Readers may have missed this post (the steady flow of new posts makes it hard to catch everything on the blog here) last week containing my musings on why so many bassists blog. Although there are players of every instrument who blog these days, I think it’s safe to say that an unusually high percentage of bassists also blog compared to other instruments. This post generated many great comments, so check it out and feel free to add your own two cents!
Double bassist Jerry Fuller left a great comment last week ruminating on why bassists may be more drawn to blogging than other musicians:
Most of the bass bloggers I know perform in orchestra settings and it is my hypothesis that anyone who is a performer really wants, no, really needs, to be heard. Playing bass in an orchestra is not a place where you as an individual are heard. In fact, based on my own experience in two professional orchestras, if anyone heard me (other than the rare double bass solo passage) I was probably making a mistake. String sections are heard, not the individuals in those sections. This phenomenon is exaggerated for bass players in opera orchestras, since with the rare exceptions of some operatic double bass solos, individual bassists are not even seen when buried in the pit, much less heard. This has been a major factor in my decision to focus on performing early music. I usually am the only bassist and everybody hears what I am doing. I find that in the early music chamber ensemble setting I am having a real musical impact and I find it very satisfying.
I also find it interesting that pianists, principal trumpet players and other soloists don’t blog very much. I think they find that their individual musical voice is heard and they don’t feel as compelled to find other media through which they can communicate. I am curious if others resonate with this hypothesis.
I definitely agree with Jerry regarding this phenomenon. Think about it:
-Why do we enjoy performing music?
-Do we enjoy being recognized by audiences for our talents?
-When we do a good job in a performance, would we like audiences to be aware of this?
-Do we enjoy the relative anonymity of classical ensemble performing, or do we yearn for the spotlight?
-Are we secretly (or not so secretly) envious of those in the spotlight, whether they be soloists, conductors, or even certain principal orchestral players?
This subject is very interesting to me and definitely deserves a full-length article devoted to it, but for now I encourage other instrumentalists to think about what motivates them to perform and whether the feedback that they get as an orchestral player really scratches that “performer itch” that we all have.
For me, just performing in my area of specialty does not scratch that itch, but blogging and podcasting do! Combine these activities with performing is very satisfying for me, but they are activities that I could never have imagined doing back when I was in music school.
If you’d asked me ten years ago whether what I hoped to be doing with myself in the future, you’d have gotten one answer:
Play in a major orchestra!
Yet, as now I look around at various players in those orchestras of which I yearned to be a member, I see these players engaged in all sorts of side endeavors–blogging, chamber music, publishing, teaching, writing–and I now believe that these activities are an attempt (consciously or unconsciously) to “scratch that itch” that performers inherently have.
I’d love to hear what readers think about this issue–I know that I’ve already got a bunch of ideas bouncing around in my mind that I’ll try to set to paper (or virtual paper) soon.