The critic under criticism.
Is the critic becoming more important than the criticised? I hope not. But the sad fact is, there's an increasingly widespread trend that puts more emphasis on those responsible for commenting than on the cause of all the comment. It's a trend that's been blissfully absent from E&MM's pages for most of the time the magazine has been around, but it reared its ugly head this month - and for all the wrong reasons.
Believe it or not, last month's preview of the Anvil Percussion Synthesiser caused a minor rumpus. Why? Well, not for anything that was said during the course of the feature, but simply because of the identity of the man that wrote it - David Ellis. It seems a few people within the industry took exception to the good Doctor - who has a small but significant financial stake in the Anvil - being given space to comment on the machine's development.
'What's happened to E&MM's objectivity?' they cried. 'Nothing', we replied, scarcely able to defend ourselves for shock. Because from our point of view, there couldn't have been a writer better suited to previewing the Anvil. For one thing, David's reputation as a computer music commentator is as immaculate as it is long-lived; for another, we were assured an exclusive piece well in advance of any competing(?) magazines even getting a sniff of the product's existence. But most important of all, we were guaranteed an accurate, in-depth report on what is, after all, an extremely innovative machine. Who better to comment on the design details of a piece of new technology than someone closely involved with its development?
And in case you're wondering, there will be an objective appraisal of the Anvil appearing in E&MM's pages, just as soon as the machine enters its final production stages - though that may yet be some months away. In the meantime, E&MM readers have a detailed, authoritatively-written, and far from one-sided (there are some criticisms in there, remember) piece on a new digital drum machine that hasn't even been talked about anywhere else. We think that's the way you'd prefer things to be.
Talking of identities, the entire magazine will probably be the subject of some confusion next month, when our familiar and long-serving banner artwork gives way to the crisper, more contemporary lines of the visual artefact represented here. It's only the second change of front-cover image E&MM has undergone in its four-and-a-half-year history (the first took place in December 1981, when Rick Wakeman was on the cover and a glance inside would reveal David Ellis talking about the way the human body produces its own music), so we don't expect it to be an easy transition.
But the Publisher was adamant that something had to be done about the ageing Letraset that had been the magazine's mast-head all this time, so we've decided to let you all in on the secret to save unnecessary bewilderment when the August issue hits the newsagents' shelves in a month's time.
In fact, with the art department in its present rather boisterous mood, the inside of the magazine might end up looking a bit different next month, too. But so long as nobody mistakes E&MM for an inferior brand of musical instrument critique, we'll be happy.
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