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music critics,do we need them?

M.Ted 26 Aug 09 - 03:29 PM
Howard Jones 26 Aug 09 - 03:22 PM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 01:02 PM
M.Ted 26 Aug 09 - 12:12 PM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM
Smedley 26 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM
JeremyRS 26 Aug 09 - 07:18 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 06:53 AM
Smedley 26 Aug 09 - 06:51 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 06:48 AM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 06:37 AM
JeremyRS 26 Aug 09 - 05:51 AM
George Papavgeris 26 Aug 09 - 05:01 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Aug 09 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Aug 09 - 04:46 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 03:19 AM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 11:40 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 09 - 10:16 PM
George Papavgeris 25 Aug 09 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 05:36 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 25 Aug 09 - 05:01 PM
Gervase 25 Aug 09 - 04:54 PM
Vic Smith 25 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM
Gervase 25 Aug 09 - 04:50 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 04:33 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 04:28 PM
Dave Sutherland 25 Aug 09 - 03:59 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 25 Aug 09 - 03:44 PM
Howard Jones 25 Aug 09 - 03:33 PM
Bernard 25 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 02:36 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 01:55 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 01:53 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 01:37 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM
GUEST 25 Aug 09 - 01:24 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 01:14 PM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 12:59 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 12:57 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 12:44 PM
Steve Hunt 25 Aug 09 - 12:00 PM
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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 03:29 PM

Critical commentary tends to define an art form. When there is comprehensive study, review, and commentary, the the art form tends to become widely understood and respected. Most of what we consider "classical" music was really originally music for entertainment--it became "serious" music only when it received critical review.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 03:22 PM

I have read some bad reviews - that doesn't mean they were wrong. I have read some badly-written reviews - that doesn't mean they were wrong.

Most of the reviews I have read appear to give an honest opinion of the event or album. They usually give me an idea of what to expect from the performer, perhaps by comparison to someone else. If they're critical, in most cases they explain why.

If a review makes me interested in a performer, I'll try to find out more about them. Perhaps I'll buy the album - if I'm disappointed, that tells me something about the reviewer as well as the artist, and will help me to judge their reviews in future.

I doubt if there is any one critic who has the power to make or break a performer or an album. If anything, the internet makes it easier to find other opinions.

Should an artist have a right of reply? In general, no - a review is one person's opinion, and who is to say if they're right or wrong? The whole point of reviews is that they are an opinion, and one learns whose opinion one can trust. It is usually obvious if there is some personal vendetta.

If the reviewer makes a factual error, then of course the artist should be able to get that corrected, and in most cases the editor will agree, if it is indeed incorrect and material.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 01:02 PM

yes, true,
also one or two of musical traditions reviews are not very good,plus many of the local folk magazines,the standard there is very poor[in my opinion].
it is a problem ,many of the local folk magazines have very little money,and reviewers do not get renumerated.[you pay peanuts you get monkeys].
but it doesnt alter the fact that amateurs,have the power to castigate ,professional musicians,result the reputation of reviewing is lowered.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 12:12 PM

As per the original post, the internet actually opens the door to more of the "Tom Cobbley" sorts of reviews, because, though every editor chooses his/her writers with care, internet critics, on blogs, discussion forums and in the ubiquitous "comments" postings, are self-selected.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

it is perfectly possible to have technique as well as soul,having technique does not prevent you playing with feeling,many musicians have both.
so there is no logical reason why musicians can not make good critics,I also accept that someone with a good knowledge of their subject can also make a good critic,what I do not accept is that anyone should be allowed to be a music critic [just because they have the desire].
in my opinion good music critics are in a minority on the english folk scene ,and there is room for improvement.
I believe those who have been reviewed should be allowed to reply,and that reviewers should not be above criticism.
reviewers,have the power to affect peoples careers,therefore they should be answerable.
to say there is not room to print it ,or people wouldnt want to read a reply,is arguable,and sounds to me like a convenient excuse by the editor to fob people off.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smedley
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM

No, I'm not a musician (well, not since school & that was a loooooong time ago), but I still dispute some of the assumptions underlying the anti-critic arguments. Let me come at it a different way to see if that clarifies. I can think of some successful musicians who are very technically accomplished but who play music that I regard as soul-less, banal and lacking in worth. I would not be impressed or swayed by what such musicians had to say about music. You have have skill, but no soul. You can have talent, but no taste.

Taste, of course, is a subjective criterion. And criticism relies on subjectivity. That is what makes it interesting.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM

,'but any uncle tom cobbley amateur,can be allowed to do a review.'

you write Dick. But where? & 'allowed' by whom? What weight does a review in the sort of publication Uncle Tom C would be writing for [probably a self-started blog or some such] have? But as for proper, professional reviewing in a properly run and reputable publication, Uncle Tom C wouldn't have a snowball's chance of getting a review into it. I beg you, reread my post 8 back on what it takes to become a professional critic, and then tell me where you think your 'uncle tom c amateur' would fit within the parameters I postulate.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM

an insightful critical mind is necessary to become a good musician.
it is necessary to listen to oneself and criticise,it is necessary to listen to others,have an insight into what they are doing, and learn.
to be a good musician requires discipline,insight,and a critical mind.
Smedley,are you a musician,if you are I am surprised you ask the question.
Practising, requires analysis,it requires criticism,and it requires insight,to become a good musican practice is essential.so musicians are [imo]well qualified to be music critics.
if we accept that everything in the garden is rosy as regards musical criticism,and that amatueruism is acceptable,logically it becomes acceptable that amateurism is acceptable in the performance of song,if that is the case ,god help the folk revival and folk song.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: JeremyRS
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 07:18 AM

Dick, you said:

2.Editors,try and find an independent person who has does not have a personal dislike of the artist.
[lets be honest, I would not get an unbiased review from Vic Smith or Gervase Webb]

The implication here is clearly that you wouldn't get an unbiased review because Vic and Gervase don't like you, so what I wrote was not "rubbish", unless of course I misunderstood you and you mean something completely different?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:53 AM

I am afraid [imo] yor post is not convincing.
why should I trust you[who are you, God?.]
I disagree with the rest of your post,so lets leave it at that.
Having worked for several decades in newspapers and publishing, I find that post very convincing. That's the way it works.
I could argue that because you haven't worked in newspapers and publishing, your opinions on the nature of criticism should carry no weight at all. All I'm saying, however, is that you seem to be labouring under a misapprehension.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smedley
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:51 AM

The term 'musically ignorant' is the problem here. It presumes that technical skill guarantees an insightful critical mind. Why should it ?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:48 AM

I think it is a case of professionalism is expected of musicans,but any uncle tom cobbley amateur,can be allowed to do a review.
standards need to be improved [imo],peoples livelihoods can be affected by any literate but musically ignorant reviewer.

Er, no.
Read what has been posted about reviewing. Or provide a link to a review which makes your point.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:37 AM

I have already read Georges posts and he makes some excellent points as always.
I have never known George indulge in personal attacks.
Gervase, you would do well to take a leaf out of his book.

why should I drink a cup of tea? I hate the stuff.
I find that remark patronising.
Jeremy RS quote.
This is a bizarre thread, made worse by Dick's refusal (inability) to name names, other than those whom he personally dislikes, or give examples.
I havent named any names of bad reviewers[so whats this rubbish about ones he personally dislikes].
I am afraid [imo] yor post is not convincing.
why should I trust you[who are you, God?.]
I disagree with the rest of your post,so lets leave it at that.
I think it is a case of professionalism is expected of musicans,but any uncle tom cobbley amateur,can be allowed to do a review.
standards need to be improved [imo],peoples livelihoods can be affected by any literate but musically ignorant reviewer.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: JeremyRS
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:51 AM

This is a bizarre thread, made worse by Dick's refusal (inability) to name names, other than those whom he personally dislikes, or give examples.

Some thoughts:

"Reviewers who can't sing and can't play." I imagine you drive a car Dick and have an opinion on it's good and bad points, and how it compares to other cars, but can you build one?

Editors may well be friends with their writers, are you seriously suggesting that they shouldn't be? It doesn't affect their assessment of their writing, trust me, I know.

As for right of reply, when a magazine doubles in size and consequently cost because of the publication of artists objections to a review (which may or may not be valid) and the subsequent dialogue, will anyone want to pay for and read it? I think not. Lots of magazines (and pretty much all review websites) have forums where objections can be made to your hearts content. If they don't, there's Mudcat and others.

Lastly, every reviewer/critic I know, and I know quite a few, is a music fan first, last and always. They don't write for money, they don't write because it gives them a sense of power or importance, they don't have axes to grind, they don't pursue vendettas and they don't write bad reviews of an album because they don't like the artist. All of them want to improve their writing and constantly try to do so because none of them think they're perfect. Those are really no good get weeded out by editors, as you can easily see by looking at a couple of issues of a magazine printed two years apart say.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:01 AM

GSS (by the way, it's one of my favourite books of all time, Yaroslav Hasek was a great writer),

You say:"...why should Music Critics not learn to improve,why should they be above criticism". I say "Who says? of course they should learn to improve, and of course they can be, and are, criticised".

You also say "...an attitude persists exemplified by Matt Milton,that anyone who wishes to write about music should be allowed to do so. So its ok ,for anyone regardless of their knowledge ,to slag off or praise somebody elses work.,sorry that makes the criticism of little value". I say:" Anyone can open their mouth and make noises, it doesn't mean they are making music. Anyone can offer opinions, freedom of speech and all that, but it doesn't mean that their opinion is valid. The responsibility is with us to be discerning and select the opinions, (the music, the writing, etc etc) that we will value. If we just sit goggle-eyed and accept anyone's view as wisdom simply because they are famous / a celebrity / loud / opinionated / have a great haircut, then we deserve all we get.

"So how can the situation be improved?"

Well, you see I don't think it is broken in the first place; we just need to be more critical readers of criticism, as I said above. We all do have the right to reply, and when we do so we should do it eruditely, explaining why a particular criticism is mistaken or misses the point, rather than simply rant back at the critic's rantings (if rantings they be).

I had my share of negative critiques, some of them unfair, I believe. For example, there was a case where a critic slagged off dismissively and without proper argumentation a song about the turbulent life of a transsexual (a song which many others have praised and which has received recognition from those who know, i.e. transsexuals themselves). To me the critic was simply exposing his own prejudices. Yet I chose not to respond - why? Because a) I am not his psychoanalyst, b) I believe that others reading his critique would have arrived at the correct conclusion, and c) life is too short.

Choices. We all have them.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 04:57 AM

I had not intended to contribute to this thread, as I remarked previously on another one, because I happen to have been a critic, folk [records books concerts festivals columns interviews features obits] and theatre, for many years, for Times, Guardian, Folk Review &c &c; and so would obviously not appear objective. But there is one point whose hash needs settling by someone within the trade: and that is the idea that a critic tends to be nothing but a 'failed whatever-it-may-be' — as if one had an ill-received gig, and said to oneself, 'darn it then, if they don't like me I'll go and be a critic & that'll show 'em!'; whereupon one walks into the office of a national paper & says, 'Hi, I've come to be your folk critic'.

Believe me, it just ain't that easy to convince an Arts or Literary Editor that you are the man he wants for the job, build up connections, gain membership of NUJ or Inst of Journalists... If you don't believe me, just try setting up as a critic for a reputable journal or programme, just like that, and see where it gets you. Of course, there are blogs and chatrooms and all sorts of outlets to express one's opinions, just as there were always newsletters; but that's not quite the same, is it? Becoming an actual, recognised·in·the·fields of both press & of medium·reviewed, Critic·with·a·cap·C isn't quite as simple as that.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 04:46 AM

It's very rare that I encounter much 'negative' criticism in the folk media these days. Most of it seems to be of the facile 'this is really great you should give it a spin' variety or 'this reminds me of early/late X' - nothing gritty or analytical at all.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM

(and, BTW, a good critic can easily have a personal dislike of the artist but find his or her work superb. Van Morrison can be an arsehole at times, but I hugely respect some of his earlier stuff. Ditto many others. There have been many threads on this forum over the years expressing astonishment at the personal problems of some musicians compared to the sublime stuff they produce. It's what objective criticism involves - the separation of the performer from the performed. Of course, it can put one in a tricky position; I've not yet heard any of David Hannam's work or Nick Griffin's...)


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 03:19 AM

Dick, read George's post. Sit down, have a cup of tea, and then read it again. He has explained (rather more eloquently than my 'garbage') why critics are useful.
You might have the time to sit down and listen to every possible version of every song and tune as it appears online - I don't, and neither do I have the money simply to buy them all just in case there's one that takes my fancy. I need some form of filter, and that's why critics are important to me.
And I'd rather have a critic who knows what s/he's writing about and who can express it well than a semi-literate musician or rely on what Google might throw up. There's a hell of a difference, and if you can't see that then you clearly haven't read much music criticism - or criticism of any form, come to that.
Caruso's voice teacher couldn't sing a note, but I'm sure Caruso didn't take your view and get rid of him because he 'wasn't up to the job'.
That's just my opinion, of course. It does have the merit of being a considered opinion, however, rather than one simply flung down yet again on an internet forum as an ill-thought piece of trolling.
Now go and read George's post again before your tea gets cold.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:40 PM

'The editor of a large New York publishing house returned one weighty manuscript with the comment: "I am returning this paper. Someone wrote on it."

A critic once reviewed a concert by an amateur group this way: "Last night a Massey Hall Auditorium, the Viceroy played Beethoven. Beethoven lost." '

Two 'reviews' from somewhere on Mr Google.

1) They help the critics ego but they are base and beneath contempt.

2) Few critics are like that these days.

3) If you get one like that, chalk it up to experience, because the reviewers are clever but they have no heart, and they would NOT give a damn what you say to them.

4) I gave up reading reviews anyway. Had one performance way back and two papers in the same town did reviews. One was a rave and the other was not at all good. I figured even back then that if they couldn't agree with each other then what was the point. They are the last reviews I read about me.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM

right,
so why should Music Critics not learn to improve,why should they be above criticism.
we expect professionalism from folk performers,we expect them to have their material rehearsed,we expect them to not get drunk and forget what they are doing,professional folk musicans spend many many hours rehearsing material.
Yet an attitude persists exemplified by Matt Milton,that anyone who wishes to write about music should be allowed to do so.
So its ok ,for anyone regardless of their knowledge ,to slag off or praise somebody elses work.,sorry that makes the criticism of little value.
so how can the situation be improved

1 .those who have been reviewed should be allowed the right of reply,this exists in theory,but is rarely put into practice,often the EDITOR has handed out a review to a friend,so independence has been compromised,and the artists reply is not published.
2.Editors,try and find an independent person who has does not have a personal dislike of the artist.
[lets be honest, I would not get an unbiased review from Vic Smith or Gervase Webb]
or has some alternative reason for producing an unbiased critique.
the present situation is that folk artists are expected to be professional,yet there is an attitude that anyone can write music reviews.
peoples careers are jeopardised or boosted by anybody who chooses to put pen to paper,that doesnt mean that there are not good music critics, there are.
it means more care needs to be taken in choosing reviewers,and reviewers and their reviews should not be above criticism.
a right to reply should exist,in much the same way that professional football teams can criticse referees decisions.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smokey.
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:16 PM

Well put, Mr P., and may we never stop learning.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 06:19 PM

I can only speak for myself.

As a listener, I need critics now more than ever. Where there used to be 100 LPs released in the 70s in a given period, there have been 1000 CDs released in the 90s, and 100,000 MP3s and videos on the internet. Here's the thing: the percentage of good music in what is released has not changed, so what chance do I have now of finding the ones I like? Using critics I have learned to trust and whose opinions I value, helps me navigate through the dross.

As a performer, I need critics. They help me improve my deliver, focus on what is important, keep my patter pertinent, construct my setlists appropriately.

As a songwriter too, I need critics. They help save me from self-delusion, the comfort of the fan's praise. They also help me identify what works, and ways I can improve. I regularly use a critic who happens to also be a friend, to help me improve my material.

And all the while I learn.

Sure, not all critics are of equal value to me. Snide and smarmy or fawning comments soon enough point out the ones I should discard. Serious constructive criticism has never hurt me, even when it hurts, if you know what I mean - because it is fair.

And all the while I learn.

I found that the best (IMHO) critics are so irrespective of whether they are themselves performers and/or songwriters. Their talent is the ability to dissect and explain why something works or doesn't, to stand back and observe one's development and direction. They are a mirror, and the clearer and starker, the better.

And all the while I learn.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM

I notice that no-one has picked up on an assumption at the start of this thread:

"do we need anyone to tell us what we should like or not like [?]."

The assumption here seems to be that the function of a critic is to issue instructions and to dictate preferences. That's certainly not how I see the critic's role!

This idea that criticism, or even disagreement, is always hostile, punitive in intent, and dictatorial is very tiresome and more than a little immature. It's the sort of response that I would expect to come from an insecure, adolescent fashion-victim.

Surely, the role of a critic is to provide as objective an assessment of an artist's work as possible. A good critic should be able to convey to a potential audience a feeling for the quality of a piece of work and an assessment of how well, or badly, that artist has suceeded in meeting his or her objectives. A desirable secondary outcome of an effective piece of criticism may also be to provide useful feedback to the artist.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 05:36 PM

the usual garbage from Vic Smith,and Gervase Webb,who seem to have personal axes to grind.
look if you have nothing of any value,apart from attempts to score points,and make personal attacks ,then do not do it here.
Mudcat ,is about discussion of music,not cheap point scoring.
let others who wish to discuss,do so.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 05:01 PM

Having re-read the OP, I thought again about my comments. I think reviews are probably quite useful for a buying public who want and use them.

I don't want, or use use them personally, but I assume that others do so, and no doubt I in some way receive a drip feed of useful information about music I might like.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:54 PM

And I do hope the musician who started off this thread isn't thinking of moonlighting as a critic. He might well be a competent musician, but his writing style is so laughably dire that he's unwittingly provided the best riposte to his own posts.
Give me Rod Stradling, Colin Randall or Robin Denselow any day.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM

Matt Milton wrote - near the top of this thread
But don't let me hog it all - you too can rejoice in parading Luddite and unreflecting opinions in further posts in this wilfully ignorant and ghettoising thread...


Matt,
I'm afraid that you are falling into the same trap as I did a while back. It led to me receiving the following piece of advice in a PM:-

Vic
I think you've forgotten the First Commandment of Mudcat
"Do not try to argue with Captain Birdseye*, for it will end in much wailing and gnashing of teeth"
It is easy to get tempted, but better to resist!


*AKA Good Soldier Schweik. AKA Dick Miles.

I now follow this advice carefully and would suggest that you do the same.
(I think we are to meet on Sept 17th.)


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:50 PM

I need critics. There's an awful lot of music out there. A lot of it is self-indulgent crap. I don;t have much time to spend listening, so if a critic I respect says x is good or y is bad, or a sounds like b and I like b, then I find that helpful.
The internet, having given us myspace, folkcast and the like, is all well and good, but unless you have infinite time, infinite patience and a very uncritical ear indeed, you're going to find it frustrating.
The arrogance of those who say critics are parasites, or that their opinion doesn't count, is breath-taking. Or are those who utter such bilge really so practically perfect in every way that they really are beyond criticism? In which case those musicians who do listen to what critics say and who respond to positive feedback - those rank amateurs and struggling dilettanti like the Carthys, Bellowheads, Faustus's etc of this world - could really do with listening to you chaps. It might just help them improve a bit and raise their game to your standards!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:33 PM

The unspoken assumption here (SEEMS to be) that maybe critics don't ever say anything good. Folks, they do. I have received reviews that suck. Sometimes the performance did. I have received 'raves', and they were usually for good performances.

There are good critics--when I say good I mean fair. There are bad critics--they are interested in how adeptly they can rip someone apart. However, I have encountered many more of the former (fair) than the latter (bad).

Bruce


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:28 PM

Music critics and reviewers are here, and show no signs of leaving, whatever anyone happens to think about them.

There are performers, organizers, producers, and others who understand how to use them to advantage, and who go to pains to develop and maintain good relationships with them, even when the reviews are less than flattering.

There are performers, organizers, producers, and others who publicly blame "critics" when the seats are empty, when cds don't sell, and when they aren't getting the attention they think they deserve.

The choice is yours...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 03:59 PM

Re-reading my contribution to the OP's previous thread on this subject I can only reiterate that as the steady flow of albums from singers, musicians, songwriters,their PR and their record companies keep arriving, for inclusion in a regional newspaper,I can only assume that some artists still find reviews valuable.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 03:44 PM

Must say, I ceased reading any form of musical press or music criticism after I stopped reading Smash Hits at around eleven. Not that I object to reasoned critique, but I simply cannot abide the usual style of loathesomely onanistic journalism that goes with the territory (no idea what "folk" musical journalism is like as I've never looked at it). As far as the OP is concerned, my abstinence didn't stop me from hearing good music, but then there are DJ's, friends and festivals for that too, along now with online materials. But I guess journalists are an essential link in the chain somewhere. Albeit one that I've intentionally, and happily, succeeded in evading all my adult life as a music lover.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 03:33 PM

"If you want an opinion on how to make a musical instrument,you ask an instrument maker". True, but if you want an opinion on how well the instrument plays, you ask someone who can play it. Instrument makers are not always proficient players.

The internet hasn't made critics redundant. Firstly, not everything is on the net (although it may sometimes seem like it). Secondly, unless you rely on serendipity, how do you know who to listen to in the first place? Critics can help to point you towards interesting music - it's then up to you to make up your own mind.

There are good critics and bad critics. Some are musicians (failed or otherwise) some are not. The two are not related. What is important in a critic is that they understand what they are listening to and can give a well-written, honest opinion. You soon learn whose opinions you can trust and whose tastes you share.

Dick, if you as a musician want a critique of your performance to help to polish it, then you're probably right to ask another musician whose judgement you trust. For the general listener to find out what to listen to out of all the new performers coming forward, critics are still useful.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM

'assertion that technology has rendered the music critic redundant'

Not quite accurate... there was no such 'assertion', simply a question.

As you've chosen to regard it as an assertion, it explains your rather melodramatic histrionics.

Didn't like that? Sorry, I was just being a critic.

Touché...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smokey.
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM

It's possible to be over-sensitive to criticism, in which case it's best to avoid reading them..


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 02:36 PM

Uh, gents, are either of you critics? If so, I hope you're not doing a review today . . . .


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM

Codswallop.
If you want an opinion on how to make a musical instrument,you ask an instrument maker,you dont ask a tightrope walker.
   
[ Ultimately the only real qualification a music writer should have is that they want to write about music.]end of quote.
more rubbish,would you allow somebody whose only desire was to write about literature or art,to do so because they wanted to,regardless of whether they had any knowledge of the subject,of course not.
not only do you talk shite ,but you have a massive spirtle stick which you have been stirring the shite with.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:55 PM

Blimey, we're getting every single hackneyed, done-to-death argument on this thread.

Yeah right, so we'll get Martin Carthy to write all reviews of English folk music from now on, shall we? I've read enough terrible reviews by extraordinarily talented musicians in my time to know that it's a long way from a guarantee of a well-written review.

Just as a lot of good writers are also good musicians, there are a lot of great musicians who can't string an intelligible sentence together. There are acknowledged experts in their fields who have appalling taste in music. Then there are writerly amateurish enthusiasts who give banal thumbs-up reviews to everything. In other words, you can't generalise AT ALL.

I enjoyed reading Eliza Carthy's review of Mary Hampton's album in fRoots. It was a fun, enthusiastic read. But it wasn't iconoclastic, thought-provoking stuff the way writing by, say, Ben Watson, or Ian Penman is. What I mean is, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that criticism by renowned musicians is any more incisive than that by non-musicians. If anything they're probably a bit more reticent.

I can't make biscuits, but I will defend my write to praise the custard cream and damn the digestive whenever I see fit. Ultimately the only real qualification a music writer should have is that they want to write about music. The ones who only think they do, who just like the idea, generally fall by the wayside. The ones that stick to it, surprise surprise, tend to be the ones who LIVE for music. They certainly don't do it for the money.

I note that the author of this thread has suddenly gone very quiet about his incorrect - in every objective sense - assertion that technology has rendered the music critic redundant.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:53 PM

And if there were more reviewers and critics who wrote about folk/traditional music in the mainstream press, there would be a lot more people at the folk clubs, and the concerts, and more cds would be sold.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smokey.
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM

Professional critics are a necessity of the music business. Fact of life. They help people make their minds up - their actual opinions are not of primary importance. It's free publicity. Whatever the critic might write, the readers will either agree with it or disagree, but the point is that they've been made aware of the product.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM

Who's Ian Anderson?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:37 PM

no, I did not mean Ian Anderson,I have never criticised Ian as a reviewer.
I repeat, I have never criticised Ian Anderson as a reviewer.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM

That last was me. Sorry--lost my cookie--


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:24 PM

Reviewers and critics (and there is a great difference between the two) are essential to the performing arts, for one simple reason--they create "awareness" and build "familiarity", and without those, people don't attend concerts or buy cds.

It often doesn't even matter what is said--there are many artists who have climbed to the top because their names have been dragged through the mud. What does matter is that critics and reviewers get people talking, and that is what keeps the seats filled.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:14 PM

no,I wont name names,there are too many of them.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 12:59 PM

Name names, then.

And I suggest you don't name your favourite bugbear because for some topics (blues, Madagascan music) he is immensely knowledgeable.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 12:57 PM

If I put music out for public consumption, critics will have their say. Them's the breaks.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 12:44 PM

I am of the opinion that lot of reviewers tell us more about themselves than what they are reviewing.
why should not the reviewers be reviewed,who are these people who have the power to make and break peoples careers,who often have no qualification ,other than the ability,to write good prose.
Roy Harris is an example of someone who does have the Qualification to review others work,why /,because he has been and done it successfully.
if Martin Carthy were to review,most of us would treat his reviews with respect,why ,because he has done the business.
if I ,I want constructive criticism I ask a fellow musician who I respect,I do not ask a roadsweeper,or a tone deaf journalist.
if I want to know about decorative pargetting,I ask a master plasterer.
yet in the folk world we have to put up with reviewers who cant play, cant sing,and whose only qualification often is the abilty to write.
well, its just amateurish,yet these amateurs are given unlimited power,to affect professional musicians careers.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 12:00 PM

The writings of the very best music journalists/critics (Jon Savage, Charles Shaar Murray, Colin Harper, Wil Hodgkinson) are sometimes far better than the records that they review!


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