Avant-garde music

Last updated

Avant-garde music is music that is considered to be at the forefront of innovation in its field, with the term "avant-garde" implying a critique of existing aesthetic conventions, rejection of the status quo in favor of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences. [1] Avant-garde music may be distinguished from experimental music by the way it adopts an extreme position within a certain tradition, whereas experimental music lies outside tradition.

Contents

Distinctions

Avant-garde music may be distinguished from experimental music by the way it adopts an extreme position within a certain tradition, whereas experimental music lies outside tradition. [2] In a historical sense, some musicologists use the term "avant-garde music" for the radical compositions that succeeded the death of Anton Webern in 1945, [3] [ verification needed ] but others disagree. For example, Ryan Minor writes that this period began with the work of Richard Wagner, [4] whereas Edward Lowinsky cites Josquin des Prez. [5] The term may also be used to refer to any post-1945 tendency of modernist music not definable as experimental music, though sometimes including a type of experimental music characterized by the rejection of tonality. [3] A commonly cited example of avant-garde music is John Cage's 4'33" (1952), [1] a piece which instructs the performer(s) not to play their instrument(s) during its entire duration. [6] The piece has been described as “not a musical ‘work’ in the normal sense, only an occasion for a Zen-like meditation.” [7]

Although some modernist music is also avant-garde, a distinction can be made between the two categories. According to scholar Larry Sitsky, because the purpose of avant-garde music is necessarily political, social, and cultural critique, so that it challenges social and artistic values by provoking or goading audiences, composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, George Antheil and Claude Debussy may reasonably be considered to have been avant-gardists in their early works (which were understood as provocative, whether or not the composers intended them that way), but Sitsky does not consider the label appropriate for their later music. [8] For example, modernists of the post–World War II period, such as Milton Babbitt, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, György Ligeti, and Witold Lutosławski, never conceived their music for the purpose of goading an audience and cannot, therefore, be classified as avant-garde. Composers such as John Cage and Harry Partch, on the contrary, remained avant-gardists throughout their creative careers. [8]

A prominent feature of avant-garde music is to break through various rules and regulations of traditional culture, in order to transcend established creative principles and appreciation habits. Avant-garde music pursues novelty in musical form and style, insisting that art is above everything else; thus, it creates a transcendental and mysterious sound world. Hint, metaphor, symbol, association, imagery, synesthesia and perception are widely used in avant-garde music techniques to excavate the mystery of human heart and the flow of consciousness, so that many seemingly unrelated but essentially very important events interweave into multi-level structures and forms. [9]

Popular music, by definition, is designed for mass appeal. [10] The 1960s saw a wave of avant-garde experimentation in jazz, represented by artists such as Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. [11] [12] In the rock music of the 1970s, the "art" descriptor was generally understood to mean "aggressively avant-garde" or "pretentiously progressive". [13] Post-punk artists from the late 1970s rejected traditional rock sensibilities in favor of an avant-garde aesthetic. [14] In 1988 the writer Greg Tate described hip hop music as "the only avant-garde around, still delivering the shock of the new." [15]

See also

Contemporary/classical music

Popular/traditional music

Related Research Articles

Progressive music Type of music that emphasizes expansion of form and stylistic variety

Progressive music is music that attempts to expand existing stylistic boundaries associated with specific genres of music. The word comes from the basic concept of "progress", which refers to development and growth by accumulation, and is often deployed in the context of distinct genres, with progressive rock being the most notable example. Music that is deemed "progressive" usually synthesizes influences from various cultural domains, such as European art music, Celtic folk, West Indian, or African. It is rooted in the idea of a cultural alternative and may also be associated with auteur-stars and concept albums, considered traditional structures of the music industry.

Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that generally reflects a challenging or avant-garde approach to rock, or which makes use of modernist, experimental, or unconventional elements. Art rock aspires to elevate rock from entertainment to an artistic statement, opting for a more experimental and conceptual outlook on music. Influences may be drawn from genres such as experimental rock, avant-garde music, classical music, and jazz.

Avant-garde Works that are experimental or innovative

The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It is frequently characterized by aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability.

Modernism (music)

In music, modernism is an aesthetic stance underlying the period of change and development in musical language that occurred around the turn of the 20th century, a period of diverse reactions in challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, innovations that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music, and changes in aesthetic worldviews in close relation to the larger identifiable period of modernism in the arts of the time. The operative word most associated with it is "innovation". Its leading feature is a "linguistic plurality", which is to say that no one music genre ever assumed a dominant position.

Inherent within musical modernism is the conviction that music is not a static phenomenon defined by timeless truths and classical principles, but rather something which is intrinsically historical and developmental. While belief in musical progress or in the principle of innovation is not new or unique to modernism, such values are particularly important within modernist aesthetic stances.

Post-punk is a broad genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1970s as musicians departed from the raw simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock, instead adopting a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and non-rock influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with styles like funk, electronic music, jazz, and dance music; the production techniques of dub and disco; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

Art pop is a loosely defined style of pop music influenced by pop art's integration of high and low culture, and which emphasizes the manipulation of signs, style, and gesture over personal expression. Art pop artists may be inspired by postmodern approaches or art theories as well as other forms of art, such as fashion, fine art, cinema, and avant-garde literature. They may deviate from traditional pop audiences and rock music conventions, instead exploring ideas such as pop's status as commercial art, notions of artifice and the self, and questions of historical authenticity.

Experimental rock, also called avant-rock, is a subgenre of rock music that pushes the boundaries of common composition and performance technique or which experiments with the basic elements of the genre. Artists aim to liberate and innovate, with some of the genre's distinguishing characteristics being improvisational performances, avant-garde influences, odd instrumentation, opaque lyrics, unorthodox structures and rhythms, and an underlying rejection of commercial aspirations.

Experimental pop is pop music that cannot be categorized within traditional musical boundaries or which attempts to push elements of existing popular forms into new areas. It may incorporate experimental techniques such as musique concrète, aleatoric music, or eclecticism into pop contexts. Often, the compositional process involves the use of electronic production effects to manipulate sounds and arrangements, and the composer may draw the listener's attention specifically with both timbre and tonality, though not always simultaneously.

Avant-pop is popular music that is experimental, new, and distinct from previous styles while retaining an immediate accessibility for the listener. The term implies a combination of avant-garde sensibilities with existing elements from popular music in the service of novel or idiosyncratic artistic visions.

Electronic rock is a music genre that involves a combination of rock music and electronic music, featuring instruments typically found within both genres. It originates from the late 1960s, when rock bands began incorporating electronic instrumentation into their music. Electronic rock acts usually fuse elements from other music styles, including punk rock, industrial rock, hip hop, techno, and synth-pop, which has helped spur subgenres such as indietronica, dance-punk, and electroclash.

Post-progressive is a type of rock music distinguished from vintage progressive rock styles, specifically 1970s prog. Post-progressive draws upon newer developments in popular music and the avant-garde since the mid-1970s. It especially draws from ethnic music and minimalism, elements which were new to rock music. It is different from neo-progressive rock in that the latter pastiches 1970s prog, while "post-progressive" identifies progressive rock music that stems from sources other than prog.

Progressive rap is a broad subgenre of hip hop music that aims to progress the genre thematically with socially transformative ideas and musically with stylistic experimentation. Developing through the works of innovative US hip hop acts during the 1980s and 1990s, it critically examines social issues, political responsibility, and existential concerns, particularly in the context of African-American life and youth culture. Common themes include social injustice, inequality, status, identity, and religion.

References

  1. 1 2 "Avant-Garde Music". AllMusic .
  2. David Nicholls, American Experimental Music, 1890–1940 (Cambridge [England] and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990): 318.
  3. 1 2 Paul Du Noyer (ed.), "Contemporary", in the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music: From Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Hip Hop to Classical, Folk, World and More (London: Flame Tree, 2003), p. 272. ISBN   1-904041-70-1
  4. Ryan Minor, "Modernism", Harvard Dictionary of Music , fourth edition, edited by Don Michael Randel (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003). ISBN   9780674011632.
  5. Edward Lowinsky, "The Musical Avant-Garde of the Renaissance; or, the Peril and Profit of Foresight", in Music in the Culture of the Renaissance and Other Essays, edited and with an introduction by Bonie J. Blackburn with forewords by Howard Mayer Brown and Ellen T. Harris, 2 vols. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989) 2:730–754, passim.
  6. Richard Kostelanetz, Conversing with John Cage (New York: Routledge, 2003):[ page needed ]. ISBN   0-415-93792-2.
  7. Wright, Craig M.; Simms, Bryan (2010). Music in Western Civilization: Media Update. Schirmer Cengage Learning. p. 781. ISBN   978-0495572732.
  8. 1 2 Larry Sitsky, Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002): xiii–xiv. ISBN   0-313-29689-8.
  9. Paul Hegarty, Noise/Music: A History, (London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007): 137. ISBN   87-988955-0-8.
  10. "Popular music". collinsdictionary.com.
  11. Anon. Avant-Garde Jazz. AllMusic.com, n.d.
  12. Michael West (April 3, 2015). "In the year jazz went avant-garde, Ramsey Lewis went pop with a bang". The Washington Post .
  13. Murray, Noel (May 28, 2015). "60 minutes of music that sum up art-punk pioneers Wire". The A.V. Club .
  14. Bannister, Matthew (2007). White Boys, White Noise: Masculinities and 1980s Indie Guitar Rock. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 38. ISBN   978-0-7546-8803-7.
  15. Cited in Chang, Jeff (2005). Can't Stop, Won't Stop . New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 410. [hip-hop], the only avant-garde around, still delivering the shock of the new (over recycled James Brown compost modernism like a bitch), and it's got a shockable bourgeoise, to boot. [sic]

Further reading