Sunday 2nd JanuaryJanuary 2, 2011
Well that wasn’t the most auspicious of starts to the year for this blog. I finally got my broadband connection back this afternoon after more than twenty-four hours disconnected. I knew I relied on the internet quite a bit to keep the various things I do going, but its only when you lose it that you realise how much. Anyway I have begun work today on updating the Reviews Index here, and should hopefully have it complete, and also the Concert Calendar back up and running by the end of tomorrow. Once these things, which have been bugging me for months, are done then I will feel I’m in a good place to get some solid content back here again after a few lean weeks.
This is probably also a good time and place, being a new year and all that, to mention a new project I have planned for 2011 and beyond. One of the criticisms of this blog, made by myself if not by others, is that the demanding schedule and limited amount of time I give to each post results in hurried, poorly written and badly researched writing. This is certainly the case, but I prefer to think that this blog is not really like many other music blogs in this field, and rather than write definitive pieces I tend to present snapshots of my listening day here, and so the quality of writing will, by necessity be relatively low. Talking with people that read these pages, the majority seem to enjoy this approach, and so I intend, after much deliberation, to keep up the daily, informal posting routine for as long as I feel able.
I do have an urge to work on something that requires greater consideration and a slower approach however. While the writing I have done for The Wire has been better structured and more formal, the turn-around times have still been quite tight. While I hope I am allowed to continue writing for the magazine I also began a new project yesterday, that will probably take me at least a couple of years to complete, and will most probably remain private while I do so. If writing at this blog means that I usually only get to listen to a CD three or four times before writing, I have decided to take a single piece of music (Luigi Nono’s only string quartet- Fragmente, Stille) and listen to it every day, for as long as I can. I then hope to write about this experience as I go along, and see where things go. I don’t expect to write every day, maybe only once or twice a week, but the idea is to become so familiar with the few recorded versions of this quartet that I am able to write about it in ways I never have before.
The inspiration for this comes in part from Keith Rowe, who introduced me to the book The Sight of Death by T.J. Clark a few years back. In that fascinating book, Clark, an art critic visits a couple of Poussin paintings in a gallery over and over, almost every day for several months, writing about the experience each day, noting new things he saw in the paintings, dreaming up fantasies for the characters within them, where they were before they walked into the frame, where they are going… I want to try and extend this way of observing, this almost fanatical approach to studying art to listening. I have no doubt that the finished work (should it ever get finished!) will be as much about me and my experience with the quartet as it will be about the Nono piece in itself. I have chosen a composition though with a lot of history behind it, some interesting elements behind its inception, and above all, a piece of music I enjoy a great deal and shouldn’t have a problem living with for a long time.It is also a piece of music that has long inspired my visually creative side, so the project may not be in written word form alone. Will I be able to stand hearing it every day though for however long it takes? I’m not sure. As a project though, this is the polar opposite to what I do here at this blog. I will certainly spend enough time with this music before I write 😉
Where will I find the time for this? I’m not sure. I do know that this year I intend to stop feeling so guilty when I don’t manage more than two or three reviews a week at The Watchful Ear. I will write as much as I can, when I can, I promise, but lets face it there will be limitations. I also intend to scale back Cathnor a little as well to one or two projects a year as that’s about all I have time for. There’s enough music in the world as it is already… I didn’t ever plan to be a writer, of any kind. As in recent years though i seem to have fallen into the role, albeit it a somewhat amateurish fashion, I’m going to try and put some time and effort into producing something that is as good as I can make it. After all, I turn forty this year, and I am very conscious that on a personally creative note I have yet to achieve much that I am really proud of. Time to start work on that. You never know how much time you have left to waste.
So anyway… back in the here and now, I have been continuing to listen to the eight CD long Weites land, tiefe zeit, rÃ¤ume composition by JÃ¼rg Frey. I am on my third run through the set now and will write about the music tomorrow, so you finally will get something to read here that isn’t just about me…
In the meantime, if you want to read some great writing wrapped up in some really great imagery, make sure you take a look at the fifth issue of Tristesse, the free pdf magazine published by Jez riley French. This edition, as well as containing some lovely photography and drawings (The ‘Cups’ illustrations by Ishbel Murray, one of which I have appropriated for this post’s image are truly gorgeous) also contains a several page long piece of writing by Patrick Farmer that I enjoyed a lot, and I’m not just saying that because I wasn’t able to make our planned coffee meet-up this morning 😉 Tristesse is a real labour of love though, go check it out.