Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Musicians and the Media

Pop musicians have become masters at exploiting the mass media in order to promote themselves. A lot of this comes down to exploiting their own sexuality, which, since their sexuality plays a similar role in their music, makes a kind of sense. Lady Gaga's or Rihanna's public persona in the media and the one portrayed in the music videos are essentially the same thing.

But when it comes to classical musicians, there is an uncomfortable gulf between the musician and the persona crafted for or by the mass media. As an example, have a look at this interview with the British violinist Nicola Benedetti in the Scottish Sun. Nicola does everything she can to preserve both her own dignity and that of classical music in the face of an unending stream of insinuating questions about sex, drugs and pop music. In between quotes from Nicola, the writer inserts gratuitous comments about her "washboard tummy" and long legs. But her message about hard work, discipline and dedication comes through despite all this. Her message is exactly 180 degrees away from the message of popular culture, but she still gets it across.

It is popular culture that is in a state of free fall these days and a look at the typical behaviour of young Britons--the binge culture--confirms it. Nicola is trying her best, even in an interview trying to drag her into the midst of this popular culture, to communicate the message that all things worthwhile take hard work and discipline--and to promote her own career. More power to her.

A while ago I put up a post looking sardonically at how some violinists promote themselves by using semi-nudity. This was meant to be a kind of critique, but from the statistics, that post keeps getting a lot of hits. I'm sure this is due to the title "Naked Violinists". So, since that sort of thing is NOT what this blog is about, quite the opposite, and so as not to disappoint those people who google "naked violinists", I am going to delete that post!

Now let's hear Nicola Benedetti play something. Here is some Vivaldi:

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