James Tobin writes:
>Steve (Schwartz) expresses so many significant questions
>how vital is it that such writers (music critics) be able to read
>music well? Shouldn't a critic be able to think like a composer?
>My claim is that, desirable as it is, expert score-reading
>is neither necessary nor sufficient for worthwhile writing about
>music-as-music, and that sometimes good ears and good judgment can
>result in criticism worth reading.
Which masters do music critics first serve: composers and musicologists,
or the readership of the particular publication in which their writing
appears. On at least two occasions on our List, wonderment has been
expressed over the seemingly famous incident of the Time magazine music
editor who could not read music. Time is, first and foremost, a popular
mass-media journal. It has very stringent editorial guidelines and a
very specific writing style. Copy submitted in reports from stringers
is rewritten in the Time style by its various editors, who are hired for
their outstanding level of writing ability. Yes, they must be well
versed in the topic of their departments but they are certainly not
expected to have the same kind of education or experience as scientists,
politicians, composers or other practitioners of arts that are the
subjects of their articles. As far as publications are concerned, the
ability to read music is a requirement essential only to those written
by and for composers and musicologists.