Blog page: 18

I didn’t mean to learn about the music business

On December 10th 1 Comment

I swear I didn’t. But it’s been a side-effect of my delving further into the world of musicians. Understanding musicians without understanding the economic and social conditions they work in is like understanding fish without knowing about water.

One of the books that deeply affected me back in music school was A Social History of Music by Henry Raynor. It looks to be out of print but there are copies to be snagged on Alibris, Abebooks, Amazon, etc. It’s a history of how musicians made a lving from the Middle Ages to the Beatles.

It was many years ago when I read it, but it helped me understand how musicians have been constantly improvising and renegotiating their arrangements with society. This allows me to take a long view with respect to the current upheaval in the music industry. It informs my sense that musicians who are clever and relentless will find a way to thrive.

Groups within groups

On December 8th covering , ,

Michael Hovanian, the orchestral bassist & blogger, has a piece on all of the implications of moving the Bassi from one side of the stage to the other. Those of you in small groups will be surprised, and those of you who live in orchestras will want to join the conversation.

I’ve started to privately think of music groups as “simple groups’ and “complex groups”. Simple groups have no hierarchy — they just all meet together and get things done (or not). An orchestra epitomizes a complex group. There are groups nested within groups. There are sections with their own personality and leaders and each stand (pair of players sharing a music stand) is a micro-section with its own etiquette of who turns the page, etc. In my clinical practice I have heard many stories of how stand partners annoy one another to the point of bloodshed over how and when the page is turned. Read more »

Sandow on making a living

On December 6th covering ,

Greg sandow is a wonderful writer about the professional classical music world. His post from today is even more important for rock/pop musicians to read than for classical musicians. Read the comments as well.

Here is the point that I would develop if I had more than a couple of minutes today: making a living in music has required constant inventiveness, with a few exceptions. There have been more or less stable arrangements throughout history, but these have always been uneasy compromises. I’m thinking of Franz Josef Haydn working as a servant of Prince Esterhazy, and Kapellmeister J.S. Bach always kvetching to his employers at Thomaskirche for more money and more musicians. Or today, the arrangements where musicians find university residencies or faculty appointments. But mostly they have to invent ways to make money. Read more »

Why are they murdering singers in Mexico?

On December 5th 1 Comment covering ,

This is a disturbing development. This is the account from BBC news.

Sergio Gomez, of the K-Paz de la Sierra band, was seized after a concert in the western state of Michoacan on Sunday. The motive for the attack is unclear but Michoacan has been the scene of gruesome drug-related violence. Several musicians have been killed over the year, including performers of the popular “narcocorrido” music whose lyrics centre on drug-trafficking. …Gomez was killed hours after another singer, Zayda Pena, was killed in the border city of Matamoros in Tamaulipas state. Pena, 28, was shot by an unknown assailant in hospital where she was recovering from a previous gunshot wound. The motive behind her murder is also unknown. Several of the murders of musicians over the past year are believed to be tied to organised crime and drug-trafficking. Read more »

Terminology of Music Groups, part 3

On December 3rd 1 Comment covering ,

This just in from Kansas City: chamber music is the new punk rock, the Chiara String Quartet is the new Black Flag, which makes violinist Julie Yoon the new Henry Rollins.

Also, Eighth Blackbird flutist Tim Munro shows that modern chamber music is not for the faint of heart, enduring an onstage injury you’d expect to see on Sid Vicious.

All of which makes me feel somewhat better about speaking of small music groups generically as “bands”.