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rob_giri
12-11-2004, 10:36 AM
Do we all agree that one of the great things about music is that its art that doesn't have to be viewed in the context of the artworld and can thus, thanks to 20th century experimental, be basically anything?

And better yet, how do we feel about the artworld in general

And do we agree that the term sound art is totally ridiculous because its basically electroaccoustic music that has the expectation of being conceptual and viewed within the artworld context, which in a way is sort of limitation (the term in itself suggesting that it is no longer music). With music you can do anything and put it on an album, but within the artworld it has to fulfill a certain ammount of limited expectations.

fair enough?

rob_giri
12-11-2004, 10:37 AM
Or do i just have a malicious and angry perspective on the artworld?

Rambler
12-11-2004, 11:15 AM
Certainly calling something as 'sound art' carries a whole bunch of expectations, but so does calling something 'music', doesn't it?

rob_giri
12-11-2004, 11:20 AM
No, I don't believe calling something music gives it any expectations. It can be anything, the 20th century avant garde has taught us that, surely... It all just depends what you know and what you've listened to i suppose. So maybe because i know more about music than i do about Art i make this statement? Perhaps...interesting though

Rambler
12-11-2004, 12:23 PM
But ultimately, although Cage, Fluxus and all the rest of them opened up the field so that everything can be brought into a musical work, we all still make distinctions between what is music and what isn't - these distinctions I think are made in fairly similar terms to those that help us decide for ourselves what we consider art and not-art. Actually, I think the boundaries for art are much broader than those for music (and I say this as someone who adores Cage). Cage himself had a pretty clear idea of where those boundaries lay for him: 4'33" is not just any old period of near silence - it's that period of near-silence when 4'33" is being performed. There is inbuilt into the concept of the piece a relatively old-fashioned idea of a beginning and an end, of the composer-score-performer-audience relationship, and that's partly founded on the fact that 4'33" is classified as 'music': it carries those expectations of a performance, made according more-or-less to the desires of a composer, to which an audience sits and listens, etc etc. That makes it - and almost any other musical work you could name - distinct from sound art, such as the Tate's Naumann piece. Does anyone walk into the Tate at the moment with an idea of a Naumann 'score' for his installation? Do they think of him as a 'composer' - with all that entails?

I think the point I'm making is that while some composers (not so much Cage, but others like Nam June Paik for example), and some artists in the opposite direction, have tried to compress the boundary between Art and Music, I just don't think that is actually possible. Your audience, at some point, will decide what it is they're listening to - is it art, is it music? - and once they have decided, their behaviour and their relationship to the work will adjust accordingly. And thus, the actual life of the work, its presence in the world becomes conditioned to that.

I think that can be a limitation for an artist; but I also think that any artist or musician will tell you that limitations and rules are essential to any aspect of creative work - and Cage, with his coins and his I-Ching tables, knew this as well as anyone.

redcrescent
12-11-2004, 01:12 PM
With music you can do anything and put it on an album, but within the artworld it has to fulfill a certain ammount of limited expectations.
I don't know why it should be different for music and for other forms of art. Surely when putting on a recording of 'anything' (or going to a concert) you approach it with some sort of expectation, informed or not. At the very least, you can expect to have to use your ears!
I think sound art is a way where you can confront people with sound/music in a way that does not let them prepare themselves for what they will hear and how they will hear it, an attempt to avoid the expectations that inevitably come into play (no matter how jaded your ears may be) whenever you consciously prepare your mind for processing musical input (whether you are dropping a needle on an unknown white label or getting dressed for a night at a new club).
I think the most interesting experiences with sound are those when you are taken by surprise, when you not sure of what you are hearing or even if you are hearing it, and possibly the best way of getting into such a situation is provided by things like sound installations.


Do we all agree that one of the great things about music is that its art that doesn't have to be viewed in the context of the artworld and can thus, thanks to 20th century experimental, be basically anything?
I think musical and artistic innovation is only perceived as 'radical' for a limited amount of time as concepts are absorbed and gradually assimilated into mainstream culture. I agree that the notion of music as 'anything' only seems so obvious to us now because of the work of dedicated people before us - we are standing on the shoulders of giants indeed!
But our idea of 'anything' as music, as liberating as that sounds, is a myth IMHO, rather it is 'everything' that has been mapped out to date and that we have educated ourselves to listen to, it is not 'everything' that is possible to do musically, otherwise we'd be at a standstill.

rob_giri
12-11-2004, 01:16 PM
But 4"33' wasn't so much concerning itself, it was a cry for people to not listen to the sound environment of the concert hall, but to any sound envrionment in general. It was conceptual only in the sense that it was concerning aestheticsm, and not theory. It was only given a set time period and a place as a composition to stress a point, to articulate an idea. The piece itself is extrememly limited, but that was not the point. It was saying that there are or at least should be no sonic limitations for musicians to work inside, it was about listening to the sounds of the world - and as an agenda i think Cage was successful.
The way that Varese differed from Cage, apart from the obvious, was that Cage brought the use of aleatoric sound outside the orchestral context, but didn't quite successfully bring it all the way out, that was done by 70 years of experimental music that followed. He was merely using the tradition of composer-score-performer-audience as a basis by which to articulate his point, and did it very well. If one then thinks about that relationship as a limition then we must bring in Roland Barthes The Death of the Author, but i haven't read that and don't know anything about it so lets forget it :)
More importantly i think the compression of Art and Music IS possible because all it requires is for one to forget those ridiculous, dogmatic labels and just treat what they are viewing as an object instead of an art-object, for them to appreciate it as sound instead of music. But at the same time, what Cage was stressing was that we can keep the label of Music and apply it to everything and it will work itself out - but ultimately it didn't work itself out, for in order to do so the idea would have to hit the mainstream consciousness and everybody in the world would have to accept the fact that anything could be music and we could go from there. What essentially holds Cageian philosophy back is the fact that most people don't know about it, and because they don't know about it they will continue to express their view of music as having strucutal, compositional limitations and this will ultimately effect the consensus and inherent definition of what Music itself is.
And if it to enjoy a piece of aestheticism one has to define for themselves what traditional lineage it belongs to (ie reaction ajusts accordingly) then more work has to be done to stop this meaningless defining position and for people to simple forget about it and enjoy it for what it is. Then this brings the idea of the elimination of the space that exists between an artwork and the viewer, whether it be because of tradition, dogma, or that the piece of art is a icon of consumer capitalism (whatever tickles your fancy ;))

Lastly there are some good and bad things about limitations. The good things are many. For instance, if you think about genres of music, dance and 'urban' music being a perfect example - a genre itself is merely a template, a set of guidelines, a set of limitations by which to go about creating a piece of music. The period of deterritorialisation that occurs in music culture happens when everybody basically goes about finding all the many possibilities within that group of limitations, filling them out, exploiting the guidelines. Then you think about music synthesis practically - if one has a monumental amount of equipment and software that they hardly know how to use, what they come up with will probably be nothing compared to what a guy who knows how to use Fruityloops really well does. And then you think of Dogma'95. Thomas Vinterberg, on creating Festen, remarked how he found the Vow of Chastity to be almost liberating rather than restricting, because he was able to make the best that he could inside limitations, instead of being exposed to limited possibilites and getting confused. So limitations can help the creative process, which can, most of the time, be very hectic, chaotic, and frustrating
BUT, at the same time you cannot deny that limitations in the melodic, rhythmic, timbral and textural sense can bring about standardisation, dogmatic stagnation and overall boring creation of the same old thing. Isn't it the most honourable and greatest motivation one can have for creating art to make something 'new' instead of simply creating something which has been done so many times before.

rob_giri
12-11-2004, 01:17 PM
...or something...... :D

Rambler
12-11-2004, 01:51 PM
you cannot deny that limitations in the melodic, rhythmic, timbral and textural sense can bring about standardisation, dogmatic stagnation and overall boring creation of the same old thing.

Of course not, but we're all agreed that that would be bad composition; by the same token, millions of musicians working for almost a thousand years have yet to exhaust all the possibilities of those limitations. (and good for them! :) )


More importantly I think the compression of Art and Music IS possible because all it requires is for one to forget those ridiculous, dogmatic labels and just treat what they are viewing as an object instead of an art-object, for them to appreciate it as sound instead of music

True - and I'd be the last person to legislate against how listeners/audiences reacted to a work. But firstly I think the vast majority of people are very happy making the distinction between art and music (and even if we can't actually draw a solid boundary between the two, we all instinctively know where that line is); and secondly, many musicians inscribe a sort of 'musical-ness' into their work, a kind of cultural meta-tagging, and artists do the same (at the crudest level if you display it on a stage in a concert hall, or publish it on a CD it's music; if you put it in a gallery it's art). So within seconds of viewing the object, 99 times out of a hundred you know whether it's art or music (or theatre or film or literature), and away you go.

But, y'know, this comes down to where our personal distinctions lie. Attractive as the idea sounds of a cultural world unattached to genre distinctions and the like, I perrsonally don't think it's workable - and actually, most of the interesting work done in all fields in all periods is at some level pushing those boundaries. If they didn't exist, what would there be to push? (And then, ironically, I think you would get stagnation).