In praise of a music critic who knows his history
Music Criticism Is a Political Act
In the article we’re reading (and which I’ve been reading), I argued that music criticism is a political act. This is not really controversial, but it is worth emphasizing that music criticism is not just about criticism (I don’t know what that would mean). As a music critic, I make comments about the music I’m listening to, but I’m doing that in terms of helping to determine where I want to go with it (or not) through my musical preferences. I don’t use the medium to criticize music, I use it to create it.
When someone criticizes a music publication, it is always a critique of it, but the criticism is more about the critic’s experience with the publication. I’m not criticizing my musical preferences against the music critic’s, nor am I criticizing my musical preferences against the music critic’s experience with a publication they read, I’m describing what I have learned about a publication through an objective, scholarly, and academic approach to analyzing music. Criticizing a publication can be different (e.g. an interesting performance or a bad review), but it all results in the same point: there is a criticism to be made (and there are always critics).
This is the key; criticism is always a criticism of something. However, criticism is always a criticism in a particular way (and that is the key), the only criticism that is worth making is the one that is made with objective thought and knowledge of the subject. I’m not making any excuses for my subjective musical preferences or the way I experience a publication, I’m just pointing out that there are criteria to be thought of. Criticism should always be a critical of something, as opposed to criticising something, which is