Friday, June 8, 2012

Musicworks Contest

Musicworks is a Canadian new music magazine. I think I actually wrote an article for them fifteen years ago. Someone wrote an essay explaining why there were no more 'masterpieces' in music which irked me so much I wrote a rebuttal. Anyway, Andrea, from the magazine, asked if I could help them promote a contest. Here is the information:

Musicworks magazine's 2nd Annual Sonic Geography Writing Contest
Cash prizes, and winners are published in Musicworks magazine
Details: Write 500 words about the sound of a specific location. How does it influence the space? Check out for some examples of Sonic Geographies. 
To enter:
Deadline: June 25, 2012
Each $20 entry fee includes the price of a 1 year subscription to Musicworks (3 magazines and 3 CDs)

I went to the magazine and had a look at the contest. Here is a bit more detail:
The Sonic Geography Writing ContestWrite prose to describe how sound influences place.
How does sound define the chosen location? Listen to your local coffee shop, grocery store, or commute to work. Choose anywhere—urban or rural, indoors or outside, busy and loud or mysteriously quiet—and literally describe what you hear. Write about language, geography, landscape, urbanization, culture, architecture or people. Maximum: 500 words.
 Hmmm, well, the first thing that comes to mind is that all of these spaces, except the inside of your car perhaps, are likely to be polluted by various forms of recorded sound. And by that I mostly mean pop music. My local coffee shop features wall-to-wall jazz from a satellite radio station. I left a note for them once saying "does it have to be all jazz all the time?" Of course, jazz, music that has no actual structure so you can just dip in and out of it randomly, is perfect music for a coffee shop. The grocery store, when the PA is not bellowing something about a sale, has salsa or cumbia (I live in Mexico, so cumbia is never very far away...). Public spaces are usually laden with various kinds of canned music these days. One of my favorites is the badly-managed restaurant where the twenty-something staff choose the music, normally something quite horrific, and obliviously inflict it on their fifty and sixty-something customers. Once I sat down, looked at the menu and noticed that they were playing something even more horrific than usual with a popping, funky bass line turned up loud. I got up, handed the menu back, said, "not with that music" and walked out.

If Bob Dylan were writing "All Along the Watchtower" today, instead of  writing
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl 
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
He might have written instead
Outside in the distance,  the loudspeakers did growl
Two sound trucks were approaching, the synth began to howl. 
Because nowadays, anywhere within the bounds of civilization, the sounds of the natural world are brutally suppressed by the sounds of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga or their generic cousins...

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