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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (and Happy New Year)


Another year, another blog. This is either the last one of 2010 or the first of 2011, depending on your point of view – or mine I suppose. It’s been an interesting year in terms of writing the blog – with the arrival of Google Stats I’ve been able to see which posts created the most interest and were the most read. And reading the stats taught me that I often completely misjudge which topics are of the most interest to readers. A quick look at the stats for the year give me the following top five:

1. The post about great jazz musicians playing on terrible ‘jazz’ recordings by classical musicians looking for a bit of street cred

2. A post about the possibility that Bill Evans influence has slid somewhat off the jazz radar of young musicians

3. Elvin Jones – the perfect drummer?

4. The recordings that Steve Coleman and Dave Holland made together

5. Child Prodigies in Jazz


The post about the jazz/classical thing was by far the most read post on the blog, which I guess makes sense since there is a whiff of a rant in it and it names names a bit – everyone loves controversy! The child prodigy post also provoked some interest. But the three of the top five most popular posts were about well known figures in the jazz world, which tells me that people still prefer to read about what, or whom, they know. For myself, although I’m interested in all my subjects, I often find the stuff about the actual music – structural, conceptual, philosophical, technical things – to be the most interesting things to discuss. But my readers seem to prefer to read about the musicians who play the music rather than read about the music itself.

One interesting aside came from someone commenting on the Bill Evans post, who said that it had come as a relief to him that this post was less ‘angry’ than my normal efforts. Angry!? Me!? Disputatious maybe, a malcontent quite possibly – but angry? Hmmmm....... interesting. I’m quite conscious of not trying to personalise things unless I feel I can’t make my point any other way, and though I do get angry about some aspects of the jazz world, I try and reign in my baser instincts and remain within the bounds of civilised discourse. The classical musician post was about as close as I get to a rant – I think! It’s definitely interesting to see yourself as others see you sometimes.

One thing I do recognise is my tendency to be a bit verbose sometimes – I fight against it but I tend not to be able to get out in under 5000 words. This will probably be the shortest post of 2011........... I’ve got an interview with Steve Coleman coming up that’s huge – but at least on this occasion the post is huge because Steve is being verbose rather than me.

Thanks as always to everyone who read the blog over the past year, and particularly to those who took the time to write and express their opinions – I really appreciate you taking the time and am flattered by your interest.

Next up for me – and no doubt some kind of report will feature on these pages – I’ll be heading off to New York for a week or so, to see some music, meet lots of friends and bring home my new custom-made bass – a pretty good way to start the year.

Happy 2011!

6 comments:

  1. If I may be bold enough...

    Certainly you cannot expect all musicians to be as good as you? A famous name is musical common ground - everyone has a favourite Beethoven symphony (regardless if only the first movement of the fifth is common ground), but not all people can discuss or appreciate the particularities of the harmonic language a Bartok or a Janacek has developed. Not to mention that you're working with a nearly anonymous sample of the whole wide world. Forget about statistics, for there isn't a quantified number for how many ideas a musician got while reading your blog, or how many musicians were inspired. What you shouldn't forget, is that there are musicians actively researching (or settling down and "following" because this is such a good source) to whom you've been a great help.

    And now, resume being flattered, for there's definitely interest on your person, on your music, and on your writing.

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  2. Thanks for your comment Luís - I didn't mean my observation of what the stats showed about people's reading habits to be a criticism of those habits in any way. I'm delighted that they might be interested in readying anything I write! It was just an observation - I found it interesting that, according to the stats, people were more intrigued by certain types of subjects.

    And it's true what you say about statistics and how they can't ever tell the full story - hence the title of the piece!

    Thanks Luís!

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  3. I'm with Luis. Blog journals by actual musicians are fairly rare and yours is easily one of the more thoughtful ones.

    The on board blogger stat system is oddly out of sync with analytics data if you have that installed. I found it useful to get a sense of where people came from, what they followed and so on but it is more useful as a business application or an after thought in your situation.

    Have another great year. I'm migrating to All About Jazz and plan to do a set of features on different blog outlooks. You will be prominent.

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  4. I didn't mean my observation of what the stats showed about people's reading habits to be a criticism of those habits in any way. I'm delighted that they might be interested in readying anything I write! It was just an observation - I found it interesting that, according to the stats, people were more intrigued by certain types of subjects.

    http://www.areze.com

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  5. Hi, Ronan. Just thought I'd qualify my comment to your Evans piece. As a music fan, I'm all for passion (which you clearly have by the gallon). And as an amateur player I love reading blogs by musicians in the trenches such as you, Ethan Iverson, George Colligan, David Berkman, and others. My aside was really just stating a preference for a light touch over a heavy rant. (I guess I was mainly referring to your Nigel Kennedy post—although the first commenter did write, 'Oh, Ronan, another rant!' so at least someone else shared my impression that this wasn't the first...) But I also said, 'uncensored opinion is definitely welcome'. Since the Kennedy post was your most popular of 2010, it looks like a little rant does garner more attention. Anyway, great to see your recent musical successes—I'll try to pick up your MSG CD (the clip sounds great). I hope you'll still keep up the blog in 2011. Good luck—and long live lengthy posts!

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  6. Thanks Angus - I take your points and appreciate you taking the time to write!

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