In at the death

Laurence Boyce at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Last Trump for music blogs?
Detail from a mediaeval Doom wall-painting in St. Andrew’s, Chesterton, Cambridge
Laurence Boyce at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 ]
via Wikimedia Commons

The other day I came across a classical music blog that was musing on the death of….classical music blogs. The online world has been prophesying the death of blogs for some time, I remember Twitter being hailed as sounding the last trump for blogs. Yet still they manage to survive, partly, I guess, because music blogs are there for different reasons. If some bloggers are perhaps no longer as independent as they once were, there are still plenty of music blogs catering to a diverse range of tastes and needs.

Fan blogs tend to centre more around popular music, and act as a link between bands and their followers. Paul McCartney’s website, for example, has a series of blogs on everything from charities he supports to his latest tour. There’s even a glimpse into life as a publicist on a world tour. Band blogs keep fans up to date on the lives of their favourite artists, and may give them the opportunity to buy tickets or compete in competitions.

More importantly, and perhaps unexpectedly, for some genres, blogging may be, at least initially, the main instrument of musical analysis.

"Invisible Oranges" - one of a number of Heavy Metal blogs.

“Invisible Oranges” – one of a number of Heavy Metal blogs.

A good example of this is something that I came across when I attended the IAML (UK & Irl) Annual Study Weekend in Birmingham in 2015. One of the most memorable talks at that particular ASW was given by Dr. Andy R. Brown of Bath Spa University. Speaking about the literature of Heavy Metal, Brown mentioned that until relatively recently there had been little literature analysing the music of the genre. Most of the books on the subject investigated instead psychological or social aspects. One of the ways that Heavy Metal scholarship had started to enter the mainstream was via bloggers who were primarily interested in the music. Although Metal scholarship has now entered academia (see Metal Music Studies, also at L409.c.1383), blogs remain a way of looking at certain aspects of the genre, and, (in a changing soundscape) reviewing new music. Although the relative merits of Metal blogs are hotly disputed, Heavyblogisheavy and the weirdly, but wonderfully, named Invisible Oranges are updated regularly and cover a wide variety of styles within the genre.

Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker, made a comprehensive list in 2004 of music blogs worldwide. Consisting primarily of classical music blogs, there are also a number of blogs relating to popular music and jazz. Some are now very out-of-date, but there are a few gems. You can catch up with what’s happening in the University of Kent’s music department, find all things Wagner at The Wagnerian, read David Byrne’s journal, or browse the broad range of musicology based articles on Musicology Now. Independent bloggers in the UK such as On an overgrown path blog on classical and world music, as well as writing about the industry.

Museums and libraries often have their own musical blogs, or include musical items in a more general blog. Some great examples include the British Library’s music blog, In the Muse at the Library of Congress has performing arts related posts, while nearer home the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has regular posts related both to their collections and student life.

RISM’s news page acts as a blog with regular updates and fascinating information from across the classical music world (MusiCB3 has even been mentioned there!).

Commercial organizations such as Naxos Music Library has its own blog which has lots of information on recordings old and new. While Berklee online has a helpful blog aimed primarily at writers of popular music.

A particular favourite of mine is the Horniman Museum‘s blog featuring their enormous collection of musical instruments. There’s also a fascinating blog on ethnomusicology, anthropology and sound curation at the Pitt Rivers Musuem, Oxford. Although it’s not currently updated, it’s well worth having a look.

At the fun (though still rather serious) end of classical music blogging I came across The Taruskin Challenge, a musical equivalent of Julie Powell’s Julie/Julia challenge (see also Julie and Julia : my year of cooking dangerously (2007.8.950)), but without any unpleasantness involving lobsters. Although the challenge has now ended it makes fascinating reading for anyone who has read their way through at least part of The Oxford History of Western Music (M475.b.200.1-6)

Blogging is dead? Well, perhaps not just yet. It can be an unexpected way into academia for music that is not mainstream, or is even considered “dangerous”. For librarians, it can be a wonderful way to publicise their collections (and the perils and pitfalls of their own libraries). It can also be a great resource, but as with any resource material buyer beware.

MJ

By listing the above blogs we do not endorse these blogs, mentioned and listed products and services, or any opinions made in the posts of these blogs. Please feel free to recommend further blogs (including your own!) that have been helpful or enjoyable using the comments section below.

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About mj263

Music Collections Supervisor at Cambridge University Library. Wide musical interests. Often to be found stuck in a composer's archive, or enthusing about antiquarian music.
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3 Responses to In at the death

  1. They can’t be dead. I’m reading this one, am I not?! And I really enjoy it. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mj263 says:

    Reblogged this on IAML (UK & Irl) and commented:

    Partly inspired by an ASW….

    Like

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