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analogue
27-07-2010, 09:59 PM
I did a quick search check to make sure that there are no other threads about this topic and i couldn't find any. If i missed one i'm sorry


I've heard some people say that Michael could play instruments very well, other people say that he can play but not very good and i've also heard people say that he can't play any instruments at all. So which one is it? His songwriting method has always been to sing the music parts into a tape recorder and then give all the studio musicians the parts of each bit of music he sang for the song he wrote. So that can show that MJ couldn't play any instruments. Then again i've seen pictures of MJ sitting by a piano or holding a guitar, so that could show that MJ could play instruments. Though he could have just been posing with them in those pictures.

There's also a part in the book Moonwalk where Michael says that Paul Mccartney could play all of the instruments in the studio and he couldn't. This also supports the fact that MJ couldn't play any instruments but then again this was from the Thriller era and MJ could have learned to play an instrument since then.

jemini515
27-07-2010, 10:15 PM
I have had the same question and have looked at those same sources for answers! My thoughts: I think in the earlier years he didn't have much experience playing instruments but over time developed some proficiency with piano and guitar (and maybe other instruments? I can imagine him being fabulous at any percussion), though not to the level of the studio musicians he hired. I think! If anyone knows more, please tell! :yes:

144,000
27-07-2010, 10:16 PM
i don't know. but Beethoven couldn't sing. Whitney Houston couldn't write.

this all falls under the category of a mustard seed talent, still being talent, as much as if the seed was bigger..it's really the same size talent. it's what you do with it. MJ was the complete musician, and his success speaks for itself, him being as he was.

Pompous Git
27-07-2010, 10:43 PM
I answered this at Max Jax, but here's what Bruce has said:

"He could play piano a little but he wasn't that kind of a musician. Michael's instrument was his voice and ideas. Quincy's instrument, and mine I guess, was the studio. It was such a great thing working with Michael; we just kept pushing the musical boundaries. Was I lucky or what?""

That figures. Michael's credit for guitars on Morphine is HIGHLY likely to have been his beatbox of the guitar - How Now Brown Cow is the name for MJ beatboxing on BAD.

Michael was NOT a serious instrumentalist by any means - sure, he could play enough of certain instruments to get ideas across, but not to a high standard.

Krshna28
27-07-2010, 10:43 PM
Well he also said the the Moonwalker book, that everybody in the Jackson 5 had their own instrument to play.........

.......Well I think it said that!!!!!!!!!

Pompous Git
27-07-2010, 10:47 PM
^^^Michael was on bongos. He could play only in a simple way - nothing major or complex. Just enough to communicate ideas.

144,000
27-07-2010, 10:57 PM
I answered this at Max Jax, but here's what Bruce has said:

"He could play piano a little but he wasn't that kind of a musician. Michael's instrument was his voice and ideas. Quincy's instrument, and mine I guess, was the studio. It was such a great thing working with Michael; we just kept pushing the musical boundaries. Was I lucky or what?""

That figures. Michael's credit for guitars on Morphine is HIGHLY likely to have been his beatbox of the guitar - How Now Brown Cow is the name for MJ beatboxing on BAD.

Michael was NOT a serious instrumentalist by any means - sure, he could play enough of certain instruments to get ideas across, but not to a high standard.

i think Bruce put it better than most people. i don't mean to sound a little irritated, but..why aren't people ever satisfied? did MJ have to be more than he was? did he have to be able to play an 'instrument'? i kept hearing how Prince could play all instruments in a studio, and Stevie Wonder, too, but MJ's star shone brighter. there are some people that can play the computer. if u have a communicable talent, play on! talent is talent, no matter how unconventional it may sound. this falls under the category of centophobia. fear of new things. somebody comes along that does something differently, and finds massive success, and then people feel, that person could have done more. i don't know where that comes from. i know a man who kicked a musician out of his church, because the musician did something, musically, that that preacher never heard of. it wasn't traditional enough. makes you wonder if that preacher really believed in God.

i understand that nobody here really considers MJ not to have been a complete musician. and i'm sorry if i give the impression that anybody here thinks he wasn't a complete musician. it's just that this thread reminds me of the attitude that some had, in media music critic's circles, that prevents them from evolving.

jemini515
28-07-2010, 12:27 AM
Totally get what you're saying, 144,000. I sense that same disrespect from some of my musician friends who only perceive MJ as a singer/dancer, not as a consummate musician because they are simply not familiar with which songs he wrote/arranged/produced, with his complete creation vision as an artist, etc.

I think pop artists often don't get their due in elitist circles because of their popularity and mass appeal. Also, in MJ's case, people got so hung up on his looks, his private life, etc that his musicianship and vision is overlooked. I rarely find any decent resources that analyze his music on a serious level with the exception of a few music producing/engineering websites. But I think time will cement his musical legacy and eventually I hope he is seen as a genius of our times, someone who changed everything and consistently got it right. (sorry if this is a little OT from the original instrument topic)

Lucilla
28-07-2010, 12:56 AM
I agree with 144,000, nicely said.
and I also think he was a complete musician, well most than the average musician.
I mean, if this definition of musician is true:

Musician: a person who writes, performs, or makes music.
And the musician can be classified by their roles in creating or performing music:

An instrumentalist plays a musical instrument.

A singer is a vocalist.

Composers, songwriters and arrangers create musical compositions, songs and arrangements, these may be transcribed in music notation, performed or recorded.

A conductor leads a musical ensemble, A conductor can simultaneously act as an instrumentalist in the ensemble.

A recording artist creates recorded music, such as CDs and MP3 files.

MJ was all of them, except maybe an Instrumentalist.
Some people who worked with him/knew him said he played a little piano and the drums, and it is written in the album’s credits that he played instruments in some songs, but let’s say he didn't. Fine, he’s still a real musician.

If you ask me, I’m satisfied with MJ being only a singer, songwriter, record producer, composer, dancer, choreographer,
Without mention author, actor, businessman, philanthropist and even drawer :lol:

Ashtanga
28-07-2010, 01:32 AM
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2641/3935738970_be5f9cc5c1.jpg

http://allforloveblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/MJ3.png

http://i38.tinypic.com/fwowi1.png

http://img510.imageshack.us/img510/3024/jetjuly311980usa1ts.jpg

http://img112.imageshack.us/img112/9990/piano7qp.jpg

http://gi0007.photobucket.com/groups/0007/JE638GEUUS/003943124.jpg

http://bestofmichaeljackson.jclondon.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Photo-Early-Years-4-Micheal-Jackson.jpg

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/QGkDobXMOxg/0.jpg

http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/8000000/Scream-michael-jackson-8082516-788-1000.jpg



:wild:

:punk:

Lucilla
28-07-2010, 01:40 AM
lol at your smileys :lol:

0o0jackie0o0
28-07-2010, 08:29 AM
well if u look at the credits on the history album booklet mj is credited for
keyboards and synthesizers
guitars
drums and percussion
i used to think he could only play a little but then we all know what a perfectionist mike was so he must of been quite good if he put himself on the album.
he said he didn't rap cos there were people who could do it better than him. the fact that he played on the album must mean that he was doing a pretty good job.

also read somewhere that someone asked him why doesn't he play more and mj said "thats for when i get too old to dance"

loveforever
28-07-2010, 11:16 AM
well if u look at the credits on the history album booklet mj is credited for
keyboards and synthesizers
guitars
drums and percussion
i used to think he could only play a little but then we all know what a perfectionist mike was so he must of been quite good if he put himself on the album.
he said he didn't rap cos there were people who could do it better than him. the fact that he played on the album must mean that he was doing a pretty good job.

also read somewhere that someone asked him why doesn't he play more and mj said "thats for when i get too old to dance"

I remember it. I think it's from Quincy's interview. Quincy said Michael was good at playing instruments, and asked him once why he didn't play to the audience. He said that. and Michael was also credited in Invincible.

Evilman
28-07-2010, 11:26 AM
I read somewhere (some magazine or something) that Michael played most of the instruments in Scream. Is that true?

MIST
28-07-2010, 12:03 PM
Some of his guards in later years said that they were lucky to hear new music almost everyday and they didnīt mention there was someone there with him.
It would be interesting if they would write more about it in their book.

Pompous Git
28-07-2010, 01:25 PM
I read somewhere (some magazine or something) that Michael played most of the instruments in Scream. Is that true?

That's a mistake in that Remembering Michael mag. Jam and Lewis played all instruments in Is It Scary and they would've done the same for SCREAM too.

The photos don't tell us anything other than he was posing with them. It is known that he could play simple chords and things like that.

HIStory's guitar credit is his beatbox as is the one for Morphine.

MJ played the bathroom stomp board in WBSS - again, a simple thump. Part of MJ's percussion credits is actually his beatbox just as it is in BAD.

Anyway, Swedien's quote is there. There's quotes from others who worked on MJ's albums that state very similar things.

Evilman
28-07-2010, 02:28 PM
That's a mistake in that Remembering Michael mag. Jam and Lewis played all instruments in Is It Scary and they would've done the same for SCREAM too.

I thought so. Thanks for confirmation. :)

But those pics where Michael is with some instruments, I believe that those are pretty much pose. He probably knows how to play something a bit but he wasn't a pro.

Hmm... I also remember reading some interview where some producer talked about some unreleased track by Michael where Michael played piano. Producer called it "the best track by MJ" or something. Argh, I can't remember. :D

Sophielo
28-07-2010, 05:23 PM
In the end of the day Michael's voice was his instrument and a darned good one it was to!

PCR
28-07-2010, 07:05 PM
Totally get what you're saying, 144,000. I sense that same disrespect from some of my musician friends who only perceive MJ as a singer/dancer, not as a consummate musician because they are simply not familiar with which songs he wrote/arranged/produced, with his complete creation vision as an artist, etc.

I think pop artists often don't get their due in elitist circles because of their popularity and mass appeal. Also, in MJ's case, people got so hung up on his looks, his private life, etc that his musicianship and vision is overlooked. I rarely find any decent resources that analyze his music on a serious level with the exception of a few music producing/engineering websites. But I think time will cement his musical legacy and eventually I hope he is seen as a genius of our times, someone who changed everything and consistently got it right. (sorry if this is a little OT from the original instrument topic)

:clapping::clapping:

JennyC
28-07-2010, 11:08 PM
I remember reading somewhere (may have been a different thread on this forum) that on either the Dangerous or History album he played many instruments on it - drums, guitar, pianos etc. I always thought he could play a little, especially piano.

aganim
28-07-2010, 11:35 PM
You can consider yourself an artist, if you are able to recreate the music/art in your head with anything you could think of, bongos, drums, pianos, synthesizers even a computer...

A musician can play these instruments with scores and therefore songs he never ever heard before.

That's how I would say.^^

144,000
28-07-2010, 11:45 PM
You can consider yourself an artist, if you are able to recreate the music/art in your head with anything you could think of, bongos, drums, pianos, synthesizers even a computer...

A musician can play these instruments with scores and therefore songs he never ever heard before.

That's how I would say.^^

i agree with everything you say there, especially the bolded.

max000
29-07-2010, 12:23 AM
TATUM ONEAL said back in the day, she MJ and others had tons of fun playing music with MJ on drums. And regret not having it on tape.

JMie
30-07-2010, 08:17 AM
Here's what I found:


From the time I was five years old I have been singing in studios all over NYC for commercials, demos and even music albums. My sister, brother and I have sung on albums for Gloria Estefan, Liza Minelli, Maureen McGovern and even soloed on the Canadian Brass Christmas album. One day, my mother got a call from our contractor booking us for a recording at the Hit Factory. We weren't allowed to know for whom we were singing and we were only allowed one parent per child. Our interest was peaked. We spent the next few days trying to figure out who this mystery recording could be for. We decided to bring three CD covers with us- Frank Sinatra (he was still alive at the time), Madonna and Michael Jackson.

We went to the studio and some guy told us we were going to be singing one word... "Childhood". He sang it for us once or twice then began recording. All we heard in the cans (headphones) were tracks with no lead vocal. We still couldn't figure out what or whom this was for. After singing the one word a few times, I saw a man behind the glass in the recording studio step forward out of the darkness with a black hat, a red shirt and a black curl in front of his face. On the talkback we heard, "Can you sing it a little more like this... Childhood" As soon as I heard the voice I grabbed my sister's hand and spoke without moving my lips "It's MICHAEL JACKSON!!!!"

I cooly sang "Childhood" about a dozen more times and the engineer thanked us and said we were done. We went back to the green room where our parents were waiting and I grabbed the Bad album cover from my mom and brought it to Michael's assistant. I asked her if she could please bring it to Michael and have him sign it. The other kids who sang with us began ripping little pieces of paper for him to sign. They were no where near as prepared as my family!!

The assistant said "Let me see what I can do", and she disappeared for about five minutes. She came back and said, "Can I have all of the kids follow me?" We followed her to a door in the Hit Factory that had a star on it and said "Jackson". We went into the room and there he was, greeting us at the door with a hand shake and a smile and telling us that it was a pleasure to meet us. Can you imagine? A pleasure to meet us?? His room was filled with some pretty strange things: life-size cut-outs of the Power Rangers, a train set, and a giant globe that rotated. He had pictures of children that he had helped attached to the country they were from.

Michael had many questions for us like if any of us went to camp for the summer. He said that he always asked his parents if he could go to summer camp because it looked like so much fun and of course they told him no!! This was right around the time when the media was questioning whether or not he had married Lisa Marie Presley. I noticed a ring on his hand and I said, "so does that ring mean you are married to Lisa Marie?" He nodded his head yes and said "shhhhhh". We chatted for a while, he signed our album cover and we went home having what I thought was the greatest day of my life.


A week or two later my mother got another call from our contractor. This time she said Michael wanted to have us back to the studio to record a Christmas song. It was July but when we got to the studio, it was decorated for the holidays. There was snow all over the ground, a tree, Santa who gave us all presents (we each got a Gameboy... tells you how long ago this was!!) and reindeer. Michael came walking right into the studio this time and didn't hide behind the glass. I guess he felt more comfortable with us this time. He taught us the song himself and stayed with us in the sound booth as we were singing it. After we recorded the song he invited our parents into the studio and had the whole thing catered. We sat around the piano as he played the piano and we all sang Christmas songs. It's just like Christmas Eve at the Elefante's (my in-laws)!!!


So on June 25th, when the whole world was in shock of Michael Jackson's death, these were the memories that all came flooding back for me.

From here http://elefantemusic.blogspot.com/2009/07/personal-story-about-michael-jackson.html

afgtnk
30-07-2010, 03:50 PM
I think the general consensus is that he could play the piano and guitar to a reasonable level.

Unless he was one of the world's best I doubt he'd ever want to show the public though, the guy was way too much of a perfectionist. I wish someone close to him on a professional level would come out and clarify for us though

Pompous Git
30-07-2010, 10:41 PM
Bruce Swedien said MJ played piano on Don't Be Messin' Around and that it was 'beautiful'.

This was in Record Collector after his birthday. However, David Foster has apparently said to MJ, "You're right - you're terrible!", but it sounds more like a jokey matey scene that was misunderstood by one of the engineers.

loveforever
30-07-2010, 11:55 PM
Unbreakable/You Rock My World/Threatened
all music instruments performed by Michael Jackson and Rodney Jerkins

Break Of Dawn
all music instruments performed by Michael Jackson, DR.Freeze, Rodney Jerkins, and Teddy Riley

Pompous Git
31-07-2010, 12:39 AM
Unbreakable/You Rock My World/Threatened
all music instruments performed by Michael Jackson and Rodney Jerkins

Break Of Dawn
all music instruments performed by Michael Jackson, DR.Freeze, Rodney Jerkins, and Teddy Riley

Instruments aren't specified here, but it's known that Rodney Jerkins can play live piano, drums, bass and played every instrument on his own album Versatility. Teddy Riley can play guitar, piano during MJ sessions, bass, several horns(Jam's horn section,for example) and keyboard.

Michael was "not that kind of musician" as Swedien asserted - and he should know. I know MJ would use electric drums on demos or piano to communicate ideas like he did with Glen Ballard for Keep The Faith, but he not not an instrumentalist playing musician. MJ just played some simple stuff or he would just hum/beatbox the chords and their progression. It wasn't any great stuff, but MJ didn't feel theneed to play X amount of instruments as long as he could beat box.

And the human voice is comparable to any instrument ever made.

Album credits like the above aren't very clear or specific and can contian errors.

ddmff
31-07-2010, 01:53 AM
MJ played musical instruments physically and he beatboxed, he could do both. There
is a demo of him, Randy, and Janet playing percussion on I think DSTGE and He also played guitar on state of shock.

Every and all persons associated with the production of all MJ's albums are given full distinctive credit, why should it be any different for him on his own album? It is what it is,
he played the instruments that the albums said he played.

Face it, He was just that talented.

Lucilla
31-07-2010, 02:27 PM
He also played guitar on state of shock.


I've never heard about this.

Pompous Git
31-07-2010, 09:26 PM
MJ played musical instruments physically and he beatboxed, he could do both. There
is a demo of him, Randy, and Janet playing percussion on I think DSTGE and He also played guitar on state of shock.

Michael playing percussion, piano and simple guitar chords is not in doubt. The standard/complexity is -he could play what was needed to communicate ideas.

However, it was David Williams who plays the guitar on State Of Shock as per credits. MJ is credited for lead vocals, backing vocals, handclaps, Linn programming and producer on SOS.


Every and all persons associated with the production of all MJ's albums are given full distinctive credit, why should it be any different for him on his own album? It is what it is,
he played the instruments that the albums said he played.

Face it, He was just that talented.

None of the engineers have seen MJ play in the studio during recording sessions, but he did beatbox. Michael's guitar credits on HIStory is him beatboxing it which can b heard on TDCAU while Slash and Trevor Rabin play guitar. His credit on BAD for percussion is How Now Brown Cow -Swedien joke name for MJ's beatbox.

Checking the credits...MJ always played simple instruments like the clapstick. It was nothing complex -if MJ was a proficient drummer, guitarist, etc, he'd have played those himself instead of Boddicker, Riley, Bottrell or Buxer. His beatbox did the job and he got the credit.

ddmff
02-08-2010, 01:51 AM
well if u look at the credits on the history album booklet mj is credited for
keyboards and synthesizers
guitars
drums and percussion
i used to think he could only play a little but then we all know what a perfectionist mike was so he must of been quite good if he put himself on the album.
he said he didn't rap cos there were people who could do it better than him. the fact that he played on the album must mean that he was doing a pretty good job.

also read somewhere that someone asked him why doesn't he play more and mj said "thats for when i get too old to dance"


I agree with the quote above, that he probably didn't feel he played that well enough according to his own standards and maybe liked portraying the instruments with his mouth better, or had other musicians play instead of him, but if the credits say he played guitar one would would assume that's what was played (One exapmle is Morphine). I don't think anyone would go out of their way to make MJ look good or portray him as doing more that he actually did. If anything, he would have been outed a long time ago as beatboxing everything.

Also it doesn't seem that he always went out of his own way to show every single thing that he was capable of, it probaly would have seemed contrived.




Michael playing percussion, piano and simple guitar chords is not in doubt. The standard/complexity is -he could play what was needed to communicate ideas.

However, it was David Williams who plays the guitar on State Of Shock as per credits. MJ is credited for lead vocals, backing vocals, handclaps, Linn programming and producer on SOS.



None of the engineers have seen MJ play in the studio during recording sessions, but he did beatbox. Michael's guitar credits on HIStory is him beatboxing it which can b heard on TDCAU while Slash and Trevor Rabin play guitar. His credit on BAD for percussion is How Now Brown Cow -Swedien joke name for MJ's beatbox.

Checking the credits...MJ always played simple instruments like the clapstick. It was nothing complex -if MJ was a proficient drummer, guitarist, etc, he'd have played those himself instead of Boddicker, Riley, Bottrell or Buxer. His beatbox did the job and he got the credit.

My bad, you are right about the SOS guitar, however, I am puzzled why you seem so bent on mitigating his instrumental abilities as saying he played simple chords.
How do you know that every engineer said they never saw MJ play anything? They probably were'nt around him every second, or around him during every creative process.
As you can probably discern, I am weary when people downplay MJ because he was abused so much.

Pompous Git
02-08-2010, 10:45 AM
^^^The engineers posted on gearslutz in great detail and MJ would tell me them what he wanted to hear back via the musicians playing.

Hellbent on mitigating MJ's instrumental capabilities? More like putting it into perspective. Don't tell me...Bruce Swedien can't be trusted even though he worked with MJ from OTW through to Invincible yet says he wasn't that kind of musician, but could play guitar. Oh dear. As Quincy said once, playing is not the important thing - ideas and an understanding of music is much more important.

It's about complete realism - not blind faith.

MIST
02-08-2010, 12:03 PM
Question to the bodyguards who are writing on a book;
Q: Did Michael play music instruments at home? I heard he used to play piano for his guests in Neverland.

- Yes MJ played the piano often and sang in the house, it was simply amazing to hear him cause that was the side of him we didnt really know.

souldreamer7
02-08-2010, 07:17 PM
oops wrong thread. :D