Alan's reviews are available online. His column is called A Little Night Music. I recommend it highly although I don't always agree with him. He wrote some nice things about me, back in antiquity when I merited review.
Many of the music critics I read in these modern days have been lamenting the firing of other music critics whom I do not read. Alan took his turn at bat on this subject in this post under the heading "What I Do and Why". He wrote:
"A community’s musical life needs a spokesperson."He doesn't really say why this is so. We certainly don't need critics in order to form our own opinions.
Every person who hears a musical event, be it concert, club or busker in the subway, forms their own independent opinion. Not everyone knows the words to express their ideas. Such vocabulary is learned through the corrupting influence of music education.
People who never studied music might find reading a post-concert review helps them articulate personal thoughts, whether they agree or disagree. For a critic to presume he writes only what the majority of the audience thinks, as their spokesman, is exceptionally pompous. No, Alan didn't actually say that.
Music reviews do help people like me who can't (or won't) attend many concerts. We can learn the basic facts of who played what, when and where. Beyond that a reader needs to gradually create a filter for each critic's arsenal of adjectival ordnance. Suppose he never wrote a decent word about Andrea Bocelli. You might not need to read his take on Sarah Brightman.
(Are there any female music critics out there?)
As Alan mentions, music reviews can also entice people to attend concerts they might not have known about otherwise. We pretend not to notice when a review praises an upcoming concert which has paid advertising elsewhere in the same issue.
Critics do get the chance to speak truth to power in the the music world. This is good. When Leslie read the draft of this article she said that the music community does need spokespeople to talk to the "Pharisees, Administrators and Bean Counters." (Alas, she refuses to ghost-write Mixed Meters.)
Arguments about why certain parking garages should have certain concert halls built above them apparently paid off. (Can't find the link, but I read that Ernest Fleischman felt Mark Swed's LA Times music criticism helped get Disney Hall built. I hope that Mark's comments about how certain museums have mistreated certain chamber music series might actually cause certain administrators to make certain changes.)
Back to the point: no one of us who loves music needs to care what a critic thought of a performance or composition in order to have our own opinion. That's what I think and I seem to be repeating myself.
Anyway, Alan also says:
[Classical music] "comes cloaked in a certain air of mystery, which the critic is there to penetrate. Because it has a strong impact on emotions, it also generates a lot of nut cases who, these days, have access to the Internet, so that we have both not enough music criticism — or, let’s call it, “writing around music” — and too much in the form of blogs."This seems to argue for a type of elitism where just a few people get to create the opinions and others consume them. With a blog anyone can talk back to bonehead reviewer comments. This is a good thing. Alan, are you listening? You trumpet your own refutations of other reviewers, for example Chris Pasles. But you decry the musical community's discovery of a way to speak for itself.
Alan, now safely back in the third person, goes on to praise the Internet music blog with more readers than any other: "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross. I've referred to it often on Mixed Meters. I recommend it highly although I don't always agree with it.
To me the title "The Rest Is Noise" has always trumpeted that very elitist attitude. It seems to say "I review only good stuff and every thing I ignore is merely cacophonous pandemonium."
- Maybe that's not the intended implication of the title.
- Maybe someone will suggest alternative meanings.
- Maybe the title is explained in Ross' book "The Rest Is Noise. "
- Maybe I'll give up writing a blog and find time to start reading books again.
- Maybe someone out there thinks cacophonous pandemonium is the highest form of music. My apologies to that person.
Tim Mangan is another SoCal Music Critic whom I recommend but don't always agree with.
Rich Tags: Alan Rich. . . music criticism. . . music critics. . . music critic. . . LA Weekly. . . Pharisees. . . bean counters. . . administrators. . . Alex Ross. . . The Rest Is Noise. . . A Little Night Music