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

Subject: Re: Re : (junk yard dog in) hidden place
From: miriam clinton (iriXx) (
Date: Thu Sep 15 2005 - 09:33:25 EDT

Ned Bouhalassa wrote:

> Miriam,
> Of course, I didn't mean that he _wouldn't_ be bored if the
> electronica artists he was listening to _had_ studied ea! It's just
> that, from my experience, listening to a young, very respected
> electronica artist do something 'fresh' that Pierre Henry was doing 40
> years ago (listen to a Janek Schaefer show with your eyes closed), or
> hearing a live electronica perfomer replicate what Subotnick did in
> the early 70s (live David Kristian) can be quite boring to us 'in the
> know'. The advantage of studying ea is that you can have a greater
> sense of perspective, you can better forge your own distinct path
> because you know what has already been accomplished.

again, respectfully, i disagree on this point. I find it interesting
when two paths evolve through entirely seperate means towards the same
goal - it will always produce different and i believe, differing and
exciting results. however, on the point of freshness the most vital
point remains the composer behind the toon - do they have that elusive
'IT'? one can do all the study in the world, or remain unexposed to
academia, or be listeners to a mixture of both academic and the
underground scene (something we both share) but the determination of
freshness will always be that 'IT' we generally call talent but which is
far more elusive than mere 'talent'. yes, i'm just as sick and tired of
'Fresh New Trendy Artist' labels being slapped on to anyone who drags
out an upside down turntable in the underground scene as much as the
latest honors student who can quote every line of their acoustmatics
textbooks and integrate it into their works (i'm even sick and tired of
the words 'the underground scene' but for want of a better 'label')...
but study itself is not necessarily the answer. 'IT' runs deeper than
study. 'IT' can exist entirely outside of and independent of study. (i
must listen to Orbital again sometime soon...)

That is not to say that I condone reinventing the wheel. But I have had
the same experience in approaching the same direction as had been
invented 1000 years ago via an entirely seperate method - as an
instrumental composer i came up with a harmonic 'system' which turned
out to be identical to the music of Georgian folk music of the 10th
century. I was quite freaked out to say the least when I heard it and
then studied it. but yes, i did study the scripts and made sure that i
did not entirely reinvent the wheel - apart from the Georgian music
being exciting to discover (and dig out of obscure libraries in
Amsterdam) it would have been a waste of time. But i do not consider the
piece i wrote before hearing Georgian music to be stale, bad, or
otherwise a waste of time - in fact it was the best thing i ever wrote
in instrumental music before burning out entirely for several years and
rediscovering myself via computers. my post-Georgian experience was in
fact so derivative as to be boring, until the literal interpretation of
what i had been exposed to filtered through my system and i returned to
myself (this took at least a year). such is the danger of study - that
one copies and repeats the 'great masters' to the extent that one loses
one's freshness. i saw this with great sadness in my fellow students who
became mini- Harry Birtwistles, and in many of my own e/a students. few
have that 'IT'... what indeed is 'IT'?....

yes, i believe that all musicians working with electronic means should
listen, listen, listen, and open their ears to both what has come before
them using similiar means - I agree on Janek lol although I still
actually enjoy some of his music. And i certainly could not criticise
his study of e/a (having met him in person). So what is missing?

also... did not the first scratchers of the late 70s and 80s house scene
repeat John Oswald's ideas from a differing direction? yet they had
'IT'.. or some of them did... the others faded into obscurity... but it
was indeed 'fresh'. I also believe that the 'new complexity' scene of
the 90s was mirrored in e/a as well as drum'n'bass. perhaps, if one
wanted to apply a rather obvious bit of musical sociology, it was a
movement in music from all directions reflecting the chaos of mid 90s
society (those styles tended to evolve in their most extreme form only
in the midst of chaotic, large cities).

there is such thing as education - but what of those who happen to have
no access to it via financial or other means? whose only access perhaps
is the internet? or just happen not to be in the right social circles to
have heard of Pierre Henry (Actually i've never heard his works myself.
does that make me a 'bad' composer? bad bad bad.... ;). what is this 'in
the know'? does it imply that there is a musical 'elite' and an
un-musical 'non-elite'? this is the notion i have objected to and
attempted to focus on in this thread - that one has to have heard the
'great composers' of e/a to somehow be 'good'. in my belief there is no
good or bad in music... only the ability to discern context. a jazz
tutor once wisely said to me 'the best Jazz happens in corners'. ie.
when 'bad' things happen.

there is however an elusive 'IT' but this cannot be defined... perhaps
because it is subjective? because it is dependent on the tastes of the
listener? if i go and listen to Pierre Henry and decide i want nothing
further to do with his music does that make me a 'bad' composer? if i
choose not to bother at all? perhaps someone decides my work is the most
dog-eared boring derivative work around, and another chooses to give it
an award.

my issue is not with your argument personally but with this whole
thread. open ears are one thing. judging people by whether they have
been exposed to the academic world is another. the academic world, imho,
is the one with closed ears - those that refuse to listen to the
freshness of the outside world and its non-academic developments.

> BTW, I'm totally bored with Autechre these days. They haven't broken
> new ground in many years it seems. Pan Sonic, OTOH, is still very
> interesting.
i do agree, their earlier works were much more 'fresh'. this is a
different danger though - that of becoming 'stale' and complacent
through success as a composer - fighting this means constantly exposing
oneself to new experiences and not closing ones ears, as i see so much
in the academic world, where musicology becomes a rather anal-ytic study
of itself. personally I'm totally bored with academic ea, bar a few
'greats' (Stan Link, Chris Penrose, Luc Ferrari) who havent been on my
playlist for some time as i prefer to dine on their music - and other
great artists of /any/ genre - as if it was nouvelle cuisine: sparingly,
so as not to overexpose and lose the impact. I do the same with JS Bach,
and pretty much anything else i listen to. at present i'm listening to
mid-90s KMFDM and other industrial artists, mostly from the US and
pretty obscure. add in a bit of Eminem, Mozart's Requiem, scottish
Gaelic folk music and 80s alternative and you've got my current
playlist. (again i listen sparingly though - a couple of songs here and
there, an overture now and then - my personal prefernce is in fact for
silence, as there is too much noise in my head already (cue sylvi & th
silence ;). a bit odd for someone who has headed off into an etherial
version of john oswaldian+micro-evolving-sampled-somethingorother that i
do to sound (i guess manually generated granular synthesis would be the
closest description of what i'm doing nowadays. Name That Tune!). but i
am odd and like to be the devils advocate, the little thorn in
academia's side, if i may...

err i digressed a bit there... but that brings me to something which i
feel is somewhat tangential yet relevant to this discussion - what is
everyone listening to thesedays? and more importantly.... why? ;)


> On 14-Sep-05, at 8:29 AM, miriam clinton (iriXx) wrote:
> i disagree respectfully with Ned regarding the notion that "a lot
> of the electronica that Louis is bored with is simply
> electroacoustic music created by people who didn't study it in
> University".
> w w w . n e d f x . c o m
> Ned Bouhalassa
> n e d @ n e d f x . c o m
>No virus found in this incoming message.
>Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
>Version: 7.0.344 / Virus Database: 267.10.24/101 - Release Date: 13/09/2005

99% of aliens prefer Earth

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Sat Dec 22 2007 - 01:46:11 EST