Mudcat Café message #2743463 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #123141   Message #2743463
Posted By: Spleen Cringe
11-Oct-09 - 10:59 AM
Thread Name: music critics,do we need them?
Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
You seem to be under the impression that by passing a judgment on a performer which the performer doesn't recognise, that performer will inevitably react badly

Not at all. But having said that, I have read a number of threads on Mudcat, of which this is but one example, where various musicians rail against critics/reviewers and seem to be of the opinion that they are little more than parasites. They also seem to fall into the trap of believing criticism is inherently negative. I read a lot of writing on music and know this perspective to be deeply flawed. A good writer can really enthuse the reader about a musician who has blown them away. As a consumer (as opposed to producer) of music, I have discovered some wonderful music as a result of the writing of enthusiastic and informed critics - as well as having the pleasure of reading well crafted, skillful writing. It isn't really of any concern to me what individual artists think of the reviews of their work, other than to wryly note that they don't tend to rail against the good reviews...

We are not the wilting flowers you accuse us of being

I'm sure you're not, and I'm not sure I've said you are! My tongue in cheek comment about "folkies being precious" was in response to some of the posts immediately above mine (particularly the sentiments of Betsy's song) which seemed to be strongly implying that critics should not set forth their views unless they were either unstinting praising the musician or purely designed to assist the musician in improving their performance. I would contend that neither of these are the primary role of the critic/reviewer.

Your good opinion of Good Soldier Schweik has not made itelf evident in someofyour previous contribution

I challenge you to find a single post on Mudcat where I have said anything negative about Dick's music. I have disagreement with some of his opinions (hey, it's a discussion board - people disagree about ideas), but that's an entirely different matter. In fact I challenge you to find a single post on Mudcat where I have made negative comments about any individual folk musician's music: unless you class my disagreement with the sentiments in Betsy's song as an example of this (and for the record I think Betsy has also written some lovely songs).

"My targets are the few who are jealous of success if it is not their own: the club organisers who resent other people setting up clubs in their areas, the performers who compete with other performers for the purpose of building up their personal repuations, and the gossips who love to attack any-one who doesn't meet their own high standards, whether or not they meet those standards themselves

Fair point: you're right to have a low opinion of people like this. But let me make this clear: I'm not one of them. I am on the periphery of the folk scene and to be honest I haven't even met the sort of deeply unpleasant folk scene insiders you describe, but I'll take your word for it that they exist. However, this wasn't a thread about such people, it was about critics.

The problem is with all those people - and there are a significant number - who think of criticism as being some kind of personal attack... who set (them)selves up as a would-be professional and wilfully ignore all advice however appropriate it may be."

Which is, I think, the point Jim made and I agreed with. And I agree with your reformulation of this same point.

"These people lay themselves open to a particular type of criticism..."

...harsh, but probably true...

"...and it seems to me that is this kind of criticism that Spleen Cringe indulges in."

...and this is where we must part company again. I challenge you to find one shred of evidence in anything I've said to back this up. I believe criticism should be fair, balanced, honest, informed and well written. I'm not a critic, so whilst I'll post positive comments about music I've enjoyed that I might think other would like to check out, I'll keep my yap shut about performers I don't enjoy. There have been some terrible, rude and deeply unbecoming attacks on the output of individual performers on Mudcat and I don't like it or indulge in it. I might make general comments on tendencies I don't particularly like - but never individual performers. I will, however, disagree with some views expressed by some musicians on an open discussion board. This is an entirely different process.

I admit, all I know of his work are his contributions to these pages, so I may be mistaken in that; maybe he has through his choice of language misrepresented himself on these pages; but it is a tone I recognise in any number of conversations at clubs and sessions.

And again, all this proves is that you have not read much of what I have posted and wilfully misrepresented what you have read! I do slightly resent you posting these sweeping statements about me without evidence.

"Why should (Dick Miles) not reply in print to printed cricism which he feels misrepresents him?"

Of course he is welcome to do this. However, it potentially opens a can of worms when it's done on a public discussion board as it invites others to respond. And I disagreed with his views on critics so I responded. Dick them said he'd changed his mind so I referred to him as "Good man!" Hardly a cutting put down of his music, is it?

"If you give it out, S.C. you have to know how to take it, and I'm not sure you do"

And I'm not sure what I'm supposed to have given out! As I said, I am careful not to slag off the work of individual musicians. I am happy to take criticism - of my opinions, of my work, of my writing or anything else I put in a public arena. It's one of the implied outcomes of "going public" - others might not like what you are doing/saying/writing and will make their views known, as you have done. I'm only bothering with this response because I think you've made a serious misjudgement based on a staggering lack of evidence, so I am exercising my right to reply.

"Sadly, I have had to make much the same point on far too many occasions when I hear said young people being criticised for, well, doing things the way young people do them."

So have I, S, so have I. Mudcat is awash with the type of attitude you describe - but also awash with people such as me, who will leap to the young musicians' defence.


As an aside, I recently won a copy of Dick Miles' "Cheating the Tide" on vinyl on ebay. I think it's a crying shame that this wonderful album is no longer in print. It's worth the price I paid for "The Rebel Soldier" alone.

That's the sort of comment I make about individual performers, Seligmanson.