The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 August 2003

Spinning templates

Lynn Sislo administers a semi-detached suburban quasi-fisking to this MSNBC piece, and while I was reading her specifications for writing a classical-music editorial, I remembered this thing I wrote last year. Let's see if I meet her standards:

1. Shower praise on the European arts scene and lament Americans' apparent lack of interest in classical music.

Apart from claiming that Seventies LP pressings from Europe were better, I didn't have much to say about the Continent, but I did issue the pertinent lament. One-half point.

2. Throw in a few scary statistics about declining CD sales. Try to compare interest in classical music to interest in other arts.

I didn't do that.

3. Talk about the past. Be sure to mention that 10,000 people attended Beethoven's funeral.

I didn't do that, either.

4. Talk about the lack of interest in contemporary art music. Blame atonality and be sure to mention Schoenberg and use the words "twelve tone" so you'll sound like you know what you're talking about. Feel free to throw in as many other names and -isms as you can manage to work in.

"[I]t is assumed we won't buy unless we are assured we're getting something with established market appeal." I'd say this probably eliminates Pierrot lunaire somewhere along the way. One-half point.

5. Concede that "not all modern music is impenetrable."

Never. :)

6. Quote one or two performers or composers but do not under any circumstances include a quote expressing enthusiasm for atonal music.

Do you get the feeling that twelve-tone is the cod-liver oil of music? It's supposed to be good for what ails us, but damn, it's hard to swallow.

7. When you've milked the "bad news" for all you can get out of it turn things around and say something like, "Today's audiences are slowly coming around." Now you can throw in some positive statistics — concert attendance is up in some cities, etc. Talk about what orchestras are doing to "bring back audiences." Cheesy gimmicks are a plus.

"[The] audience may always be a minority, but there's no indication that it's shrinking. And while the bigger labels go after 'crossovers' and other ephemera, smaller companies are always there to take up the slack." Close enough. One point.

8. Mention those sophisticated European audiences again.

The hell with them. The only reason they go to the opera house is because it's air-conditioned. (Yeah, I know, this is the sort of thing one says about a place like Tulsa, but then Tulsa actually has an opera company, and this gives me a chance to mention it while simultaneously sneering at the Europeans.)

9. Finally, wind it up with a gushy little paragraph. Use words like beauty, excitement, spellbinding, electric, and pain. Bonus points if you can work in a dead composer quote here.

"This may not be quite a Golden Age, but certainly its mettle is strong." One point for sheer syntactical hubris.

So on the Lynn scale, I score 3 out of 9, which disqualifies me from writing stuff like that — or like this Newsweek piece that I covered last month. Perhaps it's just as well.

Posted at 10:02 AM to Tongue and Groove