Friday, June 11, 2010

Leaving the comfort of the box

I think one of the reasons that I have gotten so interested in composing and playing experimental electronic music is that it gets outside the box. Music tends to be something we learn from others so it's only natural that we copy one another. Musical genres themselves are defined by copying. This is true also of classical music albiet in a much more complex way. It's simply a matter of how big the field is. Popular music is a small field and classical much larger. The genres and styles within each music field has to do with what gets copied and then repeated in thousands of songs. The more a particular style is copied, the more it becomes a genre.

When I grew up, the local bands I knew in high school all did cover songs some almost exclusively. They really did not try to get "outside the box". If it was good enough for the top 40 it was good enough for them. And you know what? That's ok. Music for most is something we put on in the car and a catchy tune, even it it copies the 1,000 other tunes that came before it, can still get our feet tapping. There is also a real art to working within the fence. Sometimes limitations can also force creativity in other ways.

However, for me I see music as this huge universe to explore. So when everyone else is grazing in the fences that are defined by genre, I try to get outside the fence, to explore undiscovered musical country.

One of the fences we build in music is to use certain chord progressions. There are many such as the 1, 4, 5 some others that I will not elaborate on but one way to get outside of them is to explore songs that don't use these progression and to understand how they do it. Copying one another is not a bad thing and many people have enjoyed many songs that never leave the safe musical confines of the home genre but some, like to go to outside and find their own genres.

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