If life’s a pitch, then I’m the one standing next to the catcher who occasionally gets hit in the soft bits by a stray ball. This weekend, I got three intriguing messages in my inbox…

The first one was:

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of Classical Music UK, UK’s leading Classical Music news website.

I have come accross your blog, and would now like to take a chance and invite you to MusBook – the social networking platform for the global music community of Classical, Jazz and Contemporary Music.

I believe you can bring a fresh perspective into our community and we would be happy to see you participate! You will find the opportunity to incorporate your blog feeds into your profile. All your content will be automatically presented to the MusBook community, giving our users immediate access to your pages and the chance to interact with the information.

We have an established relationship with a number of music journalists. Our most famous contributors are Edward Seckerson (Independent), Michael White (Telegraph) and Norman Lebrecht (London Evening Standard).

We would be happy to welcome you to the MusBook community.

Would you like to join the music debate?

If so, please take a look at MusBook here: Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
With best wishes,

Natalia Lipecka

When people say that theirs is the “leading” product in its category, they generally mean one of three things:

  1. “Our product is the most successful, but we don’t want to use the word ‘profitable’ in our marketing copy”.
  2. “Our product excels in some regards but not in others, so we’ve chosen to ignore its failings and hope that nobody challenges us to clarify our definition of success.”
  3. “There is no metric by which ours is the most popular or successful product, but we think it is better than everybody else’s, and we want you to think that’s a popular belief.

I checked it out. It’s crowded, ugly, confusing, and I can’t see what it’s for. I suggest they read my post entitled “10 easy ways to make your music startup fail,” particularly the bit that says:

If your idea is to build a platform that lets artists create cheap, simple, customizable websites with widgets for streaming music, tour dates, photos, videos, a forum and regular fan updates then congratulations: you’ve invented MySpace.

Would I like to join the music debate? I wasn’t aware I needed an invite.

Next up was this one:


Although we’ve never corresponded before, I would appreciate your thoughts (however brief) on Debussy’s ‘Pelleas et Melisande’.

Would you agree with me that ‘Pelleas et Melisande’  is the finest, the most ravishing and the most addictive of all operas ? And does it mystify you that it has never had the impact nor the popularity of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Strauss ?



Unless I’m very much mistaken, that’s an essay question, and not clumsy PR. Foolishly, Jacinto didn’t include a word limit. Here goes:

Pelleas et Melisande is widely acknowledged to be a masterpiece of modern music, but you could find that out from Wikipedia. I’ve never really given it a lot of thought. I go to the opera about six times a year at most, and at that rate it’s likely to be a long time before I stumble upon this one.

Is it the finest opera? Probably not. It’s up against pretty stiff competition. I think Mozart wrote better stuff, but that’s just an opinion.

Is it the most ravishing opera? Ravishing is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. If you like it then good for you.

Is it the most addictive opera? To you possibly, but its relative unpopularity suggests that most people don’t see it that way, which brings us to your last question, and back to Wikipedia again:

In a letter to Ernest Guiraud in 1890 [Debussy] wrote: “The ideal would be two associated dreams. No time, no place. No big scene […] Music in opera is far too predominant. Too much singing and the musical settings are too cumbersome […] My idea is of a short libretto with mobile scenes. No discussion or arguments between the characters whom I see at the mercy of life or destiny.”

If he hadn’t been French, he probably would’ve been a vegan too. People like big scenes. That’s what they go to the opera for, along with the singing. Cut out all the stuff people like, and you might be left with great art, but you’ll also have the opportunity to spend a lot of time alone with it. Even Wagner was not this thorough in his efforts to turn opera into a joyless experience.

Still, it does have some really lovely moments, so thanks for getting me to listen to it.

The third of the pitches came from Drew McManus. For those of you that don’t know Drew, he’s an arts consultant. He also writes the blog Adaptistration.

It’s a long pitch so I won’t paste it all in here, but basically he’s put together some reports on what orchestras get paid, and he’s trying to sell them. He wants me to take a look in the hope that I’ll write something about it. I’ll probably do it, too, but that’ll take a whole post of its own. In the meantime, I’ll just make fun of his email signature, which looks like this:

Now then. A lot of people automatically append a signature to the end of their emails, and there’s usually rational thought behind every piece of information that has been included. Put it all together, though, and you’ve got something that says more about you than the email you just sent.

What does this one say?

Hi. I’m Drew. I have my own company, where I’m in charge. I tell people how to run stuff, so I like to look professional. I’ll put my mailing address under my company name, so everybody can see that mine is a real company, and not some shoddy online thing.

I’m hip to modern technology, but I know you might not be, so I’m going to speak slowly now. The Internet provides lots of fancy new methods of getting in touch. I use a thing called email, which is like fax but way cooler. I even have it home thanks to a company called Comcast. They have really bad customer service, but if I change now they won’t let me read my emails, and that would suck.

I have a website (for work) and a blog (for other work). Please don’t mix them up.

I’m not too busy to talk to you, so I’ll give you my cell as well as my office number, although there’s no guarantee I’ll actually answer either.

My new cellphone receives text messages. I’m actually getting pretty good at sending them. I’ve even started using them for work. It’s a great way to avoid getting stuck on the phone with people who talk too much.

Ok then. Now I’m going to go back and explain which of these is which, just in case you’ve never used email or a telephone before, and then I’m going to explain what I just did, leaving you wondering if I have a wry sense of humor or the sneaking suspicion you might be mentally subnormal.

Finally, I’m going to include some legal language about confidentiality. If you were confused by the key, you might want to skip this. This achieves three things:

  1. It makes it seem like mine is a proper company with a lawyer.
  2. It makes it look like I understand the importance of confidentiality, which you ought to find comforting, because next week I might be working for your competition.
  3. It makes it look like I send emails that are way more important than the one I just sent you.

What does your signature say about you?

Thanks to everybody that sent something in, but especially Drew, for being such a good sport.



Post a comment
  1. Jimmy #
    June 2, 2010

    Holy shit that is awesome. My signature has my website and twitter address. Anything else is none of your fucking business unless a. I want to sleep with you, b. you can give me something i want, c. you’re a hot stalker.
    Surprised there are no green, eco creds there – ‘please think before printing’ etc. And maybe a couple of charities, his kids’ pictures and his IQ.
    You are the Private Eye of the classical world – keep up the good work!

  2. June 2, 2010

    Ha, I got the first two as well. Apparently I’m not the internet’s only presumed Pelléas expert.

    • properdiscord #
      June 2, 2010

      Perhaps somebody is trying to crowdsource their homework?

  3. mclaren #
    June 4, 2010

    Personally, I’m waiting for a pitch for “music enhancement” products.

    “Are you feeling a little bit…inadequate in the concert hall? Feel like you just don’t MEASURE UP when it’s time to perform? Well, we’ve got a special cream that will ENHANCE your MUSIC! Absolutely 100% guaranteed to EXTEND AND ENLARGE your musical complexity, this cream is made with the latest scientific methodology — yes, this MUSIC ENHANCEMENT cream is certain to GREATLY ENLARGE your musical reputation, by means of GUARANTEED modernist numerology. Once you rub some of this MUSIC ENHANCEMENT cream on your high modernist score, your audience won’t BELIEVE how well you perform in the concert hall!”

    Insert obligatory “New Complexity” joke here…

    • properdiscord #
      June 4, 2010

      I’d just like to say how impressed I am that this made it past the WordPress/Akismet comments spam filter.

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