Thursday, April 10, 2008

Music is News That Stays New

When a virus kills its host, then the virus has a problem of its own. (Robert Ashley described the virus as having "shot itself in the foot"). When producers of goods or information, in the downward spiral to control costs in order to compete, reduce the quality of their product or the level of information in their media, they are driven to a point of no return at which their product simply has no more value. Competition is then very much beside the point.

The news today is that the LA Weekly has let Alan Rich go. Rich is, by some distance, the senior active music critic in the US (how senior?, you ask: he heard the premiere of the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra!) and a man of strong and lively words with a lifelong openness to the experimental tradition, going back to his his days as music director at Berkeley's Pacifica station KPFA in the 1950's and throughout a peripatetic career on both coasts. Rich's critical voice is as often convincing as it is contentious, but it always carried the tone of someone who took music more seriously than himself. We are fortunate that's he's vowed to carry on with a web site of his own.

Broken record that this blog may be, let me once again repeat my plea for the importance of new music maintaining a public, online presence. If dead tree media are letting their critics go, each individual story is a sad one (well, not always so sad... there are a couple of critics I'd really like to... never mind) but the larger picture is that through their elimination of actual content, dead tree media are going, slower or faster, the way of the dodo, and the work of establishing an online public presence for our music and the world about that music is more urgent than ever, whatever portfolio -- performer, composer, musicologist, amateur, audient, and yes, critic, too -- we bring to the table. If our music is lively and worthwhile, and I believe it is, then we're obliged to share our sense of that liveliness and value. We have to be more active, more exciting. We have to go long and deep, reaching youth and lay audiences as well as the professional and intellectual, going into both fabulous detail that would have been impossible in traditional media (check out any of Joseph Drew's (Jodru) Stockhausen retrospective at the ANA Blog or Charles Shere's survey of the Milhaud Quartets at The Eastside View) as well as instantly responding (brief, brilliant) to the news of the musical day.

Friends, musicians, critics: do you need any more incentive to get back to work?

1 comment:

kraig grady said...

It was a shame that LA had no where else for Alan to be there in the first place. The LA Weekly has been letting go anyone who has been there for years. This has been the case since it was sold and the paper when i left had become meaningless and politically neutered.