From last week: Richard Lacayo proposed banning five words from art writing. I thought I'd set out to do the same for music. At first I thought in terms of concert program notes, which are the closest in spirit to the wall cards or catalogue copy of an art exhibition. Except the problems there can't so easily be narrowed down to individual words – perfectly unhelpful notes can be (and are) written using perfectly ordinary vocabulary, without even resorting to ugly constructions such as "musics" or trendy jargon (matrixes, paradigms, enculturated hierarchies…).
So for my first stab at the challenge, I assembled the five words I'd most like to see removed from the lexicon available for music copywriting, specifically classical music copywriting. As you'll see, I lost count along the way:
- Thrill [used as a verb]
- Brilliant, Beautiful… [and adjectives generally where the Perfectly Chosen noun or verb would be more Powerful]
- Tour de force
- Don't miss… [yes, that's a phrase, too bad]
- The program culminates… [sorry, another phrase, aka "after interval/intermission", a dead giveaway that the copy is simply reciting what might be better conveyed with a list of repertoire and artists]
Then there are the metaphors, about which I have mixed feelings. They can work wonderfully. Or not. Question (do not use Google): Which of Berg's orchestral works yields a "sonic sorbet"? And what does that mean anyway? That it's sweet? Icy? The programming equivalent of dessert? A palate cleanser? (In which case mightn't you want it at the beginning?)