Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The music critic is usually portrayed as a lone wolf in the musical world - an independent and mysterious figure slipping silently in and out of concerts, and pronouncing judgement from afar. However, her work cannot occur in isolation, and the interactions of the critic with her publication, her readers, and her subjects create a network of relationships, each with their own dynamic effect on the critic and her writing. These relationships function as an exchange of capital, as described in Bourdieu's Field of Cultural Production. The publication is lent capital by having skilled writers, and the critic is given a powerful position from which to reach her readers. The readers, functioning as an imagined community built around a common subject interest, grant the critic capital, and therefore authority, by being influenced by her work.
The two imagined musical communities discussed here - classical and world music -share a position as marginalized musical genres. Their places within western culture could be portrayed as opposites, as classical music maintains a privileged position as a cultural achievement for the west, and world music is both a relatively young genre, and one that is separated and Othered simply from its label as a homogenizing and encompassing genre category. Within each of these genres, the critic is faced with different challenges - navigating the social issues which surround the categories, understanding how best to address their musical communities, and then further, how to write appropriately for the publications which support them. Each publication plays a different role in the discourse surrounding the music, and each also has a different set of requirements and opportunities for the critic.
Through a combination of practical work and academic analysis, this thesis seeks to demonstrate some of the challenges facing a young critic in the field, and the dynamic relationships that govern a critic's work and musical world.
Blaustein, Claire Marie, "A Critic on the Edge" (2006). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6647.
McMaster University Library