17 COMPOSER'S THOUGHTS ON "MUSIC SINCE 1960"
(in the form of a haiku)
Larry Polansky Assistant Professor of Music, Mills College
Music Editor, Leonardo, The International Journal of Arts, Sciences, and Technology
1) Musicians since 1960 should not have thought that Music Since 1960 is their own music. Musicians since 1960 knew that they were best thought of as the precursors to Music after 2000, not as the culminators of music since 1000. The recent past holds less interest to us than our future.
2) Musicians since 1960 learned that categories in themselves contribute nothing to the advancement of their music, to their evolution as musicians. Musicians since 1960 began the dissolution of categories as their primary hope for progress.
3) Music since 1960, in fact, music since 1951 (conveniently placing our date at the composition of John Cage's "Music of Changes"), was a music in which questions slowly become more important than answers. Music since 1960 learned that music is not western music, or music that necessarily involves sound, human creation, the individual, or time.
4) Music since 1960 took no notice of the fact that we lived on a small planet which is one of many. Even while its intentions, and knowledge began to be global, it was still ignorant that its intentions and knowledge needed to be galactic, and that this perspective was already much too late.
5) Music since 1960 made significant strides towards inclusivity rather than exclusivity, and towards the integration of the spirit, intellect and emotions (whatever those are), perception, and creation, of its participants.
1) Music of the present is a music where there are no proscribed forms. There are no agreed upon languages or definitions as to what constitutes musical activity. It is assumed that this is a happy situation for those involved.
2) Music of the present is at the crossroads of new technologies, new ideas, and new possibilities that are many times more fertile and more powerful, in terms of the advancement of our race, than ever before. It is our choice whether or not to embrace these new possibilities (become as novices in a new universe of ideas) or reject them ("too many possibilities!", "we can't forget the past"). Music of the present must realize that since these possibilities are already recognized as possibilities, they are indeed a foregone conclusion, and should be regarded as the status quo. Music of the present must not spend more time considering Music since whenever, than the music of our future.
3) Music of the present need not be judged, nor categorized. If there is a reason to judge, judgements should be made in terms of how many ideas a musical event includes, or allows, in proportion to how many ideas it excludes, or seeks to disallow. No music of the present should discourage any other music. This is not to say that all musics of the present are equal; the reverse is true, they are completely different. Musicians of the present must view with joy the amount of information available to them, and use it to rid themselves of restrictive generalizations, archaic notions of "what is" and "what isn't", and so on. Each musical event must be considered afresh, as if it is a result of the consideration and influence of all possible musical events, past present and future. I call this "presumed omnicscience".
4) Music of the present questions its own fundamentals, its own reasons for existence, its own definitions. In fact, those same questions are very often the same as musical events.
5) Music of the present should take its ears from the ground, and turn them towards the stars.
6) Music of the present must cease to distinguish between anachronistic, artificial, and dangerous distinctions between intellect/emotion, like/dislike, individual/comunity, bad/good, and immediately proceed on the notion that music is best defined as a human and natural activity which uses, or attempts to use, its fullest capabilities.
7) Music of the present depends as much upon the ability to perceive as it does to "create", in fact there is no longer any difference. It is, again, presumed that this is a happy situation for all concerned.
1) Music after 2000 will see itself as the beginning of music, not as the culmination of several thousands of years of work.
2) Music after 2000 will see no need for classifications which reduce information about itself, it will devise languages and descriptions which increase, or at least maintain, the quantity and quality of information of the event under consideration.
3) Music after 2000 is a music where there will be no difference between questions and answers, a music which will teach the rest of society not to wait, hope, or give credence to answers as a form of evolution.
4) Music after 2000 will be made by man throughout our solar system, and begin to look beyond. If it does not, it will cease to exist.
5) Music after 2000 must continually diminish the importance of styles in favor of enlightened consideration of each musical event, even as the human race must seek to diminish the importance of race, gender, and other distinctions, institutionalized spirituality, and nations in favor of the enlightened and consideration of each human being's individuality, welfare, and meaning and responsibility in the global (and galactic) comunity.