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The place where I will occasionally post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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(As you see, the blog is in DInglish - Dutch International English - but comments in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Frisian are welcome.)

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And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015


I was in Sarajevo. I asked a music student to describe what he did with music. He said: “I practice. Then I play a concert where other students and teachers come to listen, hoping they can find a mistake or two. Then I practice again.”

A succinct description. I felt at home immediately.

Exclusive Inclusivity

I am connected to many projects in which professional musicians try to work in participatory and inclusive settings. They invite people to join with them in their playing, to influence their decisons; they want to know what their audiences want from them, what their needs are, their opinions; they want to make music which fits them like a glove or which poses them the questions they never thought of but need to answer urgently.

And that is great.

But deep down – and sometimes not deep down but right at the surface and even blatantly open - there stays that other tendency in professional musicians: the need to feel special, to be the best and the biggest, to be exclusive, to stand out.

And so it comes that I talk with a former student about a project she was involved in, some years ago. The project was about participation and inclusion, about sharing and about empowering; the students – our future professional musicians – worked, together with teachers, in a circle with the participants, reacted to their ideas, built something together.

And the former students tells me: “I was sitting in the circle and I knew I was not appreciated. I knew the teachers felt I was not delivering enough quality, that the other students were much better. I knew that the other students felt that. I knew it all, and I felt I had no real place in the circle.”

Not exclusive enough to be included.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


You may check out my new blog entry on Bob Dylan's third album on that other blog, Evert Listens To Dylan.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Sing-Alonger

Sometimes new insights come about because two experiences collide.

Experience 1.

I was reading an essay about André Hazes. André Hazes, for the non-Dutch amongst us, is - was - a phenomenon. He sang the 'levenslied', the Dutch schlager as it were, and became the larger-than-life representation of it. When he died, there was a burial ceremony in the Amsterdam Arena (you know, Ajax) which was televised and attracted six million viewers.

The essay is written by an anthropologist from the Meertens Institute for Dutch ethnology, Irene Stengs. I like the essay; at points it is too much sociology of culture and too little ethnography to my taste, but it makes an important distinction that I had not consciously thought about too much: that between singing culture and sing-along culture. Singing culture is about the way we sing songs. Sing-along culture is about the way we sing songs together with a singer. In a sense, sing-along culture unites what ethnomusicologist Thomas Turino would call presentational and participatory forms of singing. Singing is presentational when it is done by a singer for an audience. Singing is participatory when everybody joins in and there is no distinction between a singer and an audience, Sing-along means there is a distinction, but not between the singer and his audience but between the singer and the sing-alongers.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Music and Place - On Ethnomusicocartographology and the Kielsterachterweg.

One of our students has started working for her research on the topic of 'Music and Place'. I hope she will realize through her research the all-invading importance of this topic. Because one of the most important functions of music is to connect people with place.

It does so in many ways. It connects people to he place where the music was conceived of; to the place they first heard (or played, or saw, ore even smelt or felt or tasted) that music; to places where they heard (or played, etc) that music in significant ways; to their current place while listening, playing, seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting that music; et cetera et cetera. Any piece of music has a personal geography, which maybe might be expressed in a personal musical map of that piece of music. And any piece of music may also have a more general cartography, if there would be patterns in those connections between music and place that would be more general.

I just invented a new discipline in the previous sentence, I believe: cartomusicography, or musicocartography. And if you study musicocartography all over the world, no doubt you will be an ethnomusicocartographologist. Someone with an XXL businesscard.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"If You Do What You Always Did..."

I wrote a blog entry for the Reflective Conservatoire Conference - but I might have posted it here too. So scroll to the bottom of the page behind this link to find it.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Wish You Rieu!

I was spending an evening in front of the television and ended up watching André Rieu's jubilee concert at the central 'Vrijthof' square in Maastricht. A spectacle, as usual - a child prodigy, a soprano singing higher than high, three male singers singing louder than loud, a Ukrainian-Russian ensemble piece in order to propagate peace, a laser show, animations on enormous screens behind the stage, confetti showers, two past and one present town mayor, Rieu dancing with a hundred years old nun  - all the ingredients were there to make the jubilee a jubilee as we televise jubilees nowadays.

I wrote about Rieu earlier in this blog (for example here and here), trying to make clear that I admire the man although what he does is not necessarily my taste. While sitting in front of the telly I again enjoyed watching the show. Of course also because I studied in Maastricht, so looking at the audience and hearing Rieu speak the local dialect took me back to the years when I was around twenty years old and tried to figure out how to live an independent life at the other end of the country amidst total strangers. Recollections of all kinds, happy ones and less happy ones, as things go, if only because at least one class mate and one good friend have past away in the meantime. Would they have liked the Rieu concert? I'll never know, I guess - but you never know.