Much quoted, little understood, wrongly attributed, confusingly brilliant, that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” is one of those quotes people just can’t get enough of.
I always give it to Frank Zappa. But lots go for Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus, Elvis Costello to you and me, this despite his often denying it. A little online research suggests it originates with Martin Mull. And a little more online research leads us down a rabbit hole of endless discussion forums. Who said what is basically the game that keeps the internet ticking over.
At this stage I want to say it just doesn’t matter. The quote’s brilliance stands alone.
Music criticism is crazy, the quote says. Musical appreciation is subjective, it says. Music brings joy beyond pointless criticism, it says.
Whatever it means, whoever said it, the quote’s a great thing, clever as can be.
Music criticism can be endlessly interesting. When we like or love something – as so many of us do when it comes to music – talking about it, debating it and writing about it all add to the appreciation. Nevertheless, the sometime cruelty of musical criticism becomes clear when one’s actually making music. Music’s something to be encouraged more than critiqued. And artists can take offence easily. When Paul Weller, back in the day, on The Jam’s This is the Modern World, sings “I don’t give a f*ck about your review,” we can be sure that, in actual fact, he did give a f*ck.
Happily, London Music Academy teachers are all about encouragement, the criticism they offer being constructive only!
This is the best place to learn to play guitar, to learn drums, to improve your singing or learn studio production.
Turns out it’s also a good place to learn a little something about musical quotes, though perhaps nothing you didn’t already know, in which case I might as well have been dancing about architecture.