In Praise of Technique

By: Sam Ubl

Posted 10/15/2007 - 11:09:11 AM by cwperry:
 I wish that technique could save us from phrases that make no sense to most people, like "a days-saved Kashi shit of a blast."
Posted 10/15/2007 - 11:37:06 AM by The_Big_Crunch:
 I think this article has an interesting idea behind it. Unfortunately, I have a hard time taking it too seriously after its opening salvo of laughably grandiose praise for what was really a pretty bad Top 50 list. Seriously, didn't enough people poke ocean-sized holes in that tedious drummers' list for it to rank as "just another list" on the net? I know I had a hard time taking it aymore seriously than Rolling Stone's "greatest guitarists" list that ranked Kurt Cobain and Jack White over Pete Townshend, Buddy guy, George Harrison, Brian May, Danny Gatton, Clarence White, Frank Zappa...and some guy named Van Halen.
Posted 10/15/2007 - 11:51:44 AM by syurix:
 This article is long overdue. I wish you'd gone a little bit more into the organic emergence of technique. A lot of the musicians on the bleeding edge today (Brian Chippendale, Zach Hill, and Marnie Stern for instance) all have very little formal training. However, they all have a great practice ethic. In my own experience, it seems like a lot of "proper" technique has to do with defying what your body's inclination is, essentially repositioning yourself as an instrument of mechanized motion. In the case of all of these musicians, they've (to varrying degrees)ignored the traditional rules (which are largeley more driven by tonality than physicality). Zach and Brian both waste tons of motion, Marnie relies way more on index and middle finger trilling than someone like Mick Barr who has developed an unreal degree of left hand independence. However, all of these players have a range of expressive nuances that they've developed by approaching technique in a way that harmonizes with the sheer physical joy of playing an instrument. That's part of what makes this moment so interesting. All the stuff that makes punk and hardcore so visceral is being channeled through this wave of musicians who want to push things in a way more complicated direction.
Posted 10/15/2007 - 11:57:13 AM by mulatschag:
 You should probably learn the technique of writing the English language first, before worrying about musical technique.
Posted 10/16/2007 - 09:56:39 AM by raskolnikov:
 A very interesting read here. Despite mysteriously overrating the drummer list, Ubl nails one of the most fundamental problems in music criticism when he says that most critics lack the proper vocabulary to discuss technique. Critics usually flail around in the dark on this issue, embarrassing themselves and the music they're covering more often than not. More critics need to examine their own technique and challenge themselves to work better and harder, the way musicians do.
Posted 10/16/2007 - 04:29:16 PM by cwperry:
 Can't you people tell he is joking about the Drummer list?
Posted 10/16/2007 - 10:28:17 PM by Utica5:
 an awful lot of flowery rubbish for a rather simple point, i think. the difference between musicianship and virtuosity is well-charted territory. the fact that critics lack the means to evaluate either one? well that certainly doesn't seem complicated enough for 22 paragraphs. (though 22 more focused paragraphs might have been worth a try.)
Posted 10/17/2007 - 02:49:08 PM by mabernet:
 Have to agree with Syurix's point. Technique is often thought of as prescribed form, but shouldn't it be individual? I feel like Music Nazis at universities unfairly shape the way many play, write, listen to and evaluate music. Would something like Kate Bush's vocal acrobatics be "style"? Or technique? Eric Clapton might be technically great, but I feel almost nothing when he plays. Does that matter?
Posted 10/17/2007 - 08:09:26 PM by abc123:
 No praise for Sam Ubl, he's a pretentious prick. He's written twenty two paragraphs on "technique"... Has he forgotten the terrible reviews he's written for other websites? I doubt it, it seems nothing's changed. He is still going on and on about a load of crap instead of just getting to the point. "Critics have clung to the old binary, eliding meaningful distinctions in order to preserve the sanctity of indie ├╝ber alles." How is anyone meant to take you seriously with ridiculous sentences like that? I think he adds words people never use to disguise the fact the he is one of the worst music critics ever.