Music journalism

Article

August 19, 2022

Music journalism is a branch of journalism specializing in the production of interviews, articles and reports in the music field. From detailed profiles on singers and bands to short articles on upcoming single albums, music journalism has a decades-long tradition, carried on by magazines such as Rolling Stone, URB, NME and The Source in the United States. Music criticism consists of the study, evaluation and interpretation of music. The music critic is a music journalist who exercises a critical method, the result of musicological studies, in order to produce reviews, analyzes and in-depth interpretations on a record, an artist or an event.

History of music journalism

Already in ancient times we can trace documents anticipating modern music criticism, written by philosophers, poets, writers and historians. Greek literature offers extensive pages of in-depth analysis on the incidence of music in contemporary customs and culture, in addition to the disputes between genres and instruments. Sophocles, Plutarch and Herodotus were the most illustrious critics known ante litteram.In ancient Rome music fails to carve out such an important space in culture, and consequently the criticism turns out to be rather marginal and confined to Juvenal's satires, or to works of Tacitus, in which these great thinkers take negative positions with respect to musical art. The famous critique of singers by Benedetto Marcello, entitled Il teatro alla moda, dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, just as in those decades the harsh controversy between the supporters of the Italian and French operetta continued. The English composer Charles Avison (1709-1770) is recognized as the first author of a piece of modern music criticism in the English language. It is an Essay on Musical Expression published in 1752, in which Avidon criticizes the music of Georg Friedrich Händel, his contemporary. Between 1722 and 1725 "Critica Musica" was published, a monthly founded by the musician and theorist Johann Mattheson. Before the 1940s, articles on a musical theme were written both by specialized magazines and by more generally political newspapers, which reserved a minimum space for the musical field; the most important specialized musical magazines in Europe at the time were the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (published first by Breitkopf & Härtel and then by Rieter-Biederman) and the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (founded by the musician Robert Schumann) in the area germanica, The Musical Times in the UK (it is the oldest music magazine still published in the UK). The early nineteenth century marked a turning point for music journalism; in fact, thanks to the advent of Romanticism, a sort of "musical education" of Europe takes place, which leads to a greater interest and consideration of newspapers for music and musicians, and to the birth of the professional figure of the "music critic". In this sense, the substantial difference with the period preceding the 1840s is that the critics are no longer also musicians, as had been the case up to that moment. Martin Röder can be mentioned among the most appreciated critics of that period. Furthermore, the enhancement of music also passes through the deepening of its history, a missing and lacking link, instead, up to that moment, compared to other artistic disciplines.

Modern Music Journalism

While it is true that a music critic is necessarily a music journalist, the opposite is not true. The profession of journalist, which asserts itself without precedent, predefined directions or ground rules, takes hold in less than a century. Music journalists can be both environmentally savvy and freelance writers; their work focuses on singles, albums, DVDs and execu