Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, October 18, 2004


Scott Spiegelberg of Musical Perceptions loves Clark Terry, as do all right-thinking jazzheads. Plus he makes some astute, suggestive comments about ensemble groove, rhythmic expressivity, and the dialectic of personal expression and musical communication, featuring the musician’s eternal question, “is what I do too subtle for my audience?” Scott says, from his classical perspective, excessive subtlety is wasteful. As a songwriter, I know that 95% or more of the audience won’t consciously notice if I slightly reharmonize each verse of a song, but I have faith that the variety, if I use it for expressive purposes, will have a subtle unconscious effect.


Kyle Gann of PostClassic lays out the Commedia-dell'Arte-tastic tribal divisions of criticsville.

The classical critic Dottore is a “middle-aged, upper class white guy who’s heard everything and has exceedingly hard-to-please taste.”

The jazz critic Harlequin, or Arlechinno, is a humble servant of his art, where “every figure written about is a legend, somehow larger than human in both talent and suffering.”

The “pop” or rock critic Zanni “is supposed to be living on the edge, going to clubs at ungodly hours, inhaling substances, living the whole rock ‘n’ roll life. The essence of rock, they claimed, is attitude. Pop critics (except in the [NY] Times) frequently write about where they’ve been, who they saw hanging there, what they were doing, and who got arrested.”

Kyle’s descriptions (which I quote) ring true as broad-brushed types in criticsville -- types, with loads of exceptions. (The Commedia dell'Arte analogies are mine; can't be blamed on Kyle; and except for the pretentious upper class killjoy Dottore are really rather a stretch.)

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