Monday, June 27, 2011

Music Blogging

I started this blog because I thought there was a niche. There are quite a few music blogs out there,  but they seem a little unsatisfying. I discovered blogs about ten years ago in the wake of 9/11 when a lot of people suddenly discovered they had a lot to say. Blogging as such began in 1998 and after a slow start, really took off in 2001. My model blogger is Instapundit who with hundreds of thousands of readers a day is equivalent to a regional newspaper. He rarely writes more than a few words or sentences in a single post, mainly pointing you to items of interest with a link. Other bloggers like Ann Althouse delve more deeply into particular issues. Althouse has a ferociously active group of commentors while Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, does not permit comments. I'm still feeling my way, but so far I seem to be writing medium-length essays with the occasional short post with a link. The wonderful thing about the internet for a blog about music is the ability to embed as many musical examples from YouTube as you need.

But why start a new blog on music? Well, the best Aristotelian answer is "because you can." I know quite a bit and have opinions on lots of things and I think I can support those opinions in a reasonable manner. Oddly enough I don't read music blogs very often. Sometimes Jessica Duchen or Alex Ross, but even those I don't read regularly. They don't seem to have really captured the spirit of blogging as I see it. For one thing, they don't dig into issues very much, they don't put up a lot of posts and they are heavy on activities and light on thinking about those activities. The blogging world I am used to is very opinion-heavy. It is used to arguing over issues, digging them up, scrapping a bit. I really think the classical music world could use more of that. In the last post I expressed my annoyance with the way classical music is handled in the mainstream media: it is
  • Ignored (year end summaries of music these days tend to skip classical music entirely
  • Apologized for
  • Strong opinions are forbidden lest someone be offended
These facts of life is a big reason why the blogosphere got going in the first place. The mainstream media was avoiding and papering over so the bloggers found a place they could talk about it. Now the blogosphere is where many people go to find out what is actually going on as opposed to what the intellectual elite want you to think. I'm not interested in politics in this blog, but I sure am interested in music and the way it is regarded. I am most definitely going to express opinions, but I am going to argue for them in the best way I know how. Here are a couple that I will get to: Bartok is rather over-rated and there are many other composers who deserve to be better-known. Despite the huge popularity of Mozart--usually a sign of lack of quality--he is an extraordinary composer and I will talk about how I drifted away from liking his music and then came back. I'll also put up something about some young composers and the mystery of how they got to be so well-known--because it doesn't seem to be the music!

I titled this "Music Blogging" not "Classical Music Blogging". Do you realize that "classical music" is what I believe is called a "back-formation"? For example, before the electric guitar was invented all guitars were non-electric. Once we had electric guitars non-electric ones had to be distinguished in some way so they became, retrospectively, "acoustic" guitars. Similarly, before popular music became so enormous economically, music was just music. But now we need a name for that music that is not popular. "Unpopular" seems to be a poor choice so we collectively went with "classical" though competing terms have been "serious" music or "art" music. This difficulty with terms reflects a deep intellectual problem I suspect. One I would like to delve into in future posts.

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