Three "verys" don't make it true. You kinda miss my point. I'm referring to
musical precedent, a categorical TYPE OF SOUND that has not been used
before in music. (You have to think like an avant guardist to appreciate
this distinction). The guitar and it's many possibilities are old hat as a
sound generating device, and it can be re-explored forever in variations,
but it will never create a precedent in musical sound making again.
Electricity was the guitar's last possibility in terms of that. Acoustic
explorations are well established, steam or internal combustion can do
nothing to help, and beyond electrical amplification there is....nothing.
No new sound to be had from the guitar. Do you see the difference? There is
plenty of new music to be had forever, but no new sound of music. (Thank
you, Julie, we're done now.)
The guitar is a very old instrument, very fully explored, and though it's
not my point, I would also disagree that it has something new to offer us
even in variations. Math is not a solution to music. The vast majority of
your "infinite" guitar possibilities WILL be garbage and not pretend to be
"music" by anyone's lights, (except perhaps the noise makers of the avant
guard.) And the precedent of pure guitar noise, even its electronic
feedback, has now been fully explored and incorporated by MAINSTREAM music.
The guitar's range of "music", from rhythm to melody to noise, is as finite
as all of music's is. You can't just do anything, you have to do something
that "works" as music. This actually eliminates almost ALL the infinite
possibilities but a relatively few, which is still a lot - and recently
grown as large as it possibly can by finally accepting pure noise, as this
inevitable rehashing of all other "musical" possibilities became obvious,
and it now cannot produce any new precedent in music making. Noise has been
music's last grasp at being "new," and now that is no longer new. All the
particular sounds a guitar can make may not have been exhausted, but in
terms of musical precedent, the guitar itself has been exhausted. As have
all other instruments and all other combinations of instruments! It's all
variations now, which you point out with the guitar and which is my point.
But again, all this is of little importance to music in general outside the
avant guard and experimental domain. Almost all music is PROPERLY concerned
with variations on precedent only, and these ARE infinite as you well
illustrate in terms of the guitar. We will be hearing "new" combinations of
musical precedents and established forms and styles forever, that's music's
job and there will be no end to it, but there will be no new musical
precedents to recombine from now on.
>I hate to be pedantic, but we are very, very, very far from
>hearing "all" music. Let's do some combinatorial mathematics.
>A guitar has 6 strings, and let's say that we are going to stick to
>10 frets, so that there are "only" 60 notes available. With 4
>fingers you can play (in principle or with rubber fingers)
>11 * 11 * 11 * 11 * 2 * 2 chords (assuming that a "muted" string is
>a note, and that "open" strings can be plucked or not, and ignoring
>"barred" chords). This totals 58,564 chords, and in 8 bars a
>total of 1.38 times 10 to the 38th power possible "melodies".
>Six billion guitarists playing one chord per second would take
>approximately 10 billion times the age of the universe to go through them
>all. (And this says nothing about variations in meter or rhythm, or
>Now, you can argue about the details, and clearly most of this "music"
>would sound like garbage, but please do not think that we
>have come close to exploring all possible music. We haven't, and we won't,
>not by a long shot.
>Whitney Broussard wrote:
>> >>>>Everything that CAN be music (categorically speaking) has
>> reached our ears by now...
>> You may be right but I can't help thinking about the fact that in the late
>> 19th and early 20th Centurys the scientific world thought that, between
>> Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism and Newton's laws of gravitation,
>> everything that could be known about physics was pretty much known. As it
>> turned out the seemingly tiny bit left to discover was relativity and
>> quantum physics, which revolutionized science.
>> There may yet be an infinite range of invention in the seemingly narrow band
>> of undiscovered territory and, as a practical matter, what is "music" is
>> defined subjectively by the listener so we may find its very definition may
>> expand greatly as the human mind evolves (and helping that process along is
>> certainly one of art's great functions).
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Don Joyce
>> To: phoATonehouse.com
>> Sent: 3/11/01 10:30 PM
>> Subject: RE: pho: "threshold" for copyright??
>> "The infinity of opportunities between what has already been done is
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> that. Most of music just hasn't bothered to noticed because most of
>> 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
>> invention. Everything that CAN be music (categorically speaking) has
>> reached our ears by now (it only took a few thousand years to exhaust
>> sonic precedents for music within the range of human hearing!) and now
>> 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.
>> 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
>> musical precedent.
>> >>ALL possible music is now recombining existing forms, styles, and
>> >>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
>> >continuum of stylistic possibilities, rather than a discrete set of
>> >exclusive, locked boxes. And, of course, composition per se is (and
>> >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
>> >- 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
>> >of resources and creative strategies to virtually anything at all.
>> >spreadin' out so far and wide - keep Manhattan, jus' gimme that
>> >country-side... ;-)
>> >What irony that simultaneously the commercial music market structure
>> >going in precisely the opposite direction. It'll take some time after
>> >gates are re-opened for the enduring cultural effects of that travesty
>> >completely wear off. However, don't underestimate the market pressure
>> >that escape - the untapped market awaits, and not too patiently.
>> >At 01:58 AM 03/10/2001 , Don Joyce wrote:
>> >>See below.
>> >>><<The recycling of existing music into new music will only grow from
>> >>>It is the forseeable future of advanced music since there is
>> >>>nothing "original" possible in any other kind of "pure" music
>> anymore. (This
>> >>>requires a long essay of observations to prove to you involving the
>> >>>history of music making, but it's finally true!) The only
>> >>>future left to music, the only relatively unexplored direction for
>> >>>the only way to be "new," is in synthesis, recontextualizing, collage
>> - the
>> >>>recombining and remanipulation of what already exists in unimaginable
>> >>>Horse feathers!
>> >>>See, Don, you start to get me going and then say something
>> >>>arrogant like this. LOOK at the incredible variety of great, ORIGINAL
>> >>>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
>> >>>potential, then "prove" to me that collage is the only way for music
>> >>>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
>> >>>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
>> >>>doctoring to advance your agenda.
>> >>The essay, called "The End Of Music," is not ready yet. It began as a
>> >>by Crosley Bendix (and he certainly can be accused of spin doctoring
>> >>advance his agenda!) but personally, I soon began to see how actual
>> >>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
>> >>kinds of music.
>> >>Now you cannot concieve of ANY sound in music that has not already
>> >>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
>> >>sound, style, or concept any more. There is nothing left to do but
>> >>rearrange the musics we have. The catch phrase against truly original
>> >>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
>> >>and unacceptable styles and genres of music, to every possible vocal
>> >>manipulation of the human voice acoustically and electronically, to
>> >>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
>> >>of givens, but as an artist, you cannot present any music that could
>> >>considered a new form of music. We always have been able to do this
>> >>throughout the history of music, most especially throughout and right
>> >>until the end of the 20th Century, during which we succeeded in
>> >>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
>> >>exhausting the subject! This is no longer a subject of musical
>> >>investigation. Only recombining and rearranging what has already been
>> >>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
>> >>ALL possible music is now recombining existing forms, styles, and
>> >>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"
>> >>unequivical way. Collage was invented in the late 1800s, musical
>> >>via recorded media in the teens and 20s, it's not a new or "advanced"
>> >>in any way.
>> >>People's reaction to this "joke" concept seems to be immediately
>> >>(no one laughs like I do) and they want to debate the point, as if
>> >>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
>> >>The fact is, we actually like music to sound familiar for the most
>> >>composed of elements familiar to us, and all mainstream musics have
>> >>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
>> >>who are out there thinking they are inventing some kind of music. It's
>> >>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
>> >>now, a matter of how creatively we steal from what exists, adding our
>> >>invention, our "personality," to whatever we steal of course, which
>> >>really the subject of our music appreciation, not "originality."
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