The Competitive Streak.

luka's been at pains to stress the value of having a foil, someone to bounce ideas off, to be "neck and neck with" when doing anything creative, and close-knit scenes and communities have certainly proved fertile ground, but how crucial is competition to the creative process?
 

mvuent

Every dog has its day.
interesting question, obviously some great artists were famously driven by competition (e.g. brian wilson w/ beatles) but then there's also a very understandable reaction that competition isn't really what art is about. ("competitions are for horses, not artists" as bartok put it.) my guess is that anything that acts as a sort of thorn in your side pushing you forward, keeping you from getting complacent, is valuable for the creative process. so competition/having a foil might be only one way to achieve that?
 
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mvuent

Every dog has its day.
maybe you can achieve that just by being really curious about things? just jumping into things without worrying if they're better than what you did before. that's often the angle a lot of producers and DIY types appeal to in interviews. however true it actually is.

but yeah internal competition/drive is interesting and seemingly pretty rare--to the point where I wonder how much it really exists at all. seems like even a lot of artists who are considered eccentric individualists have creative foils of some kind.

(though not all, surely? who is the best example of an artist who thrived in total creative isolation, totally removed from any external competition?)
 
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mvuent

Every dog has its day.
I was thinking of them too. but yeah, even they were surrounded by people who were musicians or 'get it' from a very young age, and Ae have also said that there's a competitive element between the two of them.

you're probably right, but I really want to think it's possible for some reason. maybe someone like conlon nancarrow (second time I've mentioned him here today lol) would be an example, though I doubt I'd have any idea what to make of his music.
 
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thirdform

Well-known member
christian vander maybe? though I've heard he's also a nazi so who knows...

I still like that mekanik destrictew commando album even if i read it as pulp and not high art.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Wow, my thread went down like a lead balloon. Must have been the dark era of dissensus with only three people posting.
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
as a music writer, one thing i realised over the year that's a little odd is that in amongst all the many overlapping motives (and competing with other writers is one of them, a creative motivation for sure - even with writers that are friends and comrades), along with all that, there is also a drive to compete with the music - to match it.

a strange rivalrous impulse, perhaps a reaction to its power over you - or just envy that something could be that good, that powerful.
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
i do think it's a problem for a left-wing, socialistic politics of culture, that the competitive, individualistic, aggressive drives are so crucial to cultural ferment and individual achievement

is pop music intrinsically meshed with capitalist desire?

one place where that plays out is during postpunk with Scritti Politti where the band styles itself as a collective, to the point of having loads of non-musicians and hangers-on contributing to the discursive roil around the band, and sometimes onstage with the core trio, making a noise, improvising songs that are made up on the spot.... but gradually that all collapses and it's revealed that actually Green is the leader and always has been, the one who writes all the tunes and as far as i know all the lyrics - and that (for an avowed Communist) he's pretty damn competitive and determined to be a pop star. the other original members one by one drop out (replaced by a drum machine in one case) and what's left is Green, who forms a very capitalistic-Eighties style entity, a production company, with him as CEO.

you could say the dropping of the collectivist facade is a kind of hypocrisy, or the collapsing of that hypocrisy - an act that they were playing out because of the particular DIY culture and politics of postpunk - but i'd prefer to see it as a dynamic matrix of contradictions that shakes out interestingly, and also drives the evolution of the sound.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
i do think it's a problem for a left-wing, socialistic politics of culture, that the competitive, individualistic, aggressive drives are so crucial to cultural ferment and individual achievement

is pop music intrinsically meshed with capitalist desire?

one place where that plays out is during postpunk with Scritti Politti where the band styles itself as a collective, to the point of having loads of non-musicians and hangers-on contributing to the discursive roil around the band, and sometimes onstage with the core trio, making a noise, improvising songs that are made up on the spot.... but gradually that all collapses and it's revealed that actually Green is the leader and always has been, the one who writes all the tunes and as far as i know all the lyrics - and that (for an avowed Communist) he's pretty damn competitive and determined to be a pop star. the other original members one by one drop out (replaced by a drum machine in one case) and what's left is Green, who forms a very capitalistic-Eighties style entity, a production company, with him as CEO.

you could say the dropping of the collectivist facade is a kind of hypocrisy, or the collapsing of that hypocrisy - an act that they were playing out because of the particular DIY culture and politics of postpunk - but i'd prefer to see it as a dynamic matrix of contradictions that shakes out interestingly, and also drives the evolution of the sound.


or is it that gramscian counter-hegemony politics were always intended to dominate the class rather than build up its confidence? I see more potentials in free improv here, in fact what i like about that scene is a lot of the stuff released is basically recordings of live sessions. though in that sense they are all rooted in very high art music. some kind of free polyrhythmic improv session would be good though. i dunno about scritti i just don't think gartside had all that worked out politics, like, i always saw him as a narcissist more than anything. compared to the guys at praxis and alien underground 15 years later his politics were like, hopelessly anachronistic. oh wow we've discovered deconstruction. well done.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I mean re gartside I was thinking of this:

Another concert that took me by surprise was a festival in Krakow, Poland. There were 40,000 people there, none of them Turkish. The second I said, “Yaz Gazeteci…”, the crowd roared. People were chanting, ‘Selda! Selda!’ I had to say something, so do you know what I said to them? ‘Thank you amigos!’

https://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/interviews/shane-woolman-speaks-to-selda-bagcan


It does make me a bit proud that selda will be remembered in 50 years time whilst scritti will be an utterly irrelevant footnote, but it does maybe hint at having to tune into the cultural sentiments of the people rather than push a university marxist discourse on them through music. like the stuff i like from scritti is their cod reggae, it's bait as fuck but it worked then. but his sweetist girl stuff is utterly narcissistic fuck the thicko proles deconstruction stuff. a lot of the songs she (selda) sang were by bards who travelled all across the country, some of them are even anonymous. more interpretations as opposed to covers. people say that england had a vibrant working class folk culture at the time but i highly it even vaguely approximated anything we had in the 70s-80s. of course with the political developments folk music was pretty much made into a sophisticates game and europop was pushed on people almost incessantly (in turkey given the repression and secrecy of drug culture it is much more necessary to have curators...)
 
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