On Music and Ethics, and Whatnot

Turns out, nobody has really done any research or writing in music and ethics. There is some work on how music serves as an anthemic tool for social movements with ethical import (civil rights songs). There is some work on the historical views of how different cultures have viewed music as a language with moral overtones. But there’s nothing current being done on ethics as an integrated tool for decision making in the life of a musician.

This is becoming something of a problem the more I dig into the preparation for teaching a course on the subject. I need to use books. They don’t exist. I need my students to trace the thinking of other people in the area. It hasn’t been done.

I went out looking for a course at a major university that tackled music and ethics, either as a “professional ethics” sort of course, or even from a more theoretical “philosophy of music” perspective. Nobody has one. The content just doesn’t exist.

Approaching a blank field in academia carries with it an odd sensation – you don’t know if you’re traipsing through virgin territory, or a nuclear wasteland. Is there nothing here because nobody has been here before, or is there nothing here because everyone who starting walking through it ended up with 3 legs and persistent boils, so nobody comes here anymore.

In other words, is it void because there’s nothing worthwhile to talk about here?

I hope that’s not the case. I don’t think it’s the case. But the other possibility is almost as terrifying. Every mountain gets to kill off a few dozen climbers before someone finds a route that works. Every “first voice in” to a virgin academic area gets to be the punching bag for the dozen or so “second voices in” that come to tango.

So, all that to say, you lucky people are going to be helping me pull this together. Prepare yourselves. Pray. Fast. Listen to music. Learn to write meaningless run-on sentences that are weighted down with redundant clauses, filled with obscure syntax, and imbued with a self-righteous sense of condescension. We’re going to create some Academic Content!

79 thoughts on “On Music and Ethics, and Whatnot

  1. Zack

    Music is still considered a form of art; an expressive medium, right? Mike, are you pondering the ethical repercussions of lyrics and/or composition?

  2. michael lee Post author

    I’m distinguishing between music and poetry (lyrics). I realize that the same person might be asking and answering ethical questions that pertain to both music and poetry, wrapped up in the same work, but I think we should keep them separated for purposes of looking at music and ethics.

  3. aly hawkins

    Huh. That’s interesting that there’s really nothing out there about music and ethics. Have you looked outside of music to ethics applied to other mediums?

    Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking on Water is a wonderfully written meditation on faith and art, though she does nibble around the edges of ethics as a facet of faith. Have you had a chance to read it?

    And if you’re looking for obscure syntax, you’re in the erroneous locus.

  4. Zack

    I’m realize I’m probably the only one here at Addison Road who thinks this way, but I don’t EVER mix ethics and music – lyrically or otherwise. I’m sure there are a lot of people in the world who feel the same way – maybe that’s what explains your lack of reference material.

    I love music. I listen to it at least 2 hours a day, and I used to attempt to create my own. I’m by no means a professor of the art, but I do feel rather strongly about it.

    It’s an art form. It’s free expression. To me, questioning (or simply considering) ethics in music only limits it’s ability to affect, entertain, or otherwise be considered “good”. (And by good, I mean likable, for any personal reason.)

    Sure, I can’t agree with the “message” written into some music – but that’s no reason for me to say it’s “bad”, or unethical. it’s just art. If the #1 Pop Hit in the World was a song that lyrically explained how to build a bomb, or kill someone, or worse – I can’t say I would like it, but I certainly wouldn’t question it’s ethic. Like I said, to me, it’s just art.

    I don’t think artists have a responsibility to be ethically prudent. I think artists have a responsibility to be artists. No boundaries, no rules, no consequences. How their art is interpreted – that is a question of the “end-users” ethics, not the artist.

  5. michael lee Post author

    I’ve been hired as the keyboardist for a recording session. I am handed a part to play in a specific section of the song. After the first two passes through the song, I realize that there is an alternate part that would be more interesting, more aesthetically pleasing, less derivative, and would result in a better overall creative work than the part that I am handed (grant that I have the background and perspective to make that sort of assessment). I also realize that the singer/songwriter is temperamental, and would likely become indignant at my suggestion that there is a better part, and would maintain their opposition even though the rest of the band, the producer, the engineer, the coffee-getter all agree with my new part. Should I mention my idea?

    Do I have an obligation to the music itself that supercedes my obligation as a hired agent to the singer/songwriter? Am I derelict in some sort of musical duty if I ignore the better creative choice in favor of the lesser?

  6. Morphea

    My take (as a singer) – I usually just do what I’m thinking would sound good – because it is music – art – dammit, and I’m going to fiddle until somebody says quit it, and if the s/s goes cross-eyed, it’s out. I’ll do it their way. It’s their money (and by ‘money’ I mean they’re the ones who put me in the studio at that place and time), their creation – they have artistic control. They want it to be boring, I’ll be boring, take the money and go fund my own stellar operation.

    And yet…

    Is taking money for artistic work you kind of weenied out on ethical? Chad? You’re a studio star. What’cha think?


  7. Chad

    Well we don’t want to baby them, do we? What’s the fun of being a session player and singer if you don’t have a few good yarns about a gig that you really really blew?

  8. corey

    Mike, haven’t many of us been in the scenario you presented? I’m not preparing a great point or profound statement, just listing the thoughts as they come to mind.

    enter the shotgun…

    1. At a session in June, someone asked me what I thought of a notated part that I was asked to play, I said it was “gay” and sounded “like it should replace the current theme music for Dora The Explorer on Nickelodeon” and the only thing it was missing was “a children’s choir to take over”. The artist was dipleased. I learned a good lesson.

    2. If the check clears, play whatever is asked of you, unless of course you’re given free reign to write parts (rarely is that the case, even if it’s advertised/telegraphed as such). If you’re asked to play the first 4 bars of “Stairway To Heaven”, it’s no longer and ethical dilemma, but a litigious one. Ethics doesn’t seem to play in (in my mind).

    3. I’m with Zack. Music is art. The Caveat: everything in moderation. Art as political platform? no. Art as ministry tool? no. Art as catalyst for revolution? no. Art as public self-healing? no. But, I firmly believe that any artist’s art will be the voice of his beliefs, vices, and needs. Art is just the overflow of what fills the artist.

  9. phil

    Two things:

    I remain unconvinced music IS an art, except in the most very general use of the term that allows 57 chevy’s to be art… at which time the term has become so general that it’s lost much use.

    What if music is something else?

    Anyway, a book on ethics and music.

    Good luck… you’ll need it.

  10. Zack

    Mike – the second you accept the check to be a “day player” in a studio, you cease existing as an artist. At that point, you’re merely a technically proficient machine, striking the chords you’ve been assigned. And why not? You’ve been hired by someone who has the art in their head, and no way to put it on the canvas. You’re their paint brush – it’s your job to spread the paint where the artist wants it.

    Whether or not your ideas should be voiced is purely subjective, dependent on the “talent” and other creative forces in the equation.

    Why should you have an obligation to the “music itself”? It’s not yours – you’re not helping in the creation (or being asked to, rather), you’re simply performing the script in front of you. In fact, you could argue that you’re not responsible for the outcome, anyway. Not to mention the fact that no matter how strongly you feel about manipulating the piece, the artistic vision in the artists head will always be more powerful than yours – only because they created it.


    It is nearly impossible for a musical “hired gun” to simply be the “tool”, only because you’re always instilling small bits of your artistic side into the project, without actually realizing it. Herein lies your ethical dilemma: You can add your own artistic bits, without upsetting the balance of what the artist has in their head. As an editor, I too, can add my own little creative pieces without interfering with the directors vision. But it all depends on how strongly the director sees his/her vision. If it’s vague, I am there to help shape it – i.e. be an artist. If it’s solid, I am only the technical tool the director uses to realize his “art”.

  11. corey

    Mike: Do I have an obligation to the music itself that supercedes my obligation as a hired agent to the singer/songwriter? Am I derelict in some sort of musical duty if I ignore the better creative choice in favor of the lesser?

    This line of thinking is always uncomfortable to me. People talk about obligations “to the music itself”. I keep hearing people try to sell me creative choices using the argument, “it’s what the song calls for”. I’m sorry, what? How can a song be anything other than the direct object? It makes no choices and has no magentic attraction. I’ve heard the same song done 10 different ways, all of which affect different listeners in different ways. Because we argue that one song might sound better with one musical choice over another is no argument that the song has asked for that. It’s just the exercise of opinion and personal tastes. I dunno how ethics factors in. If anything, it scares me that one might attach ethics to a decision like that. It’s hard enough dealing with the Diva, without having to also deal with the Righteous.

    I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on the ethical side of this scenario. I feel like I’m missing something or have misread the post. …And if your only goal was to have your students think about their answers and be able to defend them, congratulations- it worked.

  12. michael lee Post author

    Corey, I can’t accept the fact that “musician as plumber” is the furthest we can go down the road on this question.

    I think there’s an answer that goes beyond the pragmatic answer of “shut up so you get called for the gig the next time”.

  13. corey

    yeah, I agree, but I’m not sure it goes as far as to say that the music itself has an interest in the matter. It’s the result, not a factor or digit in the equation itself.

  14. Zack

    Phil – as a self-described car fanatic, and someone who makes a living as such (Picture Vehicle Broker and Fabricator), I find your comment about the 57 Chevrolet Bel Air borderline offensive in it’s sheer ignorance. By being one of the mechanical turning points in automotive history AND stylistically defining a entire generation of automobiles, the particular car you made an example of is widely considered “art” in more cultures than you can imagine.

    But that’s OK, you probably drive a Ford Taurus, and have no idea what I’m talking about. (Relax, I’m just poking…)

    But seriously, your comment worries me. Why not widen the general definition of “art” to include material things that have had an undeniable influence on culture? I don’t see what’s wrong with it. If anything, it brings a level of appreciation to things that would otherwise be forgotten.

  15. aly hawkins

    Wow. People here are smart and stuff.

    The vibe I’m getting from the comments and the thoughts buzzing in my own head is that perhaps we need a philosophy of music before we have an ethics of music. It seems like we can’t even agree on what music is, so of course it’s pert-near impossible to agree on how to do whatever it is or isn’t ethically.

    Is it math? Is it acoustics? Is it entertainment? Is it an aural interpretation of surrounding culture? Is it an effort to put the artist’s thoughts or feelings into sound? And while we’re at it…are we talking about the ethics of playing? Writing? Performing? Arranging? Not all the same thing, but all fall under “music.”

    I submit that the ethics for each of the above may not always be the same, and may even contradict each other at times.

  16. michael lee Post author

    I submit to you that this, this thread right here, and all of the comments that spill out of it, are the reason why we haven’t kicked phil off the island.

    He has no answer, but he has 50 years of trying to understand the question.

    I yield the floor to the man with the gun-rack on his Prius.

  17. Zack

    Phil, if you really have a gun rack on your Prius, come to my office in North Hollywood – we need to put that bad-dog in pictures!

    If not, then, well…

  18. june

    Michael, given the responses here alone, I think you could fill up a good chunk of class time with musicians/artists as guest speakers. Just give them this: “How have you, as an artist, called upon ethics as an integrated tool for decision making in your life?” and let them go at it.

    Better yet, you could have a panel discussion a la Maury Povich and before class starts, encourage the musicians to drive home their personal views to the other panelists in as physical a manner as possible. Can you even imagine how great your scores on ratemyprofessor.com would be after Cerise jumped on Phil’s back and started pulling his beard while screaming “Music IS art! Music IS art!”

  19. Stick

    Hoo boy… this is a good one.

    I’m the songwriter. The label is telling me “they don’t have the single” for artist “A”. Annoyed, I sit and write a beautiful worship song out of spite that I’d never write unless I was trying to “sell it”.

    I’m the producer (i.e. it’s my vision we’re after here) that’s telling the session guy I hired to forget everything he’s ever learned about playing the drums, and replay my chopped up and edited together demo drum programming, and yet, “make it feel like a real player”. (Though, generally I’ll get them to understand what I was going for in my program, and have them play a pass or two “the way you would do it”.)

    Then, I’m the mixer taking a bunch of poorly recorded, badly executed playing and singing and Beat Detective-ing and Auto-tuning it into something that I can ALMOST stand to listen to. (Note: I didn’t record these… I was just hired to mix. And no, the Dailies mix doesn’t fall in this category. That was good stuff.) What’s ethical or artistic about that?

    And maybe the worst… you’ve got a singer in the booth that can’t sing. Now what? They’re paying you to record them and tell them how great they are, not to mention having to somehow coax a credible performance out of them. You can’t tell them what you really think. You shouldn’t probably tell them “oh yeah, it took twice as long (this after 18 hours on the lead vocal part) when I worked with “______” (insert famous artist they think is cool).

    This is the tip of the iceberg. I don’t have the energy at the moment to go into the whole “pure art” aspects of it (or why I think that’s kind of a silly notion)… but I probably should. If nothing else, I can represent the least artistic “artist” in your survey. But, in me, creativity and artistry are very different things.

  20. michael lee

    I love the people who hang out here. Stick, there’s definitely a TBAIP post coming your way soon.

    Zack, it might help if you understand that I’m not trying to create a “Musicians Code of Ethics” that everyone has to sign before they get let into the club – not even close. What I’m advocating for is giving musicians the tools to thoughtfully, reflectively make their own ethical decisions using tools that are appropriate for the task. There are ethical conflicts tangled up in the creation and performance of music that musicians have either learned to cope with pragmatically or economically, because they have never been invited to stop and consider them as questions with moral significance.

    Those things that Stick rattled off are ethical dilemmas, not just functional or economic questions.

  21. michael lee

    as an aside, let me add

    To say that “Art should be free from moral entanglement” is a moral claim. It calls for ethical decision making.

    Corey, we both know that there is such a thing as good and bad musical choices. Let me clear away the language that has baggage tied to it for you, and ask the question this way: do I have an obligation as a professional in a creative endeavor to advocate for better musical choices?

  22. Stick

    “Better musical choices” could be a tough one too… who’s version of “better music” are we talking here? I’m pretty sure there isn’t a standard heirarchy of “better music”, topping out with “the best ever music”. What I think of as the best choice, more than likely, you won’t agree with, even though you and I have had similar musical educations and career paths… what about the kid that only listens to Ludacris, Justin Timberlake and Akon?

    I was working with a drummer (that I was dictating parts to… see above) the other day who told me he was working for some hip-hop guys who had him playing stuff he thought was ridiculous. But, I bet it was just what they thought was cool.

    However, I think that if you got hired for the gig, the person hiring you probably knew what you bring to the table, and expect you to “bring it” so to speak. Though, if I hired you for your jazz piano skillz, and you questioned my choice of bassoon implementation in the track (assuming I didn’t know you knew anything about bassoon), I might get a little edgy. (BTW, can you blow over rhythm changes on bassoon?)

  23. Stick

    I’m probably not making any sense. This evening, I’m attempting to make one of “those singers” presentable to the general public. I’m getting a headache.

  24. aly hawkins

    Yeah, I have to go with Stick on this one. I’m not sure “I have a duty to my obviously infallible aesthetic” qualifies as an ethical decision…but perhaps disqualifying it as an ethical decision is an ethical decision.

    No wonder no one’s written a book.

  25. corey

    “Corey, we both know that there is such a thing as good and bad musical choices. Let me clear away the language that has baggage tied to it for you, and ask the question this way: do I have an obligation as a professional in a creative endeavor to advocate for better musical choices?”

    I’m not sure if I can agree that there are “good” or “bad” musical choices. I think if I had free reign, I would’ve put a lot more telecaster and banjo on some of the dailies stuff (Chad just crapped his pants, by the way). I like the sound of rock mixed with bluegrass instruments. I like the sound of stripped down roots-rock music. It works for Nickel Creek. Hell, it worked for the Eagles and they’re one of the (if not THE) best selling acts of all time. Everyone at Eldorado would’ve called that a “bad” musical direction for the Dailies. I would disagree on the grounds that it would’ve tickled my coconut to hear dramatically different arrangements of some of those tunes.

    Having started with that, I think a more applicable ethical dilemma is on the part of the hired party to bow out when he knows for certain that his choices are going to be considered “bad” by the employer or when he feels he is incapable of aligning his “good” with their “good”.

    We just might be saying the same thing, but Postmodernism Schoenberg = anything goes and everything works in music. Not everyone wants to listen to the result of that marriage, but I can’t claim that anything musical is intrinsically right or wrong.

    I think the ethics of the situation revolve more around the social interaction than the rhythmic or harmonic choices. Music is just the context for social ethics here. I did a session last Spring where the artist called in as many “Hey Buddy” favors as possible, and then openly hired out when the free friends didn’t deliver. Adding to that, it was made very clear that the artist intended to use this as a money-making effort. Is there something unethical about asking those close to me to work for free in contribution to my wealth and well-being, knowing that if they don’t do (for free) what I expect of them, THEN I’ll break out the checkbook? This dilemma and all of the ones Stick posed are social ethical dilemmas. How do we interact with the people around us? Do we allow our financial needs to compromise our opinons?

    I just submitted 7 magazine ads for Roland/ BOSS Corp. for their line of Loop Station pedals. I submitted those to the ad agency that contracted me to build them. After submission, the art director cleaned them up and moved some of the body copy around (namely because he’s done 10 million dollars worth of advertising in the last 5 years and knows way more than me). He chose to email me to tell me what he was doing to my creations, as a professional courtesy. I don’t think this situation differs too much from the original blog post. The interaction here is on a social level. The ads themselves, the concepts, the delivery, the degree to which I did the work assigned to me have no ethical ground in my mind. The ethical application is only in the social interaction and that (as Aly pointed out in comment 2 or 3) is almost universal.

  26. phil

    Geez… all I did was drive home, and there are 15 more posts.

    My head hurts now.

    Some history:

    No one spoke of “art” and music in the same breath until about 250 years ago, and then only gradually did the notion of music as “aesthetic” begin to creep into western discussion on art, pretty much in, uh, unison with the rise of Romanticism. Suspiciously, the notion coincides reasonably well with the Enlightenment, which obviously invalidates the whole idea. ;-)

    It pretty much never happened at all anywhere else. Most cultures have connected it to religion in some way.

    In any case, since you probably can’t define the word “aesthetic” without using the word “art” (or vice versa), I don’t see how the reference clarifies anything.

    In other words: most people, for most of history, don’t/didn’t see the connection between art and music.

    Of COURSE 57 chevy’s are art. But when the definition of art is so broad that it includes practically any human artifact that displays design and decoration (which is to say, nearly everything), then the term has lost most of its ability to discriminate this from that.

    I’m willing to contend that music is a unique human activity, and that other disciplines may be analogous to music, but music is not analogous to them, except in very limited ways. Here’s all I mean be that: a great many activities/perceptions can be compared to musical activity/perception without losing much of their essence, but when music is compared to anything else, it virtually always loses something critical in the bargain.

    Tell me the next time you hear of a cello duet described as “playing beautiful basketball together”.

    I’m completely unsure of the ethical implications of all this. The more I think about it, the more lost I get, outside of the general social ethics involved in working with people to make music, already ably described above. Being a hack arranger, I’m an harmonic whore by definition… hardly a suitable foundation for musico-ethical discussion. (Hey… a new phrase… musico-ethical… just give credit when you use it.)

    And now: I wouldn’t want anyone to be disappointed in me.

    In Iran, “…women are prohibited from singing in public, except to a segregated female-only audience. Hard-liners were afraid the voice of a woman soloist might arouse impure thoughts in men.”

    I coulda told ‘em that.

  27. theb(beths_alter_ego)

    Ethics are ethics. We are not really dealing with ethics in music, but instead dealing with the fragile musician. Are we trying to our hide our shattered pride with the ethical dilemma mask? We have all been told our ideas suck or worse, been patronized with the “it’s just not what I’m going for” line. It hurts, yes, but it seems as if all the above “dilemmas” are searching for validation that we are creative, masters of our art, talented in some way…any way? Don’t you ever go to bed some nights wondering if you even HAVE talent? (Oh c’mon, you do too) We all want to know that we are good at something. We want to be respected, loved, recognized, especially when we are passionate about our craft. But, this has nothing to do with ethics. One’s opinions and the search to find the answer to the ethical dilemma can not mix. Ethics has little gray area, the very nature of the word is what is right and wrong, black and white. To reiterate what may have been said a couple times before, once stripped of one’s pride, baggage, need for recognition, and opinion these ethical dilemmas in the music world are no different than ethics in general.

  28. Sharolyn

    Mike, when my husband and I read your post, our minds went totally other places. Are these deep philosophical thoughts what you’re after?

  29. michael lee Post author

    All of ethics is social ethics – all of ethics deals with the interaction between persons. Saying that any conversation dealing with music and ethics can be reduced down to social ethics is just like saying that any conversation about medical ethics can be reduced down to social ethics.

    The question of whether or not it’s OK for me to buy your kidney for an organ transplant can be reduced down to “social ethics”, but it’s still fruitful to collect together a bunch of similar questions under the heading of “medical ethics”, and have future doctors and nurses thing about them before we fling them out into the world.

    I think it’s also a good idea to do the same thing with musicians. Call it social ethics. That’s fine. Call it “Professional Ethics”. That’s OK too. I’m saying that there are unique situations that musicians regularly get placed in where competing values force them to make a decision, and that we should gather together these questions and ask them before the situations arise, and that we should gather them together under the heading of “music and ethics”, so that we can keep it particular to one type of profession.

    I don’t want you to be confused by the first example that I gave – I know that there is additional weight added to a decision when you call it an “ethical” decision, and I know that weight can be abused. I’m not advocating that we throw ethical weight behind personal aesthetic decisions (at least, not in this example). The pianist is not saying, “This part that I want to play is the morally correct part, therefore we should play it.” In the example above, the ethical conflict is not between the two competing piano parts, it’s within the pianist, asking if he has an obligation to express his trained, informed musical ideas for consideration.

  30. grammy

    (Okay, sweety, here’s #40.)

    Back in the day, when I sang in hootenannies, the biggest ethical problem was whether to get stoned before or after the gig…

  31. phil

    Hmmm… Mike, I get your professionally informed opinion about all ethics being “social”, and you’re correct in a theoretical sense, of course.

    I think the point about “social ethics” vs. “musical ethics” is to distinguish between ethical problems that are distinctly musical vs. those that are common in other areas.

    For example: if I am employed as an engineer, and I believe that a better design decision can be made than some detail of the current plan, should I speak up if I suspect the suggestion may not be well received? Assume no lives are at risk. (Although I’ve heard music that nearly killed me….)

    I’m not sure the ethical question of suggesting a different piano part is substantially different. If it isn’t (let me know what you think), then the problem is not uniquely musical, and has existing solutions in other disciplines.

  32. corey

    “trained and informed”.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about you, Mike, it’s that a “trained” musician holds far greater value in your mind than an untrained one. Two musicans can play the same notes with the same feel, but because the trained one can trace the musical ancestry of the harmonic or melodic content, he’s the one who deserves praise for his creative work. This is one place where we totally disagree.

    At the same time, I feel like it illustrates my point. I agree that having the ethics discussion in the context of musicianship is an important exercise for students. I don’t think anyone is poo-poo’ing the idea that ethics should be discussed in industry-specific scenarios. It makes them tangible. But I guess Aly’s right- to pose the ethical dilemma, we must first set the rules of engagement. Suppose the trained, informed musician could make a technically “smart” suggestion that feels like ass in the context of the song? Suppose the totally uninformed musician just happens to feel that the song needs something that can’t be found in graduate level music curriculum? These are opinions, and usually the person who makes it into a weighty (ethical) discussion is the one that has the education on his side. Of course you believe in the tangible, you paid for a degree in music. That tangibility cost you (or the scholarship fund) tens of thousands of dollars and put you in an elite and respected group of people with graduate degrees in music. It gives you grounds to talk about the philosophy and mechanics of music. It gives you grounds to TEACH about the philosophy and mechanics of music. I don’t think it places you at some ethical crossroads to somehow act as savior to the musical endeavor of a less-educated artist. The audacity of that last sentence is shocking.

    I tried to see your point by applying this to my own education. If I was somehow hired to co-write or proof a paper that was written by someone uneducated in journalism, literature, or grammar- I believe you’re right. I DO see that there’s an ethical obligation to suggest spelling or grammatical changes to protect the author from looking stupid to the reader. But these are right and wrong, black and white scenarios. “Believe” is spelled with the “i” before the “e” and any difference is clearly wrong. Stick’s scenario with auto-tuning vocals is applicable, because western music still adheres (by and large) to a 12-tone musical framework and a vocal note 10 or 15 cents off sounds out of tune. He has an ethical obligation to at least mention that and to put it back on the artist to either get ready for the criticism or pony up the cash to fix it. But any obligations to recommend a better melodic or harmonic choice based on the fact that you hold a music degree is a stretch. When the choices are based on opinions (made stronger solely by the fact that you hold in high regard the educated musician) no ethical dilemma exists.

  33. phil

    I’m not sure that all of ethics IS social, however.

    Is it an ethical requirement of Christians to pray? To avoid calling down the devil’s curses on people in their minds? To avoid hatred? (Not merely to avoid hateful behavior…) To think about their relationships with God? To try to understand scripture, as opposed to just making socially acceptable noises about it?

    These are facts of the “inner person” which may or may not have immediate social meaning, or repercussions, or even detectability, if a person is reasonably self-controlled.

    To make all ethics social is to frame everything in terms of behavior. I suspect that perspective may have more in common with a materialistic view of ethics than a spiritual one… just off the cuff, anyway. Always willing to be educated.

    Speaking of education: Corey, I think there are plenty of people in town who are more than willing to say that THEIR education makes them qualified to make musical pronouncements of all kinds… they just didn’t happen to get it in a college or university. I doubt Mike intends for the narrow “institutionally educated” view to be normative. Your “totally uninformed musician” seems like an oxymoron to me. How could such a creature exist?

    I’m one of the point-headed intellectual class. It says so right here on my diplomas… all four of them. But I value the musical knowledge I gained the hard way (read, out of class… WAY out of class) far more than anything I learned “in school”. I suspect that’s true of Mike, too…. concerning which I suppose I should feel insulted…. oh well.

    Having said all that: there is something to be said for knowing enough history to have some idea of what led to the current mess you’re in, and enough theory to allow you to learn the rudiments of the mess yet to come, even if you’re hip to the practical aspects of what you need to do clean up the mess today. (Shackleton’s Theory of Messes… not yet listed in the Wiki, but coming soon.)

    My classes are full of 18-22 yr olds who think they’ll be cool forever, and who think their “opinion” is as good as anyone elses. It’s mostly not. Yet.

  34. phil

    Zack, are you hip to electro-magnetic “rail” guns?

    What do you think the giant Prius battery is really for?

    If you tailgate me, you may find out…..

  35. michael lee Post author

    Phil: I’ll amend it to say that all ethical dilemmas consist of competing moral claims, and that competing moral claims usually involve multiple persons.

    Corey: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about you, Mike, it’s that a “trained” musician holds far greater value in your mind than an untrained one. Two musicans can play the same notes with the same feel, but because the trained one can trace the musical ancestry of the harmonic or melodic content, he’s the one who deserves praise for his creative work. This is one place where we totally disagree.”

    Corey, that’s utter horshit and you know it. Have you seen my Thelonious Monk T-Shirt? The note is the thing. The note is absolutely the thing.

    The training only matters if it delivers the note. The training, if it is worthwhile at all, increases your odds of being able to consistently find the note. If not, then what the hell are we training for?

    I feel like you’re trying to make me say things that I’m not at all saying.

  36. corey

    Phil: “I doubt Mike intends for the narrow “institutionally educated” view to be normative. Your “totally uninformed musician” seems like an oxymoron to me. How could such a creature exist?”

    This a great point. You’re absolutely right.

    Mike: “The training only matters if it delivers the note. The training, if it is worthwhile at all, increases your odds of being able to consistently find the note. If not, then what the hell are we training for?”

    I don’t disagree with you here. This is the exact reason why any musician woodsheds. But maybe as you were pointing at the moon, I was arguing about which finger you chose. I think it’s awfully presumptious to assume that your “trained, informed” perspective puts you, ethically, over a barrel if you keep it inside when you hear part of the tune that you’d prefer to hear differently.

    And also, let me pause for station identification- Mike, you have to know how much I respect you as a musician. And if you don’t know how much I respect you as a musician, I’ll tell you that it almost crosses the line into Brokeback Respect- eclipsed only by how much I value you as a friend, also drifitng occasionally over into Brokeback territory. I wish I could quit you…

    Taking it back to the top, I think there are ethics involved in music, but I think they’re more akin to the medical scenarios you presented. When the circumstances are more clearly outlined with right and wrong choices (socially or morally), then the ethical discussions come in. But just like we want to very clearly state church doctrinal beliefs to prevent the zealots from acting on inflated assumptions, I think it’s important to clearly distinguish between what is an ethical decision and what is a personal musical choice.


  37. Jonathan

    This is just another reason why you are the man. There isn’t any information on the subject you want to write about so what do you do… make some. It is so amazing that you can do that with just about anything. If you don’t like a chart, you rewrite it. If there isn’t a song on a subject or in the style you want, you write it. And now if there aren’t books on a subject your gonna write one. That’s amazing!

  38. michael lee Post author

    Hey Jon – hold off on the hero worship for a little while longer. We still haven’t figured out if I’m full of crap or not.

    I’m putting the odds at 40/60 for.

  39. june

    I only skimmed the last few posts on this thread, but here’s an unasked for ball I’d like to throw on the court: All of this info would have to be dumbed down a touch for Michael’s students. (I know that’s obvious, but still, I’m just sayin.) It’s all well and good to have a lively discourse such as this when you’re actually employed (!) and well over age 19….I’d love to read one of these posts rewritten for the music-lovin’ 21-year-old who is jammed full of talent and a reasonable amount of skill but who would glaze over completely if faced with the writing/thinking here.

    (HEY! Or we could have Dr. Alyeuss apply her craft to all this!…)

  40. aly hawkins

    I think Phil and Beth’s Alter Ego are right — the minute the ethics of music get wrapped around the aesthetics of music, things just get muzzy. Aesthetics aren’t black and white, and ethics are.

    Perhaps a better place to start is an examination of music’s purposes. Purposes can be ethical or unethical.

  41. phil

    Whose purposes?

    In any case, that immediately moves us out of “musical ethics” and into “general ethics” since most human activities have purposes.

    Other than blogging, of course.

    “Music for a purpose” seems to quickly degenerate to distilled excrescence of bovine, unless the notion of purpose is very broadly defined.

  42. Chad


    The cure for hero worship includes an alley in Burbank, a Drum Major routine, and a video camera.

  43. Chad

    There’s another facet to this discussion, which has been so lacking in content and controversy, that I just thought I’d throw this in….

    Christian faith (or upbringing) has shaped and colored the creation and execution of music for a great percentage of people here. I have often been insanely jealous of people who get to write whatever the hell comes into their brains. I have been sold (and have often bought) the line that no song or lyric is appropriate for church comsumption unless it’s completely theologically sound, or spiritually relavant. Too much anger, vulgarity, harshness, or anything else that can be read into as “worldly” is unacceptable in the church environment.

    Even the song that I quoted a few weeks ago as my protest song began as something much more specific and much more personal and (let’s face facts here) much uglier. My Christian College blocking gnomes told me that there was no way it was ok to write the song about the topic I origianlly had in mind. It was a personal attack on someone. And man… was it justified.

    So, my musical ethics (situational ethics as well) told me to channel that angst into something more nebulous, i.e. the media. It’s not that I don’t believe the content of the lyric as it stands (we all need a little more unplugged time… IMO) it’s just that the ethics of my life and experience naturally checked the full wrath of my lyrical abilities. Good interpersonally… perhaps bad artistically.

  44. corey

    Another question, Mike. How much of this is rooted in your desire to prepeare your students for “practical” performance situations? I think the students have something special in teachers who have gigged and have some “yarns” as Chad calls them. I’d think there would be plenty to discuss there.

  45. phil

    Ah, but as we’ve already discussed, my motives are pretty murky, and probably fairly disreputable.

    I do love certain music, though. I’m not sure why. It makes me feel interested, alive, curious, expressive… it engages my perceptions and my intellect and frequently my feelings (not always in any verbalizable way… I couldn’t put a label on the feelings, mostly) and my physicality (i love words that begin with ph). It may engage me “spiritually”, but that’s even more slippery of definition than “aesthetic”, so I’ll just toss it out there without qualification for now.

    I don’t much care about the “artist’s motivation”…. and I haven’t noticed that other musicians especially care about mine when they perform my music… they just respond to the music.

    Face it…. we’re all prima donnas… or is that prima donni?

  46. Topherless

    I think the first step you need to ask yourself in regards to ethics in creating music is “why is this music being created” because that will dictate what musical ethics you should abide by. Music is much to big to be put into one category even if that category is “art.”

    Do some people create music for the purpose of art? Yes. Do some people create it as a from of self expression? Yes. Do some people create it in order to generate commerce? Yes. Do some people create it as a vehicle to achieve fame? Yes. Do some people create it to score extra points with hot chicks? We’ll, YES!!!

    Are all of these reasons valid? YES (as long was we are honest with ourselves for our reasons.)

    So, you think your “musical idea” is somehow better than the person who has the musical vision? In a technical sense you might be correct, but what if that part doesn’t represent or express what the person whose ultimately responsible for what’s being created is about or feels? It doesn’t matter if the rest of the entire world agrees that your idea is musically better (which in itself is debatable.) If the goal was to create the best possible music, why not always fire whoever your guitar player is and hire the best session guy ever all the time (same for singers, drumemrs, bass players, etc.)

    Another point is let’s say your out on the golf course and Tiger Woods comes out and says, “here, let me play your round of golf for you because I will obvioulsy play it better.” It’s not always about the destination my friends, it’s about the journey.

    Now, if you only want to be involved in the noble aspect of only working with people who are creating music as “art” then that’s cool. But if you sign up for a project where the goal is to sell records then don’t complain about art because that’s not what the PURPOSE of the project is.

    What makes this more confusing is that typically no music is created for just one purpose. It might be 30% for ART, 40% for selling records and getting famous, and the last 30% to score more chicks. Your job as a session player is to have your feelers out to see what those percentages might be and then make your comments accordingly.

    This brings me to my next point. Once you figure out the PURPOSE, the next step is to figure out YOUR ROLE in that PURPOSE.

    Now, to make matters even more confusing and the reason why so many bands fail is because not only do the percentages of purpose for making the music change, but the percentage of what each person’s acceptable level of contribution (or role) clearly changes and is not always defined. The drummer might think his level in a 4 piece should be 25% and he makes music 20% for the money and 80% for the chicks whereas the singer thinks the drummer’s role should be minus 5% and the singer makes music because he was abused as a kid and want’s to express his anger and therefore his purpose has nothing to do with money or chicks.

    I would also like to point out that myself personally, as a person who makes his living in the music business, I have no problem working on all kinds of music that’s being made for all of the above reasons and I don’t feel like I’m selling out for any of it. Whether it’s for sales, art, self-expression, or yes, to score chicks. I’m all in (granted, my favorite projects by far are when it’s for ART.) I also don’t care if someone’s a horrible musician and they are asking me to work my tail off to help them sound great. I see no problem with that.

    I also can appreciate having the ROLE of engineer who has no opinion OR engineer whose asked about his opinion enough to where it’s even a production type level of contribution.

    My personal grip/problem is when people are in denial about their own intentions. Nothing is more annoying than a person who claims to care about art but always makes decisions based on commerce. If someone wants to make an artistic record that will hopefully sell, that’s cool, just be honest about it.

    People complain about Incubus, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake all the time. Me personally, I have no problem with any of them. However, if Britney said she had more talent as a singer than Billy Holiday, or if Justin Timberlake said he had more talent as a songwriter than John Lennon, or if Incubus said they where more groundbreaking than Black Sabbath then I’d have a problem. But my perception is that they are pretty honest with themselves about what their role in music and what their purpose for making music is.

    Maybe ethics in music is actually more about finding your role and purpose for being involved in music and in order to be “ethically sound” you must be honest with yourself about what that purpose is and stick to that purpose (not taking pop gigs if you do it only for the “art.)”

  47. harmonicminer

    Umm… I like a lot of what Topherless said. I think I’ve had different experiences than Topherless regarding how honest many musicians and producers are about just what they’re doing…. in particular, I think there’s a lot of pretension about “art” and “creativity” by people who just wanna be famous… with all that comes along with that.

    Being a hack arranger (the second oldest profession…. remember that guy Jubal in the book of Genesis?), I’ve worked with my share of people who are utterly dependent on my skills (or someone like me), want nothing more than to please the audience in a BIG way, but also want me to tell them how great their music is and how inspired I am by them.

    I am completely happy and joyful to use my skills to help someone produce a better musical product.

    But, I got my skills by LOVING THE MUSIC FOR ITSELF, not by this percentage based approach to musical motivation. I suspect that’s true of most people who really develop their musical ability, if they’re honest about it. No one lives in the practice room four hours per day or goes through the sweat of learning to do takedowns to get chicks. I don’t think they do it “just for the money”, either.

    There are lots of people who love to talk about how much they love music, but they don’t behave the way lovers of music behave in terms of self-development. I think most of those people loved CONSUMING music (so to speak), and thought it was a relatively short trip from there to a being a MUSICIAN. It isn’t, and I know of no shortcuts.

    When people conflate their love of being a member of the commercial music/media industry with their love for music, the problem begins. It is stunning to me how many “commercial musicians” appear to exhibit pride in their ignorance. As in, “See how great I must be to be this rich and really know so little? Wow, what talent I must have!” Their appear to be very many verses to this song, and several bridges… but they all have the same refrain.

    So I’d like to suggest a division of the discussion:

    1) The ethics of participation in musical endeavors (Mike has already discussed this… we probably need to go back to that and continue it).

    2) The ethics of personal musical development. What are the ethical commitments of a person who DOES claim to love the music?

  48. James Gutierrez

    Topherless/anyone: I think your thesis would be a great idea for more of a ‘music philosophy’ course than ethics.

    Looking at the content of most of the thread, I can say with a level confidence that any ethics course offered (or mandated) to the APU music students, once “dumbed down” for average consumption would end up appearing like a class on music etiquette, which makes sense historically. If there exists a variable profound truth that impacts the behavior of those who partake of its understand, and it is decided that this truth is to be taught to the masses, eventually this profound truth will be dumbed down into a system of behavioral rules, traditions, etiquette, such things that potentially lose all profound connection with the truth that spurred them.

    I would humbly propose that such a course a APU should be centered around the subjective philosophy of music. There students would not simply work hypothetical situations in the music industry where ethical issues may arise, and thus become detatched and even resentful of the course, but they could sincerily search and discuss the kind of questions proposed by Topherless regarding purpose/ faith role/individual role: the base from which all thier ethical decisions will be made in the composition/perfomance/replication of music.

    Mike, great idea for a class by the way! I had to take the philosophy sen. sem. and write my paper on music in order to attain the kind of depth I needed to cornerstone my career. I’ll be praying for the endeavor.

  49. aly hawkins

    I like where Phil’s going with this…there are different ethical considerations for participating in making music and dedicating oneself to musical development.

    Phil – When I wrote about “artist motivation,” I should have been clearer. I was thinking specifically about the ethics of participation in a creative enterprise, not the ethics of listening to an artist’s finished work. (Though there may be ethical considerations there, too.) To use an extreme example, let’s say Stick was contacted to mix the reunion album of Skrewdriver. (Like I said, it’s an extreme example.) It seems to me that there may be ethics for him to consider in his decision, however musically talented they may be. (And that’s quite open for debate.) Their motivation is to create music that promotes a white supremacist agenda…an agenda some might categorize as “unethical.” And for the sake of the example, let’s say if Stick doesn’t take the gig, he can’t make his mortgage. This is an ethical dilemma.

    To be less extreme about it, there is a lot of music in the mainstream (esp. hip-hop, but definitely not exclusively) that’s misogynistic, a prejudice that some might categorize as unethical. If Corey is offered the guitar gig for a record that frequently refers to women as “bitches” or “hos” by an extraordinarily talented artist who has dedicated himself to his craft, should ethics play a part in Corey’s decision take the gig? What if taking the gig is the difference between feeding his kids and not?

    I don’t think aesthetics is the highest consideration here. There are ethical dilemmas that are much more concrete than “the service of art” that arise in the life a musician.

  50. Topherless

    What a great topic. I love where this is going.

    2 thoughts:

    #1. A lot of these posts are philosophical in nature yes, but my opinion/main point was that people who subscribe to different philosophies will have a different set of ethics. Before you pick your ethics, it’s important to ask yourself what your philosophical principles are.

    #2. Of course “No one lives in the practice room four hours per day or goes through the sweat of learning to do takedowns to get chicks. I don’t think they do it “just for the money”, either.”

    First I’d like to point out I never said people create music “just for the money” or “for chicks” even though it was quoted as such. That’s why I brought up the whole point of percentages for reasons of doing what we do with music.

    If we where musicians for the sole purpose of our love for music, then why ever leave the bedroom or leave the garage to play in front of an audience? Why sell records? Why do music videos? Why take PAID gigs as a session player? Why would you want a record deal? Why make T-shirts with your bands name/logo on them? Why does your band need a name or a logo to begin with? Why would Prince (an amazing musician) wear full body tight leather suits when he performs?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding Mike’s point, but my impression is that we are talking about ethics in terms of the music BUSINESS right? He wasn’t talking about his ethics in terms of locking himself in his bedroom in order to learn takedowns, he was talking about his ethics in relation to himself as a PAID session player.

    At some point, a certain percentage of the reason for Mike taking a PAID gig as a session guy is because it’s making him money right? Might not be the only reason, might be 75% love of music 25% getting paid (depending on how high his mortgage is.) Mike’s job as a “hired gun” is to gauge his clients goals/intentions and behave accordingly. IF his client’s goals involve Mike lowering his own moral standards to a level he’s not willing to go, then he should quit the gig. Otherwise, do your job and don’t impose upon your client your own moral/ethical standards. Save that for when you make your own record.

  51. corey

    Easy on the Prince references, Chief. Mike is huge fan, and more than once, he’s done Sunday morning gigs wearing one of those full body tight leather suits.

    I’m just sayin’.

  52. harmonicminer

    Topherless, I didn’t mean to imply that YOU had said people practice and learn “just to get chicks” or make money or whatever. I understood you to be talking about participation in musical endeavors, which can indeed arise from mixed motivations.

    My main point: the ability to MAKE the choice to be involved as a musician is usually developed out of somewhat more focused motivations involving a love of music that leads to those hours of practice and learning. Sure, some kids are forced to learn music by parents… but I don’t think it takes off until they love it on their own.

    The reason Mike is in the position where he has to grapple with ethical issues of participation is because he loved music enough to get really good at it. i’m just voting for not confusing the one with the other.

    Hey Aly… you’ve been listening to some wierd music.

    Anyway, as long as we’re dealing with ethical implications of lyrical content… what about Christian albums with crummy theology?

    I’m just sayin’.

  53. Topheless

    I totally agree with Harmonicminer that we all get into this and hopefully continue to do so because of a root love of music.

    Sure, Mike probably got to where he got for a love of music. But reinforcement/recognition along the way doesn’t hurt either (whether it’s from his parents, friends, fellow musicians, or even the homecomming queen.)

    I know plenty of talented famous musicians (I’m not going to name names like *cough* John Mayer, but trust me, these people exist) who love music, where geeks about music, maybe even geeks in high school because they wheren’t the jock, but when the girls found out they could play guitar and sing, we’ll let’s just say they practiced a little harder.

    We all love to have our ego’s stroaked every once in awhile even if we don’t like to admit it. Even as musicians or engineers. Once again, you might be 75% love of music, 25% ego, but I think it’d be crazy to say 100% anything (money, chicks, OR love of music.) What percentage makes you up will change your ethics quite a bit in regards to music.

  54. harmonicminer

    Topherless, you’re right, of course, that no one’s motivations are 100% of anything. I’d just say that the reinforcements are probably not enough to make somebody go through the process of becoming excellent, absent that foundational, and very powerful, love for music.

    So, we’re still back where we were in this way:

    What are the ethical responsibilities of a person who genuinely DOES love the music, and whose musical self-development reflects that, in terms of how they participate in various kinds of musical endeavors?

    I’m not sure that there are any “musico-ethical” responsibilities for a person whose primary reasons for being involved in music are extra-musical (includes most worship and “Christian” music, sadly), except not to lie about it.

    There may be a few extra days in purgatory for relatively ignorant producers who abrasively pretend to know more than the expert musicians they hire. But I’ve learned to smile and take the money, though I seldom agree to work for such people again.

    If you really don’t have the option of saying no, then you should just do the best you can in the circumstances. Better to work than not live up to your responsibilities to others.

    Remind me to tell you about the naval base where I played piano in the officer’s club in the early 1970′s. The perfect audience… too drunk to be able to tell when you clammed, and always appreciative…. and they paid me every night at closing.

  55. shaman ayerhart

    Hello all, my name is Shaman Ayerhart and I am a student at the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College in London Ontario, Canada. You may be interested to know that MIA (as its called) offers an ethics course that pertains to the canadain music industry, taught by one Terry McManus. I’m sure terry would be delighted to discuss his course with you; his contact information can be obtained through the college (I would share that with all of you, but it’s not my place to volunteer such information for privacy reasons)

    Thanks for your interesting insights in to this topic, I stumbled on the board while reaserching for Mr Mcmanus’ term paper.

    Yours; Shaman

  56. Sarah

    I’m currently getting my master’s in musicology and am interested in studying this very thing. In fact, I stumbled across this post because I googled “music and ethics.” My interest lies primarily in Western classical music, not Christian popular music. But whether it’s popular music or high art, do feel that any art form has ethical content, the fun comes in pinning it down :) Good luck with your search!

  57. Lisa Dieffenbach

    I am taking a course in Professional Ethics. I must write a paper on an ethical case study. I was looking for something in the field of music education/ music. Do any of you have suggestions?

  58. sharolyn

    Here are some thoughts.

    1) The most recent example in our district is that, for the first time, beginning band is limited to 40 students at each of nine elementary schools. How do you pick which 40 kids get to be in band?

    One idea is: the first 40 people to sign up. Three moms, advocating for their children, had the idea of coming to the assembly at which the permission slips were passed out, thus turning in the slips immediately. I don’t like this idea, because it punished kids whose moms have to work.

    Another idea is: Basic music proficiency test (simple rhythms, sing this note back to me, etc.) Again, this rewards kids who have had the opportunity to take piano lessons, for example / bigger picture is the danger of widening the achievement gap. Plus, Jason had THE MOST PRECIOUS trumpet player from a special day class (let’s say there was a lot of saliva)… he was so excited to be there and who wants to miss out on THAT?! :)

    At some schools there were 38 sign-ups, and that’s when you high five.

    2) is somewhat similar. I always tell my kids I love my job except for two days of the year: the days I announce casting for the Fall and Spring school-wide musicals. If 12 girls want to be Sacajawea, no matter who I pick there will be 11 sad girls, and one of them will be in tears.

    The ethical part: Should I always choose the person with the best stage presence? -But what if it’s the same person every time? Don’t I need to provide other kids with opportunities? Does behavior matter? What if the best singer is kind of a jerk? (I have my answers to these, but I think you’re asking for questions.)

    That leads me to 3)… In our accomplished high school band, two section leaders recently put freshmen in trash cans. They are no longer section leaders. That has caused quite a stir.

    4) The Holidays. That could be a post of its own.

    Hope this is helpful, Lisa. Please write back when you’ve figured these out. :P

  59. michael Post author

    That last one is way too controversial.

    The recent budget cuts are bringing these questions into sharper focus, but they’ve always been in the background. What is the fundamental purpose of general music education? Is it to cultivate some basic musical awareness and appreciation in all students, or is it to identify and cultivate students who have special ability, and to help them develop that ability.

    Of course, we would like to thing that the answer is “both”, and that we shouldn’t have to choose, but the reality is that music education is filled with choices, choices about how to allocate scare money, valuable time and attention, opportunities, and each of those choices means picking one value to uphold, or the other.

    Do you take 10 minutes of extra one-on-one time with the student who still hasn’t figured out basic fingering on their instrument, or do you invest that time by introducing a student who excels some new literature that might jumpstart them in a new direction?

  60. michael Post author

    What obligations does the music program have to the rest of the school body? Is it fair for the administration to expect the music program to spend so much time and budget on building up a glorified pep band to basically cheer in uniform for the football team?

    Administrations are notoriously bad at understanding anything the arts do, but they DO understand things like “1st place” or “Level 5″. There are many directors who use poor rehearsal practices (having choir students listen to their part on tape over and over) rather than really teaching students how to practice and rehearse, because when it comes to competition time, it help them win.

    Should the abomination bastard-child called “Show Choir” even exist? (That one is easy. Hells no!)

  61. Stephen


    I’ve read most of the posts and have an idea of where you are heading with this. Recent events prompted me to do a Google search of Music and Ethics and this thread is excellent. This thread is mainly about the music itself and whether or not to get involved to potentially improve a song.

    What you haven’t even touched on is the music industry and what people will do to get ahead, to have their 15 minutes of fame. You want to discuss ethics, this is probably THE most important area. Plagiarism abounds – sometimes subliminal, sometimes outright theft – ethics, or lack of, certainly play a huge role. I’ve personally seen two different “artists” do the exact same song, change the title and each calls it their own (not a case of theft but a sly, back-handed slap in the face of the fans since both “artists” are complicit). Aside from the ethical aspects, it borders on fraud, once it is offered for sale.

    An ethics course is definitely needed – not only for the musicians, but for all involved in the making of a song.

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