Would you call a great beat producer, one who samples, virtuosic? Not necessarily. But out of the near infinite amount of musical possibilities great producers can discern what to use and present it in a way that works uniquely and beautifully. That is what separates preeminent producers, like J Dilla, away from the pack.
Not so much virtuosity but taste.
Taste is also what makes a musician great. Out of the near infinite amount of musical possibilities great musicians can discern what to use and present it in a way that works uniquely and beautifully.
Whether it’s digging crates or the mind for ideas, taste is what filters out the excess: from sampling a drum break to writing a chord progression, the excess, the rest of the song that isn’t sampled or the other chords that could’ve been used, is thrown aside. Music is born.
The fact that taste isn’t exclusive to the traditional musician makes me wonder whether it is a fair assessment to disregard beat producers and electronic artists as talentless button pressing hacks. What if we we’re too stuck on the standard choreography: if she isn’t using a bow or strings or a horn or a piano then she isn’t a musician?
Maybe it doesn’t matter what you use to put sound out, whether it be a turntable or guitar. Taste is equally at work in both. It what makes these sounds music and the people that make them musicians.