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music critics,do we need them?

The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 06:55 AM
Dave Hanson 25 Aug 09 - 07:03 AM
Leadfingers 25 Aug 09 - 07:12 AM
Bernard 25 Aug 09 - 07:16 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 08:11 AM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 08:42 AM
Betsy 25 Aug 09 - 08:45 AM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 08:48 AM
Smedley 25 Aug 09 - 09:06 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 09:06 AM
Gibb Sahib 25 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Aug 09 - 09:21 AM
mrmoe 25 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,guest_olddude 25 Aug 09 - 09:45 AM
Dave Hanson 25 Aug 09 - 10:01 AM
Smedley 25 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 10:05 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 10:11 AM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 10:23 AM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 11:04 AM
doc.tom 25 Aug 09 - 11:10 AM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 25 Aug 09 - 11:28 AM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM
Steve Hunt 25 Aug 09 - 12:00 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 12:44 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 12:57 PM
Jack Campin 25 Aug 09 - 12:59 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 01:14 PM
GUEST 25 Aug 09 - 01:24 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 01:37 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 01:53 PM
matt milton 25 Aug 09 - 01:55 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 02:36 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM
Bernard 25 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM
Howard Jones 25 Aug 09 - 03:33 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 25 Aug 09 - 03:44 PM
Dave Sutherland 25 Aug 09 - 03:59 PM
M.Ted 25 Aug 09 - 04:28 PM
Peace 25 Aug 09 - 04:33 PM
Gervase 25 Aug 09 - 04:50 PM
Vic Smith 25 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM
Gervase 25 Aug 09 - 04:54 PM
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The Sandman 25 Aug 09 - 05:36 PM
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MGM·Lion 26 Aug 09 - 04:57 AM
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JeremyRS 26 Aug 09 - 05:51 AM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 06:37 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 06:48 AM
Smedley 26 Aug 09 - 06:51 AM
Gervase 26 Aug 09 - 06:53 AM
JeremyRS 26 Aug 09 - 07:18 AM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM
Smedley 26 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM
M.Ted 26 Aug 09 - 12:12 PM
The Sandman 26 Aug 09 - 01:02 PM
Howard Jones 26 Aug 09 - 03:22 PM
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dick greenhaus 26 Aug 09 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 27 Aug 09 - 06:19 AM
The Sandman 27 Aug 09 - 06:40 AM
Gervase 27 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM
Dave Sutherland 27 Aug 09 - 07:48 AM
Gene Burton 27 Aug 09 - 07:55 AM
Howard Jones 27 Aug 09 - 08:19 AM
The Sandman 27 Aug 09 - 08:35 AM
Peace 27 Aug 09 - 08:40 AM
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Stringsinger 27 Aug 09 - 11:30 AM
Howard Jones 27 Aug 09 - 02:49 PM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 06:43 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 07:38 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM
Smedley 28 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM
Morris-ey 28 Aug 09 - 08:43 AM
Jack Campin 28 Aug 09 - 09:01 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 09:10 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 09:31 AM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 09:40 AM
Stringsinger 28 Aug 09 - 10:02 AM
Morris-ey 28 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM
Jack Campin 28 Aug 09 - 10:24 AM
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The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 11:28 AM
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Gervase 28 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM
The Sandman 28 Aug 09 - 07:35 PM
Peace 28 Aug 09 - 07:38 PM
Betsy 28 Aug 09 - 07:59 PM
Betsy 28 Aug 09 - 08:35 PM
Jack Campin 28 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM
My Consistent ID 28 Aug 09 - 10:55 PM
My Consistent ID 28 Aug 09 - 11:27 PM
The Sandman 29 Aug 09 - 06:26 AM
George Papavgeris 29 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM
The Sandman 29 Aug 09 - 07:35 AM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 07:45 AM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 07:49 AM
Gervase 30 Aug 09 - 01:49 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 02:38 PM
Gervase 30 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 30 Aug 09 - 04:44 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 04:59 PM
mandotim 30 Aug 09 - 05:11 PM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM
Peace 30 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM
Jeri 30 Aug 09 - 09:19 PM
Peace 30 Aug 09 - 09:21 PM
Gervase 31 Aug 09 - 04:18 AM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 01:31 PM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Tootles 31 Aug 09 - 01:59 PM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 02:12 PM
The Sandman 31 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM
John P 31 Aug 09 - 06:53 PM
The Sandman 01 Sep 09 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Sep 09 - 08:09 AM
The Sandman 01 Sep 09 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Sep 09 - 11:01 AM
quokka 08 Oct 09 - 01:03 AM
seligmanson 08 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM
Peace 08 Oct 09 - 09:44 PM
The Sandman 09 Oct 09 - 05:57 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Oct 09 - 07:47 AM
Betsy 09 Oct 09 - 08:36 AM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 11:45 AM
The Sandman 09 Oct 09 - 01:23 PM
seligmanson 09 Oct 09 - 05:14 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 07:07 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Oct 09 - 07:33 PM
Spleen Cringe 09 Oct 09 - 07:51 PM
Peace 09 Oct 09 - 08:53 PM
Betsy 09 Oct 09 - 09:05 PM
seligmanson 09 Oct 09 - 09:27 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Oct 09 - 03:23 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 10 Oct 09 - 05:55 AM
Spleen Cringe 10 Oct 09 - 06:10 AM
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seligmanson 10 Oct 09 - 04:48 PM
Spleen Cringe 11 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM
Spleen Cringe 11 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 09 - 03:19 PM
The Sandman 11 Oct 09 - 03:36 PM
The Sandman 12 Oct 09 - 03:27 PM
seligmanson 19 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM
Spleen Cringe 19 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM
Peace 19 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM
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Stringsinger 20 Oct 09 - 01:37 PM
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Subject: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 06:55 AM

Now that we have the internet,and musicians have the facility to put tracks up on the net for people to listen to,have music critics become redundant.
do we need anyone to tell us what we should like or not like.
some of these critics who take delight in rubbishing others efforts,are failed singers /musicians themselves,of course that does not mean they are not entitled to an opinion,but is their opinion of any value.
Personally I value criticism,from musicians I respect,but too many of the folk music critics[imo]are people whose main abilty seems to be with the pen.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 07:03 AM

We need music critics like a fish needs a bycicle.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 07:12 AM

There are more than enough critics on this site any way


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 07:16 AM

Of course we need parasites... erm, critics!!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 08:11 AM

You've already done this thread, Dick. It was very long, and there were a lot of salient points made in it. I'd appreciate it if somebody more savvy than me at digging up old threads could do so and link to it.


Yeah, of course nobody needs music critics. Of course they are just parasites. Of course nobody should think about music. Of course nobody should talk about music.

Of course music critics only exist in order to provide a service that facilitates the selling of compact discs by musicians. Of course people read the writings of music critics and take every single utterance as gospel.

Of course the act of a musician making music is in no way ITSELF act of music criticism. Of course music exists entirely in its own vacuum.

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...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 08:42 AM

you call it ignorant,without explaining why it is unknowing or ignorant.
one of my points is that with the availabilty for people to sample and hear tracks,they can listen and make up their own minds ,therefore music critics are not needed,what is ignorant about that?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 08:45 AM

Our opinions amongst ourselves are important,stimulating and naturally subjective so we will probably agree and disagree from time to time on the nuances of songs ,singers , versions which suit us individually. All very healthy stuff I hope a matter of personal taste.
I have just contacted Joe Offer on how to post the words on to Mudcat of a song I wrote - the Critic - which has been recorded by a few people and a lovely version was done on vinyl by Gary and Vera Aspey on their LP Night-shift Army.
Let's see what Joe advises ,as I may need to cut and paste into a message here.
As to the Subject Question - No - we don't need people form our opinions or show us in which direction to think - hopefully we're all big girls and boys now, and quite capable of doing our own thinking !.

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 08:48 AM

How is listening to a track going to tell you if there is (or could be) a better version of the same piece? It's the critic's role to know that.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smedley
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:06 AM

Without reading reviews in assorted magazines, I would never have heard some of the music that means the most to me. And (very occasionally) music critics are also worth reading for the passion, style and wit of their writing.

As for the Internet, it's great if you know where to go, but some guidance on where to find certain things is always helpful. If you just visit sites that cover the music you already like, how are you ever going to be surprised by something from outside your comfort zone ?

As for critics being 'failed musicians', that's a tired old jibe. You might as well say that you can't trust musicians to comment on music because they see everything through their own self-interest.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:06 AM

When will those parasites at fRoots, Songlines, Roots World, Global Rhythm, Living Tradition, Bright Young Folk, Folk Journal, Mondomix, penguineggs, folkworld and all those other parasitical wastes of space wake up and smell the coffee and pack it in?

When will they stumble on that thing called "The Internet" and comprehend that they are utterly redundant? When will they notice that the people who read, buy and subscribe to them are simply figments of their imagination?

What's ignorant about your thread, Dick, is that it refuses to accept that music is not just about whether you like something enough to spend money on an album of it. I think you know this; I think there's a big element of disingenuousness to this thread. Why are you bringing this up again when you instigated this exact same topic, which was discussed pretty exhaustively, a couple of months ago?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM

Here's some 'info' on this topic:
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=119270


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:21 AM

Folk song is, as far as I can make out, the only creative pursuit in which the participants consider themselves above criticism. I suppose the next logical step is to formalise that position.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: mrmoe
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM

I need them.....but only briefly....trying to "fill up" a myspace page and would love some "critic text" to add.....feel like giving a few songs a listen and forwarding your critique?.... http://www.myspace.com/michaelorlen


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:38 AM

Sure. Find somewhere else to put them instead of being Rupert Murdoch's arsehole buddy. Criticism enough for you?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,guest_olddude
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:45 AM

How else will we know what rap CD to run out an purchase without them


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:01 AM

Them that can, do, them that can't either criticise or teach.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smedley
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM

So now you want to get rid of teachers too ????


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:05 AM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

how'd you learn to read, as a matter of interest? I'm assuming you can.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:11 AM

Keep em comin'! This thread might just be the best advertisement for informed, considered music criticism there's ever been!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM

Jim,I am all for informed criticism ,when I want it, I generally go to a musician who I respect and ask for it[was not that the purpose of the Critics group]
in fact I did this only yesterday,about certain tracks on you tube.
Matt Milton implies that I am some sort of Luddite[this is bizarre]because I am suggesting that through the advent of new technology[the computer],music reviews are redundant.
Jack Campin,all you need to do is google the name of a song, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy]hey presto,different versions appear, the copper family, tim hart, show of hands.,and many more.
we can listen to these and then make up our own minds.
Finally Matt Milton,I started the thread because I wanted to talk about it and hear other peoples opinions,nothing more nothing less,is that clear.
as I understand it that is the purpose of Mudcat ,if you dont like it you can ignore the thread .


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:23 AM

Answer the question I asked you please. I asked you why you were bringing this up AGAIN so soon after the last time you brought it up. What were you expecting to read this time that you didn't read last time?

See, some people might think that if somebody had already canvassed other people's opinions on something in a pretty damn exhaustive recent thread, to do so AGAIN might imply the person in question had some bee in their bonnet about something? Hmmmm?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:04 AM

Finally Matt Milton,I started the thread because I wanted to talk about it and hear other peoples opinions,nothing more, nothing less,is that clear.
the other thread was started nearly six months ago.
you are free to think what you like,if you dont like the thread ignore it,and let others make contributions,its called freedom of speech.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: doc.tom
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:10 AM

I've always thought the biggest problem is that 'critics'(almost invariably self-appointed, even when 'invited') mis-understand their function and criticise rather than offering a critique - big difference!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM

Maybe a clone could merge this thread with the old one? We certainly don't need two.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM

all you need to do is google the name of a song, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy]hey presto,different versions appear, the copper family, tim hart, show of hands.,and many more.

I preferred to google the name of the song along with "mustrad" to see what Rod Stradling's reviewers might have had to say about versions of that song. (You do know who Rod Stradling is? You regard him as a musical failure retreating into criticism to vent his spleen? You regard the whole Mustrad enterprise as pointless?)

Can you find this one on the web?

Jeff Davis

and if you did, would it tell you as much as that short review about what the CD is like?

And how about this one?

Verandah Music

How many YouTube clips would you have to watch to learn as much as that review tells you about Australian folk music?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:28 AM

For some reason, I am reminded of an old saying regarding business professors when I was in college: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

Many critics will profess a love of their subject areas, but have not been lucky enough or good enough to have enjoyed personal success in performing or creating. Others have simply been assigned a critic's duties by their broadcasters or publishers. They rarely gain notice by being simply agreeable. Sarcasm is often a huge part of their kit.

They all represent "one person's opinion." I can get that for free on the street any day.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM

They all represent "one person's opinion." I can get that for free on the street any day..

You can get this for free on the street?

Mustrad review of the new Greig-Duncan book

(I don't have any connection with Mustrad, I'm just using them as one of many examples of consistently good and insightful folk music criticism by people who really do know what they're talking about).


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM

you conveniently ignore all the critics who are also musicians, often quite successful ones. this is the case a hell of a lot more often in "niche" musics (folk, jazz) than it is in rock. That generalisation about sarcasm is nothing more than a generalisation.

Dick Miles' original question – is music criticism redundant now that the Internet allows us to easily hear (the majority) of the sort of music covered by music criticism - is a very bad one.

It's inherent absurdity is revealed by the kind of knots you have to tie yourself in just to phrase it - what is the sort of music generally covered by music criticism? Two immense bloody elephants in the room immediately trumpet:

1. The huge preponderence of ONLINE REVIEWS – the Internet has seen an explosion in the popularity of music blogs, online magazines etc
2. the fact that youtube and myspace have, built-in, the facility of commenting upon (or, to use a different word REVIEWING) the content. (Note: the quality of comment is almost always superficial: generally either "AWESOME" or "YOU SUCK" variety)

But there's a million bloody obvious other reasons why it was a lame proposition. Like the fact that criticism doesn't just discuss CDs, for one thing - it covers gigs too, which as independant events, someone online most definitely cannot 'make up their own mind about'. (The idea that music criticism inhibits anyone from making up their own mind is laughable to anyone who doesn't have jelly instead of a brain).

The main reason, that I and others have stated and restated, is that people who LOVE MUSIC like to TALK about it. Christ, this is like wading through treacle.

To anyone reading this who is new to folk music: please don't be put off. We're not all self-patronizing dunces who can't read.


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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 04:54 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 06:53 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: Dave Sutherland
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 04:20 PM

'but any uncle tom cobbley amateur,can be allowed to do a review.'
You rightly cite Roy Harris as one of the most trustworthy reviewers around. When Roy was moving to Cardiff he recommended me to The Nottingham Evening Post to take on his role as folk music correspondent on account of my involvement in the music and past experince in a similar capacity. However it wasn't as easy as that; a seaching interview with the Features Editor allowed me a few weeks trial. This few weeks is now sixteen years of following Roy, so presumably I'm doing something right.
I also contribute to a local, on-line magazine where none of my fellow contributers receive a brass farthing yet they take an immense pride in their work; ask the many professional singers and musicians who have had their work reviewed in "Tatters"
Finally I might suggest that there are a Hell of a lot more "Uncle Tom Cobbley amateurs" who have the wherewithal (but not the talent) producing their own albums for critics/reviewers to worry about.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 04:26 PM

Does anyone really think he has the time to sift through the thousands of CDs that are released each week? And if he did, would he ever find something worthwhile that he hadn't been looking for? Critics and reviewers are simply filters--and their value depends on how they tend to agree with your tastes.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 06:19 AM

here are two reviews that illustrate,the difference between professional and amaturish reviewing.
Southern Rag Dec 1984 Dick Miles Cheating The Tide.
Cheating The Tide is a beautifully balanced selection of material including almost everything from American Music Hall[or should that be Vaudeville] through to a magic version of Lady Diamond throughout the record the standard never falters,thanks in no small part to one of those supergroups that only ever seem to materialise in recording studios,in this case imncluding Martin Carthy, Sam Richards.SueMiles ,Tish Stubbs.
All the vocal tracks are delivered with that unassuming sincerity that Dick almost unconsciously projects on a gig.Contrast for instance his lugubrious delivery on the poignant Tommys Lot a strangely dispassionate comment on the First world war,with the deliciously understated jauntiness of The Man Who Sells insurance.Wonderfully subtle stuff.
But it is on the instrumental numbers that Dicks talent comes to the fore.His playing style is rooted in that of the old time concertina greats such as the late Tommy Williams,but has evolved over the past few years into an instantly recognisable Dick MilesSignature.
Dill Pickle Rag will turn any inspiring concertinist a delicate shade of chartreuse,The Cott is a richly melliflous slow piece.
Bill Charltons Fancy a dazzling compilation of triplets and quadruplets all classic examples of virtuoso level musicianship to be enjoyed simply for its own sake.
Alan Harlow Maggy StGeorge
that is a professional review in a professional magazine.
I will post the amateurish review shortly Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 06:40 AM

Singabout August 1987.
playing for time gvr 2382[they cant even print the serial number correctly]its 238.
the reviewer spends a whole paragraph[ten lines] pontificating on why do musicians change direction.
then he shows his ignorance of the subject in the next quote
[theres even would you credit,an attempt at a Lennon MCcartney medley Yesterday/All My Lovingwhich is[ he searches for a charitable word]incongruous on a concertina.
,historically the concertina has been used to play the popular music of the day,so it is not incongruous to play it on a concertina.
this reviewer was amateurish because he displayed his ignorance of the subject matter [the history of concertina playing],further amateurishness, the /magazine/ reviewer printed the incorrect serial number.
printing the correct record number is pretty damn important,if you want to sell any.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM

Hmm, so ten lines of praise is a good review, but a one liner that isn't gushing is a bad review?
I think I see where you're coming from!
As for incongruity, it depends on the context. On a trad recording I'd find a Lennon/McCartney track incongruous, but on a recording showing the virtuosity of a particular instrument or a 'pop goes the folkie' offering, maybe not.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 07:48 AM

Singabout August 1987.

If that date is correct it might be worth checking out who was editor of that publication at the time and why he would permit such an amaturish (sic) review to be included.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 07:55 AM

No.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:19 AM

Dick, if you're going to quote a favourable review in full then you should also quote the other in full, rather than just pick on one line which you disagree with, so that we can judge both.

You may disagree that Lennon/McCartney on concertina is incongruous, but that's a matter of opinion, and one which was probably held more strongly back in 1987 when the concertina was still regarded by many as primarily a folk instrument. You are of course correct about the history, but the "popular music of the day" was somewhat different. I suspect you were aware when you recorded it that you were stepping outside the normal expectations for the instrument, especially at that date - perhaps that's even why you did it (and why not?)

It is still open to the reader to form their own opinion on whether or not it is incongruous - there are probably many who would think, "Actually, I'd rather like to hear that".

I agree it might have been better if the reviewer had concentrated on whether he felt that the arrangement actually worked, but even if he didn't like it, that is still his valid opinion. As long as he explains why he doesn't like it, that is what I would expect to see in a review.

Getting the serial number wrong is unfortunate, but typos happen in the most professional publications, and this is the sort of thing which the artist is entitled to ask to be corrected.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:35 AM

No, Gervase,it has nothing to do with whether someone likes the recording.
A Good review,should tell the potential customer what sort of music is on the recording,give examples of some of the tracks and should be factually accurate.
more latterly I received another good review in Folk roots,although the reviewer was critical of my blues singing,I have no problem with that ,he was right.
firstly. get the serial number of the recording right,
secondly .dont waste space, by making historically inaccurate comments about popular music being incongruous on the concertina.
thirdly. try and be objective as possible,I agree ,its impossible to be totally objective.
for the record[excuse the pun]that recording only had one traditional track,but that was not the reviewers point,
he said that Lennon Mcartneys music was incongruous on the concertina the potential customer does not need this subjective piece of nonsense,and it is nonsense ,the concertina[ever since its invention in the 1840s] historically has been used to play the popular music of the time,check out the Repertoire of the Concertina Bands,and of players like Tommy Williams,Gordon Cutty, music hall artists Pierre Honri , Percy Honri and more   latterly IN the folk world Lea Nicholson.
The reviewer was factually incorrect.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:40 AM

"A Good review,should tell the potential customer what sort of music is on the recording,give examples of some of the tracks and should be factually accurate."

That's a blurb. A review is the writer's considered personal opinion, imo.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:41 AM

Howard
Lea Nicholson was playing Beatles compositions in the early seventies,some 13 years before that recording.
I have a gig tonight sorry ,I do not have any more time to waste on this.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM

Break a leg, Dick.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 11:30 AM

Ultimately, the purpose of criticism in music is to educate. Sometimes music critics
can be full of it. I have learned to appreciate certain musics by being exposed to criticism in which I have agreed or disagreed with the critic.

Everyone purports to be a critic. "opinions are like........... everyone has one"
but the role of the critic is to extend to the reader their knowledge of the subject.
"I don't know anything about art but I know what I like" is an intellectual prison which may give comfort to the inmate but does nothing for the art.

I think that the best critic is a practitioner of the art. Not always because there is that
peculiar line of subjectivity and objectivity. Still, I'd rather hear criticism by an artist that I admire than someone who has not had acquaintance with the artistic practice.

I'll listen, for example, to what Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker have to say about
jazz. (Not Leonard Feather unless I care to learn by disagreeing with him).

When Pete Seeger says something about music I listen. Sometimes he is wrong but
invariably knowledgeable.

When a great conductor such as Leonard Bernstein talks about music, I would have to be a pompous fool to dismiss his ideas.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 02:49 PM

Dick, in the context of the review I believe most readers would interpret "popular music" to mean contemporary pop music, not the popular music of earlier times. Lea Nicholson not withstanding (and Mike Hibbert for that matter), it would have been far less common in the folk world at that time for whom the reviewer was writing) to hear anything other than folk or music hall, and perhaps occasionally classical, played on a concertina. As I recall, attitudes could be still quite entrenched in 1987.

The reviewer was not writing an essay about the historical use of the concertina. He was saying he found your use of it for this piece incongruous. You may not agree, but that was his opinion, and the purpose of a review is to give an opinion. What he was in effect saying was that for him the arrangement didn't work. That is the job of a reviewer.

Whilst criticism in the academic sense should be objective, I see no reason why criticism in the music press should be. A subjective opinion is just as valid, and probably more informative, provided the reviewer gives reasons for his opinions. If a critic says, "This is crap", that's not a review; if he says, "This is crap because..." then that's valid criticism, whether or not you share it. The same applies equally in reverse - gushing praise is valueless unless it is explained.

A reviewer should know something about the music he is reviewing, and should have an affinity for it. The more knowledgeable, the better (although not when a critic uses it as an opportunity to flaunt his own knowledge rather than comment on the subject). If they are musicians themselves, fine, but being a musician is no guarantee of being able to critically review someone else's work, let alone write about it in a fluent and interesting way.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:43 AM

I have to disagree, it is in my opinion ignorance of the subject,as I said Lea Nicholson,was playing Beatles Music the Dam Busters march and doing it well[and getting paid for it] etc etc in folk clubs all over the country way back in 1973.
If the reviewer has led asuch a sheltered life that he hadnt encountered other music than trad folk on a concertina he should not be reviewing
this reviewer lived in Nottingham,at that time I used to see Reuben Shaw,playing his concertina in the co op folk club in Nottingham[his repertoire was the popular music of the twenties]he was incidentally complimentary about my playing of non folk stuff such as Woodland Flowers ,Yesterday,Washington Post etc
this reviewer had people right under his nose in Nottingham,playing non folk music.
he is supposed to be reviewing , why? i is it not a good review,because the reviewer tells us more about himself than the music
what the reviewers job is,is to tell us whether the playing is good or not,not to give his opinion about whether it is incongruous on a concertina.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:38 AM

if a reviewer makes a statement such as Beatles music is incongruous on the concertina ,he should qualify or explain why.
it mught be acceptable for a reviewer,to make the following statement,this piece of music was witten to be played by the composer in a legato style,Joe Soaps attempt to play it on the Bowed Psaltery,is incongruous,because he cannot achieve the composers desired effect with ease on the instrument,that is good reviewing.
it is not acceptable to say Jim Couza should not play Bach on the hammerd dulcimer[because it is incongruous].
it might be acceptable to say Harpsichord music should not be played on the concertina,Ithink it is incongruous because,this particular piece requires the right hand to be louder than the left hand,and that is not possible on the concertina unless double tracking is used,and on this recording it isnt.
reviewers should try and tell us as much about the playing of the music,as well as what is on the recording,this reviewer told us nothing about the playing of the BEATLES MEDLEY,AND DID NOT QUALIFY HIS REMARKS,that is why it was bad reviewing.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM

for the record,I do not find Jims playing of anything incongruous.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Smedley
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM

Twenty-two years on & that review still wrankles ?? Maybe time to let it go.......


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Morris-ey
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 08:43 AM

Had a "bad" review recently, Dick?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:01 AM

Dick obviously isn't going to give us the complete review of that old performance of the Beatles number any more than he's going to name names about anything else, so here goes with an attempt to see where the reviewer might have been coming from.

About ten years ago I was at the annual Collogue of the Lowland and Border Pipers' Society, and Dick Hensold announced a tune as "An Americn Air" - it turned out to be "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which was no problem for his hyper-extended chanter. I heard that some of the pipers in the audience really didn't like that, despite it being a beautifully expressive performance. I think the rationale might have gone like this:

  1. we have a repertoire for this sort of instrument which isn't being played much and deserves a wider audience
  2. it's not going to get it if the instrument becomes seen as simply an exotic colour
  3. so let's keep the instrument associated exclusively with its traditional repertoire until such time as both get wider recognition.


Personally I'd say none of that really applies to the concertina, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a fundamentalist fraction of the concertina world that thinks that way.a


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:10 AM

Smedley,no It does not rankle,I am using it to illustrate the difference between good and bad reviewing.
now these two reviews will illuminate this further.
Dick Miles playing for time gvr 2382
its difficult to guess why an artist decides on a charge of direction:DickMiles has always been associated with traditional English material but his new album has only one English folk,on One April Morning among nine other items.was itboredom with his usual repertoire,or an urgeto please some imagined shift in taste among live audiences?Maybe the lure of royaltiesfor several tracksare self penned or co written?Whatever the reason Dick Milesis making a stab at being relevantto these straitened and Thatcherite times-theres even a lament for a YOPS cast off,a callow youthof eighteen summers,who gives his call for Queen and country in Eighteen Year Jack.
the mood of the lp is decidely down beat with only a couple of polkas to end each side on an up.Sadly the effect is monochrome,where he tries for a languid effect,he ends up torpid where he should be plaintive hes mournful,and the wide variety of material ends up photographic grey.Theres even would you credit,an attempt at a Lennon/McCartney medley[Yesterday Allmy loving]which is [he searches for a charitable word]Incongruous on a concertina.
   The single trad track mentioned earlier is handled with grace and ease-why oh why doesnt Dick Miles go back to doing what he does bestan album of such material would have been a worthwhile project.the only modern song to pass muster is The Soldiers Prayer which is a Miles tune with a lyric that started out on a scrap of paper tucked into a book,but the notes do not know explain whether he was some long dead soldier odr whether Dick knew the man.
Strongly anti war the lyrictells of a soldier afraid to sleep,knowing what dreams will come to him.Iwould like to see Dick handle the song in a live performance because I guess an audience would feed him and improve the impact.
Guest musicians are Sam Richards on piano and synths,and SteveVerge
who contributes some strum along Bert accompaniment on the two polkas at the end of side one.
On the principle that one should always say something positive,Ican tell youthat my pressinghad clean surfaces,and sweet little oil painting o f Dick Miles aged 13 by[wait for it]Letitia Hicks Beach graces the front cover.would that the contents of the sleeve had soaked up a little of the Multi coloured palette.
contrast:
Dick Miles Playing For Time gvr238.
This latest album by Dick Miles oozes gentilty and expression.he doesnt so much sing a song as caress it with loving care and delicate concertina playing.even the more up tempo tunesare played with finesse and technical excellence that they need careful listening to rather than as background music
the tracks are a mixture of tunes traditional and Dicks own songs like Sweetheart of the East which is about Bury St Edmunds,the ethereal `¬The Singer and the Song¬ and the topically pertinent Eighteen Year Jack.
if you are in the mood for music thatis softly performedand pleasnt on the earthen this album will not disappoint you and if not ,buy it anywayand save it until you are. Derek Gifford


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:31 AM

now.
here is why the first review is poor.
the reveiwer makes a remark which he does not qualify[concertina incongrous]etc.
2.he insults my motives for song writing.
3.He finds it necessary to comment[wait for it]on the cover artists name
4.he contradicts himself.
the single trad track is is handled with grace and ease,then states as a put down,on the principle that one should always end by saying something positive,I can tell you that my pressing had clean surfaces.[implying it was the only positive]
what this reviewer does is get caried away with the importance of his own pen,and wanders away [for at least half of the review on matters that are not to do with the recording, why do people change direction ,what are my motives for song writing.,he witters on about the fact I did not mention whether I knew the man in the Soldiers Prayer,What relevance does that have
if he didnt like the modern songs,fine ,but that can be said in one line.that review should be used an example how not to review.
a good reviewer.
should use the following rules
1.donot make unqualified statements.
2.try to be as objective as possible,Iagree it is impossible to be completely unsubjective,but use objectivity as a goal.
3.avoid verbosity,try and use one word not three.
4,tell the potential customer,about the music,not your musical prejudices.
5.do not waste readers time with drivel about artists motives,that is supposition,the customers wantsdetails about the recording nothing else.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:40 AM

smedley and Morissey,You keep missing the point.
Iam trying to illusrate the difference between good and bad reviewing,I am using my own examples because I do not wish to involve other professionals,your attiude sums up what is wrong SUBJECTIVITY.you cant seem to comprehend that somebody might be trying to point out how reviewing could be improve without assuming I am doing it because I have had a RECENT bad review
no,I dont send out review copies havent for years,I send them to radio stations only.
people can sample my music at my website or on dickmilesmusichttp //www.dickmiles.com youtube,


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:02 AM

Good criticism can enhance the understanding of a performer. Sometimes the flaws
are as important as the good stuff.   For example, many songs about topical subjects have been written as well-meaning attempts to stir public consciousness. They have been performed by great singers and players. Many of these songs, however, are
hastily written, patched together in the heat of the moment and do not reflect some of the elements of great songwriting such as consistency in focus, revelation about human character, specificity where you "show rather than tell", rhyme schemes, stanzaic consistency and other factors.

When you bring these things to light, you improve the art of songwriting and you show
the separation between artist and the art. This is good criticism to me.

Sometimes a great performer will miss the context of a song. They get it wrong from the standpoint of meaning or historical background or just inappropriate phrasing and emphasis on the wrong words. Pointing this out to me in no way invalidates the
performer's essentially good qualities but sheds light on the performance in a constructive way.

One characteristic of this albeit kinda' crude is the nice singer-performer Stan Rogers
doing "Waltzing Matilda" as a waltz. He sang well, played well and missed the boat
on this song.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Morris-ey
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM

Dick

To answer your original question, no we don't need music critics any more than we need any other sort of critic.

However, they exist and are good or bad depending on what you expect from them and what they actually deliver.

People must decide for themselves what value to put on their views.

Your plea for objectivity is no doubt heartfelt, but in the absence of both objective criteria for reviewers and, more problematically, objective criteria for musical worth it seems a vain hope.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:24 AM

Dick, of the two reviews of Playing For Time that you quoted, the longer one that you found more negative was the one that would have got me a lot more interested in hearing you - the reviewer was actually involved in what you were trying to communicate, to the point that he wanted more information on the background of the song that he found most significant. The second one depicted you as a free-reed James Blunt.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:26 AM

Before I hear howls of protest, I meant to Stan corrected.

It was Stan Wilson, not Stan Rogers, the latter would never be
guilty of such a misdemeanor.

Frank


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:28 AM

who is James Blunt?I know of a John Blunt[get up and bar the door],was James Blunt,his understudy.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:32 AM

James Blunt ,poor fellow still waiting after 200 years for his chance to get up and bar the door,he must be very frustrated.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 12:16 PM

Jack,the point is this the reviewer clearly prefers traditional songs,perhaps he should not have been given the review,he doesnt like the Modern songs,but does he explain why? is the rhyming poor,are the tunes uninspiring?is the subject matter of no interest to him,it is a further example of a reviewer illustrating his musical prejudices,but not qualifing his criticism,in other words not explaining why he thinks the songs are poor.
perhaps if the album had been sent to a song writer,we might have got some constructive criticism.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 01:28 PM

To be honest, I can't see much wrong with the first review. The critic clearly knows Dick Miles's stuff and has decided that this particular recording isn't his best - and has given his reasons for not liking it.
Still, 22 years on, it clearly still rankles. Maybe it is time to let go now!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 01:43 PM

your missing the point, Gervase,
as I have explained ,I have used this review,one because it is so old,
two because it doesnt involve any other professional artist ,I could have found examples of other bad reviewing involving different people.
three, because I no longer care a f###,the record is out of print,I AM NOT GOING TO LOSE ANY RECORD SALES ETC ETC,it does not rankle.
it illustrates the fundamental tenet of bad reviewing,do not make statements without explaining ones reasons,why is it incongruous to play those tunes on the concertina,it is never explained.fundamental poor reviewing.
by the way, please dont send another unpleasant personal message.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 02:31 PM

I need my music critics.
They stop me hat falling over me ears.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM

Eh? I've had several PMs from yourself which haven't been entirely friendly, but I've sent nothing to you since the one and only message on August 16 upbraiding you for yet another attack on poor old Ian Anderson and on the spelling of your new pseudonym (advice which, I'm glad to see, you've taken).
Anyway, enough of that. There's nothing wrong with the first review. The writer says that your Lennon/McCartney setting seems incongruous set against your usual oeuvre. That's fair enough and clearly explained.
Out of print or not, it clearly still rankles after all this time. But it really doesn't matter. Get over it; it's a fair review, now move on.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:35 PM

what attack on Ian Anderson.
I have checked my posted messages,for that period I do not know what the f### you are on about
you clearly have an over active imagination,not only are you imagining that the review rankles [it does not],but you are imagining I have attacked Ian Anderson.
you sent me a very unpleasant personal message,[some shite about drugs,and theres a luvvy and other obnoxious crap] to which I responded,
now get off my back and go and play with your land rover,or whatever turns you on.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:38 PM

Who's Ian Anderson?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 07:59 PM

I value the opinions of you all , and George P., is even more courageous in his willingness to put his his head on the block.
Sometimes you can be 110 % but sometimes you fall well-short because of other reasons - mostly due to "travelling" and tiredness.
Anyway a good friend of mine - highly regarded in the Scottish Scene by D


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 08:35 PM

My machine is "playing up " will get back to this ....

Betsy


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM

Ian Anderson is is the editor of fRoots, the world music magazine. Plays in a competent but less-than-major-league blues band, has a Madagascan wife and knows a lot about Madagascan music. Has rather a high opinion of himself but not to the point of crankdom. Dick managed to get into a completely pointless and protracted misunderstanding with him once, which is why I alluded to him.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: My Consistent ID
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 10:55 PM

most critics are wankers
and most new music is shite..

there.. everbody agreed and happy..

so now lets all move on and make some better tunes and write about them positively


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: My Consistent ID
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:27 PM

ok, I think I got the gist of this

those who can do

those who can't teach

those who can't do either criticise

and those who could never do anything of any creative value at all ever
waste their remaining retirement life pointlessly bitchin at mudcat

..hmmm ???


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 06:26 AM

my consistent id,you know nothing about the members contributing to this thread,or their musical creativity.
if through discussion ,the standard of musical criticism can be raised ,that has to be good.if the standard of musical criticism is low,no one takes it seriously.
seethe thread, music critics how can they improve.now I am off to play some music.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM

MCI, you missed out two: The one about confusing aphorisms for the truth and the one about witticisms and wit.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 07:35 AM

Dick managed to get into a completely pointless and protracted misunderstanding with him once, which is why I alluded to him.
it was not pointless,it was pertinent to this debate,it was about a music review that purported to be in Folk Roots,but in fact was not,hence the misunderstanding,if the reviewer had not stated that it had appeared in Folk Roots,and If I had worked on the principle,of not believing everything one sees on the internet, and had checked with Folk Roots, first, the misunderstanding would not have occurred.
I subsequently apologised to Ian Anderson,and received an apology from the reviewer for his misleading information.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 07:45 AM

Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted - PM
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.
ok, from a blog called Folk Yourself,this blogger has illegally,ripped off a recording of a vinyl copy of Cheating the Tide,
Some person purporting to be Captain Birdseye[which used to be my old pseudonym on this thread,before Gervase Webb and Geoff Wallis referred to me as Captain Birdbrain],posted this comment.
I hardly think this comment is self selected,and certainly was not posted by me.
Captain Birdseye said...

    Dick Miles is not 'a good English folksinger' - he's fecking terrible and he's naff on the concertina too!

    March 15, 2009 5:02 PM
It is my personal opinion,that whoever it is that goes around writing remarks like that about other performers,is an obsessive with a massive grudge,and needs psychiatric help.
to continue it shows that all blogs are not just sycophantic,self selected platitudes,but actually provide the opportunity,for deranged obsessive people to make unpleasant comments.
one thing that can be said in favour of music reviews,is that no Editor,would allow such unpleasantness to be passed off in a folk review without some qualification.
e g.he cant sing in tune,he constantly changes key in mid song,he cant play the notes in of a tune in the correct order.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 07:49 AM

i should make clear that M T teds post only contained the following
Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted - PM
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: Gervase
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 01:49 PM

I dunno about 'music critics do we need 'them' - I think it's more a case of 'proof readers or editors, do we need them?' I can't be alone in finding Dick Miles's posts increasingly difficult to follow!
It's not just blogs that provide an opportunity for the deranged and obsessive to make comments - the Mudcat has been performing that function for over a decade.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 02:38 PM

Gervase,do we need posters who call other members Captain Birdbrain.
one of the rules of the forum,is no personal attacks.
Most members would understand the word Pillock,as abusive,and yet you have sent me another personal message,in which you call me a Pillock,please give it a rest.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM

Sticks and stones, Dick. I'll trade you the 'pillock' in my PM for the 'prat' in yours! Anyway, this thread is degenerating into a childish and rather incomprehensible dribble now. I stand by what I said earlier - critics are useful beasts, and I'd be much more in the dark without them. And I'd rather read a piece by an articulate critic who was not a musician than by an inarticulate musician. So, Captain Swing, I think we should agree to disagree.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:44 PM

Švejk. Did you know that Jaroslav Hašek took it as a compliment when he heard someone say "You're about as big an idiot as Švejk"?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:59 PM

critics can be useful,but they should not be above criticism themselves,,but very often they get caq rried away with the importance of their own pen which is exactly why I started the other thread,howcam music critics improve.
GERVASE.I did not call you a prat.
I said this,Gervase Webb,stop being a p#####,
that could mean anything,but it aint prat.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: mandotim
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 05:11 PM

Given that the appreciation of music is above all a subjective activity, and that each person perceives a given piece of music in a wholly personal way, developed from their experiences and education (even genetics maybe), is it possible for a critic to express in writing a judgement which will be entirely appropriate for another to take on board? For me this whole thread opens up the idea of synaesthesia, perhaps best summed up in the quote (can't remember who said it) 'Writing about music is rather like dancing about architecture'.
Tim


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM

Mr Webb your attacks remind me of being lampooned by a limp lettuce.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:12 PM

Thanks, Jack.

I just stopped in to see that everyone's getting along.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:19 PM

I'm picturing Jay Leno as a limp lettuce. It's just a little bit terrifying.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:21 PM

I think that music critics are needed, otherwise we'd just end up arguing with each other . . . .


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Gervase
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 04:18 AM

Limp lettuce?! The outrage!
I see myself more as a dead sheep.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 07:09 AM

ok, so the general majority agree,we do need music critics,so if musical criticism is to be taken seriously,the standard of criticism needs to be high.
so how do music critics improve their reviews,and is there any reason why reviewers should not have their reviews reviewed.
my other thread only has 32 posts,and yet it is a more positive thread,which is disa ppointing.
Mr Webb,if you dont understand the above post,I would suggest a visit to the opticians.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:31 PM

I like music critics because they have been vetted by a professional editor as being worthy of being given space in a publication. Going to internet discussion sites for honest opinion, competent writing, or rational thought is a waste of time. Why should I believe anything that any old boob says on an unedited website? Not that I necessarily believe what reviewers say, but it is very easy to quickly tell whether or not I'm reading something of worth.

As a musician, I've had extremely positive reviews and they have helped me in getting gigs and in getting newspapers to write articles about me. I've also had reviews written by people who don't know anything about the type of music I play (the hudy-gurdy was once described as a type of bagpipe!), and these reviews just get ignored. I've never had a purely negative review, but if I did I'd just ignore it, too. For the most part, they disappear in fairly short order. If I don't keep a review in circulation, it doesn't generally stay there. Anyone who makes a decision about music based on one negative review deserves what they get, anyway.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM

ha ha,I could find a review for you published by Musical Traditions,that myself and others thought should not have been published.
I will pm it to you,it was disgraceful.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Tootles
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 01:59 PM

'ha ha,I could find a review for you published by Musical Traditions,that myself and others thought should not have been published. I will pm it to you,it was disgraceful.'

Why not name that review here? Don't be coy.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 02:12 PM

Censorship, GSS? If you don't like a publication, stop reading it. If you like the publication, but just didn't like the one review, tell the editor about it an move on. Who are you to decide that something shouldn't have been published? Reviews are OPINIONS! Factual errors should be corrected, but you don't have authority over other peoples' opinions.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM

John P,I did not say like Musical traditions,I do like it, 99 percent of its reviews are very good.
however I made a mistake it is not a professional magazine,as far as I know ,the Editor and the reviewers are not paid,it purports to have a professional standard,and generally speaking is professional in its outlook.
no,I have been ordered by Joe Offer,to neither publish the review on this forum or name it.
John P,
I am not in charge of this forum ,neither am I in charge of what is permissible to be printed on this forum,this forum has an adminstrator he is called Joe Offer,I abide by his wishes.
finally, John,I am entitled to an opinion,which all was my previous post was,I am not preventing anything from being published,I am entitled to have an opinion as to whether the Editor should have published it.
you seem to be telling me what to do,[quote]
[Censorship, GSS? If you don't like a publication, stop reading it. If you like the publication, but just didn't like the one review, tell the editor about it an move on.[end of quote]
and yet at the same time accusing me of trying to have authority over other peoples opinions.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: John P
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 06:53 PM

GSS,
Why are you talking to me about Joe Offer and his desires? I'm uninterested and haven't encouraged you to put anything on this forum.

When you say the review "should not have been published" it sounds a lot like a desire for censorship. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. But when that opinion is that someone else shouldn't be entitled to their opinion and shouldn't be published, I'm going to tell you that I think you should get over it.

If you don't want people to offer solutions to your problems, don't air them publicly. AND THAT'S AN ORDER!! (hee hee hee)

Get over it.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 06:09 AM

no guest, tootles did,I was responding to that post.
the subject under discussion is music critics do we need them.
whether reviews can be improved and whether sub standard reviews should be published relate directly to the thread.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 08:09 AM

I have a vast shelf full of books about music. Some of them are outstandingly well written and an absolute joy to read, often because they are not reduced to a dull list of facts, but riddled with debate, opinion, comment, hyperbole, contention and so on. I regularly read fRoots, The Wire, EDS and occasionally read Mojo - as much for the reviews as for anything else. A well written review by a good writer who loves music is a wonderful thing. The anti-reviewer sentiments on this thread smack of arrogance: "I'm going to put my music in a public arena but woe betide you if you dare to express an opinion about it"... though you don't hear too many complaints about positive reviews, do you?

I also refuse to trust any publication that fails to give bad reviews. To me it shows they have no notion that they are there to provide a service to consumers rather than pander to musicians' needs. One magazine I used to read consistently found something good about virtually everything they reviewed. As a result I wasted good money that I couldn't afford to squander on absolute shite and dreck before I realised they were in the business of sycophancy and not criticism.

I wonder if musicians in other genres, sculptors, painters, playwrights, novelists etc have the same attitude? Most I know are eager to get whatever column inches they can. At least it means someone has noticed them.

Finally, some musicians might believe they don't need reviewers but those of us who put our hands in our pockets - your victims as it were, definitely do.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 08:35 AM

spleen cringe,
I have given this some thought and changed my mind
I believe we do need music critics,but if they are to be taken seriously,the standard of reviewing must be high.
I also feel that a site where reviewers reviews could be reviewed would be a good thing ,is there one in existence?
I thought I read about such a site a while back,perhaps if it exists someone could post its details here.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 11:01 AM

I have given this some thought and changed my mind

Good man! Good on you!

I believe we do need music critics,but if they are to be taken seriously,the standard of reviewing must be high

Absolutely. Like any other endeavour that is placed into a public arena, reviewing needs to be of good quality with no room for sloppiness or laziness.

I also feel that a site where reviewers reviews could be reviewed would be a good thing

Ah... who watches the watchmen? Might be a bit boring though!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: quokka
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 01:03 AM

I stumbled on this thread by accident while looking up Verandah Music, a review of which was posted up by Jack Campin (11.25 am, Aug 25 2009),btw I have the book - brilliant - but then I started reading the whole thread, and was so entertained that I thought I'd refresh! I particularly like Peace's posts ;-)

Cheers,

Quokka

PS: Seriously, check out Verandah Music!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM

Well, I think what we have here is a clear demonstration of why the folk-clubs are full of the kind of rubbish that jazz-clubs and concert-halls simply do not tolerate. First, we on the folk-scene have the idea that all criticism is negative and self-serving - which sadly it very largely has been - and secondly, we have the idea that criticism, in any case, has no place in folk- and traditional-music - which is a very sad misreading of how traditions work. To take the first point: criticism, if it is designed to encourage performers to use their talents to the full, is immensely valuable. Sometimes, that means pointing out areas where improvement might be made as well as crediting the qualities which work. Of course, that's all personal judgment, but if performers aren't willing to make themselves aware of how they are being judged by their audiences, they cannot improve as performers. However, I make that point in the full awareness that criticism in the folk-scene is frequently highly-negative,invoking a mean-spirited, often cruel, kind of judgmentalism:I don't mean professional criticism, I mean, very simply, the vicious way people talk about each other, and each other's work, such as we witness too often on this site. Of course,such criticism should be ignored: it's worse than useless, it poisons people's perception of what the folk-scene is, or rather, set out to be once upon a time. That movement has become haven for self-seekers and self-promoters, many of whom reveal themselves in these postings. When we can learn to elicit other people's opinions with the intention of taking them seriously and using them, and when we can express our opinions respectfully with the intention of being useful, then we may see a raising of standards among performers, and thus provide a rather obvious way of increasing the size of their audiences, which, let's face it, are often pretty paltry. As to my second point: no tradition of music, or any art,exists unless the people who maintain that tradition have a very clear idea of its underlying rules and its practices. That implies a willingness to learn on their part, which implies a willingness to be taught, which in its turn implies a willingness to listen to criticism, and give it proper consideration before deciding whether to accept or reject it. Too many performers - and I dignify them with that word - think they can do whatever they like however they like and to hell with any-one who doesn't like, and do it in front of an audience. They are essentially masturbating in public, and while that may give them pleasure it certainly gives none to the people who have to witness it. The best performers, the ones we pay good money to go and see, work hard to get their performances right: they study, they rehearse, they think it through. They know that criticism,if it is contructive, if it is rooted in a knowledge and understanding of the music, is not just useful, but necessary. So I will respect those performers, and those who are willing to discuss their work with some degree of rationality, before I give even the slightest credence to those of you who use this site to nag and whinge about other people who nag and whinge.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 09:44 PM

Good for you.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 05:57 AM

They are essentially masturbating in public, and while that may give them pleasure it certainly gives none to the people who have to witness it. The best performers, the ones we pay good money to go and see, work hard to get their performances right: they study, they rehearse, they think it through. They know that criticism,if it is contructive, if it is rooted in a knowledge and understanding of the music, is not just useful, but necessary. So I will respect those performers, and those who are willing to discuss their work with some degree of rationality, before I give even the slightest credence to those of you who use this site to nag and whinge about other people who nag and whinge.[QUOTE]

I have been a professional performer for 35 years,I rehearse and practise my material,what I expect in return from a critic,is a professional review,so I expect statements to be qualified,I think it reasonable that critics ,should not be above criticism.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:47 AM

As you know, Dick, I agree with you 100+%. Michael


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 08:36 AM

If anyone is interested - I wrote a song about one specific critic.
My good friend (and lots of our Scottish friends) know the performer who was criticised. He's a good singer/voice and very good guitar technique.
He did the warm up for Clannad up in Inverness - I wasn't there, but got to Inverness after the concert on the Sunday night of the concert, and in the pub where the folkies gathered afterwards - everyone said ( genuinely) how well he had performed. The critique came out in the local newspaper on the following Tuesday - and absolutely lambasted the performer. When I saw the folkie crowd on the following Friday , quite a few presumably after reading the critique, had changed or moderated their opinions expressed on the previous Sunday. Responsible , constructive criticism , and suggestions how to improve the whole performance scenario can and should be helpful to the performer - but this so-called critique was just mud slinging and hurtful and I was amazed how peoples memories of the event were changed. The message is, always be careful of what you read in print, whether it be a football report or political comment an account of this or that, the pen is still a mighty weapon.

Here goes … For the tune there are one or two people around who sing it , and Gary and Vera Aspey made a great job of it on their recording Nightshift Army

He couldn't sing, he couldn't clown,
No, - his art it was in putting people down,
He couldn't play, but he could write,
And with his pen he went and broke a heart last night.

He sits alone, with blinkered view,
Doesn't know the hours of practice people do,
To play the songs, - to get 'em right,
He simply took his pen and broke a heart last night.

Chorus / refrain                                                                              
                                    
Well it's a mystery to me., - how the critic" formed" your memory,
Now are you telling me, your eyes and ears deceived you!!

He never heard the crowds' applause,
And as they made their exit through the theatre doors,
He never shared their wild delight,
Instead, he took a pen and broke a heart last night.

To read his words - they made no sense,
They never matched our recollection of events,
Only fools believe, what bigger fools write!         
Take care the critic's breaking hearts again tonight.,   

(almost repeat of the previous 2 lines :-)
Only fools believe, what bigger fools write!
Take care the critic's changing minds again tonight.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 11:45 AM

Ooh! Folkies are so f***ing precious!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 01:23 PM

nice one, Betsy.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 05:14 PM

Good Soldier Schweik:I'm not sure if you were agreeing with me or not: but if as you say you care about what you do, work hard to do it as well as you can, then in my opinion you clearly warrant the kind of respect all conscientous performers do, the kind of respect, to be perfectly straight with you, I want for myself. I'd be interested to know what sort of comment and criticism your performances have received in your professional career. Have you been lucky? Or how often have you had to put up with the likes of Spleen Cringe, who thinks that ill-mannered abuse serves for reasonable discussion? He's of the type I was having a pop at:and frankly, I'd like to ask him what he's doing on this thread if that's how he feels.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM

Wind your neck in, Seligmanson. Do you think the public have no right to have an opinion about the music they pay to hear? Clearly Dick and Bruce and Betsy and others on this thread do. Attitudes like that, folk music is better off without. Arrogance is what I call it. Sorry if you think calling it when I see it is abusive.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:07 PM

Let me rephrase that. In my last post I did what Seligmanson erroneously accused me of earlier.

It seems to me that some folk musicians have a problem with people reviewing/critiquing/forming an independent opinion about their music. It's almost as if they think they can put it out in the public arena with the expectation that the public will only interact with it as customers and that they don't have any right to form an opinion other than the one the musician thinks they ought to have. A bit of hypocrisy creeps in, too: they don't like critics or reviewers getting their evil paws on their work - yet if they happen to get a good review it's quoted all over their websites! It's a pathetic and juvenile attitude. In any other type of music, other people writing about that music is accepted as normal - only in folk does it seem to be reviled and railed against in the way it is on Mudcat. This - and I'm sorry, but Betsy's bitter little song is a perfect example of this attitude - is what I mean when I say folkies are so f***ing precious. If they can't stand the idea of their public exercising their critical faculties, they should maybe keep it in the bedroom.

In short, if you think you're good enough to do paid gigs, put out CDs and engage with the outside world, you should be big enough to accept that others will have a whole variety of different opinions about what you do. Whether musicians like it or not, it's a healthy and positive thing and their Taliban-like attempts to stamp out freedom of opinion do them no favours.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:33 PM

I've experienced very little "mean-spirited, often cruel" formal criticism (can only think of two exponents of this nowadays) - plenty of snydeswiping, but that's different and it happens everywhere.
Good, positive, analytical criticism (as distinct from the anodyne first-name sycophancy that passes for criticism nowadays) should be the sounding-board against which we measure everything we do in public. The fact that this is what the folk scene lacks has much to do with the pap we are often fed in the name of folk.
As the Cap'n suggests - raise the standards of criticism and the level of performance will follow.
I often wonder, are folkies the only group of performers who almost universally consider themselves above criticism and who believe that standards have no place in their chosen field of performance? It seems to me that if you stick your bum out of the window you are inviting somebody to paint a face on it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 07:51 PM

"I often wonder, are folkies the only group of performers who almost universally consider themselves above criticism and who believe that standards have no place in their chosen field of performance?"

I often wonder that, too, Jim. If a plumber or teacher or social worker or writer, for example, took that approach, they'd be out of a job in no time. And no-one would be wasting their breath defending them.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 08:53 PM

Jim's right!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Betsy
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 09:05 PM

Everyone needs to be careful of the written word, we are all susceptible to the written word - but fortunately the world has move on , and we can check ,or cross check, our sources of information and hopefully you all do so


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 09:27 PM

Spleen Cringe, I'm going to shout at you now, because otherwise I don't think you'll hear me. This is more-or-less what a lot of us have been saying: NONE OF US YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO PICK A QUARREL WITH OBJECT TO CRITICISM. WE ACCEPT AS PERFORMERS THAT WE ARE OPEN TO BEING CRITICISED. EVERY PERFORMER OF GOOD STANDING TAKES CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM SERIOUSLY, AND GIVES IT PROPER CONSIDERATION BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO ACCEPT IT. There now, that's out of my system. MY problem is that I don't like bullies - and yes, S.C. I do mean you. What I object to in a critic is the kind of carping, sneering, arrogance which you seem to have mastered very efficiently;and maybe that's your problem, maybe that explains why you're so sour. This is about you not receiving the respect you are convinced you so richly deserve. In your own person you demonstrate exactly the failing which Jim Carroll has so succinctly pointed towards - the unwillingness to accept criticism. But can it be that, however? After all that's what you're accusing me and Jim and Good Soldier Schweik of, though of course we did say ther exact opposite.
Many performers don't just want but NEED a proper critical appreciation of their work: we're not going to get that from YOU, though, are we, S.C.?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 03:23 AM

So criticism is okay - but only if it's on your terms? By gum. Maybe I was being too moderate when I said "precious". So how are you going to impose this? Have a committee to vet critics?


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 05:55 AM

"MY problem is that I don't like bullies - and yes, S.C. I do mean you."

Holy crap! Spleeny a "bully"? I hardly think so!

Seligmanson, if you can't so much as cope with err 'discussion' on a 'discussion board', maybe you should try and get out a wee bit more.

Also, in my own short experience of folkies, they're actually *far* more generous and supportive towards singers and performers (however genuinely weak their musical efforts may be) than any other group of people I've encountered in my entire life!

With the new breed of younger folk enthusiasts and musicians coming through however, I also rather doubt that the somewhat charming but insular culture of gentle embrace that older folkies have actually been used to for so long, will continue to endure in the future...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 06:10 AM

And I note that you call me "a bully","sour", someone who indulges in "carping, sneering, arrogance" and suggest I am demanding the respect (I am) convinced (I) so richly deserve.

I think you'd better retract that. It's verging on an ad hominem attack and seems to be based on a wilful misunderstanding of my point. I haven't "attacked" any individual musicians on this thread or elsewhere and neither would I do so. However, I will disagree with opinions if I think they are wrong.

And my opinion is the central misapprehension in your comments is that you believe criticism exists for the benefit of the musicians (Quote: "criticism, if it is designed to encourage performers to use their talents to the full, is immensely valuable"). I would argue that criticism is for the benefit of the paying public to assist us in making informed choices about how we spend our meagre surplus income. What you describe is something musicians can do amongst themselves - a kind of self-help as it were. What I describe is what I read in music magazines and other sources to find out about music I might like.

And please don't shout at me. When you do, you remind me of a teacher I had back in the mid-seventies who shares your real name. I learned back them that you don't learn much from those who resort to shouting.

Finally - and I don't need to add this - I think the Good Soldier is great at what he does and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing him live. Had I been a critic/reviewer, he would have got a good one!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 06:12 AM

Thanks, CS ;-)


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 10 Oct 09 - 04:48 PM

Let's be clear. Of course you're entitled to your opinions about any performer; and if you don't like them,you're perfectly entitled to say so. But you seem to be under the impression that by passing a judgment on a performer which the performer doesn't recognise, that performer will inevitably react badly. Firstly, we are not the wilting flowers you accuse us of being, and it's that accusation I resent, and misses my point, which I will return to again; and secondly, yes, I'll admit,my language was intemperate: but that's unfortunately how I respond to people who speak to me in intemperate terms, and your own language has not been exactly calm and collected: your good opinion of Good Soldier Schweik has not made itelf evident in someofyour previous contributions. Now, back to my point, which Crow Sister passes comment on. Again, I like the cut-and-thrust of debate, especially when it is carried out in civilised terms, and I do feel I let myself down, not in what I said, but in mimicing what I was responding to. So, to give you an answer. Yes, people can be and are very supportive of each other as a rule, otherwise a vast number of open sessions couldn't take place. In those sessions, a large number of people get the greatest satisfaction from expressing their own talents, be they great or small, with a freedom they find nowhere else. That to me is far more important than whether or not they're any good, and I believe I share that understanding with most. But neither they, nor the people who organise these events, are my target, as I thought I had made plain, but clearly didn't. My targets are the few who are jealous of success if it is not their own: the club organisers who resent other people setting up clubs in their areas, the performers who compete with other performers for the purpose of building up their personal repuations, and the gossips who love to attack any-one who doesn't meet their own high standards, whether or not they meet those standards themselves. Now there aren't many of them, but they're out there, and over the years they have wielded a significant degree of power. I have the greatest respect for the many honest people who go about theur business with integrity and respect: and when they have something to say to me about they way I set about things,I will listen with equal respect - and it has happened, so I'm not just blowing bubbles. The problem is with all those people - and there are a significant number - who think of criticism as being some kind of personal attack. It is one thing to perform for the sheer joy of it, in which case criticism is usually inappropriate (though even you must have heard some you would gladly muzzle); but it is another to set yourself up as a would-be professional and wilfully ignore all advice however appropriate it may be (was this your point, Jim C.?). These people lay themselves open to a particular type of criticism, and it seems to me that is this kind of criticism that Spleen Cringe indulges in. I admit, all I know of his work are his contributions to these pages, so I may be mistaken in that; maybe he has through his choice of language misrepresented himself on these pages; but it is a tone I recognise in any number of conversations at clubs and sessions. This is where it gets difficult for professional performers like Dick Miles who welcome even-handed criticism but often don't get it; and why should he not reply in print to printed cricism which he feels misrepresents him? If you give it out, S.C. you have to know how to take it, and I'm not sure you do. I hope that I have now been able to express my point with the correct degree of assertiveness. I dislike personal abuse, and I very much regret having used it:but my point is what it is. Oh, yes, and Crow Sister: I have met insularity, but I am not guilty of it. My tastes are broad, and when I am out for the night, I tend to suspend my critical faculties with every-one except myself. I like the idea that folk-sessions serve for many as a very much more satisfying form of Karaoke. I love it when I see young people (My saints, that phrase ages me) using the clubs and sessions to try stuff out they can't do anywhere else. They have no part in this particular debate, nor should they have. The exposure to all the different forms of music the folk-scene presents them with gives them the lesson they can best learn from. Sadly, I have had to make much the same point on far too many occasions when I hear said young people being criticised for, well, doing things the way young people do them. They deserve all the support we can give them, and sometimes - but only when they ask - that means giving them whatever advice you think most appropriate. That's how criticism should work for them; and if that in any way resembles your experience Sara Crow, then you have my respect.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM

You seem to be under the impression that by passing a judgment on a performer which the performer doesn't recognise, that performer will inevitably react badly

Not at all. But having said that, I have read a number of threads on Mudcat, of which this is but one example, where various musicians rail against critics/reviewers and seem to be of the opinion that they are little more than parasites. They also seem to fall into the trap of believing criticism is inherently negative. I read a lot of writing on music and know this perspective to be deeply flawed. A good writer can really enthuse the reader about a musician who has blown them away. As a consumer (as opposed to producer) of music, I have discovered some wonderful music as a result of the writing of enthusiastic and informed critics - as well as having the pleasure of reading well crafted, skillful writing. It isn't really of any concern to me what individual artists think of the reviews of their work, other than to wryly note that they don't tend to rail against the good reviews...

We are not the wilting flowers you accuse us of being

I'm sure you're not, and I'm not sure I've said you are! My tongue in cheek comment about "folkies being precious" was in response to some of the posts immediately above mine (particularly the sentiments of Betsy's song) which seemed to be strongly implying that critics should not set forth their views unless they were either unstinting praising the musician or purely designed to assist the musician in improving their performance. I would contend that neither of these are the primary role of the critic/reviewer.

Your good opinion of Good Soldier Schweik has not made itelf evident in someofyour previous contribution

I challenge you to find a single post on Mudcat where I have said anything negative about Dick's music. I have disagreement with some of his opinions (hey, it's a discussion board - people disagree about ideas), but that's an entirely different matter. In fact I challenge you to find a single post on Mudcat where I have made negative comments about any individual folk musician's music: unless you class my disagreement with the sentiments in Betsy's song as an example of this (and for the record I think Betsy has also written some lovely songs).

"My targets are the few who are jealous of success if it is not their own: the club organisers who resent other people setting up clubs in their areas, the performers who compete with other performers for the purpose of building up their personal repuations, and the gossips who love to attack any-one who doesn't meet their own high standards, whether or not they meet those standards themselves

Fair point: you're right to have a low opinion of people like this. But let me make this clear: I'm not one of them. I am on the periphery of the folk scene and to be honest I haven't even met the sort of deeply unpleasant folk scene insiders you describe, but I'll take your word for it that they exist. However, this wasn't a thread about such people, it was about critics.

The problem is with all those people - and there are a significant number - who think of criticism as being some kind of personal attack... who set (them)selves up as a would-be professional and wilfully ignore all advice however appropriate it may be."

Which is, I think, the point Jim made and I agreed with. And I agree with your reformulation of this same point.

"These people lay themselves open to a particular type of criticism..."

...harsh, but probably true...

"...and it seems to me that is this kind of criticism that Spleen Cringe indulges in."

...and this is where we must part company again. I challenge you to find one shred of evidence in anything I've said to back this up. I believe criticism should be fair, balanced, honest, informed and well written. I'm not a critic, so whilst I'll post positive comments about music I've enjoyed that I might think other would like to check out, I'll keep my yap shut about performers I don't enjoy. There have been some terrible, rude and deeply unbecoming attacks on the output of individual performers on Mudcat and I don't like it or indulge in it. I might make general comments on tendencies I don't particularly like - but never individual performers. I will, however, disagree with some views expressed by some musicians on an open discussion board. This is an entirely different process.

I admit, all I know of his work are his contributions to these pages, so I may be mistaken in that; maybe he has through his choice of language misrepresented himself on these pages; but it is a tone I recognise in any number of conversations at clubs and sessions.

And again, all this proves is that you have not read much of what I have posted and wilfully misrepresented what you have read! I do slightly resent you posting these sweeping statements about me without evidence.

"Why should (Dick Miles) not reply in print to printed cricism which he feels misrepresents him?"

Of course he is welcome to do this. However, it potentially opens a can of worms when it's done on a public discussion board as it invites others to respond. And I disagreed with his views on critics so I responded. Dick them said he'd changed his mind so I referred to him as "Good man!" Hardly a cutting put down of his music, is it?

"If you give it out, S.C. you have to know how to take it, and I'm not sure you do"

And I'm not sure what I'm supposed to have given out! As I said, I am careful not to slag off the work of individual musicians. I am happy to take criticism - of my opinions, of my work, of my writing or anything else I put in a public arena. It's one of the implied outcomes of "going public" - others might not like what you are doing/saying/writing and will make their views known, as you have done. I'm only bothering with this response because I think you've made a serious misjudgement based on a staggering lack of evidence, so I am exercising my right to reply.

"Sadly, I have had to make much the same point on far too many occasions when I hear said young people being criticised for, well, doing things the way young people do them."

So have I, S, so have I. Mudcat is awash with the type of attitude you describe - but also awash with people such as me, who will leap to the young musicians' defence.

****

As an aside, I recently won a copy of Dick Miles' "Cheating the Tide" on vinyl on ebay. I think it's a crying shame that this wonderful album is no longer in print. It's worth the price I paid for "The Rebel Soldier" alone.

That's the sort of comment I make about individual performers, Seligmanson.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM

I do however owe Bruce a heartfelt apology. Sorry, Bruce!


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 03:19 PM

Negative criticism is pointless. The value of a critic lies in directing attention towards something which is particularly good, and sometimes in suggesting ways that it could be better. If it's crap youi ignore it, and write about something else.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 03:36 PM

As an aside, I recently won a copy of Dick Miles' "Cheating the Tide" on vinyl on ebay. I think it's a crying shame that this wonderful album is no longer in print. It's worth the price I paid for "The Rebel Soldier" alone.[]quote]
thankyou, Spleen, Rebel Soldier,I have re recorded and it is on Concertinas and[cd], available at my website ,but some of the other really difficult pieces[washington post ,Dill pickle rag]I am a bit out of practice with.
I can remember working out the accompaniment for the song ,Rebel Soldier it took me all day,it is quite difficult to play,it is a counterpoint to the song.
at that time 1983/4,I lived next to a pub called the Shepherd and Dog,at One House,near Stowmarket,Sue had gone to work [was a primary teacher]so i had the house to myself[always the best way to work]I worked really hard on that song,but it came right in the end,a lot of the accompaniments have taken a long time .
Tommys Lot which I still play., took a long time too.
I appreciate your comments,because someone has put alot of unpleasant things about that lp on the Folk yourself blog.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Oct 09 - 03:27 PM

so, yes we need music critics ,providing their reviewing is of a high standard,that does not mean the review has to be pages of praise,it means thoughtful criticism with comments that are qualified.
if reviewers are unprofessional then the reputation of critics is brought into disrepute,then no one will end up taking critics seriously.
that is why musicians should be able to reply without it being seen as sour grapes.
if critics expect musicians to be professional it is not unreasonable to expect critics to behave in the same way.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM

Thank you, G.S.S. You have very neatly summed up in large part what I've been tryingto say, or think I've said, albeit in typically long-winded manner. As for Spleen Cringe, I apologise for missing his point, but he's made such a consistently good job of missing mine it's hard to know what else could have happened. Maybe his admission that he is on the 'periphery' of the folk-scene has something to do with it; maybe also his sense of self-importance. Performers have the absolute right to decide which critics they should respect and which not, just as critics have the right to choose which performers they do or do not respect. All should at least attempt some sort of consistency. Perhaps we are both failing to be so in this discussion, Spleen Cringe; do you think that is possible? Or are you set on absolutely refusing to accept any form of criticism for yourself, as it has so far seemed? I have sent you a personal message, and that must stand as my last word on this subject. I've had enough of being browbeaten. G.S.S asked a question at the start of this thread, and as far as I'm concerned, he's also answered it.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM

Okay, S. I'm happy to accept that you agree that critics serve an important function and when they do their job well, they perform a necessary and useful service. It appeared to me you were saying the opposite, but I'm happy to stand corrected if I have misunderstood you and I apologise any distress caused by misunderstanding your views.

However, I too want nothing more to do with this discussion, as you seem incapable of posting this thread without making comments that are personal rather than about my opinions. "Bully", "self important", "gives it out but can't take it" and so on. It's really bad form.







I still maintain that critics largely exist for the benefit of the paying public rather than the benefit of the musicians, though...


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Peace
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM

"I still maintain that critics largely exist for the benefit of the paying public rather than the benefit of the musicians, though..."

That's what separates the critic pros from the critic amateurs. I agree with you.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 07:49 AM

If seligmanson, or anyone else, for that matter, wants to be understood on an internet forum,
it is best to be brief and concise. Failing that, it is good to make frequent paragraph breaks.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: seligmanson
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 11:58 AM

M.Ted. You're absolutely right. Sorry to all. I've been getting carried away somewhat. Lesson learned.


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Subject: RE: music critics,do we need them?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:37 PM

I think that an educated and well-informed critic can open the channels for appreciation of musicians and singers that might be overlooked by the trends in the music business.

They can also do damage by squelching in print some notable talents. There is a history of this. Nicholas Slonimsky wrote a book about how critics turned up their noses at some of the leading classical composers of our day. Slonimsky's "Lexicon of Musical Invective".


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