The Danger of Being an Ologist.

An Ologist is a word that isn’t actually a word. It is part of a word. An Ologist is someone who studies things. 

You know, you have a Bio-logist, a Music-ologist, or a Anthrop-ologist. They are legion. So many people are studying the things that fascinate them. 

Of course it is an important thing for humans to do because humans have a natural desire to figure things out. Learn how it works. Take it a part and give it a name. 

Having spent several semesters teaching Music Appreciation I have come to know that I am not a Musicologist, but a musician. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a musician doesn’t mean you can’t be a musicologist however there is a distinction worth noting. 

In my experience few musicological interpretations of works lead to details about performance practice which is basically trying to play music the way it was played hundreds of years ago. This is known as “performance practice”. 

I have been through quite a few lectures and coachings on performance practice and were often forced to try and perform using those “rules of engagement”. All I can say is that the result of such a focus on such details leads often to desperately boring performances. Only when used for the enhancement of an otherwise energetic performance is it very helpful, if at all. I have known some performance practitioners to also be exciting performers, but often it is not. 

After all, who cares if it is a turn or a trill or a grace note. I know I could care less. There is the matter of “getting it right” so that the critics who care about such mundane things can be satisfied and have something to comment on. 

But, really, the point of my post isn’t that. It is about the difference between being on the inside looking out or on the outside looking in. Musicology is looking to the inside from the outside while being a musician is being on the inside and looking outside. 

There is a difference because a performer, someone who actually puts their hands on music and does it makes any noise at all. Being in the arena of performing is a completely different activity than observing others doing it from afar. 

I am so much of a musician that honestly, I have difficulty looking at it from the outside. I want to be doing it, not watching it or listening to it. That is how I got into music to begin with, by doing it live. 

Well, right now, I’m going to go back to bed. I’ll finish this later.  

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