My initial response was that I didn't see this performance as being any better an example of musicianship than computer gaming or typing at speed - given the extent of pre-programmed trigger sampling (to the point that chords are triggered in sequential rather than pitch order, see the pattern played in the first 16 seconds as an example).
I then responded that if rhythm, creativity and accuracy were all that I considered great musicianship, I'd agree. But this was a solo performance to a robotic tempo, with no live appointment of dynamic light and shade, improvisation, or real time pitch choice. I agreed that this was a skillful performance, and the outcome is music, but I struggled to consider the performance a great example of musicianship.
Now, that's the background. Since this friendly discussion I've considered this further. What's IS musicianship? Something about the term "musicianship" to me implies an ability to musically collaborate with others, outside of the self. But then I questioned myself - would I argue that a great solo acoustic guitarist, for example, was not displaying great musicianship when performing? No.
Then what was it...? Was I apprehensive about the sample-driven, high-tech nature of this solo performance? Did it lack a character or warmth I deemed necessary in an example of musicianship?
I'm still not entirely sure. With the internet at my disposal, I wondered whether this uncertainty was a case of semantics. Did the answer lie in a dictionary definition of the word "musicianship"?
The first two results I found were as follows: :
The Free Dictionary: "skill or artistry in performing music"
Dictionary.com: "knowledge, skill, and artistic sensitivity in performing music"
It was something about this second definition which resonated with me - artistic sensitivity. There is something about a computerised tempo, pre-programmed samples, lack of dynamics, and overall "in the box" performance which lacks this sensitivy - that's what I feel is missing and essential to my own understanding of what it is to display musicianship.
In saying all this, I appreciate that "musicianship" will mean many different things to different people. I can only conclude that it is as open to interpretation as the notes on a piece of sheet music. Two people could view the same input and read it and recite it different ways.
What is your opinion?
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