SoundNotion 19: Fashion Forward

Topics include lethargy versus creativity, staying apprised of our colleagues’ work, the politics and fashion of the orchestral tailcoat, and more.


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This week’s panel:


This week’s topics include:

  • Dan Visconti reminds us that sometimes, to get a lot done, we need to do a bit of nothing first.
  • Rob Deemer wonders if it’s possible to keep up with all the great music being created today. We wonder if it matters.
  • Do tailcoats make concerts special, or do they add to classical music’s PR woes?
  • We think Twitter and other new media platforms are changing the world and the arts. Chloe Veltman is skeptical.


Pick of the week:

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  • Personally, I love the lethargy stage of industry, even though the stage creates an inherent degree of paranoia that “I’m not accomplishing anything!” But for me, pondering things has always been a bit of a pastime. It does make it difficult to answer the question “Are you working on anything?” though. But it’s also a great time to engage in mindless activities (aka, “There’s a House marathon on USA? Yes, that’s what I’m doing this afternoon.”) while grappling with thought processes and engineering solutions in my mind’s background. Oddly enough, I’ve found that a “mindless” foreground activity actually helps to focus the background thinking. But maybe that’s just me.

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  • For me, as a Music Producer/Audio Engineer I find that my “staring out the window” time can take weeks, but when that 1 idea I’ve been looking for shows up I find it hard to pull myself away from the project. But during the weeks of bird watching, I’m constantly thinking about my projects. I don’t find it hard to convince myself that I really am working (while watching Netflix) it’s explaining to my clients that I’m really working. I find that if I lay out a structured day, as you had mentioned, then I will be less productive; much like watching the clock when you’re trying to fall asleep. Sure my work process is most likely unhealthy, but it creates good results and I think that’s what we’re all striving for.

  • Hey guys – I’m so glad that my brief missives on NewMusicBox have created such discussion fodder on your program…it’s been great to listen to y’all go back and forth on the issues that I’ve come up with so far. I did want to make sure that it was clear that last week’s column was more of a response to a commenter who actually did wonder if it was possible to find and digest all of the various new works that are constantly emerging. I hope that it came across that my column was saying that it was because of the impossibility of that concept that I’ve had to make decisions in terms of who I’ve chosen to interview in the same way that online media like NMBx have had to make their own decisions on who to focus on…and many times it’s those decisions that give an insight as to the priorities of whoever’s making them. Keep up the good work!

    • Rob, thanks for the comment. You’re quite right. We started with the intention of discussing your column, but as often happens on the show, we get sidetracked by something else. Thanks for giving us so many great discussion topics. After reading all of your columns about your interviews, I’m really looking forward to the final product.

  • john pippen

    It’s interesting to see how Tim accused AWS’s men as looking “unprofessional,” a criticism that invokes class. Great debate, guys. Lots of interesting questions.

    • So cool of you to comment, John.

      I may have mis-spoke when I said “unprofessional”. What I mean by that is that the uniform is less obvious. Thus, it appears to the casual audience member as a less unified and less important event.

      What we wear has significance. We wear shorts and t shirts at the gym. We wear suits to work. And we wear tuxedos for really important events.

      I think that AWS’s dress coveys a lesser amount of formality than the uniform of the NY Phil. If that is what AWS is going for, as part of their marketing angle or whatever, then that’s cool. (The men could step up their game a bit. The ladies are looking great.) But if AWS wants to operate on the level of the NY Phil, in terms of cultural influence, then I do not think their dress is appropriate. To me an untucked shirt with no tie implies carelessness and relaxation, not intense über-amazing, new-music concert.

      • john pippen

        Why do you feel like it conveys carelessness? I’m not disagreeing, I’m curious to hear.

        • For me, I have trouble accepting a man who can not dress himself as a serious person. The gentleman on the end, playing the flaming trombone, is literally wearing an un-tucked polo shirt. His dress wouldn’t even be formal enough for some italian restaurants.

          When a man’s shirt is cut with a front and tails it is intended to be tucked in. Most of the other men are wearing their’s untucked. If the shirt-maker intended to leave the shirt untucked he or she would have squared off the hem. Leaving it untucked looks uninformed of these facts and thus careless. To me it also appears sloppy, and casual, albeit slightly rebellious. So maybe that’s AWS’s angle.

      • Not to pile on, Tim, but you say that the attire implies relaxation as opposed to intensity. I think you’re talking about two different parts of the overall experience which can be separated. I would say that being relaxed both physically and socially can help a person express (as a performer) and engage (as a performer or listener) with music both intellectually and emotionally.

        • A person’s dress should be the last thing they are thinking about while performing. I never, ever, notice what I am wearing when I am out there.

          Furthermore, I have never thought, “This music is really good, but it would be better if I could take off my tie.” Believe it or not, I can think just as clearly regardless of wether my shirt is tucked in or not. Based on the great performances I have heard in the past, I am led to believe that other performers can do this too.

          A concert is a social event and we should adhere to social expectations. If you want to listen to Mahler in complete nudity (and I strongly urge you to do so) you can do that in your own home. At the concert hall, wear a jacket and a tie. It’s polite.

  • Just found this (possibly apocryphal) quote by Oscar Wilde:

    “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life.”

    I rest my case.

    • I just found this equally compelling Oscar Wilde quote. It’s definitely not apocryphal, but I may be paraphrasing.

      “I lived and died in the nineteenth century!” (emphasis added)

      I thought we were talking about contemporary relevance.