I love writing articles for the many magazines and other avenues I am blessed to have. 1 In Music, Fussy Tongue, Vertikal Life Magazine are as many places where I have had the opportunity to share my penmanship when I am not writing one of my songs. However, just like I am a music fan before being a singer-songwriter, I love reading what people write. It is in books, newsletters and magazines that I found my love for words before lyrics made me look at them in a new light.
If I read another post, review or interview where someone states that an artist is great because they are, that they are better than the rest because the reviewer says so, that they are unique because, well, they think so, I will vomit it. I am tired of reading articles that can be copy-pasted from one artist to the other. I am disappointed in the free availability of writing becoming a licence to self-indulge rather than to communicate. And when it comes to money, the ability to pay for a service seems to withdraw the duty to use the service responsibly.
Where the writer thinks they are advertising the artist, they are actually doing them a disservice. In the many readings and talents they come across, a reader needs to encounter a new story. An artist is never a fact, they are a continually evolving story, a journey, that every single thing they create tries to tell a little at a time. Whether it is fictive or topical, the subject of an artistic oeuvre tells a little of the story of its maker, whether they are the author or the sincere interpret.
Finally appearances have taken such a precedence on contents that words follow the fashion by presenting their symbols devoided of any spirit. It is almost as if the very letter or cloth of the word, the symbol by which they are represented, which came long after the word, now maketh the word; whilst, in the meantime, its spirit, its meaning, its very substance, that once defined it, gets lost in the fashion of its appearance.
The science of passion
The passion for an art is a great motivation to write about it. However, it is not about throwing superlative here and there in the writing. There is a work to understand the feeling that we have, just like a scientist would. This is not about dissecating the art in a scientific way though, although art always have some style of logic in it. This is about speaking of what a piece inspires in us, expressing a perspective of the emotivity of a piece. This is not about absolute, this is about a way of looking into something that is as relative in its composition as the position and perspective that another human being can have of it. In the end, this boils down to tempering the expression of our passion with the realism of its subjectivity and to ascertain the elements of that subjectivity to give the reader and the subject of our work as honest a base as possible. If I am given a work to review that I cannot appreciate for my lak of knowledge in the subject, I will preface my review with my limitations. This is easily compared to a scientific experiment where all the conditions are determine before the experiment is conducted (not that writing an article is an experiment of course).
Express yourself in a constructive manner and to communicate
Some parents tell their children not to speak if they have nothing positive to say. I say: always (well, most of the time at least) speak of your opinion, not as if it were a fact, because it is not. Reveal your mind, not as if your expression is at the centre of it, because in a review and your critique of another, it is not. What matters is never what you can say about something. A critique is arguably not the artist, they are not creating (it is not about what you would have done if you were them), they are reviewing. If what matters the most for you is for your voice to be heard then you are in the wrong job. A critique is a perspective of reality, but not just any perspective. A critique is a point of view that does not merely observe what they see, they analyse the journey, they extrapolate to what the intentions might be, they explore the methods. They try to look at a whole to understand the object birthed. They look at how the instruments or tools, their arrangement, the people involved and the goal pursued make sense in the piece. What comes out of their analysis can only be a constructive opinion. They establish what the assumptions are, propose what the work has communicated to them and whether, based on the assumptions, it all makes sense.
Writing an article: Don’t fill up the void
In countless blogs, we read either of two extremes. On the one hand a lot of words, whose flowery style, tend to fill up the void in the content. On the other hand, the same tautologies replace real insight to repeat the “unique”, original”, “better than many others” style of an artist without explaining in what makes that art unique, original or better. If there is nothing to say, then there is nothing to write. Filling up the void wastes the reader’s time, deflates the value of the article and repercussions on the magazines are worse. One bad article might impact the intention to read anything else on the magazine and other authors might unfairly be unread.
It is important at 1inmusic.com that those expressions are avoided. We try to prevent these, from the ones who put some people down so others can be raised to the ones that self-congratulate without evidence. There are magazines that encourage those types of writing and that is abolutely fine. However, it is the style of writing that defines the magazine. At 1inmusic.com, we believe that time is the single most important currency that humans have. As such we value it and believe that content should be informative, insightful and well written.
There are different ways we address writer’s block. a press release can complete a review. This gives the article more weight with the likes of Google and thereby is more SEO-friendly in its content quantity. We recently recommended that short reviews be grouped together by month so that reviewers are not tempted to add content they don’t feel to the article. We also create template that direct the type of content that might be had.
Excitement does not mean bias: again the science of passion
There is no question that a lot of the reviews we do are based on our excitement about the artist or just the oeuvre. However, that does not justify a certain degree of bias. Our stakeholders are the reason why this magazine is still live and they are, first and foremost, our audience. Their time is valuable, which is why our writers are encouraged to have always more substance, and less bias. We edit and sometimes need to refuse or rewrite cotent that we feel is not up to scratch. It is not just a question of integrity, it is about building a solid reputation and following a set of values through to fulfilling our vision.
It is important that factual analysis, such as the arrangement used in a piece of music, the style that a producer is known to use etc are instruments to support the emotional reaction that a piece of music gives us. It is not about saying that a sound is great but explaining in what way the sound is deemed to be great, e.g. specifying how the use of a particular music instrument accurately and appropriately expresses or supports a feeling. It is not about saying that the artist or the art is original, it is about saying what aspects of the piece is original and what makes it so. What the musician brings to music will also showcase their unicity, rather than just saying they are unique or better than others. Specifying what aspect of their performance brings that unique touch and reflecting it against a standard practice will support that comparison.