Progression of music
In this literature review we will be looking at reading based around the idea of progression within music. Comparisons between different pieces of text regarding the current position of music, and If possible, the future of music and how it can progress. The main books in discussion will consist of, “Simon Reynolds:Retaining”, “David Gauntlet:Making Is Connecting”, Tall:The Political Economy of Music. A lot of the quotes that will be in discussion will revolve around the theme of “post repetition”.
This Is a theory regarding the structure or stage of current music, an Idea Tall briefly discusses In context with three other previous stages he believes to have occurred. This also explains the choice to discuss “Retaining”, the themes from this book tie in with the concept of repetition and revolves around firm beliefs that current music, and also society are trapped in the past. However “Making is connecting” takes a more subjective role in the discussion as it is primarily based around the individual creator in the sense of their feeling and creativity, and does not so much Involve the influence of any capitalist ideas.
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We will first draw some theories from Tails. Draws up the comparison of Music running alongside society, and at points beyond. In short, Tall draws the comparison in which music runs along side social order and how the mindset of society, at any given time, is reflected onto the art of music. Not Just in the literal sense as would be applied to such era’s as Punk, but in the progression of music over time. “its styles and economic organization are ahead of the rest of society because it explores, much faster than material reality can, the entire range of capabilities in a given code. (Tails,1977) Here Tall is referring to music as a sped up representation of society at any given time. This is why his current claim on post repetition is interesting as any other stage or progression in music, according to Tails, could replicate that of societies in the future. The question regarding this is whether it is possible for music or society, to considerably progress onto what could be seen as another stage of progression. If the idea of post-repeating is feasible, then it could be seen that society, let alone music, are currently trapped in a repeating existence that isn’t regressing, only expanding.
However for the time being it is more important to look back if there is any chance of looking forward. This is where Italy’s four stages of music form in “Political Economy of Music”, and during the last stage, the idea of post repeating is bought about. “Sacrifice” refers to the point in musical history where no sound was recorded, written, and the art of music was completely detached from anything physical. It was simply Just an oral process. Music was simply a way of transferring current cultural and social feelings from one person to another. “Representing”
This term refers to the first printed music, 1500-1900 AD. Printed music was the first form of music that was seen as a commodity, it could be seen as the first time any form of technology had an influence upon human emotion. Tall refers to this period as Representation because the performer would have to represent and play the music that was printed for an audience. “Repeating” The term repeating refers to the time period of around 1900 to the present. The term is applied by Tall to any recorded sound of broadcasted sound which was made possible by technological advancements.
Even though this meant music as an industry could really excel and prophet, the first mindset of music being a commodity was established the moment it could be written and performed. However, according to Tails, the stage of repeating completely took over and made the ideas behind representation, now irrelevant. “The advent of recording thoroughly shattered representation. First produced as a way of preserving its trace, it instead replaced it as the driving force of becomes a simulacrum of the record: an audience generally familiar with the artist’s recordings attends to hear a live replication…
For popular music, this as meant the gradual death of small bands, who have been reduced to faithful imitations of recording stars. For the classical repertory, it means the danger… Of imposing all of the aesthetic criteria of repetition?made of rigor and cold calculation?upon representation. ” (Tails,1977) “Post Repetition” The term post repetition was a term Tall briefly refers to as the next state from Repeating, this is also backed up by Italy’s Chapter on Composing and how this new process is not undertaken for exchange or use value.
Even though Italy’s theories, as well as many other philosophers surrounding he subject, can be seen ambitious and at some times overly vague, this idea of a post repetition makes sense and would revolve around society at this moment and how we are progressing. This is why it is of interest as to whether music can genuinely progress, or whether we are infinitely trapped within a post era where Italy’s terms of exchange time and use time, are becoming ever more irrelevant. Tall labels “Exchange-Time” as the time one would spend earning the spend listening to the bought item.
The ideas of exchange time and use time, are now seen as words which don’t bear relevance to a vast amount of current music. With the massive surge of the internet and accessibility, the value of music has morphed, and also the intentions of the people making it. This new activity is NOT undertaken for its exchange or use value. It is undertaken solely for the pleasure of the person who does it (its “producer”). Such activity involves a radical rejection of the specialized roles (composer, performer, audience) that dominated all previous music. Data”, 1977) We will now relate this to and investigate current musical practice and the mindset of the “Producer”. Simon Reynolds book “Retaining”, and “Making is connecting” by David Gauntlet both investigate these ideas. Retaining is written by Reynolds with belief that the progression of music is now non existent and modern music of the popular culture is based upon regurgitation of past trends/ideas/styles. We live in a society that is obsessed with it’s own past, instead of moving into a new future.
Reynolds does also include mostly all aspects of daily life into his theories and how our society is looking back instead of looking forward. Artifacts of its immediate past, but there has never before been a society that is able to access the immediate past so easily and so copiously. (Reynolds, 2011) Here we see Reynolds referring to the society we are currently surrounded by, as one “obsessed” with it’s own past. He also gives appreciation to the fact that we live in a world where modern phenomenon’s, such as the internet and media , give society the power to access the immediate past so easily and freely.
This is key to part of the reasoning as to why Reynolds believes as a whole that we are living in a “Retraining”, a world that is looking backwards instead of forwards. It is a pretty indisputable fact, that due to the surge of technology and the lily advantages in our life, we have access to the things we never would have had before. However Reynolds follows up on this point, putting the obsession of the past, into the reasoning that it is because we are nostalgic and almost envious of it. Is nostalgia stopping our culture’s ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward and so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times? ” (Reynolds, 2011) stopped moving forward in general, whether or not he is finding reason through nostalgia. A lot of Reynolds beliefs come through in forms of musical practice’s such s sampling, covering artists, anniversary concerts, greatest hits albums, generally repetitive process’. We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy commemoration” (Reynolds,2011) “Could it be that the greatest danger to the future of music culture is it’s past”. (Reynolds, 2011) These are quotes from the very first page of the introduction and sum up his beliefs straight away. He goes as far to say that the end of pop culture will not come with one big bang, but it is through a gradual process which we are already living in. “This is the way that pop ends, not with a BANG but with a box set whose Ruth disc you never get around to playing”. Reynolds, 2011) He then, shortly after, puts the reasoning upon the producer; “The very people you would’ve once expected to produce (as artists) or champion (as consumers) the non-traditional and the groundbreaking – that’s “The avian-grade is now an air©re-grade. ” (Reynolds, 2011) These quotes are portraying the “modern producer” as the fundamental reason as to why music isn’t progressing. This, to Reynolds, could be seen as an environmental issue due to the fact our society is constantly exploring the past and repeating itself.
He described the process of the modern producer as airier-grade” meaning it is the producer themselves who are trapped in the past. However, as previously mentioned, a lot of the reasoning as to why we may be living in a culture where we are looking back, is due to the fact we can. Technology and the way we have advanced as a culture has enabled us to store huge amounts of digital artifacts through mediums such as; ‘pods, computers, phones, sound-systems, cad’s, records, the internet.
We can also experience music and media in ways like never before; stereo 5:1, 3-D image/sound, and not to mention all the ways in which to do so prior to these. To Reynolds, the abilities to store and look back, are what we have become victim to. “We’ve become victims of our ever-increasing capacity to store, organism, instantly access, and share vast amounts of cultural data. Not only has there immediate past, but there has never before been a society that is able to access the past so easily and so copiously. Reynolds, 2011) This quote is mainly focused on the fact we are able to easily access, store, share data like never before. However Reynolds does use the phrase, “we’ve become”, this could suggest that our access to all this data as only become a robber of recent time. Reynolds never seems to really pick at the upraise of vinyl, tape, or the initial upraise of cad’s. The start of the sass’s is when he believes our modern culture and popular music industry lost all forward thinking and started seeking past ideas and past trends. Instead of being the threshold to the future, the first ten years of the twenty-first century turned out to be the ‘Re’ Decade. ” (Reynolds, 2011) Here this quote describes the start of the sass’s, as being the start of a retro decade instead of being the start of new original ideas. Perhaps the first time popular culture fully shifted it’s attention to the past. This brings up the question as to whether technological advancements such as Amp’s, I Pods and the mass growth of file-sharing are the reason as to why we are so sentimental and look back for inspiration in modern music practice.
Or is it more to do with the “producer”, rather than the ways of consumption. Has the person creating and making the material lost the will to look forward If Italy’s point of music’s “styles and economic organization”, being “ahead” of the rest of society then then what would be the outcome of the sass’s “Re-decade” as Reynolds dubbed it? Could that be the point our society has truly reached a form of creative standardization. Where new ideas and creative instinct is solely based upon repetition of past ideas.
This could be what Tall would’ve been suggesting through the idea of “Post Repetition”. There is no forward movement in the progression of music as an art anymore, only the ways in which we experience it. However back to the point of the producer, “Making is connecting”, written by David Gauntlet investigates the process of creativity and can be related to how this has an effect on current musical practices and the position of popular culture on modern music and inevitably the question of progression. Making is connecting” is fundamentally about how people make things to engage with the world around them, and build connections with others through this process. Gauntlet believes that due to the benefits of popular culture in terms of the internet, file sharing, and platforms that enable people to share their creative work, we are seeing a shift in mentality. Gauntlet describes this as a shift from a’ “Sit back and be told culture”, to a “making and doing culture”. (Gauntlet 2009)