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Welcome to my weblog!
The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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(As you see, the blog is in DInglish - Dutch International English - but comments in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Frisian are welcome.)

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And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Long live the Italians - but no.

I had a long blog break. A long, long blog break. But I was nearly back writing, if not for our Italian friends.

The break was not due to a holiday. Oh yes, I had one; we went to a Foreign Country, I renovated a room of one of the kids, put together at least 10 IKEA bookcases, built a sort of play house for the kids in the garden (it looks more like a hunting lodge to shoot at the neighbors), swam in a lake, hurt my foot, read books (Michel de Certeau, Bruno Latour, Gert Biesta, T.C. Boyle, books on the death of Yugoslavia), and what not.

And hardly wrote blog entries.

I wrote other stuff, of course. The not-blog-writing-period started way before the holidays and lasted until way after the holidays, and as my working life consists of talking, listening, reading and writing, I wrote articles, grant requests, research field notes, memoranda and addenda, bibliographies, little pieces about the history of shanty singing, and much more.

But no blog entries.

Maybe, I thought, I had grown tired of words. Maybe I had lost inspiration and suffered from writer's block. Maybe the world simply had changed, and nothing happened that required a blog entry to be dealt with. I mean, I could write about reading De Certeau or getting stuck in Latour; or about the way Bob Dylan's album 'New Morning' coloured my stay in the Foreign Country. But somehow, it didn't feel right.

But then the Italians nearly got me back to writing. I read in a news item that they give every kid turning 18 500 euros to be spent on culture. Or rather: on Culture. There seems to be a list made by the Italian Ministry of Culture, containing the Culture one can choose from. Italian Culture - because, as the government has stated, that is good for personal development and societal coherence. And it is an anti-dote against the terrorist attacks of IS. The Dutch corespondent in Italy added in his news item that the 500 euros could probablyy not be spent on Justin Bieber concerts, because Bieber would most likely not be on the list.

For a moment I thought this might be something to write about - the combination of astonishment and irritation is probably the greatest catalyst for writing any blog entry. But when the Bieber-stuff came up at the end of the news item, astonishment as well as irritation seeped away. Sometimes reality is so boringly and outrageously stupid that one can do nothing else but loose all interest.

Sorry, my Italian friends. Sorry, Justin. I am sure the world will soon be interesting enough again to write about. But there apparently are limits to what one can write about, limits beyond which all writing becomes useless.

As Wittgenstein said: "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man schweigen". And indeed, it feels like 'muss', not 'soll'.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Kanye West, a guy called Uwe Diegel, and a sickening confusion of categories


I was checking out one of the social media last night and some-one I respect posted this:


Uwe Diegel is chief-executive of a medical firm. He also has a past as a classical concert pianist.

So let us get the equation right: the music world may be compared to the Muslim world. And in that case, it is okay to compare Kanye West to a terrorist.

I checked out Kanye West on Wikipedia because I don't know much about him and maybe I overlooked a recent atrocity. I also checked some other sites on news about him. Found nothing to be deeply anxious about. Yes, the usual Famous American rubbish; little scandals, bigger scandals, cross-libelling, et cetera. Nothing to be too shocked about if you follow the show bizz from the side lines.

I cannot draw any other conclusion: it is okay for Diegel to compare Kanye West to a muslim terrorist because West makes music Diegel dislikes. (And, maybe: because Music, to Diegel, is Religion.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Special Needs

I think I told this story before: I once told a group of music education students about my developing ideas about 'idiocultural music education', a form of music education that acknowledges the musical individuality of every child and takes that as its point of departure. (Many people say: "Oh, I do that all the time. What's new?" I take the liberty to doubt that - true idiocultural music education is a severe paradigm shift once you think it through. And, I would like to add for those interested, it has something to do with Gert Biesta's idea of 'subjectivation' as one of the three functions of education.)

Monday, May 16, 2016

An embarrassingly auto-ethnographical piece of writing

Although it is rainy and windy now and one would not say it is late spring, only a couple of days ago the weather made us believe it was summer. One afternoon, I was cycling home after a quite busy day. I was good-humored, due to the fact that the last meeting I attended showed signs of improvement in a field which had given rise to worries and even conflicts in the past year.

These days I often listen to music while biking to my work and back. I put some fifty or so albums I like on my phone and listen over those small earphones which deliver a quality which never stops amazing me. Occasionally I listen to Soundcloud - I subscribed to a couple of channels of EDM-artists just to keep an idea of what is going on in the world of my son, musically: Skrillex, David Guetta.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The M4 Principle

This is a little note about the M4 Principle: the Miraculous Meaningfulness of Musical 'Mediocracy'.

I was in Sarajevo last week, as I have been every year those past few years to deliver guest lectures to master and PhD students. I was, to be honest, not looking forward to go, because I have been too busy lately to enjoy travel and I did not want to leave my family. But of course, once I was there I was happy to be back, meeting my Sarajevan colleagues who have become very dear to me over the years, working with those nice students, and wandering around this beautiful city, scarred by history and teeming with life. The smokey smell of Cevabcici-fires. The beautiful mosques, the guilty mountains. Bosnian coffee.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Little Anthem for an Anthem

On Saturday afternoon I went with my shanty choir to a residential home for the elderly in Slochteren, to sing for the inhabitants. The home, 'Olderloug', was well known terrain - we had sung there before, for an audience of (very) old people, some care staff, quite some volunteers, and maybe some inhabitants from the neighborhood.

The days are long gone that in the Netherlands you could enter a residential home for the elderly at retirement age and live there for a couple of decades. Nowadays, one has to be really fragile in order to enter a residential home. If you are only a bit fragile, or rather fragile but not enough to convince the authorities that you need care in a residential home, the powers that be claim that 'family', 'friends', and 'the community' ought to take care of older people, rather than 'the government' (forgetting that 'the government' is nothing else than 'the community' but then institutionalized through tax-paying mechanisms).

I am not going to enter into discussions about today's claims that our society should be 'inclusive' and directed towards 'participation', although, to speak with Dylan, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - just looking around you is enough to separate the high-strung idealistic and political correct language from the sometimes grey reality unfolding. I am just noticing here that one of the consequences of all this newspeak is that more and more residential homes have to close down because of a lack of inhabitants (basically: because of a lack of money, or rather: because of a lack of willingness to keep investing - the system simply becomes too expensive to be sustained by this poor country I live in).

And so the concert we were giving in Olderloug would be the last concert ever there, because next week Olderloug would be closed down and the remaining inhabitants would be moved to various homes elsewhere in the province - to be, after a while, probably moved to yet another home somewhere else in the province because more homes will be closed down. Et cetera.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Contemporary Octogenarion

Not so long ago, a cherished colleague tweeted that he found it nice to see how new music education projects tried to connect to today's music practices.

Of course, I would find that nice, too.

The funny thing was that he was talking about an initiative where pupils from primary schools were given the opportunity to learn to play the electrical guitar in groups. And then my thoughts started to wander.