On Becoming a Rock Musician

By H. Stith Bennett | Go to book overview

Group Definition and Redefinition

Someone to Play With Since there is no established institutional form to recruit, educate, and certify a rock musician's identity, the spontaneous institution of the local musical group provides these same anchors between individual aspirations and collective recognition. When he or she is not playing with a group the "musician" has only the remembrance of past groups to support a musical identity, and if the period of "not playing" is extensive—if there is no interactional reinvocation of that identity—a self-presentation as "rock musician" is practically impossible to maintain. This situational boundedness of the musician's career is the source of continual identity crises, since the phenomenon of rock music appears in quanta of spontaneous associations. The grouping and re-grouping of rock musicians in a particular locality entails an alternating integration and disintegration of an individual's actual music career (the practice and performance of the group) and places a measure of insecurity at the foundation of one's musical self-image.

It is significant that the pool of people from which any rock group recruits its personnel can only tentatively be called rock musicians, since it is the absence of the situation of group membership that defines the category personnel. An exception might be said to exist in the case where someone is "stolen" from an existing group, but even in that situation a renouncement of membership in one group must precede membership in the next. It is the curious condition of rock group formation that human resources are drawn from a personnel pool consisting of individuals whose musician identity is more or less disintegrated. This is not just a semantic problem. Those who are cal led upon to staff a

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On Becoming a Rock Musician
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • On Becoming a Rock Musician *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • I - Group Dynamics *
  • Introduction *
  • Group Definition and Redefinition *
  • II - Rock Ecology *
  • Instruments and "The Outside World" *
  • Equipment and the Band Van *
  • Gigs *
  • III - Mastering the Technological Component *
  • Technology and the Music *
  • The Realities of Practice *
  • IV - Performance: Aesthetics and the Technological Imperative *
  • Playing *
  • "Other People's Music" *
  • Appendix *
  • Loudness and Equalization *
  • Notes *
  • A Guide for the Reader *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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