by carl wilson

I Meta Her at a Party...

Fine reading from Wayne about the critical/scholarly potential of "musically expressed ideas about music," although I feel compelled to point out that quite apart from technology, this method has been widely practiced for, well, ever, by musicians themselves. From formal composition, in which innovations are nearly always implicit comments upon and refutations of previous composers' methods, and likewise in jazz, through to blues about the blues to half the rap ever rapped and anything based on a sample, music about music is damn near as common as music about anything else - and its best quality is that it can be about other things while always being about music too. (The best line I've ever heard on Destroyer is that Dan Bejar is "the hardest-working music critic today.") Wayne's certainly right that sampling and splicing and mashup technologies open exciting vistas for those whose aspirations aren't so much to make their own songs as to reveal perspectives on existing music. But it's a sad comment on the academy that this could be considered such a radical move that Wayne's nervous about how they'll take it. As Wayne acknowledges, even those techniques can't make writing about music obsolete - music certainly does resist verbalization, but that's where half the fun is.

Anecdotal annex: I remember turning in a mixed tape of songs chosen to reflect upon a novel for an assignment in a high-school English class; the teacher didn't totally get it, but he appreciated it. Later, I was in teachers' college and turned in a set of collages instead of an essay about a novel for an exercise that was purportedly about going through the evaluation process on an assignment with the teacher, as a training tool. I wanted to see what the teacher would advise doing when a student took a non-traditional approach. I got my answer: She failed me. And I dropped out of teachers' college the next day. Granted, maybe I make better mixed tapes than collages. And maybe the collages shouldn't have been pornographic - I thought the novel was sexist, and chose a rather blunt instrument to express it.

| Posted by zoilus on Thursday, April 13 at 06:05 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (10)



I like the collage idea.
It's too bad the teacher failed you.
Vision can be so threatening sometimes.
I had so many experiences like that, but more in high school than in university.
(I went to York, where everyone in fine arts was actually reasonably open minded.)
I did my last part of high school here in Toronto. In OAC art I glued a bunch of barbies to a canvas and called it the dance of death.
The teacher, who gave me a terrible mark said he would explain why 'in due course.' Naturally, due course never came.
I also was kicked out of an OAC writerscraft class for refusing to write a poem about an object we were sentimental about ( I wasn't at that age) and later, for saying that I didn't like Pablo Neruda.
teachers need to be more open minded, and less afraid of creativity...

Posted by Danila on April 19, 2006 08:25 AM



Oh, Is that war still on?

Posted by Ella on April 15, 2006 07:18 PM



can you get through one post w/o a reference to bejar? get a life, geek

ps - Rubies really burned up the charts, didn't it??

Posted by m. onomania on April 15, 2006 02:50 PM



Oh - thanks! But - Teddy R. was the original Rough Rider, right? not exactly judicious. And I'm sure there are "big stick" partisans in the administration who think deploying a few nukes there (and here) would ensure a thousand years of speaking softly.

Posted by Jordan on April 14, 2006 01:48 PM



Aw, thanks, Jordan. But at the time, I actually was too young and nervous to be a teacher. My anger at the institutions was too defensive, and not very easily converted into anything effective.

Also: Your post on carrying a big stick is the best thing I've read on the Iran situation this month. (That's what it's about, right?)

Posted by zoilus on April 14, 2006 01:36 PM



speaking of stein and myth, there is an oft repeated story here at harvard about her taking a philosophy final with william james and leaving the page blank but for a note saying it was far too fine a day to write about philosophy. according to legend, james awarded her with the highest mark. she may not have gotten away with it a second time.

ironically, i write this from widener library, looking out on too fine a day myself. enough - i'm going to catch some rays.

Posted by w&w; on April 14, 2006 12:57 PM



Caveat: There may have been a paper in between; memory is hazy; myth is strong.

Posted by john on April 14, 2006 11:41 AM



John Cage wrote his first college paper in the style of Gertrude Stein and got an A. He wrote his next paper in the same style and got an F.

He dropped out.

Posted by john on April 14, 2006 11:40 AM



Ah, you would have made a great teacher though.

Posted by Jordan on April 14, 2006 07:56 AM



thanks for the continued conversation, carl--and for noting the necessary acknowledgement that music about music is but another tool in the kit, for scholars and musicians.

i meant to acknowledge also that musicians have long been doing this. indeed, that is really the source of my inspiration, and it's something - for all its obviousness - that i realized only a short time ago (at least, that is, the full implications thereof for explicit, if not academic, cultural critique) both as a listener and as a practitioner. that's what i was trying to get at with the following passage and the link to my mashpolitik post:

"My interest in the possibility of expressing ideas about music through music emerges not just from a consideration of the methodological literature but also from my experiences as a listener and performer. It was while acting as a participant-observer at clubs in Boston and on the blogosphere that I began to notice the subtle pedagogical power of particular forms of musical performance in particular, DJ-mixing and mashup production, both of which are based on the art of juxtaposition, whether sequential or simultaneous to shape ones sense of the ways that musical style articulates, in a feelingful way, with ideas about community, tradition, influence, and interaction."

Posted by w&w; on April 13, 2006 08:38 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson