Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Things change . . .

It’s the cliché of anarchism (etc): if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

Well, here is a good, clear of example of how voting changes . . . graphic design.

For something I was writing, I looked up government approaches to music education. Without realising it, I downloaded not, as I thought I had, two contemporary reports, but one produced under the current government and one under the former.

Here’s the old (new Labour) cover . . .

Here’s the new (coalition) cover . . .

Striking, no?

Old (new Labour) a large image, shot on 21mm (I think) lens, adding (rightly or wrongly) drama, with (as always in the last government’s publications) an ethnic minority (as per new Labour usual, a young ‘black’ person); a two-colour title, with the words unaligned (in builder’s terminology, ‘on the piss’); a subhead aiming at inclusion but begging a question (more music than what? more people than who?)

New (coalition) consciously sober title (it says what it does on its cover); conscious, perhaps archaic capitalisation (‘Government Response’ rather than the less stentorian ‘government response’); blue colour (an indication of coalition balance?); a seemingly pointless shadow rectangle with a grid pattern which perhaps hints at an underlying mathematical response to music (for better or worse)

It doesn’t stop at the cover, either, of course. The difference continues inside.

The new (coalition) document opens with a quote from Plato and includes this sentence: ‘Music is an enriching and valuable academic subject. Research evidence shows that a quality music education can improve self-confidence, behaviour and social skills, as well as improve academic attainment in areas such as numeracy, literacy and language.’

The old (new Labour) one aimed, among other things, ‘to develop a world-class workforce in music education’. Workforce, world-class — how quaint and early 21st century those words now seem. It included this statement from the then Arts Minister, Estelle Morris: ‘It's about everyone with a love of music coming together to create the soundtrack to young people's lives.’

Then love, everyone, soundtrack, coming together, young people.

Now research evidence, self-confidence, improve, academic subject, social skills, attainment, numeracy, literacy.

Plus ça change, plus ça change.

Plato (him, again) wrote: ‘Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.’ And, it seems, vice versa.


Lo Jardinier said...

Very striking comparison. Coincidentally I used this Plato quote recently - after looking it up - and I dimly remembered a Doors song which had the same line, but couldn't find it after extensive academic research (Google for 5 mins). Now amusing myself trying to imagine a Jim Morrison music education manifesto. I'll stop there before terrible puns and poor taste jokes take over.

Peter Silverton said...

were you thinking of when the music's over? is the next line: they turn out the lights? if so, its banality is pretty perfect

i just listened to a podcast on which someone balanced the works of ? and the mysterians (one hit, 96 Tears) against the whole of the doors recorded output (six or seven albums?) and decided the two piles were in precise equilibrium