All that twitters is not gold

That tweet saddens me. It was written by Jeremy Pound who identifies himself without disclaimer on his Twitter account - see below - as the deputy editor of BBC Music Magazine. I don't know Jeremy Pound, but presumably he is a very nice guy who holds a senior position in an influential publication which he reached due to his qualifications and experience. Of course all of us have blind spots in our music appreciation. But is it not the role of a writer to report with a reasonable degree of objectivity that a work fails to engage them, fails to move them, or is beyond their comprehension? And is it not also their role to explore why that vital connection has not been made? Karlheinz Stockhausen has been judged by others with far stronger credentials than Jeremy Pound to be an important if controversial figure in late 20th-century music. To publicly dismiss one of his seminal works as "a load of pish" - definition "variation of piss, most usually used in the north (particularly Scotland)" - is an act of hubris which further undermines my confidence in the future of music journalism.

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Pliable said…
Neil Talbott comments on Facebook: 'I wish I felt less judgmental about this Pound chap. Devaluing the currency of music. He makes himself sound cheap and spivvy in that tweet. Incidentally, I don't really find Stimmung that easy to listen to in any 'western' conventional sense.'
Eric Edberg said…
If he had written a non-inflammatory tweet like, "I have a blind spot for Stockhausen, but many musicians I admire find his music engaging and absorbing," I doubt you would have written a blog post about it. The tweet he did write is the kind of thing that gets retweets, critical blog posts like yours, and other publicity, which raises his public profile and in all likelihood got him more Twitter followers. By publicizing his tweet, you have (inadvertently, I assume) rewarded the type of writing you are criticizing, at least in terms of the social-media game he is playing.
Pliable said…
Very good point Eric and thank you for making it. But what should we do? Should we let this kind of foolishness prevail? Or should we speak up? It's not a rhetorical question - I would welcome views.
Pliable said…
Jeremy Pound has said on Twitter, among other things, that he "would appreciate the right of reply". As is longstanding practice on this blog, comments about this post can be submitted for moderation and possible publication.
Philip Amos said…
I have looked for some word re Pound's qualifications and experience on the internet, but with no success. However, I was just curious, for in these days 'qualifications', pieces of paper, tell me nothing. I taught in universities for some forty years, and I aver that a graduate today will most likely have the level of knowledge of their chosen subject equal to a passing grade in a GCE A-level in the 1960s. This is not a mere guess. I did a survey of the opinions of both faculty and students about this issue, i.e., the appalling decline of standards in the education system in Britain, and also in North America. And so to Tom Service of the Guardian, who has a doctorate in music from, I think, Southampton, and who notoriously wrote a column in which he mentioned Wagner's Valkyries zooming around the world killing warriors, just one his howlers. The responses to that may be imagined. Suffice to say that one commenter was banned, and I, who was mightily persistent on this, was replied to by Service's editor, who said that we should be civil (which I was, in fact) because everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. Well, not about Wagner's Valkyries they not! Nor, it occurs to me, about Beethoven's piano sonatas, of which the publicist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra said he composed 111. I'm sick to death of all this ignorance, and the tolerance of it by newspapers, symphony orchestra executives, et al. My response to Mr. Edberg is that Pound's twitter was the stuff of ignorant comments on YouTube, and juvenile. This is but one example (to which I've added two more) of first, the state of the education system, and secondly, the state of musical criticism, to which I add the quality of orchestra executives and their employees. This list, of course, could be much longer, for the number of guilty parties is large. If nothing is done about it, if passivity prevails, it will continue to wreak mayhem on classical music, and there is vastly too much of that from various 'stakeholders' in the music business already. But nothing will be done unless these dollops of ignorance issuing from influential sources are highlighted, their perpetrators called out. That is why Bob was absolutely right to write a post about it, especially as Overgrown Path is a very widely read and highly respected blog, one of the few serious music blogs remaining, the rest now being devoted to self-promotion and posts that are mostly vacuous twaddle. If Pound gets more Twitter followers from this, it will only be for the same reason Slipped Disc has a large following -- in large degree of people who correct his errors and call out him out when he posts click-bait. That doesn't matter. These people should be nailed for their bits of idiocy and ignorance, else things will never improve in newspaper columns, blogs, education, the world of classical music. And that list could be added to as well.
Pliable said…
Thanks for that Philip. One point that is worth clarifying is that BBC Music Magazine is not a BBC publication. BBC Music Magazine is a title of Immediate Publishing which is owned by a private equity fund. Their other titles include Simply Knitting, Love Crochet, Made for Mums and Gardeners' World.
Pliable said…
It is worth noting that Jeremy Pound has now blocked me from viewing his Twitter account. Which is not something that I am losing any sleep over. Particularly because an account is only blocked if the other party is logged on to Twitter. So as I am hardly ever logged on, the tweets by @jeremypound71 are all available for me to read. What a strange parallel universe social media is.

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