Me & my blog: Jessica Duchen
Early in 2004, I began to hear rumblings of an extraordinary development in cyberspace: via a personal web space you could make your writing instantly visible to strangers all around the world. I began surfing to investigate. Five minutes later, by accident, I had my own blog. I simply typed JESSICA DUCHEN'S CLASSICAL MUSIC BLOG.
It didn't take long to discover what worked and what didn't. Extended pieces of grumbling about what Leopold Mozart really said on the subject of what's now called vibrato didn't produce much effect, but pithy articles on current goings-on both musical and personal, and my experiences as a classical music writer with The Independent, went across with more bite.
I hadn't bargained, though, on the addiction of blogging. It's become part of the morning routine, a chance to take stock, tell stories, and spread news in a way that is informal, though hopefully no less strong for that. I've occasionally run "director's cuts" of interviews, offering out-takes from chats with the likes of Magdalena Kozena and Angela Gheorghiu, or the behind-the-scenes saga of my recent trip to Berlin to meet Nigel Kennedy. Very occasionally, it's just a good way to let off steam.
And there's the rapid- response unit: when a big story broke – the Joyce Hatto CD forgery scandal in 2007, for example, or the sudden death of Richard Hickox – I got the details online in moments. JDCMB became something of a focal point for reporting developments in the former, though the degree of obsession among some readers proved positively terrifying! For quieter times, YouTube is invaluable for disseminating musical extracts.
I'd long felt that classical music needed a different type of discourse. Snobbery, exclusivity, ivory-tower obscurantism and so on had to be challenged, not to mention the misogyny, but without "dumbing down"; therefore, I aimed for good, straightforward, readable writing, not too technical but never patronising.