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10 November, 2008

Taking on the 'canon'

I was interested to see that Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) had been invited to edit this week's Guardian music section, but it's been a busy day (and weekend, and week...) so I hadn't got round to reading any of the articles before encountering one via Tim's comments.

I simultaneously agree and disagree with Tim about Prof. Paul Crowther's discussion of the aesthetic value of music. It's not an easy read, packing a lot of content into a relatively short piece. Too much, really; a sensible 'rule' of writing is to make one point at a time, ideally one point per article/blog posting, whereas Crowther attempts to summarise what seems to be an entire book chapter. Yet when criticising the over-academic tone it’s worth remembering that Crowther is an academic, not a journalist, and he was invited to contribute by Jenkinson, himself not a journalist. It was misjudged, but I suspect Crowther provided precisely what was requested.

It’s not entirely suitable for a mainstream newspaper, and lacks the tight focus demanded by the context, but I didn't have trouble following the article (slowly…) – it's not suitable for the sort of reductionist who merely responds "Yeah, but does it ROCK!?" (hilarious.), but it's not that difficult, and at least there's no unintelligible jargon ('dialectical' is borderline). The overall 'message' is either absent or lost, but some of the individual statements are thought-provoking (not 'profound' – that's expecting too much). I particularly appreciated the observation that consumerism (and postmodernism, though I don't know much about those theories) "privilege the reception of artifacts over the significance of how they are created." Very true, and something which has been annoying me recently.

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