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More on audiences, communication and craft

>If it's sufficiently far from people's
>conditioning, then they may be impressed, moved or stretched, but they
>will also probably experience confusion and possibly annoyance ("where's
>the conceptual pigeonhole for that? how do I know if it's good or bad?")

The degree to which you should be concerned with this is the degree to 
communicating to an audience is important to you.  If it is, your challenge
is to find a way to bridge that gap.  Pat Metheny & Bill Frisell have found
ways to sell some records presenting some very unusual and
pigeonhole-challenging music, to cite an immediate example off the top of 
head.  Steve Reich might be another.  I could go on talking about this 
a bit, but I fear I'm drifting way off topic...

>Unfortunately, people's conditioning and cultural referents seem pretty
>narrow these days, and the reasons (and prescriptions) for that would be
>another rant in and of itself.

The cure for this is not to dismiss them as forever unreachable!  If, as
artists, we don't take on the challenge of educating or widening the
experience of the public, who will?  

>- I perceive several varieties of craft:
>1. Basic craft on an instrument or voice, which is usually necessary in
>order to create most music that even relates to the traditions we've
>been accultured to.

Do I interpret this to mean accumulating the vocabulary of established
traditions?  If so, I'd take exception to this being 'basic', as I think 
still possible to create earth-shattering works of art within established
traditions if one is sincerely up to the challenge, and as such can be far
deeper than just 'basic' if one so chooses.

>2. Craft in service of art, which is when you practice in order to pull
>something off that you really want to pull off.
>3. Developmental craft - basic practice in order to increase your
>general skill level, in the hopes that new skills will become part of
>your vocabulary and enable you to do cooler things

Not sure I'm getting the exact distiction between these two.  Plus, I'm a 
suspicious of techniques or skills 'becoming' the vocabulary (if I'm 
you right), at least as a listener.  I think technical practice is 
to the degree that it removes a layer of self-consciousness that you have
between yourself and your instrument when you're trying to play.  This is 
least an approach I try to impress upon my own students.  If a technical
exercise is not working toward that aim, I'd seriously question if it's

>4. Obsessive, competitive craft - the kind fostered by most guitar
>magazines. play faster, better, cleaner, like Steve Vai, like Eddie Van
>Halen, like Jim Hall, like Django Reinhardt, like Robert Fripp. Impress
>the other guitar players on your block. This is the evil extreme version
>of craft. 

'Evil extreme'?  Woah, lets keep this in perspective - I'd possibly call
genocidal maniacs or child molesters an 'evil extreme' and I'd love if it
turned out the worst thing they did was sound just like Jim Hall:-)

Seriously, this last point certainly works in tandem with the 
ideas you've mentioned elsewhere (and which I'm very fond of myself on many
levels), but I think a pretty strong case can be made for the many 
works of art produced by western culture under the guidance of obsession 
competition.  Maybe it means we don't exactly groove as one with the
universe, but it's given us some great obsessive, competetive artists like
Picasso, Dali, James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Orson Welles, Charlie
Parker,Schoenberg, Liszt, John Lennon, Jaco Pastorius, etc.  Things would 
just a little too quiet around here without guys like this popping up every
now and then...

...for my taste, anyway,
Ken R