Professor of Contemporary Music, Director of Music, Technology and Innovation – Institute for Sonic Creativity (or MTI2)). llandy.dmu.ac.uk/
Art for Art’s Sake vs. Art for Life’s Sake: There’s no need to avoid tradition within innovative sonic creativity
Having undertaken my studies in the 1970s, I experienced several radically innovative initiatives within music where one might speak of forms of antithesis departing from music’s thesis, that is, music as it had been known globally for centuries. These departures included the exclusive use of dissonance, any sounds as musical material, and, of course, Cage’s various forms of emancipating music from its rules. The ‘me epoch’ that followed my student years again largely involved antithetical musical languages. Given the marginalisation of many of these approaches to music, this talk offers the thought that one might consider Hegel’s third phase of the triad, ‘synthesis’ as a way forward.
A logical consequence of this consideration would be to optimise the combination of art for art’s sake with its partner, art for life’s sake, where including lived sonic experience forms part of a composer’s mix. This talk, based on my personal experience and a recent book On the Music of Sounds and the Music of Things written with John Richards, proposes that innovation does not need to disappear when combining the known with the unknown. This leads towards the further suggestion that working sonically within sampling culture as I do (and within Richards’ DIY culture) might lead towards new forms of 21st century folk music, that is, music of the people, that is, a variety of communities of interest and of participation, as opposed to elite music made for micro-communities of specialists (although there is nothing inherently wrong with that).