Re: "Creative Music" ???

Joseph S Zitt (
Wed, 22 Oct 1997 12:58:01 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 22 Oct 1997, Matthew Marth wrote:

> I sense the bitterness in your words.

Curious. I didn't place any in them.

> 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.

Do you have a problem with artists who are not particularly interested in
the "self"? Would you consider John Cage to have failed this "imperative"?

> 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?

Well, for one thing, it could be a process of contrasting the sound of one
set of steady-state frequencies in a room with another. What would that
have to do with "be[ing] a human" or "be[ing] 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.

I enjoy performance as well. I'm just less certain that my performance
necessarily is an "expression" of something.

> 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 think the trouble I have with this categorisation is that it has nothing
to do with what the music *sounds* like, and more with what it opposes
from a social and economic viewpoint. Where I have seen record stores with
such a category, they put, for example, both Harold Budd and The Haters in
it. What do these musics share, from a sonic standpoint?

> 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.

I'm not convinced that every listening and a place must change someone.
But perhaps I just am happy not to demand much of sound.

> 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.

It depends what you mean by "reiterations". Should any piece be performed
more than once? I have recordings of "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen
Springs" by, for example (if I recall correctly), Joan La Barbara, Jay
Clayton, Jan De Gaetani, Bethany Beardslee, and Joey Ramone. Which of
these would be the needless reiterations?

My ensemble is in the process of recording a CD, in which we hope to
include both our own compositions and improvisations and works of those
from whom we have learned, such as John Cage and Pauline Oliveros. Some is
more experimental than others. And I hope that even the work that might be
considered less so will provide a pleasing listening experience.

I see nothing wrong with commercially successful music. After all, in the
past day I've listened to David Bowie, REM, Mariah Carey, and Bruce
Springsteen, as well as Cage, David Hykes, La Monte Young, and Malcolm
Goldstein. And enjoyed all of this. My musical world is large enough, i
think, to accomodate them all.

I do see a use to having some labels for music -- after all, when in a CD
store, I tend to head directly for the bins labeled "Experimental",
"Contemporary", "Electronic", "Noise", or, as in one of my favorite
stores, "WayTheHellOutThere". None of them quite nails it, but I know that
I have a good chance of finding something interesting.

I guess, to sum up, where I differ from your position is on the centrality
of emotion, the need for the "expression" of the "self", and on the need
for continual experiment. Other than that, I think we agree on most