Nov 8, 2007

Ross & Ratliff

Just finished reading this great back-and-forth about music, genre and performance between one of the Times' resident polymaths, Ben Ratliff (did you read his "America's Music" piece on megachurch music, or his piece on marching bands? Next, I'm half-expecting a piece on the social economics of Muzak) and Alex Ross, whose The Rest Is Noise I'm eagerly plowing through (and whom I'm hoping to catch this weekend in my near-hood).

Ross raises some of the usual anxieties/hopes about the future of criticism in the Internet age, while Ratliff raises some challenging, fascinating meta-issues about music and performance culture. He quotes Robert Levin, a Harvard pianist and musicologist:
I think the most important thing in performing a piece of music, and likewise, even more so in the listener's apprehension of what's going on, is a sense that anything that's happening could have been something else.

Profound stuff--and, I think, a key insight into the potential energy of every live performing art.

No comments: