in the realms of experimental music and musique concrète (à la Cage's 4'33"), is it really "music" at all times and to everyone? Or is it always subjective? Because someone who is unwittingly hearing something like 4'33" wouldn't know they were hearing music, but the person playing it would, and they'd both be hearing the same thing.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:15 PM   #18
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Re: Brian Eno: I'm not a musician

Well, what he produces is most certainly music. He manipulates sound in order to create something appealing to the human ear. That's more than enough to call it music.

But yeah, he was probably talking about being able to actually play instruments, so w/e.

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