Werke ohne Opuszahl: Krapp on the cutting room floor

beethoven-ghost-trio-manuscript

KLB: WoO No. 1

An ambivalent day in Krappland. I was expecting an interview I did a few weeks ago with musician and critic Dominique Leone to appear in this season’s Futureclaw, but when I ‘attended’ its virtual unveiling, it took me a second to realize that the interview didn’t make the cut. I was both disappointment and relieved.

The disappointment came from the feeling that the hours I spent setting up, conducting, transcribing and editing the interview had essentially been wasted. The relief came from the blunt truth that, despite my efforts, the finished article was mediocre at best. And it was entirely my fault.

If you’ve never transcribed a recording of yourself speaking extemporaneously and at length, there are few acts less damaging to one’s self-esteem—especially when you’re speaking to someone whom you respect. Not only must you endure the common ‘That’s what I sound like?’ effect, you have to repeatedly relive every uncomfortable pause and patient (if you’re lucky) response to your inane questions. (George Costanza: ‘Oh! Modeling! What’s that like? Fun?’)

My first mistake was the choice of location. I interviewed Studio at their studio where they were comfortable and it was quiet and everyone was drinking tea, smoking, joking, etc. I talked to Dominique during lunch hour at a crowded 8th arrondissement bistro, which sounds charming in the written introduction but is hardly the ideal time or place to connect with someone, much less record them; just as one of  one of my questions showed promise—most of them fell deservedly flat—a passerby would catch our attention, or the waiter would come with more bread and we’d start talking about how good the duck was. (It was very good.)

I managed to salvage a few things; the interview isn’t execrable. Readers unfamiliar with Dominique’s career and music might learn and appreciate a few casual facts, but no amount of editorial patchwork could form something inspired out of the material.  My questions were overwrought and misdirected; I wrote them with some preconceptions about Dominique—preconceptions formed during years of reading (and heeding) his music reviews—and when Dominique’s actual character (gregarious, candid and thoroughly unpretentious) and actual opinions didn’t match my golem’s, I was at a loss.

I’ll step back from the wailing wall in a moment. I’m glad the way things worked out with the magazine: my pride only skinned its knee, FC readers were spared a lackluster interview, and the music pieces that ran instead—one conducted, I was surprised delighted to see, by an old friend, co-worker and man about town, Alex Littlefield—fit much better within the magazine.

The only disservice done today was to Dominique, who makes music I like, who deserves more press, and who spent one of his two afternoons in Paris responding as best as he could to my lame questions. And now, because of my shortcomings as a journalist—and possibly because I turned in my article a few days after the deadline; should check with editor—now the only place his interview might run is on Krapp’s Last Blog.

If it’s any consolation, Dominique: we’re having a record month here.

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~ by ohkrapp on February 11, 2009.

One Response to “Werke ohne Opuszahl: Krapp on the cutting room floor”

  1. Well this blog entry was a good read and I’m sure we will see many successful interviews in the magazines soon. :)

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