Wednesday, April 28, 2010

God save punk classical


The recent death of the The Sex Pistols former manager Malcolm McLaren, the launch of the 2010 BBC Proms season and the future of classical music blogs come together on this path. My 'love it or hate it' header image was created as a parody of the famous Sex Pistols album cover by Francisco Arriba from Buenos Aires in Argentina. Francisco writes an excellent and little-known English language blog titled I Hate Music! and that brings me to the future of classical music blogs.

Over on the similarly excellent Renewable Music composer Daniel Wolf penned an excellent post last week which said:
I may well be missing some activity, but judging from the blogs I follow, there has recently been a aggregatel decline in the frequency and volume of independent classical music blogging, with the number of institutional music blogs increasing.
In a comment on his blog I agreed with Daniel. By any measure the momentum is going out of the classical music blogs and the rise of the institutional blog, as opposed to the independent species, seems to have a lot to do with it. On BBC Radio 3 there is a classical music chat show called In Tune around which a fun little game can be played. Go to the In Tune website, see who the guests are, then work out what concert, CD or book they are trying to flog while being egged on by the fawning presenter. In the same way more and more blogs are now doing little more than flogging concerts, CDs or books, and the readers know it.

It is probably inevitable, but the commercialisation of music blogs means they are no longer 'hot' media. Having finally received my EMI pension (which now buys a few of their CDs each month - that's renewable music for you), my thoughts sometimes turn to which other independent blogs will still be around when I retire my keyboard. The fallible invesp.com top 25 music blogs ranking contains a depressing mix of longstanding blogs (including this one) and an increasing number with barely disguised commercial agendas. Invesp.com's top 25 does not yet list Renewable Music, I Hate Music! Antoine Leboyer's Beckmesser's Rants, Gavin Plumley's Entarte Music and Tam Pollard's Where's Runnicles? I hope they make it there because all five are examples of a species that is under threat, the free thinking music blog.


This post started with the BBC Proms, so take your seats and hold on tight because I now want to return to that subject. I'll happily drink to God Save the Proms, especially if someone else is paying. But what a shame so much fine music is being subordinated to the hoopla and super-sized egos that are as much part of today's Proms as the bust of Sir Henry Wood in front of the Albert Hall organ. Beyond the hoopla there are some pretty punk programmes in the 2010 season. Here are just five 'must listen' examples:

Arvo Pärt, St John Passion - August 17
Cage, Cardew, Skempton, Feldman - Aug 20
Dowland, Britten, Gesualdo, Brett Dean, Monteverdi, Betty Olivero - August 21
Judith Weir, Thea Musgrave, Bayan Northcott, Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Gabriel Jackson - Sept 4
Penguin Cafe - Sept 8

Yes, God Save the Proms. But as Radio 3 is currently a 24/7 orgy of Proms self-congratulation a little balance can surely do no harm? Not one of the concerts I have highlighted is in the main 7.30pm Albert Hall slot. So what happened to the end of ghettoising challenging music at the Proms? For some the hoopla of Radio 3's classical jocks is literally a turn off. Could not the BBC use its bandwidth on the Freeview service to provide an alternative announcer-less 'clean' audio feed from the Proms for those of us who want to hear the music and hall ambience without the patronising presenter? If we have to accept 'progress' in the form of Classic FM-style concerts of music from Broadway musicals cannot a publicly-funded budget of £9m also buy us progress in the form of more than one concert of non-Western art music? - again plus ça change. Talking of non-Western art music isn't there a risk of conflict of interests in the BBC Radio 3 World Routes Academy around which that late night Prom on August 9 is built? I would like to hear answers to all those questions; but I'm not expecting them to appear on a certain institutional blog.

But talking of questions and answers let's return to punk. Here to end is a little Overgrown Path game, and, as usual, I have nothing to flog except some great music. My question is which sadly departed classical musician who has featured here several times was passionate about the music of Brian Eno and Philip Glass, and was a fan of the 'mother of punk' Nina Hagen seen below? If you don't know the answer and can resist the power of Google I'll give the solution here tomorrow. And that mention of Brian Eno and solutions takes us down a path that is very 'hot' for UK readers.


I did not receive an invite to the 2010 Proms press lauch, described by an institutional blog as 'one of the best music biz parties of the year'. Francisco Arriba gave me permission to use his God Save the Proms image. Any other copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

4 comments:

Tam Pollard said...

Thanks for the mention.

There seems to be something very odd with those rankings to be sure. I submitted my blog a while back and it tells me I have no visitors and no RSS subscribers - doubtless why I'm not on the list. Google analytics and feedburner (not to mention comments and the like) give me very different results).

Pliable said...

My pleasure Tam, and it is good to see Donald Runnicles with Elgar and RVW at this year's Proms.

About those blog rankings and to misquote Libby Purves:

'All that you can do is to make - and publicise - the best and most passionately well-crafted blog posts you can think of. Ratings have to be watched, but calmly and with a sense of proportion. You have to believe that if even one person is swayed, or inspired, or changed, or comforted, by a post, then that post has been worthwhile.'

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/12/thoughts-from-vienna-woods.html

Frank said...

Many thanks. It is a great honor to be mentioned here: is an incentive to continue working.

Antoine Leboyer said...

Thanks as well indeed.

John Adams's Hell Mouth (http://www.earbox.com/posts/76) is not included as well ...

Best, Antoine