First of all I wish you a superb 2011, full of music and happiness!
That being said… I think this article doesn’t need to be really long…. it’s about focusing on the problem and putting it on the table for discussion.
I would like to tell the English speaking bassists that read my columns, that I’ve had my Spanish language website up and going for more than ten years. In fact this website is maybe the first Spanish language website made by a Latin American professional bassist and has been really popular through the years.
I’m not sharing this short story to brag about my site… the reason why I mentioned this is because in those ten years I’ve had a successful section named “Ask Igor”, which has been the equivalent in Spanish language to the “Ask Willis” section on Gary Willis’s site.
On 2007 I answered my one thousandth question… but suddenly something happened and I lost every interest in continuing to answer questions for helping musicians…. And there was a strong reason for that.
Since 2005, approximately, I noticed a suspicious tendency on the questions that were being submitted to my website. How is that? Well…. What I noticed was that just one out of every ten questions being made was about “Music”, and the rest were just about “Gear”. So in general terms the questions were something like:
- “What’s your opinion about this Bass?”
- “Between this Bass and this other Bass, which one is better?”
- “If I change those pickups on this bass would that make it sound better?”
- “How should I have to connect my pedal board?”
- “Please recommend some strings for slapping?”
- “I have this Bass head and this Bass Cabinet… are those compatible? If not what you suggest me to change?”
- “How do I have to equalize my amp for tapping?” ….Etc.
There’s nothing wrong with the questions, and I think they are completely legitimate, and I always answered every question until I realized, as I said before, that 9 out of 10 questions were just about “Gear”. This made me think a lot, because the questions were coming from all Latin America and Spain, which has been my main audience, and the same happened in every country. The first thing I did was to write a notice on top of the “Ask Igor” Section, saying that questions about gear won’t be answered anymore.
Incredibly, the amount of questions dropped down about 80%…. and even more incredibly, within this remaining 20% that was still being submitted, 9 out of 10 questions were still being made about gear! So nobody was reading the notice on top of the page or they just didn’t care at all. What I did on 2007 was to stop answering answers altogether…
That was the most successful Bass Q&A Section in Latin America, but it lost all sense for me, so the counter stopped on question N° 1.032, and who knows if I will continue with that section in the future…. let’s see…
After that experience, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reasons that made the future musicians focus on something which is not the really important thing… and I concluded (Just my opinion here), that this is due to the type of society we are living in… a society based on “consuming” and in “having” instead on “being” or “knowing”… a society where every individual usually prefers to “show what he has”, instead of “showing what he knows”, and if he wants to “show what he knows”, probably he will be doing that just as a means to be able to make good money and later have even more to “show what he has”… and not as an ending in itself.
So what to do?
One possibility is that all the people who focus their attention on gear instead of music already know so much about music that they really don’t need to be asking anything to anybody who supposedly knows more than them about the topic when it comes to choosing what kind of doubt they want to solve, so it’s a better choice to use that opportunity to know more about gear… but I guess that’s not the case 99% of the time… don’t you?
I think problems like this didn’t occur 500, 300, 200, 100 or 70 years ago in the same proportion as now, and that was because in those years “things” were not so common and available and because of that not so important, so musicians in those times mainly focused on what was obvious…. and that was “Music”.
I believe individually, we are not strong or important enough to make a difference just by itself in making the young and upcoming “Musicians” change this undesirable and disproportioned habit, but I’m sure that if more and more people put this discussion on the table and proposes ideas and points of view to stress the fact about which are the real important things for a musician to focus on, that will make a big difference in the future.
I’ve been doing my part about this specific topic since 2007, and now I’m doing it again with this humble article… who wants to collaborate with me on this subject? Please leave your comments below and let’s start a dialogue…
See you in the next month’s article…