• rohan
    6
    The reason I am asking this. I am have been playing music for 8 years almost everyday, and I have found out that music is not that hard to learn compared to something technical. The reason I say this, is because you can't really be 'right' in music. You can play an instrument almost in any way and you can never say that is wrong music. Ofcourse you have to put time into learning it, but the fact that there is constant cultural reinforcement that music is a positive emotional thing, In a culture where we also value experiencing emotions (or maybe this is more a biological/spiritual need, I don't know) makes learning music a not that hard, pleasant experience. It just takes time ofcourse to develop a feel for chord progressions, rhythyms and melodies, but there are billions of songs out there to learn and imitate from, and you can always learn a song that inspires you on that moment, which makes the learning of music even easier.


    Now I wondered, people in technical fields have to have a broad range of knowledge. Every bit of that knowlegde has to be correct in order to get a result that has some sort of signifcance. This is with technical fields like Programming, mathematics, physics and engineering.

    The learning curve for this, to my knowledge seems endless, and it takes not only alot of time, but is also quite challenging, because there is maybe a variety of ways to solve a particular problem, but the result should always be that the problem is solved and really adds value to a particular thing.


    So I started wondering if people in technical fields, overall experience less joy when performing their tasks. Ofcourse the people in the technical fields don't really know what they are missing because they only know their experience as a technical person.

    But it seems as a technical person you have to be much more rigorous and its alot more challeging to solve problems compared to music. There is also not so much cultural reinforcement for technical jobs, technical jobs get more associated culturally (I think) with tedium, lack of emotion, dread and soul-crushing/life-draining.

    Also for me it is hard to imagine that a technical person enjoys doing their job more than a musician like for example John Mayer. A technical person has to work on one problem for a long period of time, learn the material and the algorithms which take alot of time and is challenging to arrange in your head. This leads me to one possible answer, that technical people can delay gratification very far off, so their need for some sort of positive emotional feedback is low, they don't even really expect it.


    Now compared to a musician like John Mayer/Jimi Hendrix for example, if you look at him during a live show, you can see he is completely absorbed in the music, and has the complete chance to indulge completely in every emotion possible and probably mostly good emotions. Also he gets to connect with other people on an emotional level, because he is a musician and that is what they aim to do, and that is I think also a desire people seem to have(I think it is mostly biological but maybe not)

    Now compare this to a technical person.

    Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Well, I'm a muso and a technical writer. Tech writing is writing procedures, instructions, user guides, etc, for computer systems. It's boring, no doubt about it, although sometimes it can be challenging, when you have to do something clever or innovative. I would much rather have been a professional musician, but I just couldn't cut it, as it's hugely competitive and often very poorly renumerated. Music is obviously more satisfying - after all, the root of 'music', 'muse' and 'amusement' are all the same. But it can also be delusive, promising much but delivering little beyond transient enjoyment.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    Yes, in my experience technical and artistic achievements are accompanied by distinct and irreducible sorts of pleasure.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    To answer this question, you simply need to compare the suicide rates and accidental drug overdoses of those in the musical/acting industry and those in the technical industry. This comparison shows that the artists seem to have a much harder time finding happiness.
  • unenlightened
    2.4k
    you can't really be 'right' in music.rohan

    And being right is a very very attractive thing.
  • jkop
    533
    But it seems as a technical person you have to be much more rigorous and its alot more challeging to solve problems compared to music.rohan

    Some decades ago there used to be a misconception about black jazz musicians that they would only be improvising, playing by ear and so on instead of studying music theory and history. But you don't get to play like Miles Davis, compose like Charles Mingus etc. without the knowledge and skills you get from rigorous study of theory and practice. John Coltrane honed his skills every day for 17 years before he could begin to make a living as a musician.

    Competition is cut-throat for musicians, it pushes the best of them to be rigorous on the border of insanity. Life as a technician is easy in comparison.

    Here's a link to a musician's take on practice and learning.
  • charleton
    1.2k
    Music played well is an emotional full body experience; cerebral, physical and emotional. No technical job can possibly engage a person more.
    I think it would be highly unusual, if not impossible to fail to find enjoyment it that.
  • BlueBanana
    854
    To answer this question, you simply need to compare the suicide rates and accidental drug overdoses of those in the musical/acting industry and those in the technical industry. This comparison shows that the artists seem to have a much harder time finding happiness.Harry Hindu

    That's quite a conclusion to jump into. Maybe artists just feel more overall.
  • MobiusTripped
    1


    "Maybe artists just feel more overall."

    There's a lot of truth to that statement. The archetypal tortured artist as well as the lovestruck poet both point to the idea that creative expression comes from a heightened sensitivity to emotion. So I'd say musicians (and creative types of all sorts, even in technical fields) have wider swings of happiness and despair than the average person.

    I can't remember the artist who said something like, "When you're in that initial stage of creativity, you feel like your idea is the greatest thing the world has ever known." It may have even been Van Gogh who said that... and he ended up shooting himself in a corn field. So there you go.

    My personal experience on both sides of the spectrum, a musician as well as an engineer, has shown me that music has shown me glimpses of joy beyond anything I've ever known, and yet it is so capricious that after the high it can (and often does) send me crashing into depths of unbearable misery. When I'm wearing my engineer's cap, life is more even tempered. Not awesome but not agonizing either.

    But I think a lot of that comes from one's ability to share one's talents with the world. In a technical field, your productivity is immediately recognizable, quantifiable and dare I say profitable. But if you're a musician, artist, inventor, then your ideas are wholly inside your head until you can "prove" to the outside world that they are worthy. This often leads to frustration as well as disconnection from the world which fails to see what you see.

    Of course if you have gobs of adoring fans and bloated bank accounts, you've got no problem.

    Same goes for a technical occupation, except usually a decent salary and an occasional "good job" from a manager will suffice in place of bras & panties being thrown on stage. So again, the recurring theme is that it's all the same except musicians and unconventional professions carry greater extremes.
  • Noble Dust
    3k
    My personal experience on both sides of the spectrum, a musician as well as an engineer, has shown me that music has shown me glimpses of joy beyond anything I've ever known, and yet it is so capricious that after the high it can (and often does) send me crashing into depths of unbearable misery. When I'm wearing my engineer's cap, life is more even tempered. Not awesome but not agonizing either.

    But I think a lot of that comes from one's ability to share one's talents with the world. In a technical field, your productivity is immediately recognizable, quantifiable and dare I say profitable. But if you're a musician, artist, inventor, then your ideas are wholly inside your head until you can "prove" to the outside world that they are worthy. This often leads to frustration as well as disconnection from the world which fails to see what you see.
    MobiusTripped

    Well said; my experience is similar. It's also interesting to note that the large majority of engineers I've encountered were pursuing music at one point themselves, and then eventually ended up on the other side of the desk, usually just for financial reasons. It's rare to find an engineer who's not also a musician, to some degree. Even top engineers working with top artists often have their own side projects, or did at one point in time.

    And yes, the issue of technical work being more immediately apparent, versus whether or not a new artist has anything to offer is a major component. This definitely takes a mental/emotional toll. At my day job, it's clear what I need to do to make my boss happy, and do my job properly. All things being equal, my job security, to the extent that I can control it, is based on me doing those things. As an independent artist, I can do everything in my power to make great art, and try to find an audience, but there's no correlation between that hard work, and career success.
  • Shatter
    11
    Seems to me that we're assuming a universal standard for pleasure here. I used to play (rock) music, but have since discovered that I am much happier working as an electrician. I assume that many, if not most, people do not feel the same way.

    I still love music, but I take much greater pleasure in listening than playing.

    My point is: if the renumeration were equal, ie.the same pay, risk, women's underwear etc. would we all choose the same vocation? I doubt it.

    Then again; does this simply mean that some are more interested in pleasure than others, or do we take pleasure in different things?
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    I think that in popular impressions the technical side of music and the emotional side of 'technical' work like maths are both greatly underestimated.

    Sure there is no such thing as a 'wrong' composition but there is definitely such a thing as a flawed performance of any given composition. I would love to be able to play the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at full speed. Composition too, has a very technical aspect. It's all very well to break the laws of harmonic progression but you need to know them first, so that you know what you're breaking and why. Otherwise it's just like a toddler plonking their little fists on a piano keyboard.

    On the other side, the emotional and creative aspect of mathematical work, which is enormous, is generally not appreciated by people not involved in the field. One can be moved to tears at the symmetrical beauty of powerful theorems or elegant solutions. One can struggle for weeks in frustration trying to get around a blockage that seems impassable and just makes you feel stupid.

    I do agree with the point that the value of technical work is more readily apparent than that of artistic work. When the four colour problem was solved, as soon as the proof was validated it was hailed as a major achievement. It was not regarded as a matter of opinion. That tends not to be the case with a new composition, even if it ends up being recognised as an enduring masterwork.
  • Noble Dust
    3k


    Good points. There’s nothing more enraging than band members or session players who come in unprepared, or try to fight my instructions. Play it how I told you, or you won’t be playing at all.

    And I remember reading an essay by Henri Pointcare describing his creative process in maths. He spent weeks brooding over a problem, and then, the answer just “came”. It actually squares with one aspect of the artistic creative process as well. He also talked about “elegance” in that essay.
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