Saturday, May 09, 2009

Musical Hats

I live outside of the hustle and bustle (with an accent on hustle) of the musical world, and, though I sometimes complain, I have been pretty happy about it lately because I can live by making my own musical rules, and do not have to waste my creative energy on the extra-musical side of musical life. My life is regulated only by my own standards of quality, which are high enough to keep me very humble. I love having this little place in the blogosphere where I can share my thoughts with whoever happens to come by, or whoever might happen to share an interest, and I love having a place on line to make the music I write available to people who are interested in it.

When I venture out into the world I wear a number of different figurative musical hats. I actually own the one above, though mine is very well worn and in need of some repair. I suppose that this is the reviewing hat that I (figuratively) wear when I write for the American Record Guide. It is traditionally a man's hat, and in the magazine, which is populated by many more men than women, I am often regarded by readers as "Mr. Fine." (Not that I hear from many readers.)

I feel that my job is to give as much information as I can about a recording I get to review so that the person reading can decide whether s/he wants to hear it. I feel very proud of the small contribution to the general musical dialogue that I can make from my home outside of the mainstream. I can speak in condensed paragraphs, and I know that whatever I write will be read by the people responsible for making the recordings. I also know that positive reviews will help the people who make excellent recordings know that there are people who value the amount of work that goes into making them. I feel that my charge as a reviewer is to be honest, and I like to think that all the other hats I wear help to inform my honesty. As "Mr. Fine" (or as simply FINE) of the ARG, my impressions of recordings do have some serious weight in the musical world that floats outside of my own private world.

I suppose I also wear this hat when I write program notes and when I teach music appreciation classes. Perhaps that is why my bowler hat is so worn.

The cloche above is the figurative hat I wear when I am practicing, playing, or teaching the violin and the viola. It is the hat that I have always wanted to have, even though it doesn't always look as good on me as it does on other people (but it would look far worse on a man than it would look on me). It keeps the sun out of my eyes, and it protects me from the cold.

I wear this one when I play the viola d'amore and the recorder.

This is my flute hat, which I don't wear it very often.

These are some of my composing hats. One of the greatest pleasures I get from composing music is that it gives me a chance to "dress up" as instruments and voices that I can't (or don't) use in real life. A few of them are like my flute hat, but then again, I prefer to write for flute rather than to play the instrument. Other people look far better in these hats than I do.

. . . And this is my blogging hat.

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