I was just musing: Is the fact that most musical territory has already been explored necessarily a bad thing?
The argument many people have with music is something like, “That’s not original. Someone else has already done that.” Well, no shit Sherlock.
Let’s take an obscure example: Coltrane practiced Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns towards the latter part of his life. He explored it deeply, and had he lived longer he could have explored it more fully. However, Coltrane applied this to his music. His group towards the later part of his life (after McCoy and Jones and Garrison) was his vehicle to bring that study into sonic format.
Now onto the thought experiment: What if a band with an established voice, like Radiohead for example, started to study the same text that Coltrane studied. Would Radiohead make free jazz? Maybe, maybe not. But undoubtably, it would sound like Radiohead. And yes, I’d buy it too.
The age where original musical ideas created on brand new theoretical ideas is pretty much gone, with exception to those lone classical voices creating music in academia. The age of original voices using the same established theoretical models is happening now.
In other words, pop and country and hip hop inspired beats mixing together to form bro country is just one iteration. All it takes is an original voice willing to explore something different to give us all something brand new, fresh, and exciting to groove on.
Originality is overrated. It’s better just to establish a voice and then take it on a musical journey from there.
One statement I hear from other artists is “I hope I’m not being egotistical, but...” Then, the artist tells me of what they created.
I get it. No one wants to be remembered as a narcissist. But perhaps there’s a better way to frame it.
To accomplish a kinder share of our creative output, include the following proviso:
Hey, I created this [work of art, music, etc] and thought to share it with you. I don’t want you to write me back and tell me how much you like it, especially if you don’t. I require no praise, and besides, I’m so slammed that I won’t remember sending this to you in the first place! I’m only sharing it to make your day a little brighter. That’s all. Take good care!
Here’s a quote from Alan Fletcher’s book “The Art of Looking Sideways”:
Ivan Chermayeff does much of his thinking in taxies, Lon Dorfsman on planes, Steve Guarnaccia on the subway. Designers also talk of getting ideas when they are on the sleep borderland...”
Challenge: Can you successfully not pick up your smart phone in a taxi, on a plane, on the subway, or in that sweet transition from sleep to wakefulness? Can you do this in the service of idea generation?