What Makes a Great Musician
I have been pondering this headline while recently reviewing very talented artists. For example, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who composed 626 pieces of music in his 35 year life-span. Is being prolific important? It helps, because the more you do, the more the magic can slip in. But nothing is an assurance for creating music. Why is this? Because nothing that has ever been thought about great music makes it a system for producing it. Neither realism nor expressionism nor proportion nor coherence nor tone nor originality nor depth nor vocal technique, in and of themselves, will guarantee great, or even good, work. There is also no subject, either, that will compel an artwork, say, a song, to be great. Say you want to write a piece on death or love or redemption. One is perfectly capable of doing a crappy work on death, love or redemption. In my assigned reading, The Thriller Diaries, Nancy Griffin’s tells a story of Michael Jackson’s personal life and inspirations around the time when Thriller was being produced. First, she starts by narrating the making of Thriller from her own point of view, then she proceeds by explaining the global impact the music video had and how it was the most popular and influential music video of all time and how it was the first music video to be ever introduced into the National Film Registry. Griffin then tells a story of how Jackson became inspired to make the comic-horror masterpiece as he had gone through painfully visible tragedies such as the harassment of his father and the sheltering required for him as he elevated from celebrity status to a super star, which had him dominating pop culture for the remainder of the 80’s decade. As the story continues, the time starts to turn back to his childhood times where he stood out as the precocious lead singer of the Jackson 5 (a band formed by him and his brothers), while being under the strict,...
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