Jazz is all about repurposing pop and folk material for new expressive ends, and the greats were remix artists before the term existed.
Composers and performers who participated in experimental music festivals of the 1960s are relatively easy to find and talk to if you want to track them down. After all, many of them went on to established careers in the arts, and they have gigs and websites and email addresses. But audience members? People who just wandered in off the street? That’s a little more difficult. Where do you even start?
There’s no clearer way to see the creative thinking of a diverse group of musicians than to give them the same set of raw materials.
I’m not here to argue about whether or not Fluxus is music. In some ways it is, and in some ways it isn’t. Personally, I find it hard to ignore that its members—many of whom at one point or another considered themselves musicians and composers—pointed to musical forms and instruments in so many of their titles and with so many of their materials and processes.
We in Western culture have a habit of reflexively using “original” as a synonym for “good,” especially in music. I’m going to argue that originality is not actually a virtue, but rather, that freshness is. The concepts are related, but not identical.
The San Francisco Tape Music Center’s 1964 Tudorfest was more than what you could read in the reviews. It was more than its success. It was a scramble, a stretch, a compromise—the usual behind-the-scenes madness.
I make sample-based music because I feel like it’s more worthwhile to identify existing sounds that have been overlooked, to bring them to fresh ears, and to give them fresh meaning in new contexts.
I went to graduate school to study the sounds of burning pianos and squeaky rubber dolls and trash can lids. This music made people think; this music provoked discussions, This music was gutsy and political and sometimes it even required us to reconsider our definition of music.
The power of making music is found in the accretion of work and thought we put in over a lifetime, not single moments of inspiration.
There are highly visible musicians who are bravely sticking their necks out. They are not programming what the audience wants, they are programming what the audience needs. Contrast this with the classical groups that program rock or pop transcriptions and advertise it as out-of-the-box thinking.