27 October 2008

Composers, Tubists, and the Online Forum

As a follow-up to the last post, it's worth mentioning that there are two interesting threads going on TubeNet right now about composers and composition:

Composers- Unintended Consequences

Band Revisions- Marches

Though the instrument itself has been subject to lots of negative stereotyping, tuba players themselves have actually gotten more than their fair share of respect over the years for being relatively easy going and jovial (this in contrast to their brass brethren, the alcoholic trombonist and jock trumpet player). Drew McManus once even went as far as to suggest that us tuba players are going to save classical music ourselves (of course, in order to believe this, you have to subscribe to the school of thought that says classical music needs saving, which I generally don't...but we're flattered anyway).

It's tempting to see TubeNet as an extension of this situation, an unusually informative and civil instantiation of the much-maligned Online Forum. There was, in fact, a thread a while back about the format, in the course of which it was argued that there was a vicious cycle in place whereby professionals have no use for online fora that deal with their expertise, and therefore don't visit them, which means that the people who do must be hacks who don't know anything, whereby professionals have no use for fora that deal with their expertise...and so on and so forth.

In a bout of unexpected idealism, I chimed in to disagree, arguing that the very forum in which this discussion was taking place disproved the assertion that this dynamic was inevitable. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, that very thread (among other things) led to the advent of a labeling system that explicitly identified certain contributors as professionals (though I could probably qualify by the skin of my teeth, the term has so many negative connotations for me that I can't bring myself to do it, and hence, my meager contributions bear no such distinction).

It was surprising to me, then, when later that day I received an e-mail to my personal account from a prominent professional (who shall remain unnamed) taking issue with my defense of the format. The message began by stating that he had not actually been following the discussion, but that a friend had alerted him to what had been written; even so, the irony in receiving a rather immediate and pointed rebuke to an online forum posting from someone arguing that people like him don't read such things because they find them useless elicited a healthy "lol" from yours truly that made it easier to stomach the criticisms that followed.

In any case, though in my younger days I certainly have been witness to and even culprit in a few forum meltdowns, TubeNet seems to have a way of staying above this sort of thing, especially now that it is heavily moderated. But more importantly, even as I age, I still learn things (things that turn out to be true, in fact) from reading it. Let's hope it stays that way.

No comments: