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The Contender
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A Musician is Defined by New Content

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,196 times Debate No: 30928
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I thank whoever is joining me in this argument for participating. I would like to use this post to express my viewpoint and define the argument. It is my viewpoint that an instrumentalist who does not create new musical content, be it through composition, improvisation, or interpretation, is not a musician. I would like someone who believes that any individual who plays an instrument is a musician to take the counterargument. I will allow the opposing viewpoint to make the first post.


I thank my opponent for making this debate. I will be arguing that an instrumentalist who performs pieces of music is by definition, a musician. I believe this debate will probably come down to definitions but I guess I will see where it goes.

The word Musician is defined by with two separate definitions. 1. One who composes, conducts, or performs music, especially an instrumentalist and 2. a person who plays or composes music, esp. as a profession.

Both of these definitions state that someone who performs music is defined as a musician, proving that you do not have to come up with new content to be considered a musician. This proves pros resolution wrong.

Here are some other definitions of musician to show that I am not trying to twist websites definitions to my advantage.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting my challenge, and I would also like to apologize. This is my first debate on the website, and I worded the topic wrong. It should be "A Musician Should Be Defined by New Content," and as it is not, then you would obviously win by simply defining it. However, I meant this to be a debate about what the definition should be, not necessarily what it is, and if, in the spirit of continuing and having a good time, my opponent would accept this change in wording in the topic, then I would be happy to proceed with the debate. So, as it is my turn, I will begin my argument.

Musician, as defined by the Free Online Dictionary
"One who composes, conducts, or performs music, especially instrumental music."
While this is the generally accepted way of defining a musician, this definition is incorrect. Instrumentalist to musician is like the comparison of construction worker to architect. While the construction worker builds the project created by the architect, the construction worker does not put his or her own spin on the project, thus leaving him or her as the simple task doer. It is the same with instrumentalists who play the music laid out to them by the composer without interpretation. They are simply doing a task that they were trained to do. It is no different than a construction worker building a house according to plans. Is the construction worker a musician too? In order to be considered an architect (which is defined as a person who designs buildings by the free online dictionary), one must have a certain level of creativity. The architect must find designs they like and improve them to make them cheaper or more efficient, or create something new. The same goes with a musician. A musician is one who takes their knowledge and understanding of the instruments he or she plays to create something new through composition, and interpret (and hopefully improve) already existing compositions through improvisation or unique ways of playing the songs.

I thank my opponent for joining me in this debate, and once again, I apologize for my mistake in wording of the topic. If my opponent would agree to the change of topic to what should define a musician instead of what does define a musician, I would be grateful, and I look forward to continuing the debate in this new form!


My opponent says that he worded the resolution incorrectly, that's fine, even if you do go by this changed resolution, my opponent still hasn't shown that a musician should be defined by New Content. My opponent has compared an instrumentalist to a musician as the same as comparing a construction worker to an architect. This is a bad comparison as the definition of musician includes instrumentalists while the definition of architect does not include construction workers. In order for my opponent to prove his changed resolution, my partner has to prove that the word musician (which is already defined by professionals) is wrongly defined rather than just stating that it is wrong. All my opponent has done is say that the word musician is wrongly defined because musicians should only be considered musicians if they interpret the music in their own unique way. My argument to this is that it is his own opinion because as the definition says, it includes all musical performers and does not even mention interpretation, and as I have said again, in order to prove his argument, my opponent first has to prove why the word musician is defined incorrectly.
However, if we were going off just opinionated arguments (which we aren't), My argument would be to look at professional orchestras. Most orchestras (as I have personal experience in them), play instrumental music the way it is written and they do not change anything. Would you say someone who makes thousands of dollars playing in a high-end professional orchestra (even if they played the music as it is written) isn't a musician? I would say that they are musicians as they make far more money than a lot of the small-town bands who play in pubs their whole lives and interpret the music in their own way. My argument is that since far more people go and watch these orchestras rather than a lot of these small-town bands who play in pubs and pay a lot more money than to see the orchestras, the majority rule would say that yes, instrumentalists are in fact musicians.
Debate Round No. 2


Musician" doesn't necessarily include instrumentalists
When you said that architect analogy was a faulty one, you claimed that the definition of musician includes instrumentalist. However, the definition that you used says "One who composes, conducts, or performs music, especially instrumental music." As it says "especially instrumental music," than this means that instrumental music is just a generalization. Music is a collection of sounds used in rhythm. However, it can be atonal and without noticeable rhythm, and still count as sounds following an (unknown) rhythm. Free form jazz is an example. That being said, instruments are not necessary to create music. Essentially, what I just said here is that a generalization can be added to any definition and still be true and false at the same time. The definition of "architect" could be changed to add in "generally do not work in construction" and it would still be true. That is the exact sort of generalization that the "especially instrumental music" is. It doesn't actually change its already existing definition, and therefore, the comparison of musicians to architects is adequate. However, if this explanation does not suit my opponent, I will add in an additional comparison. This would be that of an inventor and a user. The inventor must use his own ingenuity to create new processes or items. Otherwise, he is not to be considered an inventor. This is the same as musician. The user simply uses the products that the inventor created. The mere instrumentalist simply plays the music laid down by the musician.

Musician is wrongly defined
The word "Musician" is wrongly defined because its use is largely off from its definition. The definition, "One who composes, conducts, or performs music, especially instrumental music," implies that once a person is considered a musician, they simply are. That is to say that no musician can be considered more or less of a musician than another musician once they have received that classification. However, musicians are widely compared. When my opponent compared an orchestral musician to a pub player in terms of musicianship, my opponent illustrated my point. The definition should be changed to more closely reflect the usage, where musicians can be compared to each other based on their work. If musicians are compared while playing a work that is already written, than unless they interpret the work differently, the performances would be considered identical, so it would be impossible to compare the two. That is why the definition needs to be changed.

Orchestral argument
What my opponent is essentially saying is that skill, popularity, and pay qualifies a musician. This is a completely off-center remark. I will use comparisons to illustrate this point. The first one to address is skill in respective instruments. Please consider Angus Young versus Yngwie Malmsteen. Angus Young is the lead guitar player for AC/DC. His solos and songs are considered some of the greatest in rock and roll. However, it is very rare for either his solos or the chord progressions in his songs to deviate from the notes outlined in a basic minor pentatonic. That is essentially saying that he has a very simplistic style of play as compared to Yngwie Malmsteen, a virtuoso of the guitar. Is Angus Young less of a musician than Yngwie Malmsteen? Absolutely not. The second comparison will deal with pay. In 2008, musicians Jack White and Alicia Keys collaborated on the song "Another Way to Die." The song was entirely written by Jack White. Alicia Keys was brought in to sing for the track. Jack White's net worth is 30 million, while Alicia Key's is 45 million. Does that mean Alicia Keys is more of a musician than Jack White? In regards to popularity, well, Lady Gaga receives much more press and radio play time than Bach does. More people around the world can claim that they have heard a Lady Gaga song or seen an article about her than can claim the same for Bach. Does that mean that Lady Gaga is more of a musician than Johann Sebastian Bach? Certainly not. So to conclude this counterargument, people playing in high-end professional orchestras getting paid huge amounts of money without any musical originality are not musicians. They are simply performing a homogeneous task they were trained to do, like solving a puzzle, reading a book, or brushing one's teeth.


I will not be bringing any new arguments into this round I will just be refuting the arguments my opponent presented in his previous speech.

My opponent claimed in his speech that Musician doesn't necessarily include instrumentalists and goes on to say that in the definition instrumental music is a generalization, however, even if it is a generalization, that still means that the word musician includes instrumentalists. I never claimed that the word musician was limited to instrumentalists, I only claimed that it included them and my opponent has not proved the opposite.
The second point my opponent has made is that you can make music without using instruments. This is an irrelevant argument as it doesn't prove his resolution.
My opponent than goes on to claim that generalizations can be added to any definition. He uses the example of architect and claims that adding the generalizations still leaves the definition as true. This argument actually proves my side as, based on the argument my opponent made, the definition of musician is true meaning performers of music are musicians.
The next argument my opponent makes is that musician is wrongly defined because the way it is used is off from its definition, this is a flawed argument. The argument is that since people apply it for different reasons than the definition (which my opponent has no proof for), that the definition should be changed. This is flawed. That is the same as saying that since people use the word boss incorrectly (for example, people say that something is boss as in cool, That hat is boss man). Under that argument the definition of boss should be changed from a leader to something that is cool. We would have to change a lot of definitions and the dictionary would be a confusing and fluctuation object.
In conclusion, my opponent has failed to prove WHY the definition of musician should be defined by New Content. His debate has been based off opinion and comparisons which I have shown to be faulty comparisons. I also have shown that the definition of musician does include performers and instrumentalists and that it does not explicitly mention that they must be interpretations. Please cast a con ballot.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Trystanharpold 3 years ago
I would like to give an idea for both to consider, I gained this thought from being a musician in my high school band. When one is truly playing music as an instrumentalist, you should always make what is on the sheets musical such as dynamics and style, so that would mean that all instrumentalists are defined as musicians because when playing an instrament what you are playing should always have content
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lit.wakefield 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Semantics. Easily won by Con. Even if the given definition is ignored, Pro failed to meet his Burden of Proof to show that "musician" should be defined as one who produces new content. Arguments to Con.