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
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
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
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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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....
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."
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."
Music can't exist in a vacuum, even subjectively, because music is alive as part of a society or culture.
Two commentaries about music and culture, which address whether perception is more important than reality:
what if you just don't like the music
"Music matters to us, and reaches us in places far beyond mere aesthetic experience."
One way of enhancing an understanding of music is to ask the musician directly about compositional intentions.
Two current examples of interview techniques:
the good humor man
writers think words are important
Just a reminder you might think about reading through the archives when you have some time. There's some remarkable writing about writing about music that's already archived.
Two types of old school newspaper writers, who hopefully are scheduled for reincarnation soon and straight back into their previous jobs. One's talking about writing, the other's talking about writing about music:
I wrote things and they appeared in print. Sometimes a paragraph could make a whole week happy, if it was a good paragraph.
how to become a music critic
Today, 28 Jul 12:57:15 AM
provided a short list of four important encouraging remarks on how to approach writing that any writer can try out to capture that moment of truth. Among them: "Don't be afraid to write about one idea, or one impression, or one experience. The one that's yours, or the one you have something to say about."
He also considers the downsides of writing about music in certain contexts, of which there are probably more than he had time to enumerate or even any single person is entirely aware of.
Neumu's Michael Goldberg shared how he cures himself of the music hoarding syndrome
Another true-life confession about how, for one writer, what surrounded the act of writing about music got in his way of enjoying the music and why he quit
Writing about music can be another level of interacting with music and a way of circulating music.
A particularly well-written, well-informed piece though more slanted towards examining the extreme nature of musical celebrity
"He grabbed the branch of history -- along with the legacy of the upper crust -- and bent it down, down low, so the unwashed masses could easily reach its low-hanging fruit." How ever did the writer manage to do just this for his reader, because he did.
Mark July 26 as the beginning of a revolution of sorts. First thing this morning, two sightings never before seen in the world of music blogs, the equivalent of people in metaphoric rubber boats oaring their way towards the cultural shoreline.
Uno. July 26. Tres Producers
dream of opening up the world of music journalism to those who publish blogs. Why ever would they want to do this? Go find out. (posted under "Free Music" and "More Free Music" if you want free music CD's to write about on your very own blog)
Dos. freezing to death in the nuclear bunker
creatively critiques and expands upon a review of the latest Sonic Youth outing, published online in PopMatters
Disclaimer: Entirely unsynchronized events as far as I know, even though the above two writers occasionally contribute to PopMatters.
To read more good writing about music, stop in at these blogspots, too:
(also check out his musings on folk art, 5-16 post on bill traylor)
(check out Sophie B. Hawkins)
This land is your
This blog is about writing about music in the hope that such a place can be helpful to people who want to write about music.
Hopefully, this blog can become a tool of sorts for burgeoning writers.
"Editorial" comments are purposefully minimal because this editor wants you to read the linked article and think about it
. Then you go off and write your own article.
Someday, if there are enough good articles on here, perhaps with a brief explication as to why this piece works or is a good writing sample, then people will understand how that writing works, will strive towards that and so raise the bar on their own writing about music. That way, the whole world benefits (especially if you can find a place to publish).
I was just trying to dream up a place that had good samples of writing about music (what this says, why that works, isn't this a swell descriptive passage, writing about music might have a purpose even beyond selling a record, etc.) where aspiring and ready for primetime writers can stop in for inspirational fill-ups.
I've set this up because reading good writing about music (or anything else) is always very inspiring to me. Therefore, I'll probably benefit the most even if I can't rise to the occasion creatively myself.
Two examples of writing about historic pop music recording sessions:
charlotte robinson on the kinks
While both writers worked to capture the atmosphere of the time, which article did you really prefer reading and why? If you plan to write about music, you might here write out a few notes to yourself why this or that article worked for you as a reader.
What if the readers want to hear about the music (culture), what rules should the writer follow?
writing from the heart might be one
What if the reader doesn't want to hear about music (culture) they aren't familiar with?
obstacles to music criticism
Everyone is weighing in on music criticism, which can be a very good thing.
without memory, there is no history
For all the music critics writing about the role of music critics, you'd think there is actually a lot more music criticism published in the world than there currently really is.
the role of the critic
respect the topic
And finally, the coming war between the generations as fought by proxy:
we don't need no troublesome thinking
My favorite summing up today:
"We now have cultural machines so powerful that one singer can reach
everybody in the world, and make all the other singers feel inferior
because they're not like him. Once that gets started, he gets backed by so much
cash and so much power that he becomes a monstrous invader from outer space,
crushing the life out of all the other human possibilities. My life has
been devoted to opposing that tendency." (Alan Lomax, in an interview with
The New York Times)
My current favorite article on how the record business is really just the book business in a different format:
check out the CD theory
And my favorite letter to the editor:
why you should think about just saying no
De Curtis came up with an impressive statement that received wide coverage at the time, but should be remembered now as well:
pick a smart audience
He also maintains "The most skillful writing about popular music is able to do this, to balance a full array of concerns, the intentions of the artists, the aesthetic worth of their efforts, and their meaning in the surrounding culture with grace, intelligence and insight." By all means, give it a try.