It ain't about the money!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Vulgano Brother, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    (Recent threads and posts about "what makes one a professional?" caused me to reflect [not much, because I could plagiarize from myself, kinda like Handel] and [re]post the following.)

    Back at the family farm I came across my notes from Digicon 85, an International Arts Conference on Computers and Creativity held in Vancouver, BC in 1985. At the time I was highly active in the AFM: Business Agent for my Local, ROPA delegate (Regional Orchestra Player's Association) and RMA (Recording Musician's Association). There was widespread paranoia over how synthesizers might destroy the live music and recording industry as a whole. ARP had unleashed a danged realistic sounding string machine, polyphonic synthesizers and samplers threatened to displace wind musicians, and the MOOG synthesizer had been specifically banned as a musical instrument in L.A. local 47 and in the Federation's Electronic Media Agreements. The newly developed MIDI offered the opportunity and threat for a single musician to lay down a full orchestral track in one take.

    Michael Boddicker complained about an 11 millisecond time delay in synching up MIDI instruments. Robert Moog presented the new Kurzweil keyboard, with real weighted keys, and tones sampled from a Steinway (the upper register) a Boesendorfer (the low end) and a Yamaha (middle C). The Yamaha DX7 was new on the market, and there was even some music notation software displayed, which would have threatened copyists too, if not for the poor resolution of dot-matrix printers. The Amiga computer was the PC of choice, having a built-in MIDI interface and graphics.

    Distracted by my duties, I paid more attention to the fantasy of seducing on of the cuter volunteers than to the symposium on Acceleration of the Artist's Learning Curve. I took scanty notes.

    Chaired by Tom Hudson, the panel included Bill Buxton on the panel, President for the Computer Music Association, David Em, pioneer computer graphic artist, and Robin King, Director of the Computer Graphics Lab, Sheridan College, Ontario. The presentation of Robin King stuck pretty much intact in my memory (despite the cute volunteer), but it was good to find the notes again.

    He based his presentation on the work of psychologist George Kelly, who had proposed the idea of a hierarchy of mental constructs used as templates by, well, everybody.

    He spoke of the progression of an artist through four stages (and hinted at a fifth), and I wrote that stuff down, and Robin King was kind enough to use two scholarly terms for each of the stages, and then to translate them into language this distracted Vulgano Brother could understand (thinking as I was about another VB [Volunteer Babe]).

    The first stage is that of "Technique and Methodology" or "Classes," that period where we are, well, first obsessive and compulsive about practicing and equipment and listening to recordings and getting immersed into our art.

    The second stage is that of "Characteristics of Artist/Habitat" or Relations." This is where we are actually living our dream, getting paid for our art and grateful for affording cheap beer with our artist friends.

    The third stage is "Status/Professionalism" or "Systems." This is the point when we can start complaining, and really scrambling. We might ask ourselves questions like: "Why did they get that gig, how can I turn this into some money, how can I better promote myself, how do they afford those cars, that house?" It looks negative in print, but this is the condition real working artists live in. Symphony Societies and recording producers hate working with people in this class--they start demanding "fair wages and working conditions," want medical and dental coverage, a pension--they want normal lives!

    The fourth stage is "Moral Values" (honesty and integrity) or "Implications." This is the point that the artist becomes a philosopher .

    The fifth, implied stage is "Transformation."

    My point is, that if we are concerned about stage three and use that as our unit of measure, we miss out on stage four and five.

    To be frank, I reached stage four while earning my daily bread locked in a stage three environment, and it almost killed me. Trusted friends stole intellectual property and glowing reviews for the advancement of their own phase three careers, taking credit for my work. The old joke we had at the Musician's Union about "having a great job except having to deal with musicians all the time" became true, and cost me my marriage, my kids.

    Taking a day job saved my life, cut my pay, but gave me the opportunity to share what I know without having to fight with someone over it. I like stage four, and TM gives me an opportunity to share to the community with stage five Moderators and stage five Artists in Residence.

    Great news! There are tons of stage four (and five) folk that post on TM! I am amazed at the depth of knowledge, of information that is posted here by members of the community! I am amazed that the most naive questions can produce the most profound responses!

    I am thankful that, by and large, we are a stage four community.

    I can't wait until we hit stage five!
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Call me immature if you want, but since I was fired by a director of a symphony orchestra who IMO is a fraud and villain (he made everything in his power to convince other contractors to not hire me anymore, not to mention corrupting justice in order to win the trial, with no regards to the means used) I seem to be stuck in stage 3. The lack of any classical music professional qualification has prevent me from getting any kind of permanent day job and I can't stop admiring countries where music unions in "normal" countries actually stand for cases like mine until the put things straight.
  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Thanks for sharing that VB.

    An ounce of perspective is worth more than an ounce of gold...
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The level 5 transformation is where we realise that we need to get obsessive and compulsive about practicing and equipment and listening to recordings and getting immersed into our art again, realizing that is the only way to feed the soul battered by philosophy.

    Life is just a big circle, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
  5. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Very insightful comment, VB. For us pure amateurs it is quite enlightening.

    I don't think that I could have done good in the cutthroat environment of musicians, even if I had received the proper education in time and turned out to have some talent. I remember my first trumpet teacher relating how his main horn happened to be stolen just the day before a big conservatory contest event. Luckily he had a backup but he still had to perform with a horn with which he wasn't too familiar. I think I recall he did good nonetheless.
  6. Mark Green

    Mark Green New Friend

    Mar 3, 2010
    Anchorage, Alaska USA
    Thanks VB for starting such an interesting post.

    Frank Zappa is my favorite musician. All of the studio and live albums he did with his bands were fun and interesting and packed with compositional and performance virtuosity; his live performances were zany entertainment and ultimate technical extravaganzas; yet what he loved about doing his one-man albums (like Grammy-winning Jazz From Hell) was that with the Synclavier and other studio equipment he could concentrate almost solely on putting his compositions into play without dealing with pain-in-the-tuchus live musicians (he had many wry comments about the Stage-3 attitudes of studio string players and some of his perpetually Stage-1/2 band members), travel, hotels, appreciative audiences and other distractions from composition.

    You can tell from the breadth of Zappa's work that he really loved doing it all. I liken some of his ebb and flow to the stages VB describes and what Rowuk said about cycling back through the stages (or maybe oscillating between stages 1 and 5?): Zappa wanted to do "stage-5 (transformation)" stuff, which he did when alone in the studio; but he always (until prostate cancer the last couple years of his life ended his touring) got the itch to go back on the road with a killer band. Like what Rowuk said, the cycle started anew for Zappa many times; then he often went alone into the studio to distill or expand what the road band had done, and to lay down many ideas that actually went unexpressed while he was on tour.
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Kein "Ja, aber...." heir--einfach nein!

    Life isn't about circles. Circles are two dimensional. We can best describe "life" in three (except for those that can wrap their heads around a pan-dimensional universe [I can't, by the way]) dimensions.

    In many respects "life" can be represented as a helix, at its best with shorter times between our mistakes and our realizing and fixing them ('Engelkreis') or the opposite ('Teufelskreis').

    I do like your idea that stage five returns us to stage one.

    That doesn't mean, however, that we are "reincarnated" and stuck in an unendling loop!

    Having returned to the source of our passion let us immerse ourselves there.

    I contend there is a dimension for our community to explore, one that is full of getting "obsessive and compulsive about practicing and equipment and listening to recordings and getting immersed into our art" and realizing it ain't about the money.

    To bring this full circle (tee-hee!) for the non-German readers, a translation of the original comments in this post : "Yes but..." Simply no!

    If you are a non-German reading member of the community, read it again.

    Helix at work.
  8. Bixel

    Bixel Pianissimo User

    Jan 1, 2010
    I wonder how long this one will take to get moved to the lounge.
    Enjoy it very much though.

  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    as long as every 10th post has the word trumpet :play: in applicable context and there is redeeming social value, it can stay here........... :lol:
    Vulgano Brother likes this.
  10. ozboy

    ozboy Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 17, 2007
    trumpet is an instrument of merit which has socially redeemed me.

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