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Friday, June 27, 2014

Art - A Possibility of Music

I seem to have made myself not completely clear.

That counts for most topics, I guess (a sociologist called Harold Garfinkel - brother of Simon N. Garfinkel, indeed - claims that social order is possible only because people are never completely clear in their intentions and their communications. The world exists because it is messy. I will explain this another time; after I have understood  Garfinkel's claim, that is). But especially for my frantic dislike of the idea that music is art; or even Art.

So let me try to be a bit more precise on that. I do not deny that music can be an artistic phenomenon. On the contrary; dependent on what exactly 'artistic' is (has it something to do with the realm of the beautiful? with the unattainable ideal? with the creative domain?) I would probably acknowledge that music for me is an artistic phenomenon.

I must say: music for me is also, sometimes, an artistic phenomenon. Because when I say music is not Art, I only mean to say that music is not exclusively, mainly, or essentially Art. Music, as I said in my inauguration speech (check the video belonging to that happening here, including a musical saw, an opera singer and a shanty choir) a couple of days ago, is never one thing. It is always many things at the same time. It is different things for different people in different places and in different times. It is always a lot of things at the same time, in an ever changing constellation. Its character changes over time. It is everything, always, and for everyone.

And being Art is just one of its many possibilities.

So please don't try to convince me that music may have a deeply artistic effect. Because I know that; it sometimes has that effect on me. And I love it for that.

But also don't try to convince me that saying that music may have a deeply artistic effect is a convincing description of what music is. Because music is so much more than that; and that 'more' is not essentially less musical, or less important to people. The fact that our dominant culture teaches us to look at music as Art is no excuse, really, but just a question of powerplay. And probably a form of powerplay which is not on the winning side, these days. We better get used to that.

Music is so much more than Art. That is why it is such a powerful humanizing medium. Let's try and see the beauty (or Beauty?) in that.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Goodbye, Musicscape Groningen

A couple of years ago, when I started my PhD research, I decided it would be nice - me being an ethnomusicologist - to at least sketch the context of the persons I was interviewing for my dissertation. One of the things I wanted to outline was which opportunities they had to listen to live music. I thought such a description would be easy: just use some existing literature, some statistical data sets used in the world of culture policy.

To my surprise, I found out that actually no-one knew what was really going on in the province of Groningen - or in the city of Groningen - or in any other city in the Netherlands, for that matter. At least not in the broad sense I wanted to know it. Yes, there were figures about how the subsidized stages programmed music; but for the less- or not-at-all-subsidized stages there was only scattered and anecdotal information, if there was any information at all.

So I decided to gather the material myself.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer is in the air - you can tell it by the booming basses

Last weekend there were two big open air concerts in the city of Groningen. A Dance Party, and a live music show which will be broadcast on television later. Both attracted a lot of listeners, who had great fun. Both attracted quite some officials with Decibel measuring equipment, to check whether the festivals stayed within the official norms. Both led to complaints from people living nearby. Both led to people living nearby fleeing their home for a night - something I would probably want to do.

Party for one, a nightmare for the other - music showing both its faces at once.