Thursday, May 28, 2009

I should just shut my mouth

But sometimes I go on a commenting spree. Totally uncalled for, I know. I'm sorry!

Here's today's. The "critic" referred to herein is a radio listener who complained loudly to a jazz DJ who dared to play a Steely Dan song. Oy!

Music (one of the most social art forms if you ask me) thrives on cross-pollination and hybridization. What we call “American music” today would not exist if previous advocates of musical purity had had their way. I suspect that, a hundred years ago, your critic would have most likely been working to *prevent the development of jazz in the first place*. Oh, the irony!

Often people who take the purist view feel they are defending something that is in danger of disappearing. So your critic may be worried that “traditional” or “classic” jazz is dying, and that a DJ’s gesture of eclecticism (whatever its motivation) only makes that death more imminent. However, with our increasingly niche-driven culture, in which digital technology and social networking make it possible for fans of even the most obscure art form to connect and celebrate it, this seems to me to be a less and less sustainable argument. Sure, there may never be as many “pure” jazz fans as there are Steely Dan fans (though who knows?), but the audience for the former will never disappear.

Peeling away the layers, I personally think your critic’s comments have very little to do with music per se. He / she has gone way beyond simply marveling at the wonderful variety of human taste, and being mildly inconvenienced by that variety for a few minutes. Instead, he / she seems driven by a (alas, very human) need to proclaim membership in a given club. It almost doesn’t matter what the club is *for*…

In response to this post.



Anonymous said...

I actually had the same thought about claiming membership in a club, so I decided to stop arguing about the definition of jazz and join NAMBLA, but, I don't know, it just wasn't the same somehow, despite all the bloggers there.

Andrew Durkin... said...

So that was you I saw at the last meeting!

Matt said...

Ah, the National Association of Marlon Brando Look Alikes, a fine collective indeed.

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