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The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

“Civilization” as a “universe-maintaining conceptual machinery”

Today is the day the “March of Civilization” reaches The Hague. The Hague, for those of you who do not know, is the residency of the Dutch Parliament. Today the budget cuts on culture as proposed by our government will be discussed. And “the cultural world” has organized the “March of Civilization” to protest against the cuts. Democracy at work. Government proposes cuts. Parliament discusses. Members from various societal backgrounds protest. Government decides, or dissolves itself if it has lost support in parliament.  People in many places in the world would love to be able to participate in such processes.
I have double feelings concerning this “March”. I do feel that a budget cut of about 20 percent (200 m€ from a budget of 900) on culture is overdone; I would prefer it if cuts were more evenly spread over the various sectors of our society. Culture seems to be a too easy target for the current government; and feelings of revenge and even of outright hate against the world of culture seem to possess some of the key players in the debate.
On the other hand:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Taste

There is no such thing as good taste, only taste. That’s what I wrote last week. And actually I believe that is true. It is complicated, though. Let me see if I can make my point.
The idea of good taste to me seems to be based on the ability to discriminate between qualities of music: there is better, and there is worse. This discrimination of quality is everywhere in music: Beethoven is better than Delius, and Henryk Szeryng plays Beethoven’s violin sonatas better than I do. The Beatles are better than Herman’s Hermits; Linda Ronstadt is better than Tammy Wynette. Some evenings I play the mandolin better than other evenings. In tune is better than out of tune. Et cetera.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My World Top Ten

I have often been thinking about a Top Ten of artists world wide people should have listened to according to me. I even  started with one some months ago but simply couldn’t make it up. But now I talked with students in a lesson and actually my top ten kind of flipped out naturally. So something like this:
Fela Kuti
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Khaled
Bob Marley

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Beatles

I ask quite some people to tell me their musical biography, these days. It is my job to do so – I have the opportunity to work on a PhD thesis partly in my boss’s time (never will I be caught saying negative things about my boss), and part of the research project is to get people talking about their musical lives. Two names pop up often: Johnny Cash and the Beatles.

There is a striking difference between the two. Cash had a career lasting decades and decades. In his early times he performed together with the young Elvis, and he ended with recording on the label American Recordings a kind of multiple-cd Post Scriptum to his career that turns out to be – continuing in a Latin atmosphere - his Magnum Opus. It is this, “the late Cash” (there is always the possibility of a pun here), that people often mention in their stories as a recent discovery.

How different with the Beatles. When people mention them in their biography, it is often not as a recent discovery but as something that was played at home when they were young, either by themselves or, if they are younger, by a sister, a brother, or their parents. Not a recent discovery, but something that has stayed with many people throughout their life.