Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Nature of Blogging

I've been musing over how this blog gets done lately. There are several different models. One of the most popular and enduring blogs is Instapundit, run by Glenn Reynolds who was one of the earliest bloggers in the wake of 9/11. He used to do it all himself, with dozens of posts every day usually consisting of just a couple of sentences and a link to something interesting. That is still the formula, but now he is assisted by several other bloggers. The blog is, of course, extremely topical.

A contrasting format also dating back to the early days was that of Steven den Beste whose blog USS Clueless was avidly read until he closed it down due to health issues. His blog consisted of long, sometimes very long, essays delving deep into contemporary issues. Another influential blog is that of Ann Althouse who posts a few times a day, sometimes with lengthy analysis of legal or media issues, more often with brief items. There are a zillion bloggers who post more or less infrequently.

The only music blogs I look at are that of Alex Ross and Jessica Duchen. I read Slipped Disc from time to time as it is, like the Drudge Report, a quick and easy summary of the latest news, but neither of them is a blog.

I suppose that my approach is something in between Ann Althouse and Steven den Beste: I tend to just write one post a day (fewer lately!), but it often is of some length. Here is the problem: the purely topical is not too interesting to me as what I consider important is what lies underneath the surface. I like to dig into things and get behind the shallow news of the day. But when you do, it seems as if the same few general themes keep emerging: the declining fortunes of classical music in public culture and the marketplace, the problem of aesthetics or the lack thereof, trends in composition and the classical canon. I think that if you look back, you will see that perhaps the majority of posts end up touching on one or more of these themes.

So the problem is that in some areas, I don't have a lot to add to what I have already said. In the early days it was very easy indeed to find a topic as there seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of them. Some days I would write several posts. But as the years went by, I started to run out of easy ideas. This presented the opportunity to take on more extended projects such as my surveys of the Haydn symphonies, the Beethoven piano sonatas and symphonies, the string quartets of Shostakovich, the symphonies of Sibelius and a pretty lengthy series of posts on the concerto form.

This is probably a good direction to take in the future, but the problem lately has been that I have not had quite enough time to do that sort of post. A single post on a piece of music, even if it does not do any close analysis, takes hours and most days I do not have quite enough hours to spare! So I end up doing something less demanding in terms of time.

Assuming I can find the time, I think I will do a series of posts on the Prokofiev piano sonatas, which I think are both sufficiently interesting and sufficiently unusual to be worth the trouble.

But the real point of this post is to appeal to my readers: do you have any ideas of posts that you would like to see? Or larger projects? Composers you would like to hear about? Drop me a comment!

In the meantime, let's listen to the first of Prokofiev's piano sonatas, completed in 1909. The performer is Boris Berman:


2 comments:

Tomasz Duchnowski said...

I'd be interested in reading about Medtner. He is one of my favorites and is rarely mentioned anywhere. He wrote a book in defense of traditional approach to music which may be interesting to you.
Alan Hovhaness would also be interesting although he tends to be boring after awhile. Maybe it will inspire you to write about some other composer heavily influenced by non-western music.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Tomasz, I appreciate the suggestions!