Don't let the music die

Peter
Peter Jackson
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“Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.”

— Frank Zappa

With apologies to Joni Mitchell, I’ve looked at music from both sides now, from baroque to jazz, and still somehow … I really don’t understand music at all.

I’ve studied music. I can tell a toccata from a fugue, a coda from a cadenza. I’ve analyzed some of my favourite pieces to within an inch of their lives.

But I still can’t truly explain what makes it all work in the end.

You can write about music all you want. You can write about the people who play it: their hopes, their fears, their congeniality or their conceit. You can extol the sweet clarity of a violin or the soulful wail of a Stratocaster.

But you can never capture music in words. I know. I’ve tried to. I wrote music reviews. The result was rarely adequate. You can say a concert was transcendent or inspired, gripping or idyllic. They’re only words.

No, music must be heard. You have to go to a concert or turn on the radio and experience it in action. And in today’s world, the widest audience is reached when music is recorded and broadcast on television or radio.

In this province, we’ve been privileged. The CBC regularly features local musicians on its airwaves. From Joan Morrissey to Ron Hynes, Emile Benoit to Duane Andrews, the CBC has consistently kept us abreast of our most talented minstrels.

That may be about to change.

The CBC announced last month that live recording would be a victim of federal budget cuts. That means we’re about to lose a very important soundboard in this province.

Off the air?

Two shows in particular — “Musicraft” and “The Performance Hour” — are on the chopping block. The former focuses on the classical music scene; the latter encompasses local pop, jazz and folk.

On Tuesday, MusicNL and other arts organizations hosted a news conference in St. John’s to protest the loss of live music recording, arguing the cuts go against the very mandate of the CBC.

There’s a reason Newfoundland and Labrador is such a formidable force on the music front. It’s because diverse factors come together in a happy collusion of events.

First, there’s the wealthy trove of Irish, English and French traditional music, kept alive by equally rich cultural traditions.

Then there’s the MUN School of Music, which nurtures a primary and secondary music education system second to none in this country.

Having sung in various choirs over the past 25 years, I am endlessly amazed at the calibre of young singers (and instrumentalists) emerging from our schools today. Many kids graduating now can read music better than I can with my years of experience.

And a final, crucial piece in the local music puzzle is the CBC’s mobile recording unit.

Music NL president David Chafe points out that CBC produced about 50 live music recordings last year, “covering the gamut of emerging and established artists from all genres and all reaches of the province.”

A few of those recordings were also picked up for national broadcast.

Musicians, after all, depend on an audience. And to build that audience, they need exposure. You can’t just read about them; you have to hear them.

“Losing CBC-NL’s only means

of recording high-quality live music performances is very much a destruction of a vital bridge between the artist and the basis of their career sustainability,” says Chafe.

I couldn’t agree more.

To learn more or support the cause, check out Duane Andrews’ event “Sad Times for Newfoundland and Labrador Music” on Facebook.

And keep the music alive.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor.

Email: pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Twitter: pjackson_NL

Organizations: CBC, MUN School of Music, Newfoundland and Labrador Music

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Winterized
    May 21, 2012 - 12:48

    With apologies to the late Bill Hicks: If you don't think CBC have done good things for us then do me a favor. Go home tonight and take all of your Canadian records, tapes and CD's and burn them. Because, you know all those musicians who made all that great music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years? They got a LOOOOT of air time, money and support from the CBC. Philistines.

  • David
    May 18, 2012 - 15:56

    The CBC is just another government empire built on Canadian Values BS from an era when government still had time and room to borrow and waste......it's a bureacracy for the (ironically anti-capitalism...ha!) artsy snobocrats. And the gravy train is finally coming to an end. Get a job!

  • Lane
    May 18, 2012 - 14:00

    I don't need the CBC to spoon-feed me the culture it thinks I should have. I know what my own musical, artistic and cultural preferences are, and I am willing to pay to indulge them. If I don't like the rubbish the CBC plays, I should not have to pay for it. And if people wanted to watch and listen to the CBC, then it wouldn't need to be subsidized by taxpayers.

  • Susan
    May 16, 2012 - 16:00

    PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA We, the undersigned, residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the following: THAT It is widely recognized that Newfoundland and Labrador is a distinct culture within Canada, and that the arts and music for which our province is so widely known represent a treasure, both economic and cultural. We are deeply concerned that the viability of our arts community is being undermined by the current Federal budget cuts. One of the most troubling aspects of the changes being made by the Government of Canada are the cuts being forced on the CBC. Specifically, our regional CBC-NL is being forced to: · Decommission Studio F and relinquish their only mobile recording unit, both state of the art recording facilities; · Reduce CBC programs that showcase current, live music performed in our region and their key producers. The implications of this decision will have a serious impact on the careers of our brilliant, hardworking artists and on the economies that thrive because of them. The discovery and presentation to the public of young emerging artists will effectively end and established artists such as Great Big Sea, Amelia Curran, The Once, Duane Andrews, Idlers and Hey Rosetta!, to name but a few, will only be heard through their commercial endeavours. Large performing groups such as the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and other classical and jazz artists will have no broadcast outlet. Our artists are strong contributors to our province’s culture but they also generate significant economic input. THEREFORE, We ask that the Government of Canada reinstate the funding necessary to support live music recording at CBC-NL so that our regional voice will not be silenced, and our music, our culture, and our history will continue to be heard. SIGNATURE (please sign, don’t print) PROVINCE POSTAL CODE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 There are a number of spots people can pick up a copy as well: · Fred's Records · Long & McQuade · Music City · O'Brien's Music Store · Yellowbelly Brewery · Rose & Thistle · Hava Java · Chatters · Craft Council shop · CFM Local 820 office · MusicNL office · The Ship Victoria Street · Ryan Cleary's office (Mount Pearl)

  • Susan
    May 16, 2012 - 15:55

    I absolutely support the live recordings made by CBC mobile & studio - it is recording our heritage & current music & interviews which will become the heritage for years to come. Many people learn of NL through our national broadcaster & these music shows & they are truly important to me & this province. Pls support the continuation of music & interviews about our NL music & culture. Remember, CBC tried to take away Land & Sea - but didn't due to the support of the local program. If you support CBC music rcording & programming, pls let CBC and Gov of Canada know There are a number of spots people can pick up a copy as well: · Fred's Records · Long & McQuade · Music City · O'Brien's Music Store · Yellowbelly Brewery · Rose & Thistle · Hava Java · Chatters · Craft Council shop · MusicNL office · The Ship Pub 52 Victoria Street · Ryan Cleary's office (Mount Pearl)

  • sealcove
    May 16, 2012 - 10:07

    Any luck at all CBC will fade away

  • Holden
    May 16, 2012 - 07:59

    Can ACOA and Marine Atlantic be far behind?