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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Musical Personality Disorder

In my amateur music career, I have encountered some repeated instances of an annoying personality disorder that I have defined as NAMBES, Novelty Amateur Musician Blowhard Expressive Disorder. The severity of this order varies among individuals, with the more mild cases being only annoying, and the severe cases approaching comprehensive dysfunction.

The most remarkable observable symptom of NAMBES is the compulsion to share one’s belief that one possesses unique and excellent knowledge of music and musicianship through talking about music, while demonstrating mediocre musical abilities at best.

NAMBES is most commonly found in practitioners the more obscure musical genres and instruments (novel musical applications). The afflicted individual needs to specialize in a field of music that is rarely performed or taught in schools, such as renaissance music. The self delusion of excellence necessary to fuel this disorder is difficult to maintain if one plays a more common instrument, such as piano, guitar or any of the normal band and orchestra instruments. In the case of a more common instrument, the presence several of truly superior musicians in the community (possibly in the house next door) makes maintaining the delusion of one’s superior skills very difficult. Therefore, you can observe this syndrome readily in early music organizations.

The most remarkable observable symptoms are seen in communications. The typical case will not be able to resist vocally enumerating the irrational basis of his excellent musicianship, such as fabricated personal relationship with noted musicians (sorry, no pun intended). The individual will normally exhibit musical skills at a level near or below the average skill levels reference group in which he participates, or claims to have participated in. The individual will be unable to critically evaluate his playing, while freely providing unsolicited advice and criticism of other’s playing. The individual will normally exhibit a level of listening skills insufficient for successful social interaction. The individual is normally shunned by other members of community music groups.

In the most severe cases, the individual will describe to others a personal history that can not be verified, and appears to be fabricated at best. As other members of musical groups react negatively to the individual, he may fabricate even more fantastic fabrications, which reveal inconsistencies that are obvious to the listener.

If you want to meet several of these individuals, I suggest you become president of a local early music society.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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