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music critics,do we need them?

Stringsinger 20 Oct 09 - 01:37 PM
seligmanson 20 Oct 09 - 11:58 AM
M.Ted 20 Oct 09 - 07:49 AM
Peace 19 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM
Spleen Cringe 19 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM
seligmanson 19 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM
The Sandman 12 Oct 09 - 03:27 PM
The Sandman 11 Oct 09 - 03:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 09 - 03:19 PM
Spleen Cringe 11 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM
Spleen Cringe 11 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM
seligmanson 10 Oct 09 - 04:48 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Oct 09 - 06:12 AM
Spleen Cringe 10 Oct 09 - 06:10 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 10 Oct 09 - 05:55 AM
Spleen Cringe 10 Oct 09 - 03:23 AM
seligmanson 09 Oct 09 - 09:27 PM
Betsy 09 Oct 09 - 09:05 PM
Peace 09 Oct 09 - 08:53 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 07:51 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Oct 09 - 07:33 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 07:07 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM
seligmanson 09 Oct 09 - 05:14 PM
The Sandman 09 Oct 09 - 01:23 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 11:45 AM
Betsy 09 Oct 09 - 08:36 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Oct 09 - 07:47 AM
The Sandman 09 Oct 09 - 05:57 AM
Peace 08 Oct 09 - 09:44 PM
seligmanson 08 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM
quokka 08 Oct 09 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Sep 09 - 11:01 AM
The Sandman 01 Sep 09 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Sep 09 - 08:09 AM
The Sandman 01 Sep 09 - 06:09 AM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 06:53 PM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Tootles 31 Aug 09 - 01:59 PM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 01:31 PM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM
Gervase 31 Aug 09 - 04:18 AM
Peace 30 Aug 09 - 09:21 PM
Jeri 30 Aug 09 - 09:19 PM
Peace 30 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM
mandotim 30 Aug 09 - 05:11 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 04:59 PM
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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:37 PM

I think that an educated and well-informed critic can open the channels for appreciation of musicians and singers that might be overlooked by the trends in the music business.

They can also do damage by squelching in print some notable talents. There is a history of this. Nicholas Slonimsky wrote a book about how critics turned up their noses at some of the leading classical composers of our day. Slonimsky's "Lexicon of Musical Invective".


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 11:58 AM

M.Ted. You're absolutely right. Sorry to all. I've been getting carried away somewhat. Lesson learned.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 07:49 AM

If seligmanson, or anyone else, for that matter, wants to be understood on an internet forum,
it is best to be brief and concise. Failing that, it is good to make frequent paragraph breaks.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM

"I still maintain that critics largely exist for the benefit of the paying public rather than the benefit of the musicians, though..."

That's what separates the critic pros from the critic amateurs. I agree with you.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM

Okay, S. I'm happy to accept that you agree that critics serve an important function and when they do their job well, they perform a necessary and useful service. It appeared to me you were saying the opposite, but I'm happy to stand corrected if I have misunderstood you and I apologise any distress caused by misunderstanding your views.

However, I too want nothing more to do with this discussion, as you seem incapable of posting this thread without making comments that are personal rather than about my opinions. "Bully", "self important", "gives it out but can't take it" and so on. It's really bad form.







I still maintain that critics largely exist for the benefit of the paying public rather than the benefit of the musicians, though...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM

Thank you, G.S.S. You have very neatly summed up in large part what I've been tryingto say, or think I've said, albeit in typically long-winded manner. As for Spleen Cringe, I apologise for missing his point, but he's made such a consistently good job of missing mine it's hard to know what else could have happened. Maybe his admission that he is on the 'periphery' of the folk-scene has something to do with it; maybe also his sense of self-importance. Performers have the absolute right to decide which critics they should respect and which not, just as critics have the right to choose which performers they do or do not respect. All should at least attempt some sort of consistency. Perhaps we are both failing to be so in this discussion, Spleen Cringe; do you think that is possible? Or are you set on absolutely refusing to accept any form of criticism for yourself, as it has so far seemed? I have sent you a personal message, and that must stand as my last word on this subject. I've had enough of being browbeaten. G.S.S asked a question at the start of this thread, and as far as I'm concerned, he's also answered it.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Oct 09 - 03:27 PM

so, yes we need music critics ,providing their reviewing is of a high standard,that does not mean the review has to be pages of praise,it means thoughtful criticism with comments that are qualified.
if reviewers are unprofessional then the reputation of critics is brought into disrepute,then no one will end up taking critics seriously.
that is why musicians should be able to reply without it being seen as sour grapes.
if critics expect musicians to be professional it is not unreasonable to expect critics to behave in the same way.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 03:36 PM

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.[]quote]
thankyou, Spleen, Rebel Soldier,I have re recorded and it is on Concertinas and[cd], available at my website ,but some of the other really difficult pieces[washington post ,Dill pickle rag]I am a bit out of practice with.
I can remember working out the accompaniment for the song ,Rebel Soldier it took me all day,it is quite difficult to play,it is a counterpoint to the song.
at that time 1983/4,I lived next to a pub called the Shepherd and Dog,at One House,near Stowmarket,Sue had gone to work [was a primary teacher]so i had the house to myself[always the best way to work]I worked really hard on that song,but it came right in the end,a lot of the accompaniments have taken a long time .
Tommys Lot which I still play., took a long time too.
I appreciate your comments,because someone has put alot of unpleasant things about that lp on the Folk yourself blog.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 03:19 PM

Negative criticism is pointless. The value of a critic lies in directing attention towards something which is particularly good, and sometimes in suggesting ways that it could be better. If it's crap youi ignore it, and write about something else.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM

I do however owe Bruce a heartfelt apology. Sorry, Bruce!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 04:48 PM

Let's be clear. Of course you're entitled to your opinions about any performer; and if you don't like them,you're perfectly entitled to say so. But 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. Firstly, we are not the wilting flowers you accuse us of being, and it's that accusation I resent, and misses my point, which I will return to again; and secondly, yes, I'll admit,my language was intemperate: but that's unfortunately how I respond to people who speak to me in intemperate terms, and your own language has not been exactly calm and collected: your good opinion of Good Soldier Schweik has not made itelf evident in someofyour previous contributions. Now, back to my point, which Crow Sister passes comment on. Again, I like the cut-and-thrust of debate, especially when it is carried out in civilised terms, and I do feel I let myself down, not in what I said, but in mimicing what I was responding to. So, to give you an answer. Yes, people can be and are very supportive of each other as a rule, otherwise a vast number of open sessions couldn't take place. In those sessions, a large number of people get the greatest satisfaction from expressing their own talents, be they great or small, with a freedom they find nowhere else. That to me is far more important than whether or not they're any good, and I believe I share that understanding with most. But neither they, nor the people who organise these events, are my target, as I thought I had made plain, but clearly didn't. 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. Now there aren't many of them, but they're out there, and over the years they have wielded a significant degree of power. I have the greatest respect for the many honest people who go about theur business with integrity and respect: and when they have something to say to me about they way I set about things,I will listen with equal respect - and it has happened, so I'm not just blowing bubbles. The problem is with all those people - and there are a significant number - who think of criticism as being some kind of personal attack. It is one thing to perform for the sheer joy of it, in which case criticism is usually inappropriate (though even you must have heard some you would gladly muzzle); but it is another to set yourself up as a would-be professional and wilfully ignore all advice however appropriate it may be (was this your point, Jim C.?). These people lay themselves open to a particular type of criticism, and it seems to me that is this kind of criticism that Spleen Cringe indulges in. 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. This is where it gets difficult for professional performers like Dick Miles who welcome even-handed criticism but often don't get it; and why should he not reply in print to printed cricism which he feels misrepresents him? If you give it out, S.C. you have to know how to take it, and I'm not sure you do. I hope that I have now been able to express my point with the correct degree of assertiveness. I dislike personal abuse, and I very much regret having used it:but my point is what it is. Oh, yes, and Crow Sister: I have met insularity, but I am not guilty of it. My tastes are broad, and when I am out for the night, I tend to suspend my critical faculties with every-one except myself. I like the idea that folk-sessions serve for many as a very much more satisfying form of Karaoke. I love it when I see young people (My saints, that phrase ages me) using the clubs and sessions to try stuff out they can't do anywhere else. They have no part in this particular debate, nor should they have. The exposure to all the different forms of music the folk-scene presents them with gives them the lesson they can best learn from. 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. They deserve all the support we can give them, and sometimes - but only when they ask - that means giving them whatever advice you think most appropriate. That's how criticism should work for them; and if that in any way resembles your experience Sara Crow, then you have my respect.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 06:12 AM

Thanks, CS ;-)


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 06:10 AM

And I note that you call me "a bully","sour", someone who indulges in "carping, sneering, arrogance" and suggest I am demanding the respect (I am) convinced (I) so richly deserve.

I think you'd better retract that. It's verging on an ad hominem attack and seems to be based on a wilful misunderstanding of my point. I haven't "attacked" any individual musicians on this thread or elsewhere and neither would I do so. However, I will disagree with opinions if I think they are wrong.

And my opinion is the central misapprehension in your comments is that you believe criticism exists for the benefit of the musicians (Quote: "criticism, if it is designed to encourage performers to use their talents to the full, is immensely valuable"). I would argue that criticism is for the benefit of the paying public to assist us in making informed choices about how we spend our meagre surplus income. What you describe is something musicians can do amongst themselves - a kind of self-help as it were. What I describe is what I read in music magazines and other sources to find out about music I might like.

And please don't shout at me. When you do, you remind me of a teacher I had back in the mid-seventies who shares your real name. I learned back them that you don't learn much from those who resort to shouting.

Finally - and I don't need to add this - I think the Good Soldier is great at what he does and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing him live. Had I been a critic/reviewer, he would have got a good one!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 05:55 AM

"MY problem is that I don't like bullies - and yes, S.C. I do mean you."

Holy crap! Spleeny a "bully"? I hardly think so!

Seligmanson, if you can't so much as cope with err 'discussion' on a 'discussion board', maybe you should try and get out a wee bit more.

Also, in my own short experience of folkies, they're actually *far* more generous and supportive towards singers and performers (however genuinely weak their musical efforts may be) than any other group of people I've encountered in my entire life!

With the new breed of younger folk enthusiasts and musicians coming through however, I also rather doubt that the somewhat charming but insular culture of gentle embrace that older folkies have actually been used to for so long, will continue to endure in the future...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 03:23 AM

So criticism is okay - but only if it's on your terms? By gum. Maybe I was being too moderate when I said "precious". So how are you going to impose this? Have a committee to vet critics?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 09:27 PM

Spleen Cringe, I'm going to shout at you now, because otherwise I don't think you'll hear me. This is more-or-less what a lot of us have been saying: NONE OF US YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO PICK A QUARREL WITH OBJECT TO CRITICISM. WE ACCEPT AS PERFORMERS THAT WE ARE OPEN TO BEING CRITICISED. EVERY PERFORMER OF GOOD STANDING TAKES CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM SERIOUSLY, AND GIVES IT PROPER CONSIDERATION BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO ACCEPT IT. There now, that's out of my system. MY problem is that I don't like bullies - and yes, S.C. I do mean you. What I object to in a critic is the kind of carping, sneering, arrogance which you seem to have mastered very efficiently;and maybe that's your problem, maybe that explains why you're so sour. This is about you not receiving the respect you are convinced you so richly deserve. In your own person you demonstrate exactly the failing which Jim Carroll has so succinctly pointed towards - the unwillingness to accept criticism. But can it be that, however? After all that's what you're accusing me and Jim and Good Soldier Schweik of, though of course we did say ther exact opposite.
Many performers don't just want but NEED a proper critical appreciation of their work: we're not going to get that from YOU, though, are we, S.C.?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 09:05 PM

Everyone needs to be careful of the written word, we are all susceptible to the written word - but fortunately the world has move on , and we can check ,or cross check, our sources of information and hopefully you all do so


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 08:53 PM

Jim's right!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:51 PM

"I often wonder, are folkies the only group of performers who almost universally consider themselves above criticism and who believe that standards have no place in their chosen field of performance?"

I often wonder that, too, Jim. If a plumber or teacher or social worker or writer, for example, took that approach, they'd be out of a job in no time. And no-one would be wasting their breath defending them.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:33 PM

I've experienced very little "mean-spirited, often cruel" formal criticism (can only think of two exponents of this nowadays) - plenty of snydeswiping, but that's different and it happens everywhere.
Good, positive, analytical criticism (as distinct from the anodyne first-name sycophancy that passes for criticism nowadays) should be the sounding-board against which we measure everything we do in public. The fact that this is what the folk scene lacks has much to do with the pap we are often fed in the name of folk.
As the Cap'n suggests - raise the standards of criticism and the level of performance will follow.
I often wonder, are folkies the only group of performers who almost universally consider themselves above criticism and who believe that standards have no place in their chosen field of performance? It seems to me that if you stick your bum out of the window you are inviting somebody to paint a face on it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:07 PM

Let me rephrase that. In my last post I did what Seligmanson erroneously accused me of earlier.

It seems to me that some folk musicians have a problem with people reviewing/critiquing/forming an independent opinion about their music. It's almost as if they think they can put it out in the public arena with the expectation that the public will only interact with it as customers and that they don't have any right to form an opinion other than the one the musician thinks they ought to have. A bit of hypocrisy creeps in, too: they don't like critics or reviewers getting their evil paws on their work - yet if they happen to get a good review it's quoted all over their websites! It's a pathetic and juvenile attitude. In any other type of music, other people writing about that music is accepted as normal - only in folk does it seem to be reviled and railed against in the way it is on Mudcat. This - and I'm sorry, but Betsy's bitter little song is a perfect example of this attitude - is what I mean when I say folkies are so f***ing precious. If they can't stand the idea of their public exercising their critical faculties, they should maybe keep it in the bedroom.

In short, if you think you're good enough to do paid gigs, put out CDs and engage with the outside world, you should be big enough to accept that others will have a whole variety of different opinions about what you do. Whether musicians like it or not, it's a healthy and positive thing and their Taliban-like attempts to stamp out freedom of opinion do them no favours.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM

Wind your neck in, Seligmanson. Do you think the public have no right to have an opinion about the music they pay to hear? Clearly Dick and Bruce and Betsy and others on this thread do. Attitudes like that, folk music is better off without. Arrogance is what I call it. Sorry if you think calling it when I see it is abusive.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 05:14 PM

Good Soldier Schweik:I'm not sure if you were agreeing with me or not: but if as you say you care about what you do, work hard to do it as well as you can, then in my opinion you clearly warrant the kind of respect all conscientous performers do, the kind of respect, to be perfectly straight with you, I want for myself. I'd be interested to know what sort of comment and criticism your performances have received in your professional career. Have you been lucky? Or how often have you had to put up with the likes of Spleen Cringe, who thinks that ill-mannered abuse serves for reasonable discussion? He's of the type I was having a pop at:and frankly, I'd like to ask him what he's doing on this thread if that's how he feels.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 01:23 PM

nice one, Betsy.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 11:45 AM

Ooh! Folkies are so f***ing precious!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 08:36 AM

If anyone is interested - I wrote a song about one specific critic.
My good friend (and lots of our Scottish friends) know the performer who was criticised. He's a good singer/voice and very good guitar technique.
He did the warm up for Clannad up in Inverness - I wasn't there, but got to Inverness after the concert on the Sunday night of the concert, and in the pub where the folkies gathered afterwards - everyone said ( genuinely) how well he had performed. The critique came out in the local newspaper on the following Tuesday - and absolutely lambasted the performer. When I saw the folkie crowd on the following Friday , quite a few presumably after reading the critique, had changed or moderated their opinions expressed on the previous Sunday. Responsible , constructive criticism , and suggestions how to improve the whole performance scenario can and should be helpful to the performer - but this so-called critique was just mud slinging and hurtful and I was amazed how peoples memories of the event were changed. The message is, always be careful of what you read in print, whether it be a football report or political comment an account of this or that, the pen is still a mighty weapon.

Here goes … For the tune there are one or two people around who sing it , and Gary and Vera Aspey made a great job of it on their recording Nightshift Army

He couldn't sing, he couldn't clown,
No, - his art it was in putting people down,
He couldn't play, but he could write,
And with his pen he went and broke a heart last night.

He sits alone, with blinkered view,
Doesn't know the hours of practice people do,
To play the songs, - to get 'em right,
He simply took his pen and broke a heart last night.

Chorus / refrain                                                                              
                                    
Well it's a mystery to me., - how the critic" formed" your memory,
Now are you telling me, your eyes and ears deceived you!!

He never heard the crowds' applause,
And as they made their exit through the theatre doors,
He never shared their wild delight,
Instead, he took a pen and broke a heart last night.

To read his words - they made no sense,
They never matched our recollection of events,
Only fools believe, what bigger fools write!         
Take care the critic's breaking hearts again tonight.,   

(almost repeat of the previous 2 lines :-)
Only fools believe, what bigger fools write!
Take care the critic's changing minds again tonight.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:47 AM

As you know, Dick, I agree with you 100+%. Michael


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 05:57 AM

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.[QUOTE]

I have been a professional performer for 35 years,I rehearse and practise my material,what I expect in return from a critic,is a professional review,so I expect statements to be qualified,I think it reasonable that critics ,should not be above criticism.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 09:44 PM

Good for you.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: quokka
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 01:03 AM

I stumbled on this thread by accident while looking up Verandah Music, a review of which was posted up by Jack Campin (11.25 am, Aug 25 2009),btw I have the book - brilliant - but then I started reading the whole thread, and was so entertained that I thought I'd refresh! I particularly like Peace's posts ;-)

Cheers,

Quokka

PS: Seriously, check out Verandah Music!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 11:01 AM

I have given this some thought and changed my mind

Good man! Good on you!

I believe we do need music critics,but if they are to be taken seriously,the standard of reviewing must be high

Absolutely. Like any other endeavour that is placed into a public arena, reviewing needs to be of good quality with no room for sloppiness or laziness.

I also feel that a site where reviewers reviews could be reviewed would be a good thing

Ah... who watches the watchmen? Might be a bit boring though!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 08:35 AM

spleen cringe,
I have given this some thought and changed my mind
I believe we do need music critics,but if they are to be taken seriously,the standard of reviewing must be high.
I also feel that a site where reviewers reviews could be reviewed would be a good thing ,is there one in existence?
I thought I read about such a site a while back,perhaps if it exists someone could post its details here.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 08:09 AM

I have a vast shelf full of books about music. Some of them are outstandingly well written and an absolute joy to read, often because they are not reduced to a dull list of facts, but riddled with debate, opinion, comment, hyperbole, contention and so on. I regularly read fRoots, The Wire, EDS and occasionally read Mojo - as much for the reviews as for anything else. A well written review by a good writer who loves music is a wonderful thing. The anti-reviewer sentiments on this thread smack of arrogance: "I'm going to put my music in a public arena but woe betide you if you dare to express an opinion about it"... though you don't hear too many complaints about positive reviews, do you?

I also refuse to trust any publication that fails to give bad reviews. To me it shows they have no notion that they are there to provide a service to consumers rather than pander to musicians' needs. One magazine I used to read consistently found something good about virtually everything they reviewed. As a result I wasted good money that I couldn't afford to squander on absolute shite and dreck before I realised they were in the business of sycophancy and not criticism.

I wonder if musicians in other genres, sculptors, painters, playwrights, novelists etc have the same attitude? Most I know are eager to get whatever column inches they can. At least it means someone has noticed them.

Finally, some musicians might believe they don't need reviewers but those of us who put our hands in our pockets - your victims as it were, definitely do.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 06:09 AM

no guest, tootles did,I was responding to that post.
the subject under discussion is music critics do we need them.
whether reviews can be improved and whether sub standard reviews should be published relate directly to the thread.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 06:53 PM

GSS,
Why are you talking to me about Joe Offer and his desires? I'm uninterested and haven't encouraged you to put anything on this forum.

When you say the review "should not have been published" it sounds a lot like a desire for censorship. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. But when that opinion is that someone else shouldn't be entitled to their opinion and shouldn't be published, I'm going to tell you that I think you should get over it.

If you don't want people to offer solutions to your problems, don't air them publicly. AND THAT'S AN ORDER!! (hee hee hee)

Get over it.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM

John P,I did not say like Musical traditions,I do like it, 99 percent of its reviews are very good.
however I made a mistake it is not a professional magazine,as far as I know ,the Editor and the reviewers are not paid,it purports to have a professional standard,and generally speaking is professional in its outlook.
no,I have been ordered by Joe Offer,to neither publish the review on this forum or name it.
John P,
I am not in charge of this forum ,neither am I in charge of what is permissible to be printed on this forum,this forum has an adminstrator he is called Joe Offer,I abide by his wishes.
finally, John,I am entitled to an opinion,which all was my previous post was,I am not preventing anything from being published,I am entitled to have an opinion as to whether the Editor should have published it.
you seem to be telling me what to do,[quote]
[Censorship, GSS? If you don't like a publication, stop reading it. If you like the publication, but just didn't like the one review, tell the editor about it an move on.[end of quote]
and yet at the same time accusing me of trying to have authority over other peoples opinions.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 02:12 PM

Censorship, GSS? If you don't like a publication, stop reading it. If you like the publication, but just didn't like the one review, tell the editor about it an move on. Who are you to decide that something shouldn't have been published? Reviews are OPINIONS! Factual errors should be corrected, but you don't have authority over other peoples' opinions.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Tootles
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:59 PM

'ha ha,I could find a review for you published by Musical Traditions,that myself and others thought should not have been published. I will pm it to you,it was disgraceful.'

Why not name that review here? Don't be coy.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM

ha ha,I could find a review for you published by Musical Traditions,that myself and others thought should not have been published.
I will pm it to you,it was disgraceful.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:31 PM

I like music critics because they have been vetted by a professional editor as being worthy of being given space in a publication. Going to internet discussion sites for honest opinion, competent writing, or rational thought is a waste of time. Why should I believe anything that any old boob says on an unedited website? Not that I necessarily believe what reviewers say, but it is very easy to quickly tell whether or not I'm reading something of worth.

As a musician, I've had extremely positive reviews and they have helped me in getting gigs and in getting newspapers to write articles about me. I've also had reviews written by people who don't know anything about the type of music I play (the hudy-gurdy was once described as a type of bagpipe!), and these reviews just get ignored. I've never had a purely negative review, but if I did I'd just ignore it, too. For the most part, they disappear in fairly short order. If I don't keep a review in circulation, it doesn't generally stay there. Anyone who makes a decision about music based on one negative review deserves what they get, anyway.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM

ok, so the general majority agree,we do need music critics,so if musical criticism is to be taken seriously,the standard of criticism needs to be high.
so how do music critics improve their reviews,and is there any reason why reviewers should not have their reviews reviewed.
my other thread only has 32 posts,and yet it is a more positive thread,which is disa ppointing.
Mr Webb,if you dont understand the above post,I would suggest a visit to the opticians.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 04:18 AM

Limp lettuce?! The outrage!
I see myself more as a dead sheep.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:21 PM

I think that music critics are needed, otherwise we'd just end up arguing with each other . . . .


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:19 PM

I'm picturing Jay Leno as a limp lettuce. It's just a little bit terrifying.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM

Thanks, Jack.

I just stopped in to see that everyone's getting along.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM

Mr Webb your attacks remind me of being lampooned by a limp lettuce.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: mandotim
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 05:11 PM

Given that the appreciation of music is above all a subjective activity, and that each person perceives a given piece of music in a wholly personal way, developed from their experiences and education (even genetics maybe), is it possible for a critic to express in writing a judgement which will be entirely appropriate for another to take on board? For me this whole thread opens up the idea of synaesthesia, perhaps best summed up in the quote (can't remember who said it) 'Writing about music is rather like dancing about architecture'.
Tim


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:59 PM

critics can be useful,but they should not be above criticism themselves,,but very often they get caq rried away with the importance of their own pen which is exactly why I started the other thread,howcam music critics improve.
GERVASE.I did not call you a prat.
I said this,Gervase Webb,stop being a p#####,
that could mean anything,but it aint prat.


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