Monday, August 22, 2011

Do Jazz Musicians Need to Know How to Write Criticism?

The Boston Jazz Blog poses the question, "Do jazz critics need to know how to play jazz?" There are interesting answers, though I would question the question by asking, "Do jazz musicians need to know how to write criticism?" I'm not joking. I've written about this before, and it has been a subject of tension in ethnomusicology since the days of Mantle Hood argued for the primacy of "bimusicality" as a mode of understanding, but I don't agree that musicality comes automatically from playing or singing, or that it is necessarily greater among musicians than among, say, listeners or dancers--or critics. Rather than narrowly value only composers and performers (relegating all the other people that make music meaningful, from engineers and critics to retailers and fans, to secondary status), I'd rather understand music as a complex ecology of participation.

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