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What is a Real Musician?

By Edited Sep 25, 2015 1 2

Are Electronic Music Artists Musicians?

 This article is aimed at the electronic music artist, the musician behind the equipment.  It's not intended to be a long article, just get a point across.

At face value, a 'musician' is somebody who produces music by playing a musical instrument[1].  How the music is produced doesn't, and shouldn't matter.  Electronic music composition takes every bit as much work and effort as composing with any other type of instrument.  Sure, understanding music theory, scales, chords, and so on can only benefit the electronic music artist, but that's no different than with players of 'traditional' instruments.  When you strip away all the clutter, a musical instrument can be anything that produces sound[2].  

"I'm Not a Real Musician"?

This gentleman in the video above thinks electronic music artists are not 'real' musicians, but there are plenty of facts to prove otherwise.  

I participate on an online forum for electronic music artists.  They have a 'show and tell' portion of the forum where members can upload or link to their latest creation on Soundcloud, and get feedback on it, get help developing it, or just plain show it off for all to enjoy.  It's a lot of fun.

Occasionally, somebody will share something, and in their description they write something like "I'm not a real musician, but..."  I understand why they feel that way, but by the two definitions above, if you produce sound with an object and those sounds are interpreted as music, then you are a musician.

I love making electronic music.  I've had my years of formal instruction on the piano, but that fact alone shouldn't make me a musician, and others not.  Sure, it helps me figure out what combinations of things might work well together, and what techniques I can use to convey a particular feeling through the composition, but anyone who works at it enough will eventually get there as well.  

"But it Sounds so Repetitive"

How many electronic music artists out there haven't heard that line before?  Hey!  Guess what?  One of the world's foremost authorities on musical theory, Heinrich Schenker, states that "musical technique's most striking and distinctive characteristic is repetition"[3],[4].

Electronic musicians just capitalize of that quality of music (repetition), in the same way that an opera emphasizes the singer, and that an orchestra focuses on strings.  All genres emphasize a particular aspect of music.

Now Go Make Music!

In closing, if you are using an object to make sound, and it sounds like music to you, then congratulations, you're a musician.  Keep up the good work!



Jan 25, 2014 9:59pm
Enjoyed the article very much. I think with a lot of the " real musicians" they sometimes tend to hold a grudge with the "electronic" musician due to the fact that the process of learning a "real" instrument is so much more involved then simply pushing a few buttons that create a 'poor' sound imitation of most real instruments. It's kinda like the 'real' musician feels somehow cheated.. because the electronic musician is 'getting off easy'.Personally speaking I agree with you. creating music is a beautiful experience no matter how or which way you choose to do it...however if there is one thing that I've learned with on-line music production is this: Sound Quality is Everything.
Jan 27, 2014 6:17am
Right there with you on the sound quality statement.

I just released my debut album on Google Play, and I spent a LOT of time mastering each track until it was just right. Then I went and listened to it in the car. Then on the home stereo, then a different pair of headphones, to make sure that it would sound good on most playback devices.

Being a trained pianist as well, electronic music doesn't feel like any less work or effort to me than learning and performing a piece of music on the piano.

Thanks for the comment!
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  1. Various "Musician." Wikipedia. 9/11/2013. 23/11/2013 <Web >
  2. Various "Musical Instrument." Wikipedia. 23/11/2013 <Web >
  3. Various "Repetition (music)." Wikipedia. 23/11/2013 <Web >
  4. Various "Heinrich Schenker." Wikipedia. 23/11/2013 <Web >

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