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Instrument Player Vs. Instrumentalist

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by unixfish, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I consider myself a guitar player. I am not a guitarist. What is the difference, you ask? A player is someone who can play the instrument, whether it is a few licks or fairly well. An instrumentalist is someone who is proficient at the instrument.

    Which brings me to some thoughts I have had about playing in bands.
    • Guitar. Most people familiar with music can bang out a few barre chords. But to be a guitarist is another level altogether.
    • Bass. Most guitar players can pick up a bass and bang out 1-4-5 and a few fills. But a bassist is a specialized skill that is not easy to obtain.
    • Drums. Sure, most players can bang out basic rhythm. A good drummer makes the rhythm sing.
    • Keys. Same thing - if you know music, you can bang out some basic stuff, but proficiency is a specialized skill.
    • Singer. Many / most of us can sing, but a good vocalist "makes it work", not just covers the part.
    Our first garage bands when we were young probably consisted of players, not instrumentalists. Sometimes that works for a bit, or in a context, but rarely goes much farther than that.

    The band I was in decades ago used me as a bass player. I got to be OK after a while, but I was never a bassist. The lead guitar player was a guitarist; second guitar player a guitar player. The drummer was a good drummer, but had funny ideas about where he fit in. The keyboard player was very proficient reading music and playing by herself, but just a keyboard player in the context of the band. (This is another topic for another time). We found a singer who was decent, but not a vocalist, and he had an "odd stage presence" that over time became off-putting. A bunch of good people that just never meshed or could agree on a direction. I quit after two gigs.

    Then, we get to musicians. I would say that is someone who is an instrumentalist on at least three categories. We could argue about whether music theory factors in that or not.

    Again, I really don't have a point here. This has occurred to me a number of times in the past few months, so I am posting here to get it off my mind. Thank you for "allowing me that".

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Same thing.
     
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  3. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well... I can appreciate you trying to organize your mind around your definitions and then share them to see if they connect with others. But the thing about such definitions is that they are invariably polarizing when applied to a group. I try not to get too distracted by such things in my pursuit of communication.

    Isn’t there more to people that simply checking off three categories?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  4. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    Good God, man! You’ve just made me a banjoist, and I don’t even own a banjo! Really. Not a one. Nothing hidden in a closet, nada.

    Just because I can play one well does not make me a banjoist. I refuse the title. I own many guitars and other instruments, but no banjos.
     
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  5. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    James Taylor is a pretty good player but he'd be terrible in Metallica. (I suspect).

    Just cause you can play some things, doesnt mean you can.play all.

    I'd consider an instrumentalist someone that can put together something worth listening to with just the instrument. Not a band, lyrics, etc. But that's me.

    And these threads are silly.

    And I'm still responding.
     
  6. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I would agree that there is a hierarchy. I'm comfortable with "guitar player" (well, perhaps one or two ranks down, maybe 'wanker' is more appropriate). :rolleyes: However, if you make me play backup to a traditional fiddler, I graduate to "player". I will never be a "guitarist" as I have more interest in banjos than guitars. OTOH, I'll probably build more guitars than banjos, so...

    When I play banjo, I feel that "Banjoist" is more appropriate. With Viola, I'm back down to 'player', same with mandolin. I did play Bass in a garage band...but as said above, only because they didn't have a bass player and I had a Bass and amp.

    "Instrumentalist" implies a level of ability, sophistication and focus that lies beyond my aspirations. I think it implies a resume and a body of work. Nope, not for me!
     
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  7. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    What's a synonym for "phrase that's a synonym"?
     
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  8. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Friend of Leo's

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    You can call me whatever you want to. I usually avoid using “musician” myself because I don’t do it for a living, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
     
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  9. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Holic

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    A guitar player is someone who plays a guitar, while a guitarist is someone for whom a guitar is the instrument they play. It’s a subtle distinction.
     
  10. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Why thank you, thankyouverymuch!
     
  11. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Are you going all recursive on me?
     
  12. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Should I order a hot fudge sundae or a sundae with hot fudge?
     
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  13. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

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    Just my two cents, but I think we spend too much time trying to categorize. You play guitar, you're a guitarist. Nobody is top level at everything.

    I used to play with a guitarist that could play the 80's hair metal as good or better than anyone I've heard on record, excepting the Joe Satriani, Steve Vai level players. We formed a new band and I brought in Rolling Stones "Only Rock and Roll" but we had to drop it because he couldn't play it right. Who's the better guitarist; he, who can shred with the best of them but can't rock and roll, or me, who can Chuck Berry/Keith Richards all night long, but can't shred? Better yet, who cares?
     
  14. Cadillac_Mike

    Cadillac_Mike Tele-Meister

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    My brain hurts from this lol :confused:.
     
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  15. Cadillac_Mike

    Cadillac_Mike Tele-Meister

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    Perfectly stated.
     
  16. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Two very different, albeit very similar things. :D
     
  17. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I hope to one day be worthy of being called a picker.
     
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  18. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I don't think anybody is highly proficient at every style. If you are at your given style, guitarist. IMO.
     
  19. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I already am, but probably not what you are expecting to be picked. :lol::lol::lol:
     
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  20. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Ask me about my scabs!
     
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