The Four Ways of Practice

Phil Ford

[This is written a couple of months after the post below — I have to add some stuff just to clarify a couple of things. Back when I this blog’s last post, Jonathan and I decided to discontinue this blog and I decided to stop paying for the multi-author option in Typepad, since  the number of blog authors was now somewhere around zero. So when my contract ran out the whole site reverted to the free, no-frills format. The good news is that we have a durable archive of roughly 4 years’ work and I don’t have to pay for it; the bad news is that the site now looks terrible and is hard to navigate. The old category list is gone, as is the month-by-month list of archived stuff. But you can hit “next” at the bottom of the page to navigate backwards, I guess, and you can click on the tags at the bottom of each entry.

Also, for some reason the description of a long-deleted class blog reappeared and attached itself to  Dial M. So for the record, folks, this blog is not, and never has been, the blog of my seminar “Sound, Media,  and Performance.” (I only just figured out how to get that wording off.) You’ll notice that the site now makes it look as if I, Phil Ford, were the sole author of this blog, but for those who might be happening on it for the first time now, I should make it clear that it was always a collaboration between Jonathan Bellman and myself. If you’re confused about who wrote what, Jonathan’s posts (as well as the posts by the various guest-bloggers who contributed things over the years) are “signed”: there’s a little Typepad handle at the bottom of each post. The posts I wrote have no such signature. OK, I’m done.]

Hello everyone —

(I write this with the hopeful assumption that there still is an “everyone” to address)

I was on vacation when Jonathan posted his final blog post, and I’ve been very slow to follow up. Typical. I haven’t written anything here since, what, January 4? That’s no way to treat poor old Dial M. God, there’s something so sad about an abandoned blog, or any abandoned project, really. And there’s no way to end a blog without abandoning it. It’s not like a book; you can’t write the last chapter. At some point, you’re just going to stop writing, and whatever the last thing that passed through your bloggy head will be preserved at the top of the page forever (or until you stop paying to keep the site up), something you wrote in the last presidential administration about something now impossibly antique and irrelevant. Or maybe you wrote one of those “I haven’t written anything here in a long time, but I’ll get back to it soon, I promise” sorts of things, like a New Years resolution to lose 20 pounds and go to the gym three times a week, and your last blog post will preserve the sad shriveled husk of an aborted intention. Or perhaps you wanted to go out with a bang and wrote a Dear John letter to the medium of blogging: things were exciting when we started out together, but my needs are no longer being met, I’m feeling unfulfilled, I need to make some changes . . .

I don’t want to do any of that. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I started this blog back in 2006, which is like 20 years ago in blog years. Jonathan and I (and our various guest contributors) have written a lot of stuff in the meantime. I’m proud of it, happy I did it, and now it’s time to end it. We’re done.

I’m not necessarily done with blog-like activities. I continue to believe that academic communication will continue to be shaped by the commons-based peer production model that the blogosphere models. Whether or not it will be a “blogosphere” I couldn’t possibly guess. Whatever it is, I’ll probably show up there, and so will you. In the meantime, I have writing projects lined up for, like, actual books, and they need attending to. That’s what’s been taking up most of my writing headspace since the new year, and that’s not likely to change for a long time.

I would like to thank everyone who wrote in the comments section or sent an email (even though I’ve been shockingly bad at remembering to check the Dial M gmail account and have probably missed a few — sorry if that was you*). Thanks to all the people who come up to me at AMS meetings and say hello because they read something I wrote on Dial M (it makes my day). Thanks to all the other musicolobloggers and culture-bloggers and anyone who ever gave us link love. Thanks above all to everyone who read us. I have no delusions about Dial M being very important in the grand scheme of things, but it was important to me, mostly because we had a readership that made it worth doing.

I’m writing this at home, and my daughter just came home from her last day at “Writing and Illustrating Your Own Books” camp. She handed me a book of poems she made. Here is one poem, inspired by her violin practice:

The Four Ways of Practice:

1. Always believe in yourself.

2. Do whatever you are doing with effort.

3. try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

4. Be truthful.

Young musicologists, heed this teaching! I have nothing to add to it.

*My real email is fordp at indiana dot edu. Keep in touch!

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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7 Responses to The Four Ways of Practice

  1. PMG says:

    Farewell good sir!

  2. Andrew DA says:

    Thank you — both — for the ride. This venue will be missed.

  3. Lisa Hirsch says:

    This pains me so much. A number of blogs on my blogroll have gone inactive, but you two – sigh. And thank you for all the great writing and the time you’ve both put in here. I will miss you greatly.

  4. Andrew says:

    Goodbye to one of my all-time faves. Thanks for the enlightenment and inspiration over the (gasp!) years. You’ll be missed.

  5. Kim says:

    Phil and Jonathan – thanks for all of your posts. It was pure cop show. I will miss your blog dearly, although I look forward to reading your other work. Best of luck on your future endeavors!

  6. Ralph Locke says:

    Ouch! I don’t like this at all.
    OK, I’ll be grown up about it.
    Thanks for the energy, imagination, directness, wide-ranging connections, musical insight (and on and on) in your various postings. I can imagine–though probably not fully!–the amount of time and effort it must have taken to keep the every-hungry blog-maw fed. We readers appreciated what you offered, even if we mostly lurked in silence….
    I look forward to your postings and comments on other blogs.
    (But still: ouch!)

  7. Lyle Sanford says:

    It’s been a great run. Wonderfully thought provoking. That post mentioning Dylan’s multiple authenticities one of the most helpful insights I’ve come across on any blog. The discussion of ego and perfomers’ consciousness a very close second. Robin’s contributions that one summer were much appreciated as well.
    Thanks very much for all the time and effort over the years.
    Wishing you all success on future endeavors.

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