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MaxFaust

Skills vs. Personality

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Classic problem. Is that which you think is good based in skillful playing or "band personality"? 

Case in point, there are loads and loads of singers that are much "better" (in the technical sense) than Ozzy ... but on the other hand, Ozzy's voice has something eerie about it which makes it perfect for that sort of thing. It's not all about range. Then there is the guitar. It's possible to find clips on YouTube that boggles the mind, in terms of how technically skilled those people are ... but was there ever a better riffman than Tony Iommi? 

There is some alchemy going on in music. An X-facor, if you like. That's what I mean with "personality". 

Yet there must obviously be at least some minimum requirements with respects to skill. Which is more important though?

I'd wager that skill is what you need to get to a certain level, but from then on it's all about personality. After you've reached the minimum standards, skill actually has a tendency to work against you. I base this assertion in private opinion only, after having watched thousands of bands come and go over the years. Is skill counterproductive for "staying power"? I'd like to hear how other people see this thing. Perhaps I'm way off and just floating around in a theorethical ocean of little merit and even less importance.

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25 minutes ago, MaxFaust said:

Classic problem. Is that which you think is good based in skillful playing or "band personality"? 

Case in point, there are loads and loads of singers that are much "better" (in the technical sense) than Ozzy ... but on the other hand, Ozzy's voice has something eerie about it which makes it perfect for that sort of thing. It's not all about range. Then there is the guitar. It's possible to find clips on YouTube that boggles the mind, in terms of how technically skilled those people are ... but was there ever a better riffman than Tony Iommi? 

There is some alchemy going on in music. An X-facor, if you like. That's what I mean with "personality". 

Yet there must obviously be at least some minimum requirements with respects to skill. Which is more important though?

I'd wager that skill is what you need to get to a certain level, but from then on it's all about personality. After you've reached the minimum standards, skill actually has a tendency to work against you. I base this assertion in private opinion only, after having watched thousands of bands come and go over the years. Is skill counterproductive for "staying power"? I'd like to hear how other people see this thing. Perhaps I'm way off and just floating around in a theorethical ocean of little merit and even less importance.

When i first got into heavy music, i was really into punk rock music. As a result personality and showmanship were really important to me both as a musician and a listener. That mentality has transitioned into all the genres i listen to whether it be folk, jazz, punk, metal, etc. You can be as skilled as you want if your music lacks attitude it wont grab me. I'll be mildly impressed at best.

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I think most will say Personality. I’m on my phone so handicapped in response potential, but my favourite band is Mayhem and my favourite albums are mostly slower, Glorious, gothic metal that rely on songs and craftsmanship more than flamboyance. That’s why I’ve always preferred Katatonia over Opeth, and Moonsorrow over um... a more technical band. 

As for your Sabbath reference - yes! Everyone bangs on about technicology but I’d rather listen to Ozzy and Iommi over more proficient metal mongers. 

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I suppose everyone's gonna have a different idea of what constitutes "personality", but that would be my pick as well; flashy musicianship for its own sake does nothing for me. Sometimes it even turns me off. I do like hearing people rip it up on their instruments in the right context, but I also like plenty of stuff that has nothing to do with technique. I'd say I look for "good songwriting", but that's overly broad and subjective.

How that relates to staying power, I don't know, but my own experience writing music has been that focusing on technique makes it harder for me to keep sight of the "big picture" - songs, what they're about, why I bother playing in the first place. Pursuit of technique was all about getting the tools to write better/more interesting material for me, but it took on a life of its own (not that I'm that good of a player by any stretch). It's hard to put that down once you've picked it up.

As far as Sabbath in particular, I couldn't stand them for the longest time, and it's only in the past five or ten years that I've warmed up to their material. Ozzy's voice annoys me. It's not his lack of technique, it's just something about his tone and the way he pronounces things, makes me grit me teeth.

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I would say personality as well. Music fulfills it's purpose when people pour themselves into it and use it as a vehicle for self-expression, which is something that's hard to do when you're showing off. As FA said, becoming a better player should be about filling your toolbox so that you're writing and expression can become more diverse, but when you set out to make something to push your limits, it's hard to fit some soul in there. Technicality and soul can and will continue to coexist, but only with artists who don't lose sight of being expressive as they teat through something difficult to play.

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I think it largely has to do with how many artists utilize the techniques in their arsenal, whether they range from few to many, within the context of a full composition. That said, while I agree with many of the things stated regarding personality in this thread, I do feel that many people just kind of blow off any advanced technical skills shown in music as "noodling", "wankery", etc. without actually thinking about what they're listening to or how those techniques are being utilized. 

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5 minutes ago, Ekthelion said:

I think it largely has to do with how many artists utilize the techniques in their arsenal, whether they range from few to many, within the context of a full composition. That said, while I agree with many of the things stated regarding personality in this thread, I do feel that many people just kind of blow off any advanced technical skills shown in music as "noodling", "wankery", etc. without actually thinking about what they're listening to or how those techniques are being utilized. 

I'd say the noodling and wankery come in when it feels like the musicians care more about showcasing their technique than they do about songcraft. I have nothing against awesome musicianship, but I want to hear some backbone, not just pyrotechnics over a standard template. 

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4 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

I'd say the noodling and wankery come in when it feels like the musicians care more about showcasing their technique than they do about songcraft. I have nothing against awesome musicianship, but I want to hear some backbone, not just pyrotechnics over a standard template. 

Well, that'd clearly be the correct application of those two descriptors but I've encountered individuals who just use those terms regardless of whether the overall composition is interesting. 

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Well, that'd clearly be the correct application of those two descriptors but I've encountered individuals who just use those terms regardless of whether the overall composition is interesting. 
What interests someone changes from one person to the next, but whether or not the flash works within the context of the song tends to be telling, or if the focus is disproportionately placed on one instrument over the others. This isn't always the case, but it does feel a lot more natural for explosive technicality to be showcased within a song that is complex and technical in and of itself, and if those explosive elements from multiple instruments work together towards the same goal. It's not always just The Great Kat styled shredders that get shit on in this way, but when a progressive metal band or a technical death metal band (for instance, since these two genres tend to contain the most culprits of this), it often seems like the musicians, while talented, recorded their parts in the same room with their metronome set to the same tempo and are given a scale/tuning to use, and them they just do what they please regardless of what the other members are doing.

While it is unfair to dismiss technical bands as a whole, some people do throw the baby out with the bathwater simply because this is all that they have been exposed to with flashy playing. Much like people who write off all black metal as sounding like shit because of a few bands with demo quality production, or writing off all doom metal as minimalistic and boring because of a few bands that strive for that, it sometimes takes some convincing and showing people that their experience wasn't the whole picture.

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3 hours ago, BlutAusNerd said:

What interests someone changes from one person to the next, but whether or not the flash works within the context of the song tends to be telling, or if the focus is disproportionately placed on one instrument over the others. This isn't always the case, but it does feel a lot more natural for explosive technicality to be showcased within a song that is complex and technical in and of itself, and if those explosive elements from multiple instruments work together towards the same goal. It's not always just The Great Kat styled shredders that get shit on in this way, but when a progressive metal band or a technical death metal band (for instance, since these two genres tend to contain the most culprits of this), it often seems like the musicians, while talented, recorded their parts in the same room with their metronome set to the same tempo and are given a scale/tuning to use, and them they just do what they please regardless of what the other members are doing.

While it is unfair to dismiss technical bands as a whole, some people do throw the baby out with the bathwater simply because this is all that they have been exposed to with flashy playing. Much like people who write off all black metal as sounding like shit because of a few bands with demo quality production, or writing off all doom metal as minimalistic and boring because of a few bands that strive for that, it sometimes takes some convincing and showing people that their experience wasn't the whole picture.

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Certainly. Music is art and art is subjective. Also ones tastes are subject to change. I can assure you i have a much broader taste than i did when i was 16 and im sure itll be even more broad down the road. 

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8 hours ago, Ekthelion said:

I've encountered individuals who just use those terms regardless of whether the overall composition is interesting. 

(Raises hand.)

I used to be one of those individuals at a certain age period of my life. I was heavily into the "punk" thing in 77 and 78, thinking of myself as a "merciless warrior soul". Fucking ridiculous, of course, but in my defence, I was just a kid. Anyway, the spirit was that of "if you can't say it in two minutes or less, don't speak" ... which was a flagrant negation of my even younger self, when I was heavily into guitar solo worship (I am unsure when the air guitar was invented but it was definitely before my time). 

Interestingly, I considered my musical tastes to exist within a continuum before my punk rock years. At that point in time, my taste for brutal, nasty shit kind of separated from my more eclectic (and somewhat closeted) attraction towards musicmanship and production values, etc. I would have that split personality for many years after. I probably still do, in some respect ... but at least I'm not ashamed of anything anymore. It was a little weird for some time ... having to explain my Frank Zappa fixation to those of my friends who we into Crass, Poison Girls, and that sort of thing. 

On the other and, you can hide a lot of inept musical skills behind that "wall of sound". On the third hand ... there is the fact that when you go to some hard rock show only to get violent in the mosh pit, you don't care so much about whether the stage act at hand can actually play for shit. All that matters is the violent energy. 

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On 4/28/2018 at 10:55 PM, MaxFaust said:

(Raises hand.)

I used to be one of those individuals at a certain age period of my life. I was heavily into the "punk" thing in 77 and 78, thinking of myself as a "merciless warrior soul". Fucking ridiculous, of course, but in my defence, I was just a kid. Anyway, the spirit was that of "if you can't say it in two minutes or less, don't speak" ... which was a flagrant negation of my even younger self, when I was heavily into guitar solo worship (I am unsure when the air guitar was invented but it was definitely before my time). 

Interestingly, I considered my musical tastes to exist within a continuum before my punk rock years. At that point in time, my taste for brutal, nasty shit kind of separated from my more eclectic (and somewhat closeted) attraction towards musicmanship and production values, etc. I would have that split personality for many years after. I probably still do, in some respect ... but at least I'm not ashamed of anything anymore. It was a little weird for some time ... having to explain my Frank Zappa fixation to those of my friends who we into Crass, Poison Girls, and that sort of thing. 

On the other and, you can hide a lot of inept musical skills behind that "wall of sound". On the third hand ... there is the fact that when you go to some hard rock show only to get violent in the mosh pit, you don't care so much about whether the stage act at hand can actually play for shit. All that matters is the violent energy. 

That is one of the reasons Ronnie Reyes cited for leaving Black Flag. He basically said "i could have recited doctor seuss up there and they would have beat the shit out of each other anyway"

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9 hours ago, Ikard said:

 leaving Black Flag

One of my all-time favourite bands, hands down. I tend to think of Black Flag before Henry Rollins as a completely different thing though. As charismatic frontmen go, he's up there with the best. In my opinion, they should probably make him the next president of America. Seriously. At this point in time, I bet many yanks pine for someone who isn't corrupt and full of shit, basically representing the same old conglomerate of corporate interests and lying, thieving bastards. He's also very human ... but that may not work to his actual advantage.

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26 minutes ago, MaxFaust said:

One of my all-time favourite bands, hands down. I tend to think of Black Flag before Henry Rollins as a completely different thing though. As charismatic frontmen go, he's up there with the best. In my opinion, they should probably make him the next president of America. Seriously. At this point in time, I bet many yanks pine for someone who isn't corrupt and full of shit, basically representing the same old conglomerate of corporate interests and lying, thieving bastards. He's also very human ... but that may not work to his actual advantage.

The thing is man, the American left and the American right are both full of shit at this time. They have become a false dichotomy in which both sides oc the aisle represent the same thing. Maybe ive just become cynical but i have very little hope for any significant change any time soon.

I mean unless we could get Lee Ving from FEAR to run lol

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The thing is man, the American left and the American right are both full of shit at this time. They have become a false dichotomy in which both sides oc the aisle represent the same thing. Maybe ive just become cynical but i have very little hope for any significant change any time soon.
I mean unless we could get Lee Ving from FEAR to run lol
It's definitely a scam here right now, the two party system has failed us. There would need to be a massive upheaval to undo the corruption, and even if the system collapses, I don't foresee that happening.

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10 minutes ago, BlutAusNerd said:

It's definitely a scam here right now, the two party system has failed us. There would need to be a massive upheaval to undo the corruption, and even if the system collapses, I don't foresee that happening.

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The more i begin to look at things as they really are the more of a nihilist i become.

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The more i begin to look at things as they really are the more of a nihilist i become.
All the proof you need is in the results. Both sides create superficial conflict to distract us while their constituents that pay them off through heavy lobbying benefit. They make money, we lose money, and because of the distractions, we blame each other or whomever they've decided to allocate as the scapegoat of the week. If they truly do represent our best interests, then they're doing a fucking horrible job of it, too much so for it to be accidental.

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18 minutes ago, BlutAusNerd said:

All the proof you need is in the results. Both sides create superficial conflict to distract us while their constituents that pay them off through heavy lobbying benefit. They make money, we lose money, and because of the distractions, we blame each other or whomever they've decided to allocate as the scapegoat of the week. If they truly do represent our best interests, then they're doing a fucking horrible job of it, too much so for it to be accidental.

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It all comes down to the simple truth that humans as a species are nasty, selfish and self defeating. We are an invasive species and we will eventually drain this world of everything beautiful. Its only a matter of time.

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32 minutes ago, Ikard said:

humans as a species are nasty, selfish and self defeating

These aren't the words of a nihilist, brother. Rather those of someone who once held high hopes.

Far be it from me to diagnose the American malady ... but it seems like it's quite common to harbour an illusion about "moral certainty" ... on either (or all) side(s) of the political spectrum. Rather than being practical and focus on that which works, many are into what they think is "right" (which basically makes everybody not in agreement with their moral certainty, "wrong"). This will invariably lead to locked positions of conflict ... where the only thing that's open for change is how intense the conflict is allowed to become ... and the only workable position of stability is that of passive aggression.

It's too easy to fall into disgust with the human race, all things considered. I think this is the place many wind up manouvering themselves into, over time, resulting in a more or less pronounced state of depression. Dante had an inscription on the gates of Hell (in the "Inferno" part of the Comedy) that said: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here ". Which of course jives with the quite common trope (not least in the metal business) that this world is in fact Hell ... and that the best we can -- realistically -- hope for are some glimpses of happiness from time to time, within the more general state of hopelessness and misery.

But what's wrong with the little things? Why are we expecting so much from life? At the age of 20, ten years seems like a lot of time. But when you turn 50, you'll realize that it's just a fistful of moments that pour out between your fingers like so much dry sand ... going only that much faster the more you try to clench your fist and hold on to it. Like I keep telling people: Getting old sucks, but it's better than the only alternative we know about.  

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13 minutes ago, MaxFaust said:

These aren't the words of a nihilist, brother. Rather those of someone who once held high hopes.

Far be it from me to diagnose the American malady ... but it seems like it's quite common to harbour an illusion about "moral certainty" ... on either (or all) side(s) of the political spectrum. Rather than being practical and focus on that which works, many are into what they think is "right" (which basically makes everybody not in agreement with their moral certainty, "wrong"). This will invariably lead to locked positions of conflict ... where the only thing that's open for change is how intense the conflict is allowed to become ... and the only workable position of stability is that of passive aggression.

It's too easy to fall into disgust with the human race, all things considered. I think this is the place many wind up manouvering themselves into, over time, resulting in a more or less pronounced state of depression. Dante had an inscription on the gates of Hell (in the "Inferno" part of the Comedy) that said: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here ". Which of course jives with the quite common trope (not least in the metal business) that this world is in fact Hell ... and that the best we can -- realistically -- hope for are some glimpses of happiness from time to time, within the more general state of hopelessness and misery.

But what's wrong with the little things? Why are we expecting so much from life? At the age of 20, ten years seems like a lot of time. But when you turn 50, you'll realize that it's just a fistful of moments that pour out between your fingers like so much dry sand ... going only that much faster the more you try to clench your fist and hold on to it. Like I keep telling people: Getting old sucks, but it's better than the only alternative we know about.  

Do not mistake my views on human beings as bitterness. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule i stated or i would be locked up in my room instead of having a discussion. What i may have misarticulated is that there is no "ism" that is going to save humanity. But you are absolutely right. When i was young(er) i thought that socialism was going to fix the problem. The problem is humans dont function that way on a large scale. Greed is inate in us it seems. Sorry to derail your post, dude.

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25 minutes ago, Ikard said:

Sorry to derail your post, dude.

Not at all !!! Whereas not many people would describe me as "positive" I am at least of the mind that any- and everything can be turned into something useful. To be honest, I find the type of people who wants to "save the world" a rather scary bunch of monsters. There can be no escaping the innate selfishness of any type of biological organism that has a will to live. No matter how we twist and shake, everybody (and everything) wants something. However, this may not be a point of clarity in those people who advocate selfless sacrifice for "the greater good" (whatever the hell that means).

That being said, I happen to think that a little socialism can be a good thing ... as long as it doesn't turn into an ideological beauty contest. After all, what sane individual think it's all good when some people complain about not owning all the latest and greatest gadgets of comfort while others are more or less starving to death?

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2 hours ago, MaxFaust said:

Not at all !!! Whereas not many people would describe me as "positive" I am at least of the mind that any- and everything can be turned into something useful. To be honest, I find the type of people who wants to "save the world" a rather scary bunch of monsters. There can be no escaping the innate selfishness of any type of biological organism that has a will to live. No matter how we twist and shake, everybody (and everything) wants something. However, this may not be a point of clarity in those people who advocate selfless sacrifice for "the greater good" (whatever the hell that means).

That being said, I happen to think that a little socialism can be a good thing ... as long as it doesn't turn into an ideological beauty contest. After all, what sane individual think it's all good when some people complain about not owning all the latest and greatest gadgets of comfort while others are more or less starving to death?

Right. There are definitely merits to the marxist way of thinking and i am certainly not against the idea of tax dollars going toward education and healthcare rather than war profiteering and politicking. 

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7 hours ago, Ikard said:

merits to the marxist way of thinking

Being a philosopher and a writer means that I take language very seriously. It kind of comes with the territory. It's undoubtedly my responsibility that this thread got politicized ... because I made that quip about Henry Rollins for president, which obviously ain't gonna happen, mostly because Henry doesn't really know how to lie. Other than that, I think he'd do a tremendous job. 

Now ... the reason why I suddenly landed -- or better yet, hit the ground running -- in this place, is because I googled "metal forum" and this came out on top. I have shut down all my social media, and extracted myself from every dedicated science and philosophy forum I've been affiliated with. Because shit's getting so politicized and aggressive. I figured that henceforth, I shall only descuss music, in public. Well, that didn't last very long, did it? 

To the point: There's a HUGE difference between Marxism (economic theory) and socialism (political toolbox). I'll agree that there's a connection, in that most socialists are at least vaguely affiliated with Marxist theory, but it's part of the problem that a lot of people yell Marxism! (or that their mind goes to that place) whenever the word socialism is mentioned. Just as it's part of the problem that people yell fascism! as soon as other economic theories are mentioned (particularly "the Austrian school"). 

This, of course, is mostly done by people who'd have a hard time explaining what socialism and fascism (let alone Marxism and Austrian economic theory) means to begin with. All they can see is the symbol side of things ... reacting like Pavlov's Dog (which BTW is name for a prog rock band that I like) when the bell rings. This hateful political climate has no happy end game, and I refuse to be part of it. The job of a modern state leader is to keep the peace and make sure the money gets spent wisely. No more, and certainly no less. The age of "big political ideas" is a bygone era. 

However that may be, there is something called "common human decency" which has got fuck all to do with politics. It's just a sound recognition of the fact that at the end of the day, an overwhelming majority of all people (everywhere) want reasonable economic stability for themselves and their family ... and to this end, they are willing to do an honest day's work. Actually, the most basic idea of both capitalism and Marxism is that of individual self ownership, i.e. that you are the lord and master of your own destiny and the products of your labour (whatever it may be) belongs to yourself. This is where shit gets fuzzy. What Marx did was to show -- by way of Hegelian dialectics -- how the accumulation of wealth tends to follow an exponential progression curve, invariably leading us back to a feudal system of lords and serfs. Same shit, new wrapping.

At the pragmatic level, socialism in our time means strict regulation of the financial markets and collective ownership of shit that's obviously in the common interest zone, such as logistic infrastructure, health care, education, policing, and so forth. It ought to be a matter of common sense but for reasons I fail to understand, it just isn't. It's become a matter of ideological appearance ... that in bizarre ways look like how the frightened officials were trying to befriend that paranoid lunatic Stalin, in the 30s era Soviet-Union. Except that there's no actual Stalin in the picture, there's only "public opinion" and the ardous task of getting elected for office. But at the pragmatic level, it amounts to the same.

Anyway, in keeping with the thread title, I guess we can say that in politics, skill is a better bet than personality. Which is why I'd root for the rather boring but highly skilled character Angela Merkel any day, over the colourful personality of Donald Trump. Which leads me to today's joke (since we're already standing with one leg in Germany and the other in the USA): Have you ever heard of a street punk thing called Combat 18? I don't know if they even exist anymore, but they were quite prolific in the UK both in the 80s and the 90s. (I'd assume that nowadays they sit and drink copious amounts of Tennet's lager whilst high-fiving eachother over the political victory that's called the Brexit). The 18 part refers to the letters AH, standing for Adolf Hitler. Those are the 1st and the 8th letters of the alphabet. If we apply the same code to the name Donald Trump -- DT -- we get 420. So if you've ever wondered what the phrase "420 friendly" means, there's your answer. By way of some other cosmic joke, 420 as a date, written the American way -- 20th of April -- also happens to be the birthday of Adolf Hitler. 

But politics ain't art (although some call it "the art of what's possible") ... nor should art be used for political purposes. Being an artist, let alone a great one, requires that you take a step back from whatever's considered "normal", to look at life, the universe and everything in a somewhat more "alternative" way. Art that doesn't make you feel anything, or at least "think", isn't doing its job. Whenever you are closer to yawning than to a reaction -- for better or worse -- you're confronted with poor art. It's by far better to hate a work of art (and go ballistic over how stupid it is) than to condemn it with a shrug of indifference.

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The only interesting angle left in this thread is whether one may cover the other in this respect ... meaning that you can hide a lack of "personality" within the discipline of some very competent musicmanship. Or you can hide your lack of real talent behind an affinity for working the audience ... which is a real thing that takes real talent, to be sure, but it's got fuck all to do with music. Either way, it remains a question where "talent" really comes from and what it's all about. 

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