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Re: Operational Definition of Musician
I don't know of any objective established criterion but maybe this
simplistic approach can help.
In the context where auditory research and music are to interfere, some
boundaries will unfortunately necessarily need to be set using precise
criteria that everybody understands and finds appropriate for the
objectivity and future use of your results by others.
To me lots of musicians think they are musicians because they have played
an instrument for a certain number of years, can read a score, know a
little bit of theory about composition, harmonic structure etc..., what
timber is etc... This is far too restrictive and sometimes wrong,
everybody will agree.
As music can be defined as the art of sounds (and I find this definition
appropriate, because it is not restrictive and leaves a lot of nice
ambiguity and freedom for creativity), a musician is someone who can
either create or participate to the creation of music, as a composer or
an interpreter. There are, I find, a few universal components that any
composer or interpreter can recognise.
1) Tempo is the canvas of music but doesn't make a very discriminant
criterion; a better one related to tempo is rhythm: a change from a
binary to tertiary rhythm would make a nice test.
2) Not far is tonality, as whether it is changing rapidly or not, a
musician will respect it as a reference quite naturally and will detect a
change when it happens.
3) Timbre, as a primary colour of music. Changing one instrument in a
piece of music played by a group of interpreters for another one close in
timber (trumpet played at lows to tuba, or oboe played at lows to
bassoon, jumbey to congas) is something a musician ear would easily
Rhythm, tonality and timber experiments are not very difficult to set up
if you have a group of musician friends ready to play the game. And most
important, these criteria are universal and intemporal. The problem may
then be that you'll find a lot of your subjects are musicians or
potential musicians, and indeed lots of human beings are potential
musicians! Funny but interesting question you had there, I hope you'll
find your way out.
At 12:30 AM 6/5/00 -0500, you wrote:
Though I follow the discussion of this list regularly, I have yet to make
contribution and was not terrible sure how one does.
Thus, I send my apologies in advance if I have failed to submit
Does anyone know of an established criteria by which a researcher
separate a collection of subjects into groups of musicians and
University of Texas at Dallas
Acoustic Research Laboratory
Dept of Electrical Engineering
National University of Singapore
Block WS2, Level5, Room 05#30
1, Engineering Drive 3
Tel: 65- 874 8326
Fax: 65- 874 8325