Music, Dismay, and the Blue Review

I explored the Blue Review, the short-lived successor to Rhythm. Each of its three issues followed a standard layout: contents, an imprint, an illustration, three or four short poems, several articles or essays, a visual art section in the middle, more essays, and, finally, advertisements on the back cover. The Blue Review seemed to appeal to a bibliophile audience and many of its ads relate to monographs, though one issue included a dressmaker’s ad and the same French ad was published in all three issues. This use of French, as well as appearances of other languages such as an article titled “Daibutsu” and sections regarding German and Italian books, also indicates an appeal to international audiences.

I picked an article in the middle issue - June 1913 - of the Blue Review called “A Fresh Start in Music,” which aims to balance two groups of composers: the academics and the modernists, in the article’s terms (volume 1, issue 2, page 97). The author toys with the mechanization and modernization of orchestras as well as the worth of preserving past theory and foundations for music. The page layout seems fairly simple: the pages are left-justified and one column; there is no visual art; the essay is situated toward the middle of the issue between an article called “Anger and Dismay” and another called “Epilogue: II.”  I find the juxtaposition with the “Fresh Start in Music” following the “Anger and Dismay” article, as music is often considered to be an antidote to anger and dismay, as well as a general soothing influence. The first issue of the Blue Review doesn’t have a dedicated music section, but the third and last issue concludes its articles with a survey of Beethoven, Elgar, and Debussy. This also indicates internationality on the part of the journal through its grouping of German, English, and French (respectively) musicians.

Rhythm: Advertising Art

 Rhythm’s extensive use of drawings and works of art to illustrate both their commercial and literary content is interestingly inconsistent in 1912.  The only extensive use of artwork is in their advertisements for Heal and Sons furniture and Hanfstaengl, a business that sells original and reproduction artwork.  The placement of these ads is itself inconsistent.  For the greater part of 1912 they appear at the beginning of the magazine with only two exceptions in which they appear at the end.  Although Rhythm is known for its defense of advertising and the use of artwork in their advertising, the choice in July of 1912 by Heal and Sons to opt for a more conservative illustration (notwithstanding a patterned border that awkwardly attempts to reintegrate the ad) in place of their standard sketchy drawings of canopy beds suggests a hesitation by the more traditional business to fully adopt Rhythm’s model.  This experiment came at a point when Heal and Son’s advertisement was due for a new illustration and the next month sees the return of the sketchy canopy bed in a new illustration.  

In a way these changes reflect a natural need to adjust the content to avoid redundancy.  Concern for redudancy must have necessarily increased after the June decision to move from a quarterly to a monthly publication.  After this change we can see that many of the illustrations used to frame or bookend the titles of pieces and the illustrations used to punctuate pieces of prose and poetry are occasionally repeated as well (See for example JD Ferguson’s birds or N. Theophilaktoff’s panther-like creature).  But, there is also an increase in advertisement generally, and by the end of 1912 Rhythm is beginning to adopt the standard non-illustrated presentations of advertisements.  The advertisment for “Rhythm Drawings,” while only appearing three times that year is absent in the concluding months and the advertisement for the Ashnur Galerie is an interesting example of an ad where, although the graphic elements have been maintained they are markedly formal and corporate in comparison to the old ads by Heal and Sons and Hanfstaengl. 

Mainstream and Niche marketing

In looking at advertisements, I decided to look at one of the more mainstream magazines. In the October 1910 issue of The American Magazine, there was an  interesting feature in the first few pages. The top of the page featured an “essay” written about how buying ad space in this magazine was equivalent to buying customer loyalty. It is written under the guise of a loyal reader of the magazine who is willing to go out of her way to purchase those things that were advertised within because their ads support her reading. There then follows an index of advertisements so that a reader might be able to locate an ad in the same way it would be expected for a reader to want to find actual content. While this might not be a reflection of an actual desire of the average reader of The American Magazine, the fact that the advertisements are a proud addition to the magazine is an interesting one.

Obviously this is not an attitude reflected at all in the modernist magazines. In the Winter 1911 Rhythm, John Middleton Murry writes an essay entitled "What We Have Tried to Do" about the place of advertisements within the magazine. He says that, “There may be some who say that the admission of advertisements is a degradation of an artistic magazine. There are the people who are in love with the print and the paper. We have no use for them. We believe we have something important to say that no other magazine has ever said or had the courage to say. It is a thousand times more important that we should live to say such things, than that we should  bow before the cries of artistic snobbery.” With the inclusion of ads, Rhythm moved from a quarterly to a monthly magazine, and featured the same ads for almost a full year straight. The first being for canopy beds, and the second for the more clearly relevent gallery that sells prints of modern art. In spite of one of these ads being more closely targeted to Rhythm's audience, the inclusion of these ads seems to have been beneficial and satisfactory to both parties as evidenced by their consistency over the remaining issues of the magazine. 

Advertising in The Little Review

There is much that can be said about the advertising found in vol.3 no. 10 of The Little Review. Broadly speaking, there is the placement of the advertisements in the "front"/beginning and "back"/end of the magazines. Though perhaps the cultural context is different, I found it at least interesting that the main content (poetry) of the magazine wasn't punctuated, as it is now, with an advertisement here or there to divert my attention. In some sense, this choice of ad placement seems deliberate and almost conscientious of the reader. To me, the editor seems to be making a statement as to the undesirable traits of having ads within a magazine.

The content/layout of the advertisements themselves was also of interest. Pgs. 30-32 are devoted almost entirely to plugs for upcoming novels, authors, poets, etc. Though I assume it is a result of the "buying" of a page for advertisements, I did notice the separation of ad pages depending on publishing companies, etc. In contrast to the more homogeneous picture-centered advertisements of today, these pages varied in set-up, concentration of type (though the novel ads were particularly wordy), and more. Though I'm not sure this particularly speaks of The Little Review itself, the advertisements were visually confusing even when I was simply scrolling through pages.

One slightly humorous aspect I noticed about the advertisements in this magazine was the first advertising page, page 2 (shown below). The ads are not only seemingly unrelated, but are also confusing in style. The top two are more in tune with what I'm accustomed to; the ads concretely suggest a photographer/novel and provide a way of getting what's advertised. The bottom two, on the other hand, seem completely random. The bottom left ad seems less of an ad and more of a update/news article. The bottom right, on the other hand, is completely void of particulars. I have no idea who "us/we" is, how to give my violin, and why the lonely old man is significant.