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31 July 2007

The Blogger

Peter Smith Image: Peter Smith  

Recent online developments have made knowledge more accessible and increased the potential for discourse across the world dramatically, and more and more websites are now based on user-created content. What potential does this have for Australian music discourse in the future? The Internet could well act as the proving grounds where the Australian music community makes a stand against problems currently plaguing the free and profitable discourse (as discussed in Richard Toop’s article in Sounds Australian No. 67 www.amcoz.com.au/pdfs/journal/jnl67toop.pdf).

While I will not go into the details of these problems here, the most obvious one is the dearth of true scholarly discussion about the Australian music scene. What does exist is minimal, often commercial, or Eurocentric. But the Internet can contribute to remedying this by expanding the section of the public that can voice intelligent comment. This is achieved in two ways: firstly, through the education of users, giving them a starting place from which to form their own opinions. Secondly, by giving these users a place to get their views out to the public, be it by a blog, journal, or some other form of hosting that is usually free to use.

The exploitation of this relatively new field...might just reduce the enormous social gap between popular culture and ‘high art’My blog (www.classicalmusicjournal.com.au) works just in this manner. In terms of education, I am currently in my second year of a performance bachelor’s degree, and I have no musicological background apart from that which I’ve endeavoured to research and study myself. Because I am part of the musical world in Australia I occasionally feel compelled to write about, or research, matters that I think are important to the development of this world. It is my aim, through my writing, to educate people who are searching for information online, or perhaps to share a musical opinion to those willing to listen to it.

This writing may not be from the highest point of authority, but if more people’s inquisitive nature prompted them to start their own search for independent information, the musical community in Australia and elsewhere would be richer for the diversity of views. Some good Australian composers are embracing these new developments – Matthew Hindson’s website (www.hindson.com.au/wordpress), for instance, is in the form of a blog that anyone can comment on, he is very easy to reach and is constantly sharing his ideas and views on his works or the musical world around him. This is only one example, but a good one that I hope will set a trend for the future.

The climate of discourse has not yet changed significantly, but it is, in my opinion, primarily up to the composers, musicologists and critics to take the utmost advantage of this new medium. Through the exploitation of this relatively new field, not only can a new receptive public be cultivated, but it might just reduce the enormous social gap between popular culture and ‘high art’, and bring a new generation of intelligent listeners into the Australian art music scene.

Peter Smith is a clarinettist in his second year of study at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He keeps the online journal www.classicalmusicjournal.com.au.


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