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Author: Subject: Are there really people out there with "natural" musical talent?

Extreme Peach





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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 09:03 PM
Here's a question for you all...

Are there really people who have a natural talent for music?

Or is it just that the ones who seem to have natural talent simply played more growing up, practiced harder, and/or were more dedicated?

Could someone out there who is just an average player (like myself) have become a great player if we had played day and night for years on end?

Or would we have always lagged behind those who had natural ability?

 
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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 09:28 PM
Talent is a product of desire and commitment. How bad do you want it and will you do what it takes to achieve it

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 09:31 PM
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Talent is a product of desire and commitment. How bad do you want it and will you do what it takes to achieve it


When it comes to playing an instrument, I agree.

But when it comes to a singing voice, I'm not so sure.

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 09:33 PM
I think there are people with natural ability. Their environment has a lot to do with how it's developed. For example, I was raised in a household with music. My brother is extremely talented. He can play guitar by ear VERY well and has relative pitch. I am average when it comes to musical talent. I play piano OK, and at one time was able to sing pretty well. Listening to music where someone's pitch is off drives me crazy.

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 09:59 PM
Voice: figuring out how to use what you have.

Few people can sing like Steve Perry. THANK GOD. But plenty of people can sing like Mick Jagger or Dickey Betts. Most people have enough voice to sing rock'n'roll, but they need to find their own voices. They should not assume they can sing like Plant or Dio. They should write music around their own voices.

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 10:00 PM
but practice and effort are all. We read stories of Hendrix playing guitar all day, falling asleep wearing his guitar - there ya go.
 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 10:16 PM
Like so many things -- it is hardly a case or either/or -- certainly there are people who could practice as much as Hendrix and NEVER play as well. It seems to me that some people do have natural ability/talent, some have quite a lot of it -- and, some have great desire and discipline, each of these alone could result in making fine music.* Those who posses both reach the stars.

*(or writing/painting, acting ... any number of things.)

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 10:24 PM
quote:
quote:
Talent is a product of desire and commitment. How bad do you want it and will you do what it takes to achieve it


When it comes to playing an instrument, I agree.

But when it comes to a singing voice, I'm not so sure.


If someone was to take voice lessons and do exactly as told and practice practice practice..they may never be Aretha Franklin but they will learn to sing and sing well. I also believe we are attracted to what are talents are. I teach guitar and I can tell you most people don't have the true desire it takes to achieve greatness. They want success without the work. It takes us over 20 years to really learn our spoken language...what makes anyone think they will achieve a musical voice any sooner. Sure we learn words at 1 1/2 or 2..by 5 we can speak sentences but we really don't fully learn our language for probably 20 years or more....i.e an English major or English teacher

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 10:31 PM
annarose in response to your original post ... there are some folks who may have some natural talent. However, if you practice continuously you will get better. After thinking about this again for the umpteenth time and not just for this post, I believe it may not be a "natural talent" but a "natural love" for making music. Yes all the folks that I know who may have natural talent play all the time. Most of the highly skilled modern players that I admire played/practiced 8 hours a day for years to achieve a level of proficiency. A lot of them still practice. In the latest Rolling Stone article Jeff Beck states he still practices a whole lot and increases the time prior to touring. You and I may not ever be able to play like Jeff Beck, but ... we can greatly improve our own abilities.

 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 10:47 PM
I think that only singers and percussionists have a "natural" talent. By that i mean sounding good your first time. ala "natural". Anything else, its all about practice, and even then you may not progress beyond just being "pretty good".
 

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  posted on 3/4/2010 at 11:13 PM
Joji Baba had it. He was the most natural guitar player I've ever seen. In our high school guitar class, he figured out "Classical Gas" in about 10 minutes. He had the best "ear-hand" coordination. I just hope he's still playing.

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 04:08 AM
Mozart wrote pieces when he was 8 that are still part of the classical repertoire played by the best orchestras in the world today.
 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 07:24 AM
quote:
Mozart wrote pieces when he was 8 that are still part of the classical repertoire played by the best orchestras in the world today.



Beat me to it....clearly a case of someone who was born with "it".

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 08:44 AM
Somebody already mentioned Derek, but he is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Part of The Legend of Young Derek is that when he started playing, he took lessons from a local teacher in Florida. Supposedly, within a matter of weeks he was literally surpassing the teacher. If that isn't natural talent, I don't know what is.

For that matter, I will never get over the sheer shock and cognitive dissonance that I felt the first time I saw Derek play, 9/7/92 with the ABB. He was only 12, had only been playing guitar for three years, but he was already playing at a level that most people don't reach by practicing diligently for 20 years. That "Derek tone" was already there. He just had "IT" naturally.

 
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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 08:58 AM
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That "Derek tone" was already there. He just had "IT" naturally.



agreed...why can some pithchers throw 98 mph and most of the rest of us can't ?

natural ability

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 09:01 AM
If you hear Derek or Jimmy Herring or Oteil speak of Kofi, they all say he was also a child prodigy. One of Kofi's songs is on Jimmy's Lifeboat album. And according to jimmy it is a tune that Kofi wrote when he was five or six years old. No wonder dTb is so successful. Two prodigies working together! Outstanding!

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 09:18 AM
Certainly there are gifted people like Mozart and such, but it's mostly hard work. Most people have heard the saying that the difference between a professional musician and the rest of us is 10,000 hours. That's the equivalent of working a 40 hour job for 5 years. That's on top of the time we would spend practicing. While Michael Jordan had the physical ability for basketball, he practiced over 6 hours a day as a teenager. Even the 'gifted' ones put in a lot of time.

[Edited on 3/5/2010 by michaelsio]

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 09:46 AM
Derek could also be a case for practice as well. Think how much Derek progressed from joining the ABB in 98 till now. I remember seeing Derek back in 95 and yes he had a killer tone and played some tasty licks, but was somewhat of a one-trick-pony. I mean he'd comp some chords and then ... you knew the slide was coming out ... and what he played was a little disjointed IMO. Since then he has obviously studied music whether it be with Jimmy Herring, Kofi, Oteil, on his own learning ABB parts, I also believe he actually studied with some jazz cats (Ali Ak Bar Khan?.) During the Live At the Beacon DVD, you see Derek running scales ala a shredder. They also say 1 hr. of live performance is worth 10 hr.s of practice and what Derek has been on the road since 14. Folks again I don't want to take anything away from Derek, but would he have sounded as good without Todd or Rico all those years? And what about those Allman Brothers? Pretty good for some old hacks.

I certainly don't want to sound like I'm slagging Derek. I personally believe he is the best guitarist out there today. But the accolades, the Grammy, the Clapton gig came from mucho hard work. And if he enjoyed the ride then all the better ... That is where my statement a "natural love" for making music comes from - the wanting to learn more. Derek's original impetus for music may have been to emmulate Duane, but it didn't stay there. Contrast Derek from I suppose some of his contemporaries at that time - Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne, Monster Mike Welch (?) and the whole other host of SRV wannabes.
"Hey I'm 14 and I can play SRV. Bring on the chicks and drugs." Derek's sights were obviously set higher and still are. It must have been hard to bring the dtb to an end; however, there must be other things he wants to do. I wish him nothing but success in following his muse. He's made a lot of folks happy so far.

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 02:30 PM
quote:
Here's a question for you all...

Are there really people who have a natural talent for music?

Or is it just that the ones who seem to have natural talent simply played more growing up, practiced harder, and/or were more dedicated?

Could someone out there who is just an average player (like myself) have become a great player if we had played day and night for years on end?

Or would we have always lagged behind those who had natural ability?



In my opinion, I think all of the above is right and all of the above is wrong. Having interviewed over 80 musicians, this comes up a lot. Yes, I believe there are natural talents. In the bluegrass world, there was a cat named Jimmy Arnold who could pick up any instrument and get some musical sound out of it in no time. Along the same lines are child prodigies, or young folls who have a knack for picking up and learning to play music. Derek Trucks, Sierra Hull, Ricky Skaggs, Sarah Jarosz, Mozart, et al.

On the other end of the scale, while all people should be encouraged to learn to play an instrument when possible, there are folks who could work at it for years and will only get to a certain level, no matter how hard they try. Neil Young playing lead electric guitar, for example. (kidding!!)

But the vast majority of musicians have had to work at it, and still have to work at it. Even though they have an ear for music and may possess natural talent, nothing makes it happen more than practice and dedication and the things you have to do to learn a particular instrument. It is amazing how many of the musicians that I have talked to would listen to vinyl records, playing certain parts over and over again and slowing the records down to a slower level so they could pick up the riffs of their favorite artists. Now days, of course, there are electronic devices that will slow a section of music down for you and it will stay in the same key as when the song is playing at full speed, etc .

Some artists have original music, tunes, songs come out of them in a flash of inspiration and creativity while others have to sit down and take the time to work at writing new music. Both works, but equally creative musicians are simply different in their approach.

Some musicians need brilliantly created music to be written out for them on paper, sheet music, tablature, etc, incredible musicians who are very deliberate in their approach yet could not improvise their way out of a paper bag, like concert voilinist Gil Shaham who is one of the best musicians in the world in the classical field yet I have never heard him improvise a lick. Others, the lesser few, have the unique ability to improvise which is a whole other part of the brain, in my opinion. And, of course, there are those than can do both.

Jerry Douglas is easily one of the best musicians in the world and he often collaborates with classical bassist and composer Edgar Meyers. Douglas once lamented to Meyer that he regretted not being technically schooled in reading music and music theory, but Meyer just said that all he would do if he pursued that would be to learn about what he already knows.

And then, there are levels of musicianship that few musicians themselves reach. The best way I can descibe it is to relay a section of the interview I did with Derek Trucks, the part where I asked other great musicians like Col. Bruce and Jerry Douglas and Brian Stoltz and others to come up with a question for Derek..and that led to this exchange;


quote:
Ok, I came up with an idea. There are a ton of other great musicians out there who appreciate your work, so I got the idea of asking a few of them to come up with a question or two for you. The response was immediate. First up is Dobro great Jerry Douglas. You appear on his latest album called “Best Kept Secret,” and he has long been a fan of yours. His question for you is- “When your at your highest level of playing, when you can’t do anything wrong and you’re almost standing off to the side and watching yourself play, what do you think about? Do you think about being airborne or gliding? Do you see any colors or landscapes? Do you hear the music of jazz or Indian Classical musicians like Nusrat Khan or Ali Akbar Khan?? What happens?

" You know, it’s weird. There’s been times where…… I remember the first few times I really had that experience, where you’re almost watching yourself. It kind of freaks you out for a second and you end up kind of coming out of it. But then, the more it happens, you just seem to watch it more. It’s really a trip. Sometimes when you get done with a solo that happens like that, especially playing with somebody like Oteil where he’s right there with you anywhere you’re going, even when you don’t know where you’re going, but he seems to be right there following you, the solo is done and you almost exhale. You’re kind of worn out from it, but in a really good way. Those are amazing experiences. That is what you look for. Sometimes you are hearing influences, whether it is a sarod player or a Pakistani vocalist or a great horn player. Sometimes you’ll have images of influences that you have. Other times it’s completely free of all that. It’s special when it does happen. It happens in waves, though. There was about a solid week at the Beacon where at least once or twice a night it would happen. It is the same with my group. It will be three or four nights in a row where it feels like any idea that you come up with comes out effortlessly. Other times you have to, not necessarily force it, but you have to work a little harder."




DH

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 03:09 PM
Anyone can play an instrument, but only a few can make it sing and talk.
I defer......Duane Allman.

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 05:37 PM
I think it's a combination of natural talent and practice, but natural talent trumps all. Derek and Duane are 2 examples of true talent on the guitar. There are many, many others. There are thousands of guitar players out there who will practice every day of their lives and never be as good as Derek and Duane were in the first year they picked up the guitar.

There's another part of this equation that's getting overlooked here, too. There's a difference between being able to play the guitar in a technical sense (think of all those neo-classical shred wankers in the 80s) and being able to create music with the guitar. If you practice all-day, every-day you will be able to attain a level of technical ability, but you still have to have something to say with the guitar. That's where natural talent comes in. Duane was saying something when he was playing. So was Hendrix, and so is Derek. When they improvised, it had feeling and a force behind it that you could never learn in a book or even teach to another person. At the end of the day, you can increase your vocabulary all you want, but if you don't have anything interesting to say, well, who cares?

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 07:43 PM
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At the end of the day, you can increase your vocabulary all you want, but if you don't have anything interesting to say, well, who cares?


BOOM. Pretty much summed it up in one sentence. Well done.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 08:04 PM
Natural ability and talent are just the starting point.

 

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  posted on 3/5/2010 at 08:04 PM
quote:
I think there are people with natural ability. Their environment has a lot to do with how it's developed. For example, I was raised in a household with music. My brother is extremely talented. He can play guitar by ear VERY well and has relative pitch. I am average when it comes to musical talent. I play piano OK, and at one time was able to sing pretty well. Listening to music where someone's pitch is off drives me crazy.


Good post.

I believe it all starts with an ear for music. An yes, that can be developed over time, or it can come naturally over time. To me, a good ear is more of a plus than training. Of course the two together make for some real potential.

 

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  posted on 3/6/2010 at 01:16 AM
To the original question, are there really people out there with "natural "musical talent?The answer is resounding yes! Just as there are sports figures with natural ability so are
there musicians,mathematicians,scientists,inventors,leaders,as well as any other professions. For the gifted in their own rights, certain things happen to be easier to grasp
and ascertain then for some of us who try just as hard or even harder to get to levels that may never be acheived. Grant it, hard work and perserverance is a virtue and talent in it's own right. But it is truly the exceptional, for the most part that seem to rise to the excellence in their fields to be considered experts. And yes "natural "ability plays a major role in the development of such talents. An ear for music is something that can be developed, but a feel for music is something you are naturally born with. Of course,just my opinion.

 
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