Musican or Artist?

Musician or Artist?A while back we had a discussion at work about what it was to be an artist and a musician.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and I’ve come to the following conclusion about myself as a musician and artist.

A musician is someone who can play music on an instrument of their choice, sometimes just one instrument, sometimes many. This does not imply that the tunes are composed by the person playing them. For example, someone playing guitar in a covers band would be a no less of a musician than the person who wrote the tune.

By this definition, I’d call myself a musician, I can play keyboards and I can play bass, and with practice, guitar.

Now, an artist is someone who has the ability to express themselves in their chosen medium, for the context of this rambling, music. What do I mean? Well, Picasso was an artist, he had the ability to express himself in paints. T.S. Eliot was also an artist, he used poetry to express himself.

Wikipedia has a page about what it is to be an artist, and seems to mirror my thoughts, it also lists example artists including Houdini and Antonio Stradivarius.

So, does this mean I count myself as an artist? No I don’t, because I’m not yet able to adequately express myself through my chosen medium, music. For example the other day I was playing with my guitar and came across a couple of interesting chords and a nice chord progression. I heard the first 4 chords in my head, but could only find the first 3. An hour later I still could not find the 4th chord that I could clearly hear in my head. It drove me loopy not being able to find it.

This also leads onto another train of thought, part of being an artist is supposedly having a tortured soul. It makes me wonder if this torture is the inability to express exactly what you see or hear inside your mind? I suspect that often musicians settle for something less than what they hear in their minds, because they find it too hard to get from the mind to the fingers.

I’ve never yet been 100% happy with my musical output, perhaps this is part of the reason.

So in summary; yes, I’m a musician. No, I’m not an artist, at least not yet.

2 Responses to “Musican or Artist?”

  1. Maxim Says:

    Paul, I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for the music you are creating. While I, too, can identify with your frustration and struggle to express one’s self through music, I think you went a long way and your product is fantastic. Thanks for giving it to us. You are an artist all right.

  2. Hermann Says:

    Paul, if you can hear the 4th chord in your head, you might try to convince your head to break down the chord into single notes as a first step… since you’re quite versed at playing keyboards, you might try to find them on a keyboard instead of the guitar fretboard (moving to another perspecitve can sometimes do the trick)… then try to find out the base key for that set of notes, and then work out what the ##### your head was really playing :-)

    Greetings from an overheated Vienna, and I hope that you’re not knee-deep in the water right now…