Success in art is different for every artist, some musicians want to innovate and challenge people with new approaches (avant garde composers), others want to tell stories and spread ideas (hiphop, folk musicians, film and musical theatre composers), or help people dance and have a good time (EDM), or a million other reasons.
Maybe I've missed the point of the article, but I think there are so many reasons why art gets made beyond the artist trying to prove themselves as a master of the craft
Thanks for this.
Let's take the most banal and fundamental structuring element of common practice harmony-- the root position triad.
Are you absolutely certain I cannot find a 20th century composer doing something so innovative with root position triads that no composer before 1900 could even conceive of using them in such a way?
There are probably more examples than the one I'm thinking of, which is Nancarrow's Study No. 37 for player piano. The thing I love about that example is that it completely undercuts the serialist argument that tonal tropes create an inescapable harmonic push-and-pull that ends up structuring the music, regardless of the composer's will. The rigors of early twelve-tone music were designed to "liberate" the composer from this seeming inevitability.
And in Study No. 37 we almost have a kind of Alice in Wonderland response to that mentality. There are many root position triads. There is a tonal ending to the piece. There are little tonal segments of melody. We have all the ingredients necessary for a piece that ought to be chock full of evidence that the tonal building blocks of the common practice period put the composer in a kind of structural straight-jacket. Well, just listen to it. It ain't that.
So author-- don't be "that type" who repeats high-fallutin' historical myths because they happen to fit the pattern you're going for. Besides, even if that mentality were based in fact it is leads to absolutely insufferable behavior. Ghost of your futures past: "Ooh, I love that song by [The Beatles, Radiohead, Otis Redding, etc.]. Too bad it uses a system already completely exhausted a century earlier. Imagine what it would have sounded like if it hadn't been so harmonically regressive! Oh, I'm hearing it in my head right now and truly it is wonderful. Quick, give me your address so I can send you a million slips to donate to my concert series..."
There's a niche core of contemporary classical music fans who like serialism and its descendants (New Complexity, and so on) but there's literally only a few thousand of these fans worldwide.
The most popular serial piece is Berg's opera Wozzeck, closely followed by Berg's other opera Lulu. Both are in steady rotation in opera houses. But the original serial orchestral and piano pieces don't get much air time because audiences just don't like them much.
Compare with contemporary art which gets plenty of popular interest, even if it's abstract. In fact abstraction is now so mainstream it's corporate. You won't find many bank or VC foyers without brightly coloured non-representational oils on the walls.
That's my undergrad-with-16-credit-hours-of-vaguely-remembered-art-history speaking, though; I could be off. Still, this speaks to me od the importance of - wait for it - diversity, in a rather concrete manner. The Western tradition of artistic practice was simply unable to see and experiment meaningfully with non-representational construction before being exposed to entirely foreign traditions. If you think of how much of contemporary design relies on modernist bases, it's scary to think how much we might be missing out on with, say, the contraction of XR work largely to engineering.
It is true that Picasso broke barriers, but the barriers were broken through a regression in consciousness.
I really recommend the work "Madness and modernism" by Louis Sass, and Jung's writings on Picasso. I am a huge fan of Picasso, but Picasso's artwork, as well as the artwork of Dali -- represents a regression into archaic portions of the subconscious -- an amalgamation of meaning that leads to meanings destruction.
This is not a critique of the artists nor the artworks -- they are phenomenal... but the modes of thinking that led to them should be understood beyond the techniques being novel, or new.
The progression of western art mirrors the progression of it's consciousness.
> So, we needed a radically new thing. A new greenfield and new proofs of concept.
> Introducing cubism.
I think impressionism had the same "radical" property—the colours are not realistic, but they are emotional. Green smoke; pink haystacks. But perhaps there is still a stronger link to reality than for cubism. van Gogh's swirls I would guess are inspired by real things such as vortices in wind or water. In any case, for me the progression to cubism was linear from impressionism, and not radical. But I think the author means that you need abrupt changes to reap social capital, and that I do agree with—but I would maintain it holds for classicism to impressionism too.
> Shoenberg's twelve tonic technique comes with no musical tonality. All 12 pitches of the chromatic scale are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music without emphasis on any specific note. In other words, all 12 notes are thus given more or less equal importance, and the music avoids being in a key. Consequentially, there can't home base.
> It was a radically new game.
I don't know if I agree with this. The innovation was equal temperament and the creation of the piano. The key was that you have approximate harmonic intervals based on the 12th square root of 2: sqrt(2,12)^7 = 1.498 ~= 1.5 = 3/2.
Using chromatic notes is a logical consequence for later composers. In terms of composition, I would say that modes (think Wicked Game) are rather the innovation that reaped social capital in more modern times; as well as the idea of direct repetition (all pop music) rather than themes with developments on themes.
In any case, I would agree with the author. There is a clear proof of work aspect to social media. Hours spent that would lead to some Instagram picture; hours spent on some HN post...
Yep. And, one of the things which always surprised me is how all these American permutations remain popular and pretty expensive, yet are generally quite lower quality than the burgers throughout Europe, which are often half the price.