Evolution of music. A dead end?

I’d like to get your thoughts on something I’ve been thinking about lately. I don’t know if this should go in Essays and Theses because of the length but I’ll just put it here since Art&Music seems very fitting.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately, “progressive” stuff. But is it really progressing?

I had an prog/experimental rock phase a couple years ago. I thought this was the next big thing. You know, Captain Beefheart and Can and that weird stuff. I figured the movement they represent would be the one to take the whole thing to the next level.

Can - Halleluhwah:
Captain Beefheart - Safe as Milk:

But when you look at it, progressive rock is just rock with funny stuff added and rock is a direct descendent of blues, folk and country. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it still is somehow constrained.

Simply put, appalachian folk with electric guitars and effect pedals. Why do I find this disturbing? I don’t know. I guess I like to think music is going somewhere. Music is such a central part of people and culture and the development of man it feels that once musical development is stagnated, in a way, so is human development. I’m concerned because right now we’re all basically stuck listening to either modern variations of 70’s disco with some gimmicks added or modern variations of 70’s rock with some gimmicks added.

It kind of feels like the presentation and the “sound” of these genres have rapidly developed into something more and more extreme and effective and have somehow achieved the maximum degree of extremity possible. For example, I can’t see anyone topping this:

Useless Pieces of Shit - Fuck Shit Up:

After the rock phase, I looked to electronic music. It sounded radically different. Like prog rock, I thought this is the forefront, the exciting place where it will all happen.

Autechre - Gantz Graf:

It seemed novel and super-experimental but in actuality, it’s just a variation on old themes.

Glitch came when people started using glitches and other unorthodox sounds in Drum and Bass. DnB came about from making a faster version of Breakbeat with added dub bass lines. (Dub being a variant of reggae which has origins in RnB, Jazz and Blues.) Breakbeat is basically house with breakbeats. (the “break” being a sampled loop from short drum solos in soul and jazz) House is basically merging disco with the new electronic sound. Disco has its origins in Funk and Salsa. Funk is soul with an emphasis on the beat. Soul comes from mixing Gospel and Rhythm and Blues which is (you guessed it) Blues with rhythm. Blues obviously originates from African folk music.[1]

The thing is, I figured Glitch is the latest and most exciting progression in a continuously evolving line of music. Now I realize it’s essentially the same thing in a different package. Not only that, it seems to be some kind of an extreme, an end point where you’ve reached the limits.

There were some people that started doing something completely different when the electronic revolution came to music. For example, Karleinz Stockhausen, known for his avant-garde musical experimentation.

Stockhausen called Richard D. James’s, a pioneering electronic artists, music “post-african repetitions” and prompted him to listen to his song “Gesang der Junglinge” in order to be educated. In turn, Richard D. James responded he should stop “making abstract, random patterns you can’t dance to” and listen to his song “Didgeridoo”. Well, both are great songs, no doubt. Which do you prefer?

Karleinz Stockhausen - Gesang der Junglinge:
Aphex Twin - Didgeridoo:

I think most people would pick Aphex Twin’s Didgeridoo. Why? It’s more fun.

Do we really even want something completely different? Is music that develops completely organically the best? It seems that music is mainly something genetic rather than learned. According to a recent research conducted in the Mara tribe of Cameroon[2], people who have never had any contact with western music can correctly identify joy, sadness and a wide variety of other feelings in western music. So there has to be something genetic about music. Something we can’t learn. It seems as if music has to have a certain form to be easily enjoyable. Stockhausen can be enjoyed, but you have to learn to enjoy it. The further we diverge from folk, the harder it is to grasp the music.

Karleinz Stockhausen - Helicopter String Quartet:

Should we accept and submit to this and make music within the limits of “enjoyability”?

Is variations of old stuff the final frontier?

Is intuitively good-sounding music the best?

What’s my point? I don’t know. I’m just wondering. Any and all input appreciated!

Lastly, let’s take the case of post-rock. Using instruments from Rock but making something with rhythms, harmonies etc. not usually found in rock. I find this stuff extremely interesting. I don’t know how this fits in all of this but I love it. The next level? You decide.

Explosions In The Sky - Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean:
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - East Hastings:

[1] This was obviously simplified a lot and I realize much of it is debatable and I know it’s actually a lot more complicated. But you get the general idea. It all comes from Africa.
[2] sciencenews.org/view/generic … l_feelings[/size]

That’s so funny. :laughing: Were I a helicopter pilot and heard this I’d be scared shitless and looking at the gauges to see what the hell is wrong with the goddamn helicopter! Oh my gawd! I think this thing is about to crash! :open_mouth:

Yup, who says you can’t use a helicopter as a musical instrument? :smiley: Pretty expensive to practice though.


I believe there is an inherent difference between experimentation and production.

Inside of each there is a basic dichotomy as well.
For experimentation, it is separated into sound and composition.
Meaning, either they are experimenting with a sound concept (the helicopters for instance) or how one arranges the sounds (six days at the bottom for example).

Production also has a basic separation with the two categories being entertainment and elicitation.
In production, a given musical score is either striving to be entertaining (most music on the radio; mostly derived from evolved concepts spanning back to the short burst folk songs of a region), or it is striving to elicit a specific response; often times passionately (much of classical music rides on this side of production [also like your punk rock example above]).

These four basic categories can mix and multiply together, but generally speaking one can class a given piece of music easily to one of these categories.

Another way to label this is like speech:
Voice (sound)
Articulation (composition)
Effectiveness (entertainment)
Intensity (elicitation)

With speech focusing on Voice and Articulation being under “Practice”, and speech focusing on Effectiveness and Intensity being “Presentational”.

The bottom line is that you need all of this, obviously, or you never have a good speech, or a good piece of music.

That, however, doesn’t mean we don’t have our favorite formats to listen to.

I believe what you are interested in is the Experimentation side of music and not so much the Production side of music.
And it seems to me that you are primarily interested in Compositional Experimentation.

As such, I challenge you to push that envelope! :wink:
Don’t wait for someone else…do it yourself.

I’ll start you off; 3/5 timing rock with a 3 phrase bar instead of 4.
Use only 3rds and 4ths for your chords.
Now go figure out how to make that work. :stuck_out_tongue:

Interesting post, TheStumps! Sorry for not responding earlier, I was at a rock music festival over the weekend.

What you say about different aspects of music is very interesting. The sound or texture of music is evolving very quickly as a result of the digital era. (for example, Autechre) Entertainment and elicitation are also very much in a breakthrough. Composition… perhaps the same amount as before, or even more good stuff. But since so much music is coming out, there’s proportionately less (I guess). Nothing groundbreaking though, for many years now. (I think)

That’s right! Compositional experimentation is what I’m interested in, true. But I also want to produce once I find what I’m looking for.

How would 3/5 differ from 3/4? I always thought the lower part of the thing is ambiguous and they just keep 'em as powers of two for ease of use? I’m no expert though. Using only 3rds and 4ths would be just limiting, no?

Do you mean 3 phrase bar as in waltz timing instead of common time? Rhythm has been experimented with a lot. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wo … signatures .

I guess with music should think less and play more. That’s it.


I hate timing signatures because they are represented wrong for the mind…to me anyways.
For instance, 2/4 should be written 4/2.

Well, the lower number represents the value of one beat.
2/4 refers to a speed of quarter notes. tick-tock-tick-tock.

The upper number represents how many beats are found in each bar.
In this case, 2…which means we have two quarters cut off.

So 3/5 (a common Irish folk music pattern that didn’t survive in American folk music…we switched it to 2/4)

3/5 is 3 fifth notes per bar.
This is different than 3/4 because 3/4 only runs at a speed for 1 quarter of a whole note…not 1/5th.

Make some more sense?

I meant to say 3 bar measure (or possibly even a 3 bar meter…though not likely)…not 3 phrase bar…sorry, that was probably confusing.
Most music you listen to works in 4’s or relatives of 4s.

So you would play, Am Cmj Emj Am as a full measure.
This has 4 bars in it.
(I say 4 bars because each chord, in simple form of rhythm guitar would take up one bar…“bum-diddy-bum-diddy-bum-diddy-bum-diddy”)

Or, you can do something awkward to the western ear and play Am Cmj Emj and stop there, making the next Am the start of the next measure.
Tacking this on top of a 3/5 timing signature will surely grab the western ear as different (and piss off your drummer as he wrestles with muscle memory).

Oh…and some people will tell you that there is no such thing as a 3/5 timing signature.
They’re wrong. shrug

It’s entirely possible to play a 5th note; or rather to say, a note that equals one fifth of a whole note.
Now, pack 3 of those in a bar and you have 3/5 timing.

A normal whole note at standard tempo of 76 to 80 bpm’s takes roughly 3 seconds.
A quarter note is 1/4th of 3 seconds…or 0.75 seconds.
An eighth note is 1/8th of 3 seconds…or 0.38 seconds.

To suggest that 1/5th of a whole note isn’t possible is to suggest that sound never occurs at 1/5th of 3 seconds…or, 0.6 seconds.

And if we can play sound at 62nd notes, or rather to say, 1/62nds of 3 seconds…or, 0.05 seconds, then I’m pretty sure we can manage to play a note at 0.6 seconds.

The trick is retraining your ear to such a timing.

But in our electronic age…we don’t even have to.
You could program your music to play each note for 0.6 seconds and set your tempo to 76 or 80 bpms and be done.

A way to practice your mind for 5th notes (and prove to yourself that they exist) is to get a stop watch or something like that and set it to 3 seconds, and then try to count evenly to 5 within that 3 seconds.

Alright…I’ve got you a little assistance to help with the 3/5 timing bit.

Here, download this
geocities.com/bancika/softwa … ronome.zip

And then set it to a tempo of 100.

Now, keep in mind, this is a bastardized way to accomplish the 5/5 timing format.

If you take a timer (such as this one softarea51.com/DownloadLink1 … Timer.html) and set it for stopwatch, then select start. (this is all using right click)
Then start counting to 5 in beat with the metronome you have ticking (make sure to start the timer on a tick of the metronome)

This will produce roughly 5 ticks of the metronome per 3 seconds on the timer.

So…in essence, 5/5 timing is shoving 100bpm into 76bpm.

Because you would annotate the sheet music as 76bpm (andante), but with the timing of 5/5 it would end up being treated as if it were 100bpm of quarter notes…although, you would be counting 5 of them instead of 4.

If you do this…you will see that such timing does exist and is incredibly awkward, yet perfectly functional.

So, 3/5 would be to write with 3 of these beats that you get used meter instead of 5.

So, in a way…it would be like a waltz, but if you tried to play it in a ballroom, you have have allot of people stepping on their toes.

For added fun…hehe…you can accent the 2nd beat instead of the first.

So, you have a 3/5 timing with a 2nd beat accent playing in measures of 3 meters instead of 4.

(actually…if you really sit down and get this beat into you head [pun intended], then you’ll find it’s actually very natural and odd that it’s void in our normal music)

I just downloaded Bounce Metronome. TheStumps, you’d love it. You can play all rhythms with it, including pi/4, sqrt(2)/4 or any compound or polyrythm you can think of! Check it out! Perfect for trying out weird rhythms.

Inspired by you, I went out and bought drumsticks today :slight_smile:. I play violin and guitar but thought playing different rhythms would be great for a change.

Wow…that’s pretty robust.
I’ll have to check that out indeed!

Thanks for the link!