Is playing live the ultimate expression of our craft?


Silver Supporting Member
So many home players are perfectly content (and rightfully so) with playing to make themselves happy. For those of us that play in front of other people, is that really where it all comes together? Sharing our passion with others and watching them start tapping their feet, dancing and becoming joyous in turn?

I forced myself to play in front of strangers about a year into learning the guitar. It really made me a better player. What are your thoughts around this. Is it important our craft be shared in this manner?


Silver Supporting Member
Playing live for me is fun, and I enjoy it. But recording is where my real passion lies - it's what I can do taking my time, manipulating sounds and developing my music from basic ideas into a finished piece, that's where I feel I express myself most coherently and it's where I feel my artistic voice is coming across most authentically.

Playing live is just wiggling my arse and making some noise. I make good noise and have a sexy wiggle, obviously, but it's not the soul of what I do. I'd rather people listened to my records than came to a gig, if it comes down to how best to get the message across.


Silver Supporting Member
Yes, for me live playing has always been the main reason.
Recording has been a necessary evil, that allows people to know/recognize songs and to have something to listen to between opportunities to see the band live.

Of course, I’ve been in a cover band for the last decade, so what do I know!
For me, it is. The goal for me from the first time I saw the video for Jump was to get in a band and gig in front of people. I enjoy playing at home along to recordings very much. But when I get to play live with the band I'm in, I just feel an inexplicable joy.


I think recording a song that is beloved and lives on into eternity would be the pinnacle. How great of a feeling must it be for the members of Pink Floyd to know that at every single possible moment, many people are getting enjoyment to listening to something they did in a studio over forty years ago? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure those live performances were also tremendous but those were a brief moment in time compared to forever.


Not necessarily. As much as I personally love playing live, I think perhaps the ultimate expression is recording.

Tho ultimately, if you don't play guitar for a living, the only thing that matters is that you enjoy it anyway you like it (live, in the studio or by yourself).


david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
ime, playing music is nearly always about expression; nearly all of it.

live playing is really super-important to me, both as a player and as a listener.:
super! important!

but i have other musical outlets: recording, writing, film-scoring (+ commercials, games), production & mixing.


Playing music live, especially if you are playing good, and you have a people who are actually listening, is an experience unlike anything else I have ever done.

Recording is probably more creative, as you ARE creating something, usually from scratch.

They are both things unto themselves, I probably like playing live better but I really enjoy recording.


Silver Supporting Member
Playing live and recording are two different artistic canvases. In a live situation things happen, from the energy to the note by note execution, that may never happen again. In a recording scenario what goes on the audio canvas stays forever. So the approach to the two is a bit different, although similar in various ways, unless you're recording a live show. Some prefer to record as a live band and capture the energy, then tweak and overdub as needed. Some prefer to build the recording beginning with the rhythm section. But either way, both are, ultimately, the expression of one's musical craft.


playing live is the most fun for me so that is my main focus. i love the energy. i love the excitement. i love the process of creating something and then seeing people's reactions. i love how it feels when you just nail it. to me its everything.

Astronaut FX

Gold Supporting Member
It depends. We don’t all share the same motivational factors, or even the same definition of our “craft.”

If you define your craft as performing, then yes, I suppose I could easily see playing live as the ultimate expression.

If, on the other hand, you define your craft as composing/song-writing, and view the instrument(s) as tools of that craft, then the creation aspect itself may be the ultimate expression, and may not really require the inclusion of others at all. This describes where I am and have been for some time. I have zero desire to perform live. For me, the ultimate is creating something from nothing.


IDK...I'd argue that crafting something in the studio that you feel is an acceptable representation of whatever it is you're trying to express would be the ultimate form of expression.

On the flip side of that premise, I could see how an artist who does a lot of improv while playing live could consider they're live act as their ultimate expression.


The previous four posts sum it up nicely from different points of view.

I rehearsed last night with a project. We absolutely killed it. Nobody but the 4 of us heard it, and we did not record it.

But it was one of the best hours I have logged the entire year.


Silver Supporting Member
For a while I think I may have thought that playing with people and for people was important and maybe even the end game, I dunno.
But when I look back at for the best moments playing live I cant really remember them. But I can remember the satisfaction of completing a recording or turning around while driving to work to go back home because I just got the perfect lyric or part that will finish a song I was working on.
I remember being lost for weeks in a whirl of creativity and the joy and fulfillment that brings.
Gigging just seems to have bought fleeting moments of barely remembered incidences, playing for myself has created a catalog of recorded memories which spans 40yrs. Each one of those recordings plants me firmly in the time they were recorded and memories come flooding back, even gigs I had forgotten about are remembered.


Ultimate expression is probably the wrong way to put it. There are plenty of musicians who shine in the studio, yet can't reproduce what they do on stage. We are the opposite. We are a live band and we don't come across on record quite the way we do live. There is nothing like a circle pit forming in front of you and feeding off the energy in a synergistic loop. Ultimate expression, maybe not. Ultimate rush, absolutely.

Disclaimer: For the first forty years of my playing career I never saw a pit in front of stages I played. I played hard rock, but not metal (well I guess it was was what was considered metal in the 70s). This is a new thing for me over the last four years or so. More of a rush? Just different.
Last edited:


I would say no, not the craft. That is in recording. The craft playing live, in a bar, is selling beer, and entertaining, not the craft of your instrument. Now, if my experience was playing concert halls and not bars, I might answer differently. I do love the adrenaline rush I get from audience feedback though. Not much can compare to that! Except listening back to a recording you made of a song you wrote.


What about the best of both, a live recorded performance?.

A moment captured is always a wonderful thing, whether it's in a studio or on stage. Sometimes it isn't recorded and it's only for the people present.

Trending Topics