Re: Re : (junk yard dog in) hidden place

Subject: Re: Re : (junk yard dog in) hidden place
From: Owen Green (
Date: Wed Sep 14 2005 - 13:12:40 EDT

Morgan Sutherland wrote:
> But is there something wrong with judging music based on how
> innovative it is?

I don't think it's a stable concept. There is a disjuncture between
innovativeness (sorry) as individually perceived, and as a structure in
wider discourse. Individual perceptions of what may or may not sound
innovative are mediated not only by the individual's experience up to
the instance of perception, but also by a whole bunch of contextual
variables we may apply to what we hear - so we may judge innovation in
terms relative to a genre we associate the music with, and also within a
historical context ('innovative for its time'). In any case, I'm still
not sure that it has any bearing on whether one is engaged by the
experience or not.

Within wider discourse, innovation becomes something measured against
some assumed collective experience (here be canons), and, again,
relative to whatever boundaries that discourse places itself within.
Within this context, though, 'innovation', like anything else, can
become political depending, for instance, on how what constitutes an
assumed collective experience is decided, and so on. I, for one, am
unhappy with the idea of innovation being a criterion for the way in
which a community / culture ascribe value to work, because it is so
vulnerable to politicisation and doesn't map reliably onto whether
someone might enjoy the work (not to mention being one of those things
that can encourage the composer towards paralysing worry about reception
before ever finishing anything).

>And what is the
> purpose of technology? The purpose of technology is to break ground,
> invent, create new things never before seen.

Can't agree with that. Technology, as a general, abstract concept, has
no 'purpose' without the social and political structures that surround a
specific instance's genesis, proliferation and usage. With such
structures taken into account, I don't think it's safe to say that any
particular technology exists solely because it can.

That all felt a bit hand-wavy, sorry if it comes across like that.


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