"The infinity of opportunities between what has already been done is vast,
the rivers of precedent exceedingly narrow."
I wont say I can't say it better but I almost can't! I think it was
Rauschenberg, the painter (and a collagist) who said in the 50s that what
he was interested in was not things, but what was between things. No one
wants to think that the possibility for precedent is gone, but if you can
say the possibilities for precedent are dwindling, then you have pretty
much acknowledged that there IS an end to it. (dwindling towards what?).
I think the end of musical precedent has been reached, and some time ago at
that. Most of music just hasn't bothered to noticed because most of music
is not interersted in precedent anyway, but has always been about
rearranging the deck chairs. But in fact, it's over, Johnny.
What we are willing to call music is a vast but still finite range of sonic
invention. Everything that CAN be music (categorically speaking) has
reached our ears by now (it only took a few thousand years to exhaust all
sonic precedents for music within the range of human hearing!) and now we
will continue on filling out the gaps between these precedents as most
music has always done anyway. This will produce much great music as it
always has, but there will be no new precedents in music as a practice. The
avant guard end of music is now complete and done for. We can thank the
last hundred years in particular for finally exhausting the subject of
"new" in music. An utterly amazing proliferation of extreme boundary
exploration that suceeded in wiping out the very notion of musical
boundaries. There is now no new sound for music to have, nothing left
untried to achieve that, nowhere else to go in the direction of true
>>ALL possible music is now recombining existing forms, styles, and sounds,
>>and that is the future of ALL music from here on out.
>This I actually agree with in large part, though I think of it as
>expansive, not constraining. Music is now correctly perceived as a smooth
>continuum of stylistic possibilities, rather than a discrete set of
>exclusive, locked boxes. And, of course, composition per se is (and will
>forever continue to be) continuingly important in the blending (rather
>than mere juxtaposition) of various elements into new combinations that
>represent new wholes in and of themselves. Collage is interesting, but
>certainly not the whole ball of wax. The umbrella is big enough for both
>- that was the whole point of breaking down the artifices.
>One other thing: There is (and probably always will be) a lot of
>unbroken ground yet to be covered! What characterized the 20th century
>was the breakdown of arbitrary constraints on elements and form -
>everything is fair game now. But what that did is simply widen the domain
>of resources and creative strategies to virtually anything at all. Land
>spreadin' out so far and wide - keep Manhattan, jus' gimme that
>What irony that simultaneously the commercial music market structure was
>going in precisely the opposite direction. It'll take some time after the
>gates are re-opened for the enduring cultural effects of that travesty to
>completely wear off. However, don't underestimate the market pressure for
>that escape - the untapped market awaits, and not too patiently.
>At 01:58 AM 03/10/2001 , Don Joyce wrote:
>>><<The recycling of existing music into new music will only grow from here.
>>>It is the forseeable future of advanced music since there is virtually
>>>nothing "original" possible in any other kind of "pure" music anymore. (This
>>>requires a long essay of observations to prove to you involving the entire
>>>history of music making, but it's finally true!) The only interesting
>>>future left to music, the only relatively unexplored direction for sonics,
>>>the only way to be "new," is in synthesis, recontextualizing, collage - the
>>>recombining and remanipulation of what already exists in unimaginable
>>>See, Don, you start to get me going and then say something unbelievably
>>>arrogant like this. LOOK at the incredible variety of great, ORIGINAL music
>>>we've been blessed with over the past 50 years -- that YOU deem worthy of
>>>recombination, by the way -- bake in all musical ethnicities and their
>>>potential, then "prove" to me that collage is the only way for music to
>>>advance in the foreseeable future.
>>>It'll take a long essay? Okay, I'll read it (if I made it through Grout I
>>>can make it through anything). For better or worse, I have a hard time
>>>believing the message when I can't believe the messenger. And when you make
>>>statements like the one above you're as guilty as any corporation of spin
>>>doctoring to advance your agenda.
>>The essay, called "The End Of Music," is not ready yet. It began as a joke
>>by Crosley Bendix (and he certainly can be accused of spin doctoring to
>>advance his agenda!) but personally, I soon began to see how actual his
>>fantasy is. The title remains for it's shock value. This is not the end of
>>music, just the end of creating the "original" sounds music was always
>>capable of throughout its entire history up until, I would say, the 70s or
>>so, when electronic sound generation had finally been added to almost all
>>kinds of music.
>>Now you cannot concieve of ANY sound in music that has not already occured
>>there. - But never to tedium, that's why it's still not the actual end of
>>music making, just the end of its ability to originate anything, any "new"
>>sound, style, or concept any more. There is nothing left to do but
>>rearrange the musics we have. The catch phrase against truly original sound
>>might be, "been there, done that." This ranges from Cage's Silence, to
>>field recordings of natural sounds, to all the musical and non-musical
>>notes all instruments have now fully explored, to all possible acceptable
>>and unacceptable styles and genres of music, to every possible vocal
>>manipulation of the human voice acoustically and electronically, to sound
>>effects, to noise, to white noise - it's ALL music now. And beyond
>>electronic sound generation, there is...nothing new.
>>So now music goes on recombining and resynthesizing this now complete set
>>of givens, but as an artist, you cannot present any music that could be
>>considered a new form of music. We always have been able to do this
>>throughout the history of music, most especially throughout and right up
>>until the end of the 20th Century, during which we succeeded in exploring
>>all possible extremes of form, style, and sonic invention with no
>>boundaries as to whether it might or might not be "music." The 20th
>>Century's final exploration of what might be music actually succeeded in
>>exhausting the subject! This is no longer a subject of musical
>>investigation. Only recombining and rearranging what has already been tried
>>is now possible hereafter. No new precedent can be set, music can only
>>rearrange existing precedents.
>>I did not say collage is the only way for music to advance, I'm saying that
>>ALL possible music is now recombining existing forms, styles, and sounds,
>>and that is the future of ALL music from here on out. Collage happens to be
>>one kind that acknowledges this fact about itself in a more "advanced" and
>>unequivical way. Collage was invented in the late 1800s, musical collage
>>via recorded media in the teens and 20s, it's not a new or "advanced" form
>>in any way.
>>People's reaction to this "joke" concept seems to be immediately serious
>>(no one laughs like I do) and they want to debate the point, as if were
>>this concept true, it would be an insult and defamement of music or
>>creativity or something. Actually, this has been more or less the case
>>since the mid 50s, and we've had plenty of music we all like since then.
>>The fact is, we actually like music to sound familiar for the most part,
>>composed of elements familiar to us, and all mainstream musics have always
>>been recombining the tried and true exclusively, so it's really not a
>>problem, except for whatever we want to think of as the music avant guard
>>who are out there thinking they are inventing some kind of music. It's all
>>already been invented. So I'm keeping the title as indicating a fully
>>explored "end" to the human practice of original musical invention.
>>"Originality" will hereafter be considered, as it has been for some time
>>now, a matter of how creatively we steal from what exists, adding our own
>>invention, our "personality," to whatever we steal of course, which is
>>really the subject of our music appreciation, not "originality."
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