The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A musician is a person who plays or composes music. Musicians can be classified by their role in production, including instrument and genre:

Musicians may also dance or produce choreography. The concept of the musician and the status of the musician in society is culture-specific. Think, for instance, about your own concepts relating to "the heavy metalist", "the folk musician", "the DJ", "the sarangi player", "the female drummer", and so on. See also: performer.

Musicians may also be distinguished as amateur or professional. Professional musicians may work freelance, contract with a studio or label, or may be employed by an institution such as a church or business such as a bar.

Songs may be produced by some animals, including birds. Although many would surely debate whether birds are musicians, their ability to produce variations on the characteristic song of their species is a subject deserving more research (though relating less to music and more to animal communication). The freestyle chatter of even common birds, although lacking the complexity of methods employed by human beings, must be regarded as having some relation to the origins of music. Human beings did not begin producing music by banging away on a keyboard, nor are they the only creatures which respond to (or produce) rhythm and melody.

Types of musicians

See also: List of musicians by genre

Usage note

It should be noted that although in many cases the name of the player is made from the name of the instrument + "ist", it does not work for all instruments. Trumpetist for example is nonsense. There are also widespread differences in the acceptability of some of these terms: for example percussionist is in general and uncontested use whereas violist is not.

Suggested reading:

  • A. P. Merriam, Anthropology of Music, 1964
  • John Blacking, How Musical is Man?, 1973
  • Sheila Whiteley, Music, Identity & Sexuality, London: Routledge 2000

External links

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