Mass Interview: Question 4 – Innovation

[Sorry there hasn’t been a video this week, been v. busy with other exciting things]

Question 4 – Do you think there’s any scope left in pop music for something genuinely original of the magnitude of say… hip hop or electronics? Or are we doomed merely to reference prior modes from now on? (Do you even agree with the premise of the question?)

Spencer McGarry: I’ve always maintained that all we need for an innovative new music that would be considered original, is a new drug and a few new instruments, or a few old instruments used in a different way.

Speaking broadly of just a few genres- the taming of computer technology and rise of ecstasy predicated dance music, which then grew in tandem with its respective fashion and culture etc. I think similarly hipular hop arose from the utilization of an old technology (the humble turn table and Jimmy Saville) for a new purpose and the combination (as stated above) of this with disparate influences most immediately from the world of funk and later encompassing many different genres, along with a love of marijuana and cocaine.

Stadium rock was directly related to the advances in amplification in the mid sixties and increased popularity of cocaine amongst the working and middle classes. Rock and Roll came in part from the electrification of the guitar and the subsequent possibilities that entailed along with initially amphetamines, ‘pep pills’ and later also the omni-present marijuana in white society. Jazz arose from brothels and heroin culture utilizing old instruments in innovative combinations which produced new tonal sensibilities. Advancements in amplification meant that singers no longer had to project their voices as they had been forced to previously thus the ‘crooner’ replaced the operatic singer.

Capitol K: It’s the ‘original’ thing again. I think to even contemplate the idea that the road ahead will not be as interesting as the road already travelled is short sighted..

What I see are more micro scenes not bound by physical barriers as they communicate globally with the net. So soon all these old fashioned journalistic cultural cliches will dissipate under their own weight of fictionalised nostalgia for something that was probably never really there in the first place.

Napoleon IIIrd: To create something truly original would require a composer who is entirely uninfluenced. All music, like art or cookery or building or anything even vaguely creative is progressive. I see no reason why we shouldn’t continue to progress, develop and occasionally leap forward creatively, pop music is just a tiny blip in the history of music after all.

Jeremy Warmsley: Good question. A possible answer: maybe sometime in the future something original will come along and we won’t recognise it as original. Its originality will consist in something that we can’t even conceive of at the moment – maybe instead of SOUNDING different it’ll be a difference in the way we experience it (e.g. Brian Eno & generative music).

But that’s not what you wanted to know. Are there any genuinely new sounds coming along? There must be. There’s an infinite number of different ways a speaker can wobble. There’s an infinite array of sounds out there, an infinity of different waveforms stretching out forever. They’re going to sound pretty whacked out.

But then. Is it enough for stuff to sound different, to be original, or does it have to come from an original point of view? Were those early electronic records of Bach played on synths original? Dunno.

Paul Hawkins: Definitely. But it might not happen within the current generation of musicians. I think at the moment we live in a time where as a whole we’re reflecting back on the last century rather than considering the future and as a result the majority of the books, music and films made seem to be attempts to recapture something from the past rather than attempts to imagine the possibilities of the future and I think as a generation our brains are trained to reference and draw influence from the past.

Plus both electronica and hip-hop were hugely influenced by major technological advances in synthesisers, samplers and home recording technology. These allowed records that simply could not have been made before that time. But in a few years time there’ll be a generation of people who are looking to the future again that will rise to the fore and maybe some new technology will completely change how music can sound. And as a result of those there’ll once again be people who look at music in a completely different way to what’s gone before. So what I’m probably saying is that we as a generation are naturally disposed towards referencing prior modes but that doesn’t mean every generation that follows us will be the same.

Hannah Miller: I think the word ‘doomed’ is a trifle too dramatic. If we are going to discuss doom, perhaps we should consider that the impending fuel crisis carries certain implications for an industry that relies so heavily on electricity and travel? However I like the idea of a return to making noises with whatever you can find, banging things and singing round a fire. [in my vision, we’re allowed a fire.] In terms of a new, totally radical type of music emerging, i cannot really predict. I would think not, but technology is forever advancing. Subliminal sound, now thats a field i’d like to get in to.

Ill Ease: Society and culture are always evolving, the same way that we as human beings are always evolving in the natural, physical world. To say there’s no scope left is to say that our society has come to an end.

So, in a certain way, I’d say I don’t agree with the premise of the question…. but at the same time I think it is probably THE question of our time — because we live in a ‘post-modern’ society, one that defines itself and sees itself in terms of history and is incredibly self-conscious about how we will be perceived historically. I think that our generation in particular is highly aware of ourselves in comparison to previous generations (partially due to the lucrative marketing of the nostalgia industries but also partially due to this increased awareness of ourselves in comparison to other generations and eras). I see sampling and other kinds of historical referencing in art and music as a reflection of that historical self-consciousness.

But I don’t see sampling or referencing as being any less ‘new’ or creative than previous forms of music: I think it’s a creative expression of your awareness of yourself in history. And even when it’s a celebration of that music, it is still a type of deconstruction of the tradition and of the music – both figuratively and literally (ie, scratching, sampling, looping, etc.)

Mat Riviere: I feel like hip hop and electronics are now so much a part of pop music. Part of me feels that pop music shouldn’t even try to be original, like it’s not really in its nature. What it’s all about is a decent melody and stealing bits from more obscure forms of music.

I think there are lots of people currently making fantastic, inventive pop music that could only really be made now and I think this is important, I’m just not sure about originality.

Laura Wolf: I didn’t think I had an opinion on this and so I spoke about it with a few people and we got caught up in ideas about the democratization of music and how advancing technology has impacted upon the potential for originality. But then I remembered DONK. A force so unique and truly of a magnitude greater than hip hop or electronics.

What’s this all about?
links to other questions in this conversation are here

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One Response to “Mass Interview: Question 4 – Innovation”

  1. Mass Interview « Pagan Wanderer Lu’s Blog Says:

    […] By paganwandererlu Question 1: Originality Question 2: Lyrics Question 3: Background Question 4: Innovation Question 5: This will turn into a […]

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