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  • What does 'experimental' mean, in 'experimental music'?

    I'm really not entirely sure....



    I'll relate my own 'case history'.



    I tend to not listen enough to current music, and I tend to ignore genres. I find it hilarious that in what are ostensibly experimental genres like 'noise music' there are seemingly infinite sub genres - which to me are the antithesis of experimental music. I say this inquisitively, not confrontationally (sp?) but how is something experimental if it conforms to a very narrow sub genre? '(noise with wall to wall projectile vomit and habanero peppers, bright orange')



    I tend to use that adjective when describing my own music because I can't think of anything else. I AM in a sense experimenting. Since I'm trying not, deliberately to make music that conforms to anything really, I'm working from various technical levels - routing, unusual settings, etc, to surprise myself, and then eventually to find things that please me. The theory always is that working without preconceptions (as much as possible) allows me to find stuff that I wouldn't have preconceived.



    But I'm not entirely sure that this fits with the definition of the term. Does it only refer to the final product? And how, exactly? These are questions that I ask myself. Usually when I'm less drunk.

  • zoink
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by droolmaster0
    View Post

    And maybe here is your most fundamental confusion.








    LOL.



    (That's music, btw. Me laughing out loud).

    Leave a comment:


  • droolmaster0
    replied
    And maybe here is your most fundamental confusion. What is music is NOT a matter of consensus. You confuse your own personal taste with the very basic notion of what music is. While the exact definition might be open to debate, what has evolved in the 20th century is that music is really just sounds organized in time by a human being. 'organized' of course, in the loosest sense.



    So the sound a small animal makes when you step on its tail, or the sound that a someone makes when he reads your post, etc, are not music in themselves, but if recorded and presented as such, are certainly music. If no other thought goes into it, it likely would be quite horrible music, but the point is that you can't confuse the evaluation of quality with the basic notion of music itself. You could take those recordings of animal noises, and start processing them in various ways, and at some point the piece might start sounding interesting. You can't objectify where exactly that threshold is.









    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post



    ...Some guy with 31 face piercings, lots of black clothing, and a cigarette-burnt Microkorg might assert that the sound a small animal makes when you step on its tail is 'music.' But that doesn't make it so, just because he says it is. What is defined as 'music' is ALWAYS a product of consensus....




    Leave a comment:


  • girevik
    replied
    I do believe I understand you just fine, zoink. You don't like noise. Period.



    All this stuff about "I need to know the artist's intent" just sounds like excuses for why you don't like noise. There's no need for that, really. Just like I don't need to explain why I hate the Paganini Caprices and excessively hoppy beers. Personal taste is personal taste.

    Leave a comment:


  • zoink
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by girevik
    View Post

    You left the impression that you do have this trouble, because you used the word "conflate".




    I used the word 'conflate' to describe what some do. Not me.











    Quote Originally Posted by girevik
    View Post



    Ah, so you don't like noise - like what Allerian, Merzbow, Cage, many others, have done.






    Not to get semiotic, but the 'noise' I referred to is not 'noise music', but just noise. The sound of a garbage truck passing by. The sound of a 5 (or 25) year old in the keyboard section of Guitar Center banging on keys and twisting knobs with no inkling about music or art in general.



    Some people like to make noise, because it feels like efficacy to do this. Some also like to shoot guns, light firecrackers, and wreck other people's sandcastles.



    But to refer to all forms of noise as music is to undermine the meanings of both words.



    And my reference to "good" experimental music was to parrot others' use of the expression in this thread. It goes without saying that "good" is subjective. But there's another layer to it when you start talking about substantive elements of experimental music like intent (or lack of it).



    AGAIN, CONTEXT MATTERS. REASONS FOR DOING SOMETHING ARE IMPORTANT. IN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC, OFTEN THE REASONS FOR DOING IT ARE THE ACTUAL ART.



    Moreover, I never said that music has to be conventional to be "good." Another straw man.



    Some guy with 31 face piercings, lots of black clothing, and a cigarette-burnt Microkorg might assert that the sound a small animal makes when you step on its tail is 'music.' But that doesn't make it so, just because he says it is. What is defined as 'music' is ALWAYS a product of consensus.



    LOTS of people want to be "musicians" nowadays. But fewer than ever want to do the work to become one. When you're young, you look for ways to impress your friends, maybe get laid, appear "deep" and sophisticated, fit in with a subculture. The list goes on.



    But let's not CONFLATE these motives with the motives of the Picassos and Braques of this world.

    Leave a comment:


  • girevik
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    I personally don't have any trouble distinguishing between the two. I'm just deploring the sheer amount of bad 'experimental music' that is made by people who use the term as an excuse for lacking skill and a real point in doing it.




    You left the impression that you do have this trouble, because you used the word "conflate".









    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    My point is that a lot of people make noise and call it "experimental music" because there's nothing else to call it. It degrades and confuses the meaning of the term.




    Ah, so you don't like noise - like what Allerian, Merzbow, Cage, many others, have done.



    I dunno if it would have helped if you'd admitted this earlier in the thread.









    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    They might also argue that their work is not done in contrast to conventional tonality, harmony, counterpoint, etc., but I would argue that much of it obviously is, and much of "good" experimental music is comprised of variations on accepted conventional musical themes and methods.




    What you think is "good" is a function of your personal taste. It's clearer to me now, I think. You need something conventional for the music to be considered "good". Reich's "It's Gonna Rain" would never work for you, because it's just tape recordings of a sermon, artfully manipulated in and out of phase with each other per the composer's directions.









    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    I've known, worked with, and talked to a LOT of experimental musicians over the past 25 or so years (Austin is PACKED with them), and ALL of them were very up front about this. There was nothing embarrassing about it.




    They should have no reason to be embarrassed, if they are serious about their art.



    Ok, so you don't like noise. Enjoy the music that you do like! That's what I prefer to do - no point in focusing on people who make music I hate.

    Leave a comment:


  • zoink
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by droolmaster0
    View Post

    I obviously am not serious about my craft, and also obviously have not thought about any of these issues. I am very grateful to you for pointing this all out.




    Only you can really know this about yourself, under present circumstances. I personally don't know you.



    It's big of you to admit it, though.

    Leave a comment:


  • droolmaster0
    replied
    I obviously am not serious about my craft, and also obviously have not thought about any of these issues. I am very grateful to you for pointing this all out.











    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    I personally don't have any trouble distinguishing between the two. I'm just deploring the sheer amount of bad 'experimental music' that is made by people who use the term as an excuse for lacking skill and a real point in doing it.



    My point is that a lot of people make noise and call it "experimental music" because there's nothing else to call it. It degrades and confuses the meaning of the term.



    They would argue that this ....











    ... is the artistic equivalent of this ....











    ... and I'm saying that they're not equivalent. One is based on a profound and insightful perception of reality, and the other is a random scribble.



    They might also argue that their work is not done in contrast to conventional tonality, harmony, counterpoint, etc., but I would argue that much of it obviously is, and much of "good" experimental music is comprised of variations on accepted conventional musical themes and methods.



    I've known, worked with, and talked to a LOT of experimental musicians over the past 25 or so years (Austin is PACKED with them), and ALL of them were very up front about this. There was nothing embarrassing about it. Most of them were formally trained musicians (though not all), and were quick to point out how they were exploring inversions, twists, and variations on what amounted to the ways that nature works and the ways that humans think. And it just so happens that many of the natural features of sound itself are, you guessed it, accounted for in modern music theory.



    Again, experimental musicians who are serious about their craft and spend years working at it tend to be very up front about why they're experimenting, and what they're expressing or reacting to. In many cases the experiment is not even about the music itself, but the event of playing it as analogous to some other aspect of life or existence. It's an ontological shadow play, which itself can be quite beautiful. But it also has to mean something to the listener, and every good artist understands this.




    Leave a comment:


  • zoink
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by girevik
    View Post

    In other words, you may have trouble distinguishing between experimental music made by a skilled artist and experimental music made by an unskilled one.



    I don't have this trouble, because I've listened to enough of this music to be able to discern the difference. I can tell the difference between a piece like "Imaginary Landscape #1" by John Cage, and monkeys banging on metal things. You can too, if you have sincere interest in listening to this music, and start listening to a lot of it.




    I personally don't have any trouble distinguishing between the two. I'm just deploring the sheer amount of bad 'experimental music' that is made by people who use the term as an excuse for lacking skill and a real point in doing it.



    My point is that a lot of people make noise and call it "experimental music" because there's nothing else to call it. It degrades and confuses the meaning of the term.



    They would argue that this ....











    ... is the artistic equivalent of this ....











    ... and I'm saying that they're not equivalent. One is based on a profound and insightful perception of reality, and the other is a random scribble.



    They might also argue that their work is not done in contrast to conventional tonality, harmony, counterpoint, etc., but I would argue that much of it obviously is, and much of "good" experimental music is comprised of variations on accepted conventional musical themes and methods.



    I've known, worked with, and talked to a LOT of experimental musicians over the past 25 or so years (Austin is PACKED with them), and ALL of them were very up front about this. There was nothing embarrassing about it. Most of them were formally trained musicians (though not all), and were quick to point out how they were exploring inversions, twists, and variations on what amounted to the ways that nature works and the ways that humans think. And it just so happens that many of the natural features of sound itself are, you guessed it, accounted for in modern music theory.



    Again, experimental musicians who are serious about their craft and spend years working at it tend to be very up front about why they're experimenting, and what they're expressing or reacting to. In many cases the experiment is not even about the music itself, but the event of playing it as analogous to some other aspect of life or existence. It's an ontological shadow play, which itself can be quite beautiful. But it also has to mean something to the listener, and every good artist understands this.

    Leave a comment:


  • girevik
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by zoink
    View Post

    I'm referring to the possible conflation between the experimental musician who has skill and makes music with some kind of meaning or intention, and the random dabbler who just makes noise. I've maintained all along that it's not just what you do, but "why" you do it that also matters.




    In other words, you may have trouble distinguishing between experimental music made by a skilled artist and experimental music made by an unskilled one.



    I don't have this trouble, because I've listened to enough of this music to be able to discern the difference. In the case of the former, there is some kind of discernable organization going on. Even in free improvisation, a performance may commence chaotically, but if all participants are skilled, they discover a structure together rather quickly, like two or more people settling on a conversational topic and developing the conversation from that point.



    I can tell the difference between a piece like "Imaginary Landscape #1" by John Cage, and monkeys banging on metal things. You can too, if you have sincere interest in listening to this music, and start listening to a lot of it.



    As for the relationship between an experimental artist and his (or her) "experiment", you could always try asking the artist or reading up on that artist. There are quite a few books and articles on Cage for example. I think this would be more productive than going after the hypothetical dabblers, the monkeys - the strawmen that are too easy to knock down.

    Leave a comment:


  • droolmaster0
    replied
    I'm not sure what suggests that the final product needs to be chaotic. Ultimately the evaluation of experimental music is pretty similar to conventional music, though the person doing the evaluating may not have similar experience. I think it comes down to various factors of whether one is 'drawn into' the work, moved by it (in some sense), attracted to the way the sounds are used, etc. To say that I try to 'surprise' myself in various ways, and that I do not want to be in total control of the eventual outcome does not imply (to me) that I'm looking for some random junk at the end. Not at all.











    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Member
    View Post

    Sorry about that last post. Came home rather drunk from a debate party last night... still trying to remember what my frame of thought there was, but I know it had something to do with this:







    There's a few things in there that suggests an element of chaos and negation of expectations and the methods being used.




    Leave a comment:


  • droolmaster0
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by Allerian
    View Post

    And for what its worth, sometimes experiemental music sounds exactly the same as "regular" music but is being created or controlled in a new way.




    I would hesitate to call music that uses some experimental methods, but whose result is entirely conventional, 'experimental music'. there is obviously disagreement on this. But it seems very strange to me to encounter, say, a very conventional country song on youtube, describe it as such, and then be corrected by someone who then described how the person used various techniques to compose this very conventional music. I don't think that this is what is generally meant by 'experimental music', except by people who are more immersed in conventional music and think that they are doing something really unconventional.

    Leave a comment:


  • zoink
    replied






    Quote Originally Posted by Allerian
    View Post

    And for what its worth, sometimes experiemental music sounds exactly the same as "regular" music but is being created or controlled in a new way.




    +1

    Leave a comment:


  • Re-Member
    replied
    Sorry about that last post. Came home rather drunk from a debate party last night... still trying to remember what my frame of thought there was, but I know it had something to do with this:









    Quote Originally Posted by droolmaster0
    View Post

    I precisely DON'T want to make music in which I know the outcome, and I want the result to diverge as much as possible from my expectation. I want to be surprised by what I'm getting. The technique, for me, involves many things - knowing the gear well enough to hold on for dear life and find things that surprise and delight me, learning to unlearn certain presuppositions about playing the violin, trying to improvise in new ways, etc - but always with the notion that the end result must please me. At the same time, I don't think that the methods that I used on some particular day are important in themselves, and I don't think (unless it's purely for professional interest) that the listener should really care about them.".




    There's a few things in there that suggests an element of chaos and negation of expectations and the methods being used.

    Leave a comment:


  • Allerian
    replied
    And for what its worth, sometimes experiemental music sounds exactly the same as "regular" music but is being created or controlled in a new way.

    Leave a comment:













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