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Is Talent A Myth?


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I also agree.


However I do believe others Grasp things quicker than others. Hard work trumps a lot of things. It is just as human beings we wear down, it is so easy to slowly erode in this god dammned world. , so many negative forces in a mans life. Making a living, living with an abusive drunk who constantly threw up obstacles etc etc. But overall I agree with this dude.


the first thing I want to find out when I see a great player, or a great writer etc etc. I want to know their story. How did they get there. Did mommy and daddy pay his way through music school, then what about the old Black American Blues musicians who were living it dirt hovels, and were subsequently ripped off and copied by a plethora of young white musicians. I guess they all have one thing in common. You got to grind to play well, and you have to grind harder to play extremely well.


good thread here. Now i got to get off this computer and go to my guitar room. Enough of this nonsense. I gotta start the evening grind.

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Rob Chapman is a really great fellow, and an immensely-talented guitar player.


The very question, however, is very much two-dimensional.

The answer to the question involves many dimensions of thought or perspective.


For example, the chicken or the egg argument, as foolish as it is, is extremely and overly-simplistic, and there are only two possible responses.

In this case, the question begs for one of two possible responses;

1. Talent is either in your DNA or it isn't


2. Anybody could play like Jimi Hendrix or Django Reinhardt if they simply applied enough effort to the task.


Chappers danced all around the multi-dimensional nuances in this video, and I give him all the credit in the world for both posing the question and (in essence) answering it.


I FIRMLY believe that every truly talented musician is born with something that not every human is gifted with.

True, he or she generally must receive SOME training or guidance, but in the end, the incredibly-talented musicians (or writers, or painters, or singers in particular) will achieve things that the average human can never and will never.


Guitar playing is (perhaps) a poor example of this notion.

Because you could technically hold a gun to any moron's head, and after a period of many years, they could mechanically re-create the notes and sounds of some existing piece of music.

(However lacking in soul and nuance that may be.)


A better example may be that of the story writer or novel author.

I don't care HOW MUCH YOU STUDY OR APPLY YOURSELF, if you don't have some innate genetic predisposition to creative, entertaining writing, you will never be a good writer.

Gun to your head or not.



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I tend to agree with Sparky up there. I do belive that anyone who puts the time in, the 10,000 hours so to speak, will, talent or not, become proficient at whatever it is they are dedicating themselves to. You put the time in you will get very good.

Being "born with talent" is a bit of misnomer. I prefer"gifted", call it what you want. For me Neil Young is gifted.

So so guitar player. Pretty bad singer.

But for my dollar one of the best all time song writers ever. Dude carries more emotion in his pinky finger than most shredders can ever dream of possessing.

So while I very much appreciate watching highly technical players, they don't move me the way a sloppy guitar with off key vocals delivered by Mr Young moves me.

And of late I put Jack White up there as well. I love that dudes stuff.


So yes technical players are very talented but I consider players like Neil and Jack White to be gifted.


I don't think talent and being gifted are the same thing.

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Yes sir, I agree with Sparky and above. I believe God gives talent to everyone in different areas but gifted is special. Some are great with wood projects, some play guitar better then others, some are teachers, some just labors, there are way too many professions and things people do better then others but gifted? Look at Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and Famous artists and such. I've had too many people tell me that they would kill to have my talent in painting art work. When I've been layed off from the railroad, I painted homes, apartments and commercial professionally. It came naturally and I was very good at it. I was very particular in doing a perfect job not getting paint on things it didn't belong. People paid good money for my paint jobs. Bobby Fisher was a gifted person. I read where his IQ was extremely high like somewhere around 180. Once he was in a chess tournament, where he won his match and on his way out, he stopped to get a glance at his friends game for a few seconds. He saw his friend 3 years later and asked how his game ended. The guy said he won, when Bobby asked what his 26th move was. He couldn't remember the game opening he played let alone what move it was, so Bobby set a chess set up with every piece exactly like it was when he stopped for a glance. So I agree that talent can be Achieved to degrees with practice and hard work but Gifted is a God given special talent. My wife was a Gifted coordinator at Westside schools for decades and saw first hand kids that were genius's and things came natural for them. Still it needs to be developed more. At least my take.

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Guest Farnsbarns

Here's the thing. I think he's a person who has practiced a lot snd become technically very good. I think he us clinical and over-thought. I find his approach overly structured and, untimately I find his playing devoid of soul, feeling or emotion, just clinical.


I am not in the least bit surprised someone who plays like that feels there is no such thing as talent. He has become 'good' without any.

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Is talent a myth? I can't believe this is even a real discussion. Most of the players I really admire are innovators and you can't practice innovation. When Jaco pulled out all his frets and started playing horn runs on the bass it wasn't because it had spent 10,000 hours practicing it. He was playing gigs the same week. In contrast I know guys in their 40's who have played bass since their teens and would still be challenged to play "Some Kind Of Wonderful" in time and with any confidence. This is because playing a rhythm instrument like bass is not their talent. That's not to say that someone born without a natural talent for a thing can't become proficient at it.


At my day job I work with a group of technicians as a mechanic. I have never been to school for mechanical work. I have no engineering or technical degree. What I have a natural ability to solve mechanical problems that has served me well in life. One of the other guys on our team is a programmer. He can picture rung after rung of ladder logic in his head and solve program issues in a fraction of the time it would take me even if I had the program open in front of me. Conversely, I can solve gear ratio problems, and work out mechanical linkage issues in my head that he would need a book full of formulas to figure out because that's just not his talent. Never has been.


Chapper's playing style is basically him mimicking his favorite players. That's something that can be practiced and many will become proficient if they spend enough time practicing. But he mentioned Joe Satriani by name and Satch is not mimicking anyone. He is an innovator. That's why Satch's mark on music will be indelible and Chappers will be forgotten as soon as his video ends.


No, talent is not a myth.

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He's trying to motivate people who question their own talent. So that's why he's talking like that. I'm not so sure what he'd say that after a couple of beers.


The people who are super successful have "talent," whatever that is, and also put in their "10,000 hours." It's the way it is in all endeavors. Like people who don't have an ear. I mean, what are you going to do if you don't have an ear?

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I believe in talent. I think it has to be nurtured, however, some people are just more gifted in certain areas than others. Just like some people can tackle math in school much easier but struggle in English and writing skills. I was the one who could write a thesis in a day but Algebra kicked my butt. I started taking guitar lessons about 3 years ago and it's been a challenge for me. I enjoy it because it is a challenge and I've set a realistic goal (hopefully) of being able to play with an impromptu group at some point in my life. I don't think I'm there are this point and I practice an hour a day. It's a bucket list thing for me to do in retirement, hopefully, in a few years. But I would have never made it as a professional musician. I just don't have that gifted talent.

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I agree with what he's saying... hard work is important and we are responsible for our own development as musicians.


I would never say talent is a myth though. Nor would I say this is as an apples and oranges - or chicken/egg - question. I've known players who had at an early age a tremendous amount of talent - a true gift. And I've known players with no musical aptitude in youth who worked hard to become competent and capable musicians. But most people are somewhere between those poles.


I would add that the best musicians I've ever known are both gifted and hard working. They had a huge head start due to their gift for sure - but it was their dedication and hard work that took that gift to the highest levels.

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Like people who don't have an ear. I mean, what are you going to do if you don't have an ear?


Work really, really hard to develop one. It can be done - I did it. It only took 35 years of playing! [biggrin]

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I completely agree with Searcy, and would like to also mention savants. How is it that some savants seem to show an advanced ability at some specific operation?


Innovation and creativity are other aspects of talent of which some people seem to excel. Certainly, some people have a greater aptitude at particular skills. Everyone gets better with practice, and I believe the more practice, the better. I don't thing that the concept of talent is a myth at all.

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A friend that is out on tour now told me that "talent" is when hard work/experience and luck come together. Their are so many great players I have crossed paths with working a 9-5, while Maroon 5 is doing the Super Bowl.

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Ok, he named two of the "four" - Django and Jimi but who were the other two?

Wes must have been one...


Charlie Christian?

Eddie Lang?




:-k :-k

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Instead of innate 'talent', I would say that some of us have more aptitude for certain skills.


I was already reasonably proficient on guitar after 18 months but my mother had a better ear for melody. She was able to correct me a couple of times. She was not a musician, but she liked to sing. She had aptitude for melody.


Think of when you were at school. For some kids, arithmetic came easy. Others were more articulate. For me it was art work.


On the other side of the coin, in the early nineties, and very clever friend of mine tried hard to create computer 'Demos' as he learned to program. He was eclipsed by my neighbour's kid who didnt have much of anything going for him. He was not bright and had no aptitude for this or anything so far as I could tell. But he created a fantastic graphics demo. He was only able to do this because he was as stubborn as hell and never gave up.


So the 'dull' kid beats the clever programmer, by relentless applied effort of will.


On the whole though, I do think Chappers has it about right.

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