Where Critics Fail to Tread: A Conversation with Ben Leeds Carson

Imagine, if you will, that you are a composer. Not a historical composer, mind you — we’re not talking powdered wigs and candelabras here — …

Criticism: Possible Antidotes… and That's Enough for Now!

“How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea?”

I came across this quote the other day in a post about musical responses to great tragedies: “Requiems,” by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker.

Ross’ understanding of Shakespeare’s question (which, as he mentions, Wallace Stevens cited while writing about World War II) concerns the light-in-the-darkness function that musicians serve in the face of horrific events:

How, in other words, can artists respond to news that exceeds their most extravagant nightmares?”

Happily, we can, and do, respond in many ways…

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Criticism: It Sucks! (part 1)

As someone who has spent an embarrassingly long time as a graduate student, I’ve made a lot of jokes and, let’s be honest, talked a lot of trash about the whole enterprise. One of my standard lines is that if you stay in school long enough, you actually start to become dumber, rather than smarter. So imagine how gratified I was to find someone else express a similar thought! In Does Grad School Make You a Bad Reader?, musicologist Drew Massey explores how graduate education hampers one’s ability to read for pleasure, not to mention basic reading comprehension. That’s pretty ironic, since grad school is all about deepening one’s knowledge in the field one is passionate about, right?

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