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Welcome to my weblog!
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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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dylan

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.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Market Failure Argument

I was at the Arts Council Groningen this week, to talk a bit about their role in arts funding. I had decided some time ago that I would not meddle into cultural policy making any more, but what is meddling? They asked me to tell a story, and as I love telling stories, I accepted.

As usually I tried to make the point that arts funding policy should look at a more inclusive way towards everyday life out there in the ordinary life world. Arts funding policy is, due to traditions, unnecessary exclusive. Decision making, for example, is often exclusively in the hands of a very homogeneous group of 'insider specialists'.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dr. Jan and Mr. Raes

The directors of the Concertgebouw Orchestra are called Jan Raes.

One of them, Jan Raes, was a member of a small committee who wrote a report for the Ministry of Education about music education in primary schools. On the basis of that report, the ministry decided to invest 25 million euros in music education the next few years.

Jan Raes and his committee wrote in the report: "The snowball lies on top of the mountain, it just needs a little push". With this rather idiot metaphor Jan Raes meant that music education was really developing well those past few years and only needed a bit of money to get into excellent shape again.

A couple of weeks later, the other director, Jan Raes, published with his nine fellow-directors of the Dutch symphony orchestras a report on the future of the orchestras. In that report, he sketches a grim picture of music education in primary schools: it has nearly vanished. In this report, the other Jan Raes mentions the 25 million euros from the ministry not as the final little push in order to get music education in primary schools back to excellency, but as a first beginning to revive music education.

I wish I could witness the discussions between Jan Raes and Jan Raes after they found out how they differed in their estimation of music education in primary education."We're nearly there, you fool!", bellows Dr. Jan. "Not at all - it is nearly extinct", shrieks Mr. Raes. After which they start throwing snowballs at each other from the tops of their respective mountains.

In the meantime, the poor education officer of the Concertgebouw Orchestra witnesses this raging war between Jan Raes and Jan Raes, and no doubt wonders which one to believe. I don't envy her position.