[Marxism] When Facebook Isn't Fun, or..

sabocat59 at mac.com sabocat59 at mac.com
Sat Mar 7 04:35:31 MST 2009

Ian Pace wrote:

(There is such a thing as an active listening which focuses upon how the social context of particular music informs its very fabric, and also how changing modes of reception relate to social and ideological aspects of particular times and places. This attitude is most common in the best jazz criticism, but is very uncommon in other fields. There is a real virtue in this approach, as it refuses to consider music as being autonomous of time and place (and thus history, society, ideology). But otherwise, I see no reason to value the experience of sitting down and listening to a Pink Floyd album, or buying tickets to see the latest over-hyped Russian violinist, smothering some music with copious amount of vibrato and exaggerated rubato in order to lend it a mystical aura, than a teenager listening to some hits in the background or on their iPod)
To be sure there are a lot of mystifying snobs in the audiophile world.  Try reading some of the Stereophile mag reviews for example. 

But what you call active listening is not really listening, its more of a mode of discussion, or written criticism, to set the stage as it were, for the musicians who were playing. 

Although I agree with the point that serious jazz and blues writing on the subject incorporates the social and historical context, like the music which came out of the NYC loft scene, or the musicians which congregated around the Blue Note label. There have been plenty of good books written on the subject.   

And then there's the whole anthropogical take on the subject and the people like Alan Lomax who recorded legendary yet forgotten blues musicians. They helped to preserve a whole world of music which would otherwise have faded into nothingness. 

But I don't think it's snobbish or mystifying to try to recreate live sound on a stereo. Its simply more enjoyable than listening to music on a crappy system. Musicians and others who stick to this argument tend to be labelled elitist but I think we have a point.  Of course you wouldn't know unless you actually heard music coming through a good system.  

In terms of comparing music collectors to Imelda Marcos, that's pretty funny.  I get a lot of joy out of finding old vinyl on original labels and cleaning the records so they sound good.  Just the other day I discovered a boatload of ECM label vinyl.  ECM is a german label which produced very high quality vinyl and recorded people like Keith Jarrett, Bobo Stenson and Jan Garbarek.  Great stuff.  I paid $3 a record and have a bunch of records which sound way better than any overly produced cd. Just call me Imelda on the cheap.  

Greg McD
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