Why would a journalist decides to become a music critic? What does that office means today, particularly in relation to classical music? Anne Midgette y Diego Fischerman -guest teachers of the Gabriel García Márquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism music module- were the first responders to these questions during the third session.
For the Argentine critic Diego Fischerman who goes back a few years ago and refers to his childhood and primary motivation in this profession is a genuine love and curiosity for music: "When I was a kid I used to shared the music that I liked whith my friends and what I do nowadays is virtually the same, share the music I like". The same emotional connection is present on Anne Midgette's memories, music critic and blogger for the Washington Post, but in her case it was a later discovery and should faced the additional challenge of being part of a musical family: "I thought that the critical were the opposite side for the musicians, the enemies. I come from a family where everyone played an instrument, I felt I was betraying them, I was like the black sheep". The critic's place in a society in which everybody have increasing access to information is changing. According Midgette, "The music critic is no longer an authority to become a meeting point for people who love the same thing, its function is to attract people who do not know it and seduce them to they could get to it." In the United States there is a big difference between what is a reporter and what is a music critic. Reporters focus on the context, background and history, while critics are allowed to give an opinion, a judgment on the music. But that difference, clear to the media, does not exist for 95% of the readers. This expansion of the reach is a very different approach to readers. A dose of humility combined with a dose of confidence are the key to addressing both targets knowledgeable people and experts, who sometimes have even greater knowledge of the subject than the same journalist. The expertise is central in this relationship of credibility with the audience. One of the challenges for those who are start this activity, especially those like the fellows who don't have a deep knowledge of classical music, is daring to speak of sound, reach beyond the characters, the atmosphere and the background. In this respect, teachers, who also faced the uncertainty in their first years on the field, state: "There is much fear of being wrong. It is very difficult to speak of the sound, it is easier to speak of context, our language has no words for sound. To write about Music we took words from those things we can touch: velvety, dense... The musical critics should not talk only about the sound, but do not forget the sound. 99% of people who enjoy music can not read a musical score, and even enjoy what they hear, then what is the point?". In Fischerman's words: "The ideal of a review is that it is so well argued that someone can not agree, understand what poses the text and answer: 'the critic says he does not like this, and I think that precisely that's why I like'". For this is important to not placed at the end. Recognize that some shows are good, moving or boring or mediocre. Providing you with the information that he can see the positive and the negative. The brutal honesty can be more useful for readers who access a simple record of the movement, something that goes far beyond the story, play by play of a baseball game. From strengths and musical highways
Contemporary critics have the chance to move in a different field and help dissolve that strength. However, some still prefer enclosed in it and see this as a kind of merit. Opposed to what happens with film critics, they seek to open, watch every movie that they can watch and in varied genres to have the best possible reference encyclopedia. Such critics "exclusive" are based on the idea that musical genres by parallel highways move dictated by the market. The music critic may move on other cultural expressions that are not on the same highway. Finding links between certain writers and composers or movies. As Jonathan Levi says: "This workshop is also a space to jump from one to another highway and see what happens in Latvia, Peru and Hungary." That fear of being wrong is accentuated when it comes to classical music, because respect special genre label that inspires. As defined Diego Fischerman: "Classical music has a fortress armed to defend itself. Why classical? The classic is what is beyond time. The aristocrats created this idea to differentiate the upstarts of the new rich. The classic thing you can not buy. At first, it was a matter of musical quality, but a class privilege." What we teachers offer is: "Trying to sell Bartók to those people who listen Björk and make that Björk listeners get to know Bartók... because the others do not need to submit to them what they already know". The art gallery is built on the idea that the works talk to each other. Before recording the sound there was no way to put the pieces together, to make them talk to each other. And that is one reason why the phonograph records constitute the greatest revolution that ever took place in the music. In addition, gender classifications are becoming more superficial and obey purely market as Fischerman says: "Sometimes the elements that define membership in a genre are external to the music, as in the case of King Crimson Islands, is marketing, musicians clothes... what defines progressive rock and not the music itself, which in this case would be very difficult to classify". The practical sense the classifications is to define what areas will be given these meetings and what will be the language. There are codes that are set within a community. "A dark song" is something that readers of Rolling Stone can understand immediately. This clear definition of the audience also helps define the accessory and essential in an article. Borges illustrated a similar phenomenon with an example: in the Qur'an there are no camels, but if he, argentinian, had to write about the Arab world would fill the camel book. The same happens when a journalist goes to north European readers and speaks about Cartagena's heat, mention it in a colombian media would result obvious, but for a context so far is a key ingredient to understand what is happening here. Instead of these general subject is best to seek precise words that have a lot in little space. The ideal is to economize adjectives but cherish the "100 dollars words" carefully to not let the excess devalue them. One of the reasons for the great success of Alex Ross as a critic is that he makes an accessible lecture to an audience with little training. He just not merely defines the music as an attractive, cleverly referred to the sound expertise and powerful prose, but also manages emotions.