23 February 2007

Use, Don't Abuse

I recall that rather amusing moment in the early days of TubeNet when the first person dared to verbalize what we'd all been observing for quite some time: that the board was all but idle on evenings and weekends. This person dared to view this as evidence that most TubeNet contributors were simply using it as a way to slack off at work. Mere conjecture? Maybe not...

Allow me to tell a story from several weeks ago. For some reason, I was up well before noon on a weekday and tried to post a blog entry around 11am. No luck. The server was obviously overwhelmed by demand and hadn't the capacity to even load the page where you enter the text. I've had this blog for six months and that had never happened before...because I almost always post in the late afternoon before I leave to teach lessons.

Of course, being a musician, I myself am rarely at work (or even awake) before noon, so who am I to conclude that the high e-traffic during the late morning hours is entirely the fault of the chronically procrastinating cubicle monkeys that are today's excuse for an American middle class? It does make me wonder, though, because it has to be attributable to some larger trend. It also reminds me that by devoting any amount of non-leisure time to our blogging enterprises, us musico-bloggers are dancing on a fine line between journalism/criticism and slackerism.

When around friends, I'm downright embarrassed to refer to either reading or writing a blog, and given what most blogs actually are, maybe I should be. The web has a lot to offer to both the work-a-holics and the straglers, but it is a slippery slope to say the least. I promise never to blog while teaching or performing if the rest of you would please just GET BACK TO WORK!


Getting Fickler All The Time

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Slowly but surely, I'm learning not to buy CD's that get reviewed favorably (or at all) by major publications, as well as to stay as far away as possible from the most widely publicized events. If people are talking or writing about it, I'm probably not going to like it.

It is notably rare for me to be truly invigorated by a performance that costs more than $5 to attend. If it costs more than that, it's because whoever organized it knows that they can get more than that...which in Minneapolis means that it is statistically impossible that everyone who shows up will be there to listen rather than to see and be seen. So count me out from now on.

Call me a grandstander, curmudgeon, or whatever else you want, but I'm starting to get serious about this. As a teacher/mentor of mine once said to me: "Funny. If its got the word 'jazz' in front of it, I'm usually not interested." So, uh, anyone up for a trip to a "jazz club"? How about reading a "classical music" blog? I didn't think so. The more exciting stuff is taking place elsewhere, under names that have not been around long enough to be co-opted for marketing purposes, and yes, occasionally under no name at all. I don't necessarily need or want to be "beyond category" myself. I don't take offense when someone calls me a "bebop tuba player" or a "classical" musician. As a listener, however, I'm finding myself in a "once bitten twice shy" type of situation (actually, I've been bitten many more times than that; it just took me an embarrasingly long time to figure these things out)

That a concert may be accompanied by lots of publicity and high ticket prices is more indicative of the visibility of the performer(s) than it is of their relevance to a "classical" or "jazz" audience.

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

16 February 2007

Enough Already

Reading the comments on this by a certain "Mark" has set me off. Thank you Mark for taking it upon yourself to set the jazz world straight by pointing out that "many jazz musicians have abandoned their audience." I suppose this means that we deserve to be floundering around in a world where we pay to play in clubs? (that would be the implication of the comment given the context in which it was made)

Pardon the outburst, but I've had it with this garbage. It is everywhere, and it is totally ass backwards thinking. I suppose you could also say that Stravinsky abandoned his audience in 1912, as did Beethoven in the early 1800's and Charlie Parker himself in the late 1940's. There would be no Rite of Spring, no Grosse Fuge, and no jazz at all for that matter if people like Mark had their way in those earlier eras. Mass appeal cannot be allowed to dictate the course of art in ethical terms. I doubt that Mark would enjoy living in such a world, but that is exactly what he seems to be advocating.

Each individual has the best idea of what they think music should be. Do it yourself by playing, and/or support others who do it by purchasing their recordings and going to their shows, but please don't make these kinds of inflammatory blanket generalizations about everything new. You could regret it as soon as next month.

04 February 2007

Dial "P" for Piggy-Back

I hate to get involved in these things, but here goes nothin'...

A challenge was issued here earlier this week. You can peruse the responses in the comments to that post.

Ostensibly, the point of this game is to uncover unexpected results. But is anyone surprised to see that all of these "classical music" bloggers have so much non-classical music loaded on their iPods? I'm not, so speaking of Musicology, I hereby dial "M" and issue a follow-up challenge for everyone who responded (or even those that didn't). Consider the following scenario:

You are a Musicology professor in a respectable public university music department. You are teaching the final course in the undergraduate music history sequence, which deals with music from the late 19th century through the present day while placing particular emphasis on the American 20th Century. Topics for the final paper are to be chosen by each student individually, but must be approved by you, the professor. A student approaches you to ask if he/she may write their final paper on Thelonious Monk.

Do you approve or reject this request? Why or why not?

Post your responses here or on your own blogs. If at least five people respond, I'll post my own answer here (as well as a list, which will have to be drawn from my iTunes playlist or CD shelf since I don't have an iPod).