Re: "Creative Music" ???

Philly the Kid (
Sun, 26 Oct 1997 17:54:14 -0800

>I have been noticing a new trend among experimental and "new" music
>composers and performers. It seems that the old problem of what to call
>our music--music that doesn't fit into the other standard
>categories--has been imagined to be solved by using the term "creative

Creative doesn't mean interesting. Or good.Creative is relative.

What about calling this body of music non-commercial. Or non-symmetrical.
Ahh its useless...:-)

unruly genre. (I'm not sure it's
>even a definable genre.)

That's true. It's not. And some things that come under the heading jazz
like Cecil Taylor may have more in common with somethings in the
experiemental/improviasastional space...

>The only useful function of this term that I can imagine is as a
>political tool to establish in the public's awareness a sense that there
>is a new, defined genre.

I think there is as much music sitting outside easy categories and popular
familiarities as inside. So the idea is broader than one genre. And it
isn't new.

I imagine this is useful commercially--if we
>have a name, (like they do for rap, jazz, folk, country, ambient, etc.)
>we can have a labeled category at the music store, and maybe somebody
>will even buy a few of our recordings. Who among experimentally-oriented
>musicians hasn't been frustrated looking for interesting new music in
>Barnes & Noble, only to realize that even if they did have a cd
>compilation of recent free-improvised tuba music, it would probably be
>buried in the new age section.

Is the whole radio, record store paradigm the beast to be slain...I have
never thought about what I do or try to do musically in terms of commercial
function. Mass appeal would scare me anyhow...:-) I don't want to be too

>Having a known identifier can be helpful in the crude world of the music
>industry, where it becomes necessary to label and categorize things for
>labeling's sake, rather than actually listening to a work for the work's
>sake, or the artist's sake, trying to understand what it is and what it
>is doing and why.

>Alas, "creative music" is an ill-conceived term, and I am horrified to
>think that this will come into standard use. I don't ever want to be
>asked, "What kind of music do you write?" and have to answer: "Creative
>Music!" I suggest that we stick with one that has worked, though some
>people are afraid of it--maybe they're afraid to commit themselves to
>the rigorous approach to art that the word "experimental" invokes.

The problem with Experimental is that it has to be relative to something.
Then you need to have a consensus and threshold of shared knowledge and

Lots of people experiment. And often experimenting is a creative or
innovative action.

But just because something is innovative, or had creativity involoved or
was an experiment, doesn't give it any intrinsic greater value. It does not
necessarily stand on higher ground. Remember, many experiments fail...

>need to get over our complacency and stop trying to sugar-coat our
>ever-evolving music. "Experimental" is the perfect descriptor for music
>that is created to test the bounds of meaning and style, for music that
>either asks questions or implies a question or challenge. 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.
>Matt Marth

I'm all for vigor and passion in supporting music and art forms that are
out of the commercial mainstream. But in the end, you have to ask a lot of
questions...we all answer these somewhat differently...

Why do you seek and encounter art/music?

Why do you engage in any process to create it?

If fame and fortune are your main answers and the music you make has
familiar references to only a handful of people - usually congreagated in a
little balck box theater, then you are in for a long road...

All of this discussion begs all the dense questions about "high art", and
purpose of art and purpose of labels and consensus. In the end, we all have
an opinion and a motivation...

I will need more time to think about my own answers...