The Day Music Criticism Died?


When reading this opera review from the LA Times, I did pause to wonder if music criticism will or can sink lower.There are still good critics around, but they need to make a lot of noise to be  heard...


9 comments:

  1. Let it not be said that some critics will look for the cheapest possible way of including references to popular culture to make themselves look hip to what's happening, oh no... :-)

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  2. I'm not sure why anyone is surprised at this - hardly anyone actually goes to the Opera; and most of them go on corporate entertainment, so its hardly worth reviewing the music - nobody really cares. So they review the event instead. I often pay £12 to stand at the back at Covent Garden, and the people in the £180 seats are either asleep or chatting about their interval plans.
    The review is under the heading of art and culture - it may not cover the art - but its a good description of the culture!

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  3. Yes it's not a great review is it, but the writer was obviously struggling to find something interesting to say about the performance. "Alas, this twist of fate was the only excitement the performance had to offer."
    Perhaps if the opera itself had been better the critic wouldn't have had to resort to inappropriate references to give the article some life.

    Hey I thought this was a jazz blog anyway...

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  4. Hey I thought this was a jazz blog anyway...

    You make good points Dan, Peter and Ken. Thank you.I guess where I'm coming from, and why I posted this piece - which has been widely looked at today - is as follows:

    1) Thinking about etiquette.

    I have to think quite a bit - both when writing and editing - about the ethics and etiquette of reviewing, and also to consider what value it brings to the sit and to the sum of knowledge.


    2) The voice of good critic is getting drowned

    I'm coming to the conclusion that if "everyone's a critic" then even the most articulate, knowledgeable, context-giving voices can get drowned in the maelstrom of huge numbers of critics

    3) Better listen to other voices?


    As a matter of personal choice, therefore, most of the time I'm more interested in what the musicians have to say, and am keen to let their voice be heard here. The internet shortens chains of communication. Go to the source.

    4) Is the LA Times piece SEO-optimized anyway?

    I've heard too many tales recently that writers from reputable/ old media outlets have been obliged to consider SEO optimization before the exercise of their judgment. OK, I can't say categorically if the LA Times piece has fallen victim to this, but it certainy looks like it, and this is a trend where there can be no winners. If articles are SEO-optimized, content is not king, it is already pulp before it's written.

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  5. Regardless of the musical genre, no-one ever built a monument to a critic.

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  6. In the 30+ years that I have been around it is finally dawning on me that the only serious commentary on the music that has any long-lasting value comes from musicians themselves - Pat Metheny

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  7. ... and on that note, here's Pat Metheney in music critic mode, gunning for Kenny G. Always worth another read.
    http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm

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  8. Technically speaking, it's not a review. It's a post on a general culture blog of a newspaper about a particular issue.

    No-one's ever raised a monument to a music critic, but the South Bank have a whole festival series based around Alex Ross's book, and plenty of other critics have changed and enhanced the way music is heard and understood for the better (Hoffmann, Hanslick, GBS, Andrew Porter). Whether that will continue to be the case in the age of "search engine optimisation" is of course doubtful.

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  9. Is an Opera audience mostly interested in music or is it a combination of snob value, (Frasier Crane's brother Niles, "I must be seen seeing this opera!"), spectacle, (fancy costumes and morbidly obese singers), drama, (implausible BS, mostly) and then, last of all, the Bel Canto. Most audiences 'listen with their eyes' as Jim Mullen once told me. It's a shame critics may also be visually orientated.
    Sad also, that Celebs must be dragged into any article to get clicks or sell papers.

    Re Pat Metheny remark: best criticism comes from musicians.

    Top arranger, composr and guitarist Richard Niles' book on Pat Metheny, 'The Inner workings of his creativity revealed', has many invaluable technical insights, plus a notated guitar lesson from the master, interviews with his co workers, photos and Niles'laidback wit and erudition throughout.

    How My Heart sings by concert pianist Peter Pettinger is certainly the best 'criticism' because of the musical content, some of it notated in addition to being a fine biography. (Discography, too)

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