Thursday, November 05, 2009

No banal chatter day


BBC Radio Scotland is having its annual 'no music day' on November 21st, which is the day before Benjamin Britten's birthday. 'No music day' is an interesting concept, but I have a better idea. BBC Scotland's sister network BBC Radio 3 should have a 'no presenter day' when they play music without the classical jocks in between. I guarantee Radio 3's audience will increase by at least one on November 21st if they take up my suggestion.

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11 comments:

Philip said...

An excellent idea, Pliable. I shall myself be having my usual 'No BBC 3 At All Day'. I live in exile in Canada so I'm used to this -- I've been having 'No CBC 2 Day' every day for a dog's age.

It is easy. I have, courtesy of one website (classicalwebsite.com) access to some 150 or so classical radio stations around the world just a click away. A wee while ago, a quick tour of selected ports of call revealed Finzi and Byrd about to come from Oslo, Granados coming from Helsinki, Beethoven G major piano concerto in concert from Athens, Schumann's Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in concert from Holland via Hong Kong, Bruch from Coorparoo (Queensland, as you asked), Telemann from Bogata, Mozart piano trios in concert from Rome. Sufficient to get the general idea thereof.

There are some duff ones -- those with ads, those that play movements ripped from the whole, some with unreliable links, -- but not many, and I've got a list of crackerjack stations without ads, without fatuous gabble, without stories about Aunt Mabel's cat and the Mahler symphony, without Petrock Trelawney.

Obviously, I'm glossing over the fact that I don't actually know what the hell is being said on most of these stations, but it is a striking thing that so many in all parts do little more than announce the music and performer(s) before playing the music and again after. If there is more than that and in a language I know or I can grasp the gist of, it is invariably, on the stations I go to, intelligent stuff indeed. The only station I know that condescends, cheapens and goes for the LCD as BBC 3 does is CBC 2, which is now beyond hope. The ABC and NZBC have not gone the same route -- or not to such a degree, though I detect a little pandering in Oz -- and I find that very interesting. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, however, the explanation is that they take their music very seriously. Bend an ear to stations in South America and one is reminded of El Sistema or the reception Arrau got when he returned to Chile after Pinochet's departure. To people in other parts, music is important and there is no trifling with it.

Pliable said...

'I'm glossing over the fact that I don't actually know what the hell is being said on most of these stations' ...

Yes, that also applies to BBC Radio 3 as far as I am concerned.

On a more cheerful note, why do I have so many readers in Canada? I never really thought of Canadians as being bolshie by nature. But then they have produced a disproportionately large number of very fine musiicans.

Pliable said...

An excellent follow-up to my post from composer Daniel Wolf -

http://renewablemusic.blogspot.com/2009/11/cut-chatter.html

Pliable said...

Email received:

It’s interesting they chose November 21. The 22nd is St. Cecilia’s Day.

As for not listening to CBC Radio 2: count me in. I haven’t listened (with one exception) to it since the day I left in 1998!

Cheers

David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

David, as well as being St Cecilia's day, November 22 is the birthday of Benjamin Britten, Jacob Obrecht Wilhelm Friedmann Bach, Joaquin Rodrigo and a certain blogger.

Philip said...

Huge thanks for alerting me to Daniel Wolf's blog, now bookmarked.

I'm a Londoner transplanted to a place not far from Vancouver, and in the general way of things I think the common observation that Canadians are a passive lot, perhaps dangerously so at times, is accurate. But they also have a tendency to the passive-agressive mode which amounts to very thinly veiled criticism of things they don't like, e.g., the United States for most of them.

When CBC 2 was eviscerated the criticism wasn't veiled at all, but it did no good. The station had already been reduced to programmes mostly of inane twittering reluctantly interrupted by short pieces of music or movements. Now it has been further diminished by resricting classical music to a few hours on weekdays only, except for Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and the Sunday morning Choral Concert, and the much-esteemed and truly knowledgeable hosts of those two programmes have been replaced by the same sort of twitterers and cream-faced loons who make the weekday programmes unendurable. The rest of the broadcasting time is taken up with folk, ethnic, jazz, world, to reflect the diversity of blether, blether, blether.

Canada has produced some very fine musicians, but, my word, when it comes to broadcasting classical music it must be very close to the bottom of the league. This is one area in which the US puts us to shame.

Pliable said...

'The station had already been reduced to programmes mostly of inane twittering reluctantly interrupted by short pieces of music or movements.'

Again that sounds very familiar.

Pliable said...

Email received:

I am proud and honoured to say that the two main shows I worked on at the CBC, from 1988-1992, was Choral Concert, and Saturday Afternoon At The Opera.

Alas, even today, these shows do not have the same presence as they did in bygone days….

Cheers

David Cavlovic

Drew80 said...

It’s too bad you have to pay that ridiculous annual licensing fee, Pliable, because otherwise you could simply laugh off the BBC and ignore it entirely.

I do not know radio listening patterns and habits in the U.S., but I suspect our radio audience is very, very small and destined to continue to shrink.

I say this for three reasons: (1) I know no one who listens to radio, ever; (2) radio stations for sale in U.S. markets have commanded ever-lower prices for the last decade as profitable stations have become fewer and fewer in number; and (3) U.S. television viewing has collapsed over the last thirty years, which would suggest that radio listening has collapsed, too.

A Pew survey from a couple of years ago claimed that fewer than thirty per cent of educated U.S. males watched television—and I suspect that the thirty per cent figure would be pretty representative for radio as well.

Pliable said...

'It’s too bad you have to pay that ridiculous annual licensing fee'

Amen to that.

Drew, do you think anyone in the States might want to buy the BBC? We would accept a very low price just to be rid of it.

Drew80 said...

I don't think so, Pliable--U.S. media companies are in financial distress right now, selling off assets left and right and laying off personnel in huge numbers.

In fact, several U.S. media companies are currently engaged in bankruptcy proceedings, and that number is expected to grow.