Re: "Creative Music" ???

Matthew Marth (
Wed, 22 Oct 1997 12:06:25 -0500

Joseph S Zitt wrote:
> On Wed, 22 Oct 1997, Matthew Marth wrote:
> > I propose that
> > musicians who are devoted to exploring modes of expression and
> > challenging themselves and others to learn from the act of composition
> > and performance, who are devoted to peeling off the layers of conformity
> > to reveal their true, original selves--we musicians should use the term
> > "experimental" often and with vigor.
> But could you find musicians who do *not* consider themselves to be in
> that category? And what about those who are more interested in acoustical
> and structural phenomena than in showing off their supposedly "true,
> original selves"? And can a piece of music, once pressed on a CD in a
> fixed state, still be considered "experimental"? And what about those
> whose experimentation is done within the parameters of an existing
> tradition? And how much should be peeled away before it's "experimental"--
> should that not include people who play pre-existing instruments?
> The term, while definitely more useful than "creative" (which I haven't
> heard anybody try to use as a label since the early seventies -- what a
> blast from the past your message has been!), still is too vague to nail
> things down.

I sense the bitterness in your words. Do you have a problem with the
idea of searching for a true, original self within the layers of
socialized conformity? I think it is an imperative for any artist. What
is the examination of structure and acoustics if not a process of
self-discovery--either about what it means to be a human, or what it
means to be you? I think you are assuming a lot when you imply that I
was talking about "showing off" the self. That's a trivialization of my
point of view. I don't think showing off should be the primary work of
the artist, but i'm also not going to pretend like recognition for my
expressions is not in some way a motivator for public performance.

The term "Experimental" is a wide-open term, available for many uses,
and not, the way I think of it, as a way to exclude people who don't do
what I do, but as a way to define the primacy of the act of discovery
and examination that I think important music should be about. Yes, you
can be experimental within traditional parameters. Yes music recorded on
cd can be experimental. My purpose here is not to dictate what should be
considered experimental as an absolute-- all definitions have multitudes
of suggestions that may or may not work. I agree with you (I think) that
even "experimental" is probably inadequate. At some point we have to
realize that categorization is irrelavant to fully explain any single
work of art. But at the same time we feel a need to have a common term
to make it easier to discuss a common interest, or to feel a sense of
society with others. I am looking at it as a lesser of two evils. Do you
have a better suggestion?

I do appreciate your argument, and it is making me wonder if I shouldn't
abandon such labels altogether, and only discuss works based on their
own individual attributes. I know for one, that my music never fits into
any one category simply. BUT, if my work is not experimental in some
sense, then I feel i have been complacent and lazy because that means
that making the work has not changed me and probably not anyone else.
Why do we need reiterations of work? Don't we already live in a society
that creates sickening over-quantities of everything, most of wich is
dreck? It's a stand against mediocrity and mindless, unexamined living.