The Faustian Bargain

A blog about life outside the academy

Wednesday
Aug252010

Are Britons actually really clued up about classical music?

They seem to come around more often than buses, and certainly more often than national censuses or general elections. Yes, it's time for yet another 'Brits are clueless about classical music' poll. This one has got me even more annoyed at the way these things are reported than usual.

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Wednesday
Aug252010

Why Rewriting and Editing are Important

"The best writing is rewriting" -- E.B.White

Today I came across this nice post on the joy and importance of rewriting by writer and editor Caitlin Kelly. As she points out,

every writer always needs someone who'll read or listen to their stuff with a critical but constructive attitude. It can be your room-mate, spouse, best friend, sister or anyone whose intellectual opinion you respect. The ideal first reader is someone who reads a lot of good writing, whether for work or for pleasure. Above all, your first reader must offer your work their full and undivided attention.

And she's not wrong: it's impossible for the lone writer to really see how their work comes across, or how it can be made even better. Kelly advises:

Always read a hard printed copy with a highlighter marker or pen in hand to catch typos, grammatical glitches and places it just doesn't flow. Don't just rely on your spell-check and other software helpers.

Having your work looked at by a decent copy-editor won't do any harm either ...

Friday
Jun042010

Article on Aleks Kolkowski and Leon Michener in today's Guardian

My latest feature for Guardian Film and Music went to press today – a preview of the ‘Visual Music’ concert and installation taking place at this year’s Spitalfields Festival:

There is a photograph, taken in the late 1970s, of Iannis Xenakis demonstrating his newest innovation to three schoolchildren. As the composer stands in front of a chunky microcomputer, mysteriously hooked up to a large architect’s drafting table, a small boy cheekily reaches up to touch the keyboard. The grinning Xenakis – a far cry from the ultra-rational modernist of legend – is clearly in his element.

Continue reading here.

Details of the concert can be found here. This year’s Spitalfields Festival has a special focus on Xenakis, including a Xenakis Pavilion, designed by architect Chris Dyson, and a performance by students of the Royal Academy of Music of the percussion masterpiece Pléïades.

Friday
Apr022010

Haydn Alone, Today

I recently finished a review (for the summer issue of Tempo) of The Way We Listen Now, a collection of Bayan Northcott's essays and columns. Northcott's writing is a model of lucidity and precision in a field cluttered with metaphors and technical jargon and in my review I recommend the book as a guide for any aspiring music critic.

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Wednesday
Mar312010

NMC's new Music Map

Contemporary composition is a wide and extremely diverse field. It is underrepresented in the popular discourse of reviews, journalistic articles and TV and radio broadcasts. When it is mentioned, it's usually in terms of a few self-prejudicing stereotypes. If you're a new music retailer how do you get past these barriers to introduce new listeners to the true range of music that you sell?

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