Saturday, August 31, 2002
Just an encouragement: if you happen to run across any examples of what you think is good music criticism on the web, or anywhere else, you can post the link or reference in a comments box here and share what's good about it.

A sociologist looks at the traditional role of the literary critic. what critics once did

What can music critics do to elevate their sinking prestige how criticism is changing

Friday, August 30, 2002
Music is often described as "transportive". What if "local" happens to be where we always land?

"All too often, though, even current approaches to popular music take little or no account of its roles in cultures other than the Anglo-American, and assume that statements about what is increasingly (and in my view dangerously) defined as the global can be applied to the local, in the lack of ‘any overt acknowledgement of the specificity of the dominant culture, which is simply assumed to be the all-encompassing norm. This is the basis of its power."

Popular Music as if Small Societies Mattered

Thursday, August 29, 2002
Saxandsunshine host Alexander Fritz likes Neu!

"Neu! as the name implies did something new. Their music is the missing link between Krautrock and what was later to come. The bridge between the then and now. They integrated an almost tribal but still modern repetitive rhythm into their music which is as fascinating now than it was then. And all songs on the first Neu! album are distinctly different and each one almost spawned a new genre of pop music."

Check out all he said on August 26, on another bright day of saxandsunshine
Transistornet ponders "Whose Commercial is it, anyway" it's only just begun
Blogcritics has been valiantly pounding out their collective perceptions of music.

I like the music of Lost at Last, so I said so. lost at last
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Norman Soloman wonders what happened to music

How can a writer prevent music from being lost in the media mix?
Friday, August 23, 2002
The most beautiful environment, a tropical bay on a remote island and I am visiting the home of a friend. We go swimming in the bay, and the dolphins show up to swim with us, just as we had hoped they would do. But suddenly, there are too many dolphins surrounding us, they're everywhere, lots of them, and it feels a bit weird and confusing.

This is what I am reminded of when I happen to think of the sudden wash of compilations coming in on the marketplace surge. One or two might be fun and okay. I am also reminded that my attention and interest is not affected positively by huge numbers of record reviews in the same publication, some monthly magazines geared towards "music lovers" regularly publish 150-250 one paragraph reviews each issue. But this form of overabundance is how the music industry seems determined to market their product and can always manage to find writers write about it.

I dislike the current spate of compilations pretty much for the same reasons every one else does. There are simply too many of them and they deprive the writer (people like me) of anything significant to talk about. Unless, of course, I want to discuss the individual merits of different versions of the same songs, or the packaging, and so provide some minimal sort of social usefulness in the form of providing consumer service, especially should my comments be deemed benign or helpful to the company stuttering out the compilations, which is, of course, exactly how record companies intend people like me to act. What can I possibly say?

Most compilations because of changing technologies have been dickered about with, and then because there's the ability to do that, the temptation is strong to go on to alter, change, and freshen things up in other mysterious studio ways, and the thing can end up a charade, albeit a "hits charade" (a phrase invented by a much cleverer person than I). But this also acts as another way of betraying history.

Actually, I find these quickly reiterated compilations soon become nearly indistinguishable one from the other, and every bit as irritating as a browser glitch that keeps the same old spams popping into my mailbox over and over again. I can hit delete, delete, delete, but I can't really ignore them … these unasked for things keep taking up space, not just asking for but demanding my attention if only I am to rid myself of them.

Though I recognize that such releases are beneficial in keeping an artist's name in front of the public, just as the income that dribbles in is always welcome, such releases usually keep the artist and audience busy revisiting his creative history. Though if a musician has been around for a while, there's always the history thing asking to be tapped into, which could promise a bit more to consider, even write about, assuming there is any readership still willing to digest more than 150-250 words on any topic. There might be too many fish in the sea. I shout to my friend over the whitecaps, "How many compilations or best ofs do you own?"

A fascinating interview with a person who genuinely has something to say about the marketing of music. Follow the links if you have time. merchants of cool
Saturday, August 17, 2002
In the wave of recent rave closures, I recalled a previous example:


For fun, in the privacy of your own home, you can try writing your own socially centered rave tune:

You wear the face of western hog
Your lyrics smell like mildew dog
Shock jock radio permeates critical approach and language:

you can learn from bad examples

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
When people write about music, they many times realize the music reminds them of a specific place and time. Remarkable that connection exists even when hearing new music:

paul and eesk share the floating world
Sunday, August 11, 2002
A person recently told me he enjoys reading old concert reviews about artists he digs. Immediately thereafter, another person reminded me that Bob Dylan wasn't the only performer at Newport '65. Here's another reason why old reviews might be valuable at some point in the future:

If only for the history
Friday, August 09, 2002
Adam Baer has a genuine knack for an economy of expression that reveals the expansiveness of the music he's describing. You might want to check him out.
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
Josh has developed a list of 10 exercises for people who want to write about music.
Monday, August 05, 2002
Fifty or so years from now, social and cultural historians will be trying to understand what the music of today meant to us.

This is an interpretation of how jazz helped the French through World War I.

Just another very good reason to write about music.
A good example of writing about where music, art, and entertainment might be headed in the 21st century

"... the presence of superstars continues to tilt the arts market toward a select few. Technological advances have helped magnify small differences in talent and diffuse that information, while marketers have increasingly focused on certain artists as "the best." These developments tend to coalesce demand around a very few stars and drive their wages above everyone else's in the field. Like professional athletes, few performing artists make it to the top, but many are inspired by stories of those who do. New technologies such as the Internet could give artists more control over their futures by allowing them to market themselves directly to audiences. But it seems more likely that the importance of critics and marketers will increase, not decrease, in an Internet-driven entertainment world."

(The entire book "Performing Arts in a New Era" is available here for free download)
Sunday, August 04, 2002
An example of an effectively written internet news release, which should result in much inquiry:

An important new film: "The Ultimate Song"

"If musicians could help put an end to poverty, that would be the ultimate song."
--Fredo Ballesteros, Boxing Gandhis

Rock A Mole Productions has just finished a documentary film, The Ultimate Song, that highlights the great importance of music in the battle to end poverty. The Ultimate Song includes interviews and/or performance footage of Ice T, Sara Hickman, Jackson Browne, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Bruce Springsteen, Brother Bank, Marah, Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule, Krown Ju-Elz, Steve Earle, Kindred, Wayne Kramer, and Brian Blade.

This is combined with interviews and action footage of the growing poor people's movement in the United States. The leaders from the ranks of the poor detail the importance of music in their work, how it helps break down the isolation of individuals and organizations and how it keeps spirits up during trying times.

The Ultimate Song explores a new relationship between musicians and poor people's organizations, where the poverty of musicians and their struggle to create is placed on the same footing as the general problems of high rent and low health care.

The Ultimate Song, filled with music from beginning to end, shows how the use of culture can help bring about the end of poverty for musician and fan alike. It tackles such questions as: "Are Poor People Lazy?," "What Color is Poverty?," "Musicians Are (Poor) People Too," "The Power of Music," and "What Can Musicians Do?".

"With our leaflets or our speeches, we can only speak to hundreds or thousands of people. Music speaks to millions."
--Willie Baptist, Director of Education, Kensington Welfare Rights Union

A VHS copy of the Ultimate Song will be provided FREE to any musician who wants one. If that's you, just email us at rockrap@aol.com with your name and postal address. For everyone else, we request a $10 donation. Please send to:
RRC, Box 341305, Los Angeles CA 90034.

Please forward this email widely....

Saturday, August 03, 2002
What if the creator/composer asks us to think about "something" but we honestly don't know what it is? cannibal culture.

"...there is nothing original under the sun; that cultural products and their creators need not be burdened by the task of being “original”; that inspiration or referencing imbues even the most serious a cultural product with a welcome element of play; or that appreciating a cultural product can be a first step in being led to other, related products.

Once young people begin to see that art is not just a game of connect-the-dots, but is one in which motifs, characters, images and symbols recur and are revived, the conversation can turn from entertainment culture to political culture."
Friday, August 02, 2002
Gregory Erickson maintains that when we listen to music, we often think about something. Writing about music is a way of communicating those "somethings".

"Anyone writing about music makes certain assumptions about how, if, and what music "means." In hopes of casting some sort of fresh angle on an age-old question let us ask: if music can mean, where does this meaning occur? One can concentrate on the meaning on the page, in the sound waves, in the response of the listener, or in the mind of the composer. For the purpose of this paper, I am trying to locate meaning in a mental space where there is an intersection of words and music, or perhaps in some sort of space between words and music."
Compiling the best online articles about music so there will be more of both in the future. In periods of drought, the reader will be innundated by my own blogs on the matters.

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