Some people are musical, some people are passionate, and a select breed are both. But the two traits do not always go together. It is romantic to think of music always created as a work of passion, which many times it is, but sometimes fantastic music is created by not especially passionate people, just performing their craft and executing their natural abilities. And sometimes, really passionate people just don’t get it when it comes to music.
I hope the latter isn’t a description of me, though I would say I spent at least my early musician years having a lot more passion than talent. I wasn’t nearly as musical on the outside as in my head and had to work really hard for a while before getting it musically. Along the way I’ve known a number of people who would likely self-identify as “pretty regular dudes,” not especially driven by desire or hopes and dreams, who have a very natural understanding of music and control of their instrument, plenty capable of stimulating deep emotion in others.
Sometimes, the world is blessed with individuals who are not lacking in either area. This is when the magic happens most often, but part of the point here is that great music is still made without satisfying all these conditions. Sometimes the stoic crafter churns out beauty naturally, and sometimes the less talented individual by dedication and sheer force of will creates his own masterpiece.
The idea of a separation between passion and skill applies to just about any practice. Sports seems an easy comparison, It’s not hard to imagine some athletes being fairly simple in terms of emotional spectrum but having amazing skills. Or being an accountant. Or an astrophysicist. Some people are very passionate about their work, their relationships, their hobbies, their cars, or any other nuance of life garnering our affection and time. While these emotions are not easily quantifiable, they’re clear to most discerning observers.
Now, I’ve simplified everything here and haven’t even touched on the difference in music performance and original composition. I’m also curious to ask the question about other arts. I’d think throughout all arts, sciences, sports, anything and everything, some of the greatest products come from passionate and naturally gifted minds, but plenty of quality work to fill the gaps of the winners column is done by skilled, perhaps somewhat dull individuals.