Monday Musing: The Ideology Of The Album

I’ve been wondering about the way that I choose what music to write about, what the reasons for those choices are, and what the consequences of them might be. I feel I’ve been fairly rigorous in examining the way I think and write about specific pieces of music in detail, and I’ve gone to the effort of engaging with (relatively) current schools of thought in critical theory in order to inform my thinking. But this basic question, related both to my personal tastes and to the utility of my blogging, has remained something of a black box. I decided to have a poke around and see what I could break…

Monday Musing: Is Art Political Again?

The more I write about different things, musical aesthetics, the music business, music industry politics, culture and all the rest of it, the less I feel like I’m writing about different things. It’s only when I take a step back that I can see how abstruse and theoretical some of the things I say about aesthetics, for example, must appear, because for me there is nothing less political about a topic like that than there is about any overtly social subject. Everything is political, everything is aesthetic, everything is emotional, everything is spiritual and everything is subject to fruitful theoretical examination …

Monday Musing: Music Scenes And Global Localities

There’s a music scene in your local town or borough. People obsessive or foolhardy enough to make the effort are inventing noises, and making them at other people. The chances are (particularly with small town scenes) that there’s a fair diversity of styles and genres involved, and you’ll probably find pub gigs where sludge metal bands share the bill with indie rock outfits, or punk bands with funk acts. This is the beauty of geographically specific scenes, because it’s always good, for musicians and audiences both, to make connections between musics: that’s where exciting new sounds come from.

Monday Musings: Death of a Simplicity Geek

I’ve decided to devote this edition of Monday Musings to talking about Steve Jobs. You may wonder what a recently deceased technology corporation executive has to do with the sort of things I usually write about, other than iTunes, obviously. The short answer is that I’m not too sure, but I felt the need to write about Jobs at some length as soon as I heard he was dead. First, a brief chronology of my early encounters with the man. I suppose the first time his work impinged on my consciousness was when I started at secondary school…

Saturday Summary 024

Two deaths loom large this week. The first is of a seminal figure in the history of the acoustic steel string guitar, folk innovator Bert Jansch. First coming to widespread attention as a part of folk/ jazz fusion pioneers Pentangle, his playing was influential on more than one generation of guitarists, starting with his contemporaries such as Jimmy Page. Here’s his obit in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/oct/05/bert-jansch and here’s one from The Quietus: http://thequietus.com/articles/07121-bert-jansch-obituary

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Previously on Saturday Summary, Carmen is becoming suspicious of Raoul’s friendship with Anneka, while Jackson is paranoid that The Beast suspects him of involvement in Algernon’s disappearance… And also, I didn’t post any how-tos or regular bloggery, because I just got carried away with all the exciting Facebook news (yawn). So here’s a more balanced selection of links in the absence of any Major Events.

Saturday Summary 022

This week your intrepid investigative correspondent has conducted a great deal of painstaking and potentially dangerous research, to discover that the main story around the new music industries is the f8 Facebook conference. Frankly I find the whole thing rather tedious, as my personal interest is in the varied, individuated, customized and hackable, rather than the monolithic and conventional, but it’s moderately likely that the announcements have some real implications for people’s listening and sharing habits in the near to middling distance.

Saturday Summary 021

As far as I’m concerned, extending the copyright in sound recordings to seventy years is a depressingly retrograde step. The argument usually advanced is that royalties on recordings represent an important income source for aging session musicians who failed to make any provision for their old age. Well, I also have failed to make any provision for my old age, but when I’m old I won’t be asking anyone to carry on paying me for work I did in my 20s and 30s.

Monday Musings: My Musical Utopia, What It Is, How We Might Get There, And Why We Won’t

Once when I was making my first, abortive attempt at getting a degree, I was sitting in a seminar discussing H.G. Wells’ The History Of Mr. Polly. It was stated, quite forcefully, by the tutor, that because it didn’t articulate a clear alternative, the book’s critique of Edwardian petit-bourgeois life was flawed and incomplete: I objected to this on two grounds. Firstly, the book’s central character simply goes off and does something he finds more rewarding, that attracts less status, and that is an alternative (that’s what I’ve done with my own life) …

Monday Musings: Music, Politics, Subculture and Resistance

My thinking in various areas has been converging in recent months. For a while this weekly series of essays was alternating between pieces on the music industry, and pieces on music criticism: it’s getting steadily harder for me to maintain that distinction. For one thing, my valuations of music are not entirely independent of my position on various aspects of musical production: recordings that contain audible signs of artistic integrity tend to sound better to me than those that sound as though they were made with the market in mind.

Saturday Summary 018

A few scattered shots in the long range artillery duel over free music this week, but nothing dramatic. Lots of interesting articles though, on various topics. http://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/journal/article/view/81/134 This is a really interesting and in depth article on the role of militarist imagery in industrial music, but its observations are clearly applicable to other musics that utilise similar visuals. There’s often a deliberate conflict between the associations of imagery and the use to which it is put, but often it is a less aware appropriation, as made clear by the musician in this article who seems to think that saying he uses military uniforms because he finds them sexy is the end of the debate…

Saturday Summary 017

This week, Myspace gets humiliated again, and lots of people have thoughts about new models for the music business. http://blancomusic.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/whats-all-this-about-spotify-again/ An enlightening perspective from an independent label on Spotify’s business practices. While there is an undeniable parallel with radio, and presence on streaming services may be of real promotional value to some of the smaller players, unless you’re a major then the paid streaming model is essentially based on theft: someone other than the rights holder being the financial beneficiary of distribution.