Don’t Let ‘em See You Sweat
Over at “Dial M,” Phil Ford has been calling for greater interdisciplinary in musicology and he sees music-related blogs as one way to us to reach out while allowing others (non-musicologists) to participate as well. Towards the end of his post titled “Blog Fail” he writes:
I started this blog [Dial M] thinking that the strange absence of music-scholarly blogs was a temporary condition, and that musicologists, once they had learned about academic blogging by example and could see what could be done in the medium, would start writing their own blogs and a hundred musicoloblogospheric flowers would bloom. Well, that didn’t happen. Look at the academic blog wiki list of music-scholarly blogs. Now look at the one for history. Or linguistics and philosophy. Or even Classics and Ancient Languages, for Chrissake. We’re getting our asses kicked by Latin.
It is true that there are relatively few blogs on that list (there are a few more here), but I’m not entirely sure the problem is a lack of blogs as much as much as a problem of collating / unifying those blogs that are out there. An ethnomusicologically inclined friend recently sent me this list of music-related academic blogs that he follows, none of which appear on the blog wiki list :
Wayne Marshall: http://wayneandwax.com/
Michael Birenbaum Quintero (Spanish and English): http://laguayabita.blogspot.com/
Laura E. Cayer: http://songcatchergirl.blogspot.com/
Kraig Grady: http://anaphoriasouth.blogspot.com/
Alexandre Enkerli: http://enkerli.wordpress.com/
Liam McGranahan: http://mashupresearch.blogspot.com
Victor Grauer: http://music000001.blogspot.com/
Michael Bakan: http://mailer.fsu.edu/~mbakan/index.html
Max Peter Baumann: http://maxpeterbaumann-ethnomusicology.blogspot.com/
Jonathan H. Harwell: http://mesoj.edublogs.org
Lee Bidgood: Http://blidgood.wordpress.com
Eliot Bates: http://www.eliotbates.com/blog/
Maria Ljungdahl (Sweedish): http://maljmusic.blogspot.com/
I’ve never encountered these blogs before and I consider myself pretty “up” on what blogs are out there. I try to keep as many as I can manage on my RSS reader, but we all know the limits of time. As I logged into my wordpress account just now, the homepage informed me of their current stats:
5,031,625 blogs, 337,695 new posts, 47,557,288 words today.
Needless to say, musicology isn’t going to appear in anything resembling a percentage of those posts, but it does boggle the mind to think of how many people are typing into space. Musicology blogs take all shapes and forms, some focus on longer posts, others a tidbit here or there, others still as a place to air research ideas. Perhaps what we need is a meta-blogger willing to spend their days combing other blogs and pulling together all the interesting posts/subjects. The Perez Hilton of musicology, though less profitable and fashionable (in many senses of the word).
Keeping up with blogs is difficult on the production side as well. There is always the impetus to start a post. But I often find that a great idea formed while out for a run or waiting for the bus doesn’t always hold together when set down in writing, even in blog-form writing. Drew can attest to the various drafts we’ve both got for posts that will probably remain unseen. I think Phil makes a good point when he writes, “blogging isn’t about keepin’ it real — it’s about the meticulous preparation and presentation of an artful rhetoric of keepin’ it real.” This is particularly true for us less-further-along academic bloggers who either are on the job market or will be soon. Ditto for tenure.
In the spirit of blogging, a post should read as one might hope to talk. In reality, as I prepare each post I edit through several times, sometimes leaving a post sitting in draft form for days/weeks/months (this is not the case today). As I click on that “publish” button, I invariably ask myself the same the same set of paranoid questions: 1) Will what I’ve written help/hurt my career (see Drew’s post on the subject)? 2) Is anyone even reading this carefully enough that it matters how much effort has gone into it?
Academic blogging takes time and at this point no one really knows what its place is in musicology, with respect to both professional development and development of the profession. If Phil is indeed correct (and I hope he is) that musicology blogs have the power to move the discipline in new directions, then I want to put my best foot forward. At the same time, I want to do my best to actually keep it real, honest, current, and interesting, not only for myself but also for you. Not an easy combination, but just like any relationship it goes nowhere without a bit of effort–even if it (hopefully) looks easy.
I think Billy Joel says it best in this performance form 1977.* Pretend he’s singing to his blog and, by extension, the blogging/blog-reading community, as you watch and listen**:
Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are
Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.
I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.
* Yes, that’s right, I am a big fan of Billy Joel and now you know…
** I have to say that I disagree with Billy on one point here, a little clever conversation never hurts–be that in a blog or a relationship.