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Re: [ARSCLIST] Are we at the end of the road musically??

I'm sorry if I started an inappropriate thread here, but since I
honestly feel my words were misinterpreted-interpreted, or at least my
points were misunderstood I will simply clarify myself by responding
this single time, and then drop this thread, which seems to have overly
irritated at least one person.

I could go on ad nausea about how things interlock between music and
public acceptance, cultural trends, globalizations, etc. but THAT would
truly be off topic.

My request of David, or anyone else who'd like to discuss this, is that
if one cares to engage me further, and doesn't see this as being "list
worthy", they can email me directly at donald.andes@xxxxxxxxxx


See Comments below: 

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of David Lewis
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 7:31 AM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Are we at the end of the road musically??

I too have been pondering this question and the following is my personal
opinion which should be taken as nothing more:

I believe that one of the two main keys to creative invention in today's
world is technology. Much like the electric guitar fueled rock and roll,
and sampling technology fueled hip hop, the new "music" will be or
currently is affected by the technology of it's time.

This thesis, opinion or not, is hopelessly flawed and will not stand up
to peer review. Charlie Christian not only had an electric guitar in
1941, he was playing rock n' roll styled licks on it, as some Goodman
outtakes from the time establish. Yet it still took 14 more years for
"Rock Around the Clock" to reach the audience and spread the rock
Gospel, and it was already an old record by the time it peaked on the

I do not attach commercial success to the point of initiating a musical
style. But speaking of Charlie Christian, do you think he would have
developed the same style of play without ever hearing the sound of or
using an electric guitar?

Hip-hop existed a long time before hip hoppers ever even used sampling,
and sampling itself goes back to the 'Fifties. Yet the two don't cross
paths much before 1984.

Correct, yet incorrect. The origins of the vocal style of "rapping" have
existed before hip hop, and sampling does co back to the fifties,
however, what is deemed "Hip Hop" was originated at the point of DJ's
sampling vinyl "live" by repeating duplicate sections of records, with
rapping happing spontaneously over it. While the sampling technique may
have been even more archaic then the editing of tape pieces used in
musique concrete, this was IN NO WAY influenced by Musique concrete. If
you have reason to support a direct link between the 2 please enlighten

Hip hop started in the 70's and the instrument known as a sampler was
developed in the early 80's and is still a major component of hip hop

I mentioned technology as being ONE of the main keys. Are you really
disagreeing here? Do you honestly believe that technology DOESN'T play a
major role? Even if it does nothing more to inspire and re-invigorate
the creative mind?

Trends don't make themselves, and tools don't make trends. Musicians
make whatever they need to make, with whatever tools, and if the public
follows it, or chooses not to, that's up to them. Anyone who thinks they
can strive to predict trends based on who has fanciest toys is deluded. 

I'm not attempting to predict trends, just giving my opinion of what
drives the creative process, other things come into play as well, such
as world events, and happenings in relational art forms.

My favorite two examples of this are the artwork of Mondrian and

Mondrian's later work, which almost everyone is familiar with is
typically 3 colors and a few black lines on a white canvas. It's
Brilliant. But where did this thinking come from? Mondrian himself
started painting as a Realist, then moved to Impressionism, then
eventually to Minimalism. It was a life long span of continuing to
obscure his painting a little bit further each time.
The other example is Pollack. He developed his most well know style
almost by accident. By changing the position of his canvas (lying it on
the floor) he found a new way to apply paint.

So what do this mean?

I'll tell you what it doesn't mean - just because you develop a music
program that's like a canvas two miles wide and two million colors to
paint with doesn't mean you will find two million Picassos to make
masterworks with it. Music isn't like a mousetrap; you can contrive to
build a better one and musicians still won't use it. Often musicians who
get heavily into one kind of technology or another become sucked into
the marketing of equipment or software and end up abandoning music
making altogether. Making music isn't like inventing a can opener or a
kitchen magician - it is an imperative that goes hand in hand with the
business of being human, like talking or other forms of communication.

I really have difficulty understanding your argument here. This
paragraph and the related examples, ONLY had to do with the creative
process, and nothing to do with Technology. The Mondrian example shows
that new developments sometimes evolve gradually and are sometimes
difficult to see based on comparing it to the idea/work that happened
just before it. The Pollack example shows how things happen through a
disconnect-connect and are drastically different from their predecessor.

I'm simply stating that in order for music to go further it either needs
to be pushed farther then it has been prior, in the same linear
direction, or reconsidered and approached at a new angle.

One could do this with our without computers or any electrical
instruments for this matter, whether they were a had a PhD in music
theory, or just a desire to make some noise.

As much as I love both acoustic and electronic music, I can't look to a
group of humans playing fixed pitched instruments to give me anything
beyond a retrospective recombination of past styles, for the following
1) Humans need money to live, and developing fringe music as a group
doesn't pay the bills.
2) All the notes have been used up. Mid-century avant gard and free jazz
addressed almost every viable way to play, mis-play, combine, and
destruct western music.

No, No and No, Don. Roughly, every 30-50-100 years since the time of
Aristotle someone has come along and said "All the notes have been used
And EVERY time they have been wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Within the
past week, I have heard things in fourteenth-century Polyphony and in
1920s music by George Antheil that contained ideas and approaches I'd
never heard before. We haven't even exhausted the past, how can we have
already exhausted the future? The Western scale, stylistic developments,
national identities in folk music - these are not like fossil fuel or
the ozone layer in that "we only have so much" - that's ridiculous.  

You are correct here, the notes are NOT all used up. I was
oversimplifying. MOST of the notes are used up. To find new ground,
you'd have to go beyond those how have already gone beyond. The mid
1900's was a time where musicians were looking to go to the outer
extreme. Did they get there? Yes on some accounts, but good luck on
finding anyone nowadays who will want to take that journey into the
previously UNDISCOVERED realms of polyrhythms, atonality, and
non-western scales looking for something new.

You'd be much better off looking for the new territory that exists in
computer music. You'd also be surround by lots of other computer
musicians who would be looking to collaborate or exchange ideas, on how
to use all of these new tools and truly discover something NEW as
opposed to something "beyond"

Even if you knew nothing about computer music, I believe finding someone
who does and sharing your wealth of knowledge of theory, composition,
music history, etc. would be much more mutually beneficial and  get you
closer to the "outer edge" then posting a "guitarist wanted ad" to play

Just as well, I can't image a way that a computer by itself, even with
advanced AI, would be able to repeatable produce something of value
without a human involved.

That's charitable. Raymond Scott did invent, in 1967-70, a computer
that, when you turned it on, started composing music - and good music at
But it bored him, and ultimately he installed a hidden keyboard in a
drawer of the cabinet containing the computer just so he could play
along with it.
Music making is an imperative human activity, and while there is
commerce in music that has its own agenda, we should not be looking to
technology to move music forward as an artform. Many of the best
musicians are not even technologically inclined, and better technology
isn't going to help me sound better, or experience a better sense of
community, sitting around the campfire singing with a church group, Girl
Scout troop, friends, whatever. I don't even have to have guitar to do
that, and if I had one and played it badly, I'd almost be better off
without one. 

To put this all simply, Technology is a tool, and SOME new tools allow
new things to be done, SOME inspire new levels of work, and SOME inspire
new ways to do things. SOME tools even inspire new tools, which further
push the envelope.

Your argument about the guitar has a limited context which is practical
only when discussing the playing of live music in a congregation of
people who are in a typical performer/audience arena. While live music
is great, most of what people listen to currently is recorded in some
way, and not created before there ears in a live situation.

Also, if a cutting edge electronic musician brought his laptop to your
campfire, he'd probably entertain and impress many folks with his
ability to perform, or co-perform with you.

If fact if you really heard what was happening at the forefront, and the
musical abilities behind some   folks like BT, you MAY have a new
appreciation for what we're discussing here.

Therefore, I look to humans exploiting cutting edge computer programs
(possibly combined with traditional instruments) to provide the "next"
musical revolution.

I look for the next musical revolution to come from someone who has
ideas and is results oriented, and could care less what they use in
terms of programs or instruments. But I'm also not desperate to find out
where that revolution is coming from, whereas I think that musical
tech-heads might be, as they want to be on top of it when it emerges,
mainly for commercial reasons. Sorry - no deal. Impressionism didn't
come because someone invented the French 6 chord - it had been there all
along. It came because there was Satie and Debussy, and the time was
right for it. In any event, this list is the wrong forum for this kind
of discussion.  

I could care less about the programs or instruments as well, that's my
point. I'm also not pulling my hair out looking for the next musical
style/revolution/trend/whatever. Someone brought the question of "are we
need the end" and I thought to add my 2 cents as to where one would look
and why. The possibilities for computer music are vast, and using
external controllers open up opportunities for performing live. There
are also extended capabilities of linking performances to visuals which
are "played" along with the music.

You may disagree with my opinions, or reasoning. But I'll be keeping an
eye on the young kids, with the ever powerful computers, and open source
software that gets mod-ed BY musicians as well as programmers. They're
the future in my book, for music and beyond.

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