The musician

There is only good or bad music,
which can be played in the right or the wrong way

"Anyone who wishes to master complexity has to be complex himself. Anyone who wishes to avoid uncertainty has to be able to accept its existence." Those are maxims stated by Franz Reither, one of Germany's leading researchers into complexity, and they represent essential prerequisites for dealing with complexity successfully. Music is a classic example of this. The abilities needed to conduct a large orchestra are considerably more varied than are needed to pick out a nursery rhyme with one finger on the piano. And what conductor would know beforehand how his orchestra and his audience are going to respond during and after the concert?

Fredmund Malik was trained in classical guitar from the age of eight and until he was twenty-four he played the guitar and trombone in various groups. He was also capable of enticing a few notes out of the saxophone and clarinet. Musically, he ranged through all the genres: classical, folk-music, jazz, rock and pop. As well as this, he gained some experience as a bandleader and lead singer. He earned his pocket money from music and a year spent as a professional musician also gave him the financial backing for his studies at university.

An orchestra is a system and the musicians making it up are the parts of the system, which are entirely different from it. An oboe is not a piano and a saxophone is not a guitar. A symphony has nothing in common with its score and a note has nothing in common with its pitch. All these differences can come together to produce a harmonious and effective whole, but equally an unharmonious one. That both these things are possible is what fascinates Malik.

What does it take to get an orchestra all to play as one man and to get musicians to say things like: "We've never played Mahler's Seventh as well as we did tonight"? That would be the "musical" transposition of Fredmund Malik's question: "What is right and good management?"

Suppose we change "organization" to "orchestra". Once that has been done it is possible to see what is going on in Fredmund Malik's mind. For him, as for all true musicians, there is only good and bad music. He views management in the same way: there is right management that can be done wrongly; there is wrong management that can be done well, or even wrongly, and there is right management that is done well. Even good music can be played wrongly and bad music in the right way, in the same way as bad music can be played wrongly and good can be played in the right way.

From the time he began his studies, Fredmund Malik never touched his musical instruments again. Before one can only be a musician for fun, one has to give up the idea of being a musician for real.


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