RE: regarding innovation

Subject: RE: regarding innovation
From: David Hirst (
Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 23:52:48 EST

OK ... to go down the cultural route ... something that might be useful ...

Connor, Steven. Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to the Theories of
the Contemporary. Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford, 1989.

It is a bit dated now but quite a readable introduction to the area. It has
sections on postmodernism and architecture, the visual arts, literature,
performance, TV film and video, popular culture. Under "Cultural Politics"
there is a section on "Postmodernism, the Avant-Garde and Ethical
Possibility". Connor puts forward three different views on the relationship
of the Avant Garde & postmodernism, including the Avant-Garde's retreat
from politics into abstraction; a postmodern Avant-Garde (the participatory
art of Laurie Anderson & John Cage is cited); and a discussion of Rosalind
Krauss' discrediting of modernism's "cult of originality" and advocacy of a
"discourse of the copy" (This is where the innovation question comes in).

Hope this is helpful.



>From: Ross Bencina
>Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 12:16:08 +0100
>Subject: regarding innovation
>Hi All
>Greetings. I'm back after a few years out of this pond.. but something is
>bugging me, and i could think of no better place to discuss it, so here
>(apologies for the length)...
>I'm wondering about when interest in "innovation" or "the creation of new
>systems" and/or "originality" became an important focus for individual
>musical creation, and whether this is/was a historical phase, an artifact
>the pedagogical tendency to use new innovations as milestones to describe
>history, an intrinsic element of my/our definition of "art", part of our
>culture's obsession with "the creator", all, or none of the above etc.
>What I learnt at school was a history of innovations:
>Diatonic harmony and it's other related predecessors were a stable systems
>basis for musical composition for a few hundred years (accepting slow or
>sometimes drastic excursions), then the vienna school decided the whole
>system could be dismantled and reorganised. Around the same time Stravinsky
>(I gues Webern too) derided the barline, some other guys (Varese, Grainger,
>Rusollo) decided tuned instruments weren't necessary anyway you could just
>use sounds, and the rest of the 20th century is a role call of new systems
>and approaches (tunings, stochastics, etc). These days it's not uncommon
>composers to invent a totally new system for each composition.
>I know some of the facts, but I don't have a good enough grounding to say
>something like "Oh that's a manifestation of the general trajectory of
>Western thought in the late industrial period where people were mostly
>concerned with X,Y and Z due to A, B, and C, important themes were explored
>by I, II and III" -- not that that would necessarily satisfy me, but it
>might be a good place for me to start.
>Accepting that I probably need to go take a course in philosophy and art
>history, can anyone give me some hints or point me at something good to
>about the above themes?
>...while i'm talking about systems, what do you (or others) think about
>different approaches to systems innovation in art and music:
>- Apply existing system (write a sonata in C Major)
>- Modify existing system (take Xenakis' stochastics and put a new spin on
>- Combine multiple systems in a new way (take a Partch tuning and compose
>with chance operations)
>then you can get trans-sensory:
>- Make a painting and turn it into sound
>or interdisciplinary:
>- Model the physics of a saxophone, then scale it up to the size of a
>skyscraper and play it with a virtual inteligent tornado bred to play like
>Ravi Shankar using evolutionary algorithms...
>... i think i know it's a risk to be so "systems" centric... but that's how
>i'm thinking this morning .. and i would think someone has written abou
>Actually what I'm really interested in is music software systems and some
>concrete reasons why some people make their own, why others use existing
>systems etc. I think digging into the above might provide some useful
>clues.., does anyone want to join in?
>Best wishes
>mail2web - Check your email from the web at
> .

David Hirst
Senior Lecturer, Educational Design
Information and Education Services
University of Melbourne
Victoria, 3010
ph +61 3 8344 7568
Fax +61 3 8344 4341

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