Mudcat Café message #2741647 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #123141   Message #2741647
Posted By: seligmanson
08-Oct-09 - 09:21 PM
Thread Name: music critics,do we need them?
Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
Well, I think what we have here is a clear demonstration of why the folk-clubs are full of the kind of rubbish that jazz-clubs and concert-halls simply do not tolerate. First, we on the folk-scene have the idea that all criticism is negative and self-serving - which sadly it very largely has been - and secondly, we have the idea that criticism, in any case, has no place in folk- and traditional-music - which is a very sad misreading of how traditions work. To take the first point: criticism, if it is designed to encourage performers to use their talents to the full, is immensely valuable. Sometimes, that means pointing out areas where improvement might be made as well as crediting the qualities which work. Of course, that's all personal judgment, but if performers aren't willing to make themselves aware of how they are being judged by their audiences, they cannot improve as performers. However, I make that point in the full awareness that criticism in the folk-scene is frequently highly-negative,invoking a mean-spirited, often cruel, kind of judgmentalism:I don't mean professional criticism, I mean, very simply, the vicious way people talk about each other, and each other's work, such as we witness too often on this site. Of course,such criticism should be ignored: it's worse than useless, it poisons people's perception of what the folk-scene is, or rather, set out to be once upon a time. That movement has become haven for self-seekers and self-promoters, many of whom reveal themselves in these postings. When we can learn to elicit other people's opinions with the intention of taking them seriously and using them, and when we can express our opinions respectfully with the intention of being useful, then we may see a raising of standards among performers, and thus provide a rather obvious way of increasing the size of their audiences, which, let's face it, are often pretty paltry. As to my second point: no tradition of music, or any art,exists unless the people who maintain that tradition have a very clear idea of its underlying rules and its practices. That implies a willingness to learn on their part, which implies a willingness to be taught, which in its turn implies a willingness to listen to criticism, and give it proper consideration before deciding whether to accept or reject it. Too many performers - and I dignify them with that word - think they can do whatever they like however they like and to hell with any-one who doesn't like, and do it in front of an audience. They are essentially masturbating in public, and while that may give them pleasure it certainly gives none to the people who have to witness it. The best performers, the ones we pay good money to go and see, work hard to get their performances right: they study, they rehearse, they think it through. They know that criticism,if it is contructive, if it is rooted in a knowledge and understanding of the music, is not just useful, but necessary. So I will respect those performers, and those who are willing to discuss their work with some degree of rationality, before I give even the slightest credence to those of you who use this site to nag and whinge about other people who nag and whinge.