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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Originality - An observation by King By-Tor
    Posted: June 28 2008 at 11:28
originality |əˌrijəˈnalitē|
noun
the ability to think independently and creatively : a writer of great originality.
the quality of being novel or unusual : he congratulated her on the originality of her

Recently I've been thinking while reading about so called "uncreative" music and studying theory behind conventional and contemporary music. All too often I see bands get put down for being so-called "uncreative". Some bands that are tagged as retro are often attacked with such an insult, and sometimes I wonder why. It's not surprising sometimes of course, since a lot of the new wave generation of prog bands are finally able to emerge onto the scene because there is once again a market for them. These artists, had they gone to record labels in, say, the late 70s or early 80s surely would have been turned away because of the nature of the music they play. Now they have been given a second life and people are calling them down for it.

Are we so fed up with people trying to appeal to our tastes that we simply turn them away?

Are we simply nostalgic so that no new bands could possibly be as good as we remember the old bands as being?

Of course you must consider the original Proggers to be a very creative bunch, in a time when pop and rock tunes stuck very close to the formula they decided to become musical virtuosos and play long jams to their hearts content. But were they not influenced by classical music? Were they not influenced by blues? Indeed, a Yes song is your typical 'verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, verse' kind of song except extended to great amounts by classical noodling.

Why then do we attack bands for doing things the same way now?

Should this music simply have faded away when the time was right?

For every band there has to be an audience, and so even with the most 'unoriginal' of bands we find that tey have a following. Again, this is easy to see since that typical song structure is the most popular in the world. U2 sold more records than The Flower Kings ever will, and why? U2 appeals to a larger mass of people. Are they excellent virtuoso musicians capable of playing a 16-hour guitar jam on stage? No, but they know the inside and out of song writing, catchy choruses and hooks, making their music appeal to that large group who really don't care about how 'technical' the music is.

Prog fans on the other hand seem to have a hard time grasping this. This is where the 'elitism' argument comes in most of the time, but I'll forgo that for the moment. but does no one realize that even our most cherished prog epics are the same thing? I've made this point before, but I just want to exaggerate it and make it clear.

And then there's the vocal minority who makes claim that any song that has little to no structure MUST then be good. This is something I find terribly difficult to understand, and while I'm a firm believer in 'different strokes for different folks' there's something I simply can't comprehend; what makes a pop song, or even a prog song good is that you remember it somehow, someway, whether it be through a chorus, melody or hook, you remember it somehow. How then is simply having no structure being original? The meathods work for a reason, and they're tried, tested and true.

Let's also travel back into the past a bit until we get to krautrock. I quite enjoy what I've heard of this genre, and it does no use conventional song writing at all. I've heard that this genre is almost like a cousin to more contemporary genres who don't use a conventional song structure. I honestly have a hard time listening to some new music arriving on the scene with seemingly no structure, but people praise it as being very original! Yet they fail to realize that the same techniques have been applied many years ago, while at the same time bashing other artists who use a more conventional style of writing who have just as much 'originality'.

Everyone is influenced by someone or something. I think that a lot of people have a hard time seeing the difference between originality and conventionality.

Comments?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 11:42
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Are we so fed up with people trying to appeal to our tastes that we simply turn them away?Are we simply nostalgic so that no new bands could possibly be as good as we remember the old bands as being?


The reason we label them as unoriginal is because they seem like they're deliberating pandering to a progressive fan's taste by emulating progressive formulas that history has shown to appeal to us. Its no different than what pop bands do. Of course such music we would call unoriginal and turn away.

The rejection of retro bands has nothing to do nostalgia, and I would say those eaten up by nostalgia are the ones who embrace retro bands for the most part. Progressive music has no room for retro bands. The giants of the 70s realized prog-rock was an evolving style by necessity which is why we saw their sounds change.

Good post but I have to disagree with most of what you said. Particularly about influence and emulation being the same thing. And I don't think you can call 'Close to the Edge' your typical song just extended with noodling.

Also, I feel to some degree I'm misunderstanding you. So maybe some things will be cleared up.
"One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall. "
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 11:47
A lot of what you say is true and very depressing, but in the case of the prog genre, whatever that is, keep in mind that a lot of the early key albums were made by musicians influenced by things other than rock music, ie, jazz, the classics and folk. Nowadays we have bands influenced by previous prog bands, or even more distressingly, by alternative rock bands and that can't help but be an attenuating effect on the music itself - song for song, modern prog might not be any less "original" (depending on your definition) but the majority of it is certainly more predictable.

I'm sorry to give you such an unfavourable response but I have been quietly considering this topic for a while, now...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 11:58
It's not that I want the retro bands to be seen as unpredictable or original - because really anyone who is familiar with any genre will find neither in any music they happen to find - actually I find that nothing is original because everybody thought of something SOMEWHERE. And yet everything is original because even a riff that's not been used in a certain context before is original.

Not an unfavorable response Laplace, actually, quite what Im looking for
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:01
Originally posted by Equality 7-2521 Equality 7-2521 wrote:

Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Are we so fed up with people trying to appeal to our tastes that we simply turn them away?Are we simply nostalgic so that no new bands could possibly be as good as we remember the old bands as being?


The reason we label them as unoriginal is because they seem like they're deliberating pandering to a progressive fan's taste by emulating progressive formulas that history has shown to appeal to us. Its no different than what pop bands do. Of course such music we would call unoriginal and turn away.

The rejection of retro bands has nothing to do nostalgia, and I would say those eaten up by nostalgia are the ones who embrace retro bands for the most part. Progressive music has no room for retro bands. The giants of the 70s realized prog-rock was an evolving style by necessity which is why we saw their sounds change.

Good post but I have to disagree with most of what you said. Particularly about influence and emulation being the same thing. And I don't think you can call 'Close to the Edge' your typical song just extended with noodling.

Also, I feel to some degree I'm misunderstanding you. So maybe some things will be cleared up.


I think that "progressive" as a label was a poor one in general. Sure, I love it, but can any genre really PROGRESS indefinitely? Even now people call down Math rock for not being like prog, and yet it is the way the genre has PROGRESSED.

Close to the Edge was actually the song I had in mind when I made the comment about Yes, it's subsections divide into typical songs strung into one, really.

I don't mind disagreeances or misunderstandings, they're what I'm looking for. I think this topic needs some discussion.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:05
Good topic.  I'm not deep enough to understand music theories.  I can say that music appeals to me in two main ways that do not always overlap.  The first is emotion.  A song of great beauty is going to find me whether it is pop, prog, or other.  The second is the true prog factor...how cutting edge is it?  does it break any new ground?  is it really wild and out of this world?   This second group may not appeal to me other than intellectually, and that's fine. 

Not all music has to check every box for me to listen.  Different bands offer different things.  What i don't like about so many of the bands I think you are speaking about is that they don't appeal to me in either of the two ways I mention.  They seem to embrace formula (music and presentation...ie cover art, image) based in large part on commercial interests and become so predictable...the Wal-mart-ization of prog if you will. 
Just give them a cool Ed Unitsky-style cover and really long songs, and the kids will eat it up!!  seems to be the motto of some.  No matter how boring the tracks may be. 

Similar charges could be made of the old bands...but for whatever reason the music was fresher perhaps because it was the first time around.  There is still wonderful music out there, it just usually is music that has not yet had commercial pressures placed upon it.  It is still free. 

Don't know if this is understandable.  I know what I mean...just don't really know how to explain it well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:06
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

It's not that I want the retro bands to be seen as unpredictable or original - because really anyone who is familiar with any genre will find neither in any music they happen to find - actually I find that nothing is original because everybody thought of something SOMEWHERE. And yet everything is original because even a riff that's not been used in a certain context before is original.Not an unfavorable response Laplace, actually, quite what Im looking for


Well of course if you fix your semantics like that you make those claims, but if we were to always do that it would be very easy to make points with little substance.
"One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall. "
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:10
And of course, there are exceptions to every rule!  LOL  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:18
I grow weary of these discussions. I listen to music that I like and don't listen to music I don't like. What others think of this or of the artist is irrelevent to me. I like it, therefore it's good. I have a similar contempt for attempts to fit music into some type of genre.
 
I'm not adding anything to the discussion at hand, so I'll shut up now.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:30
Originally posted by Walker Walker wrote:

I grow weary of these discussions. I listen to music that I like and don't listen to music I don't like. What others think of this or of the artist is irrelevent to me. I like it, therefore it's good. I have a similar contempt for attempts to fit music into some type of genre.
 
I'm not adding anything to the discussion at hand, so I'll shut up now.


Walker, not at all!  Yours is a perfectly valid view.  People just like to talk about the "why" rather than the "what' sometimes.Smile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 12:44
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

Originally posted by Walker Walker wrote:

I grow weary of these discussions. I listen to music that I like and don't listen to music I don't like. What others think of this or of the artist is irrelevent to me. I like it, therefore it's good. I have a similar contempt for attempts to fit music into some type of genre.
 
I'm not adding anything to the discussion at hand, so I'll shut up now.


Walker, not at all!  Yours is a perfectly valid view.  People just like to talk about the "why" rather than the "what' sometimes.Smile
 
Thank you for the validation. My problem with talking about the "why" is that its subjective. The "why" will be different for every person, so I think it's pointless exercise.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 13:16
Original or Unoriginal, if i like the sound of it, i like it. If the arrangement has been done before, i couldn't care less if i'm honest. Although it is nice when a band/artist/composer delivers something completely different, but that's exceedingly hard to do nowadays.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 13:19
Originally posted by kibble_alex kibble_alex wrote:

Original or Unoriginal, if i like the sound of it, i like it. If the arrangement has been done before, i couldn't care less if i'm honest. Although it is nice when a band/artist/composer delivers something completely different, but that's exceedingly hard to do nowadays.


This and what Walker said I'll say this about.

It's not that people go, oh man this music is unoriginal ergo I will now chose not to like it. Rather it happens, oh man this is terrible, what is it about it that I dislike so I can warn other who may have similar taste, ah this sounds like everything else I've heard in my life thats why I don't like it.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 13:36
My two cents on the whole retro thing:

I don't mind retro music as such. Hey, Superjudge by Monster Magnet is one of my all-time favourite non-prog albums and if it isn't retro-rock I don't know what is. It's just that "retro" is such a perfect excuse to focus on style over substance and general artistic laziness that I get a bit wary when it becomes a fad as it has here within the last few years...

That said, I'd rather listen to an extremely derivative album that's decent but in no way special than an experimental album that misfires.


Edited by Toaster Mantis - June 28 2008 at 13:38
"The past is not some static being, it is not a previous present, nor a present that has passed away; the past has its own dynamic being which is constantly renewed and renewing." - Claire Colebrook
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 13:53
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Should this music simply have faded away when the time was right?


Yes and no.  The classic style (Gen, Yes, KC) definitely.  The new bands that are pushing the genre's boundaries (TMV, Kayo Dot, etc), no.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 14:29
Life's too short to just keep listening to the same thing.  Genesis is good and all, but it's just a waste of time to listen to Genesis clone no. 1 and Genesis clone no. 2. 
 
My two cents.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 14:44
Originally posted by Pnoom! Pnoom! wrote:

Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Should this music simply have faded away when the time was right?


Yes and no.  The classic style (Gen, Yes, KC) definitely.  The new bands that are pushing the genre's boundaries (TMV, Kayo Dot, etc), no.


I'd like to know how they're pushing boundaries that is so different from other bands. Honestly, they make a lot of random noise with no structure and that's fine. But how does that push boundaries?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 14:45
Originally posted by Toaster Mantis Toaster Mantis wrote:

That said, I'd rather listen to an extremely derivative album that's decent but in no way special than an experimental album that misfires.


Sorry to call you out on this, but I honestly find it quite a lame response (not to mention cliche; I don't know how many times I've seen some equivalent of it).  There are so many experimental albums that don't misfire (regardless of your taste) that you should rather listen to than a decent derivative album that that statement really doesn't mean anything at all.


I'm sorry if that didn't make sense.  Basically, it doesn't mean anything to say you'd rather listen to a decent derivative album than a poor experimental album because there are lots of great experimental albums, so why waste your time on either the decent deriv or the poor exp?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 14:54
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Originally posted by Pnoom! Pnoom! wrote:

Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Should this music simply have faded away when the time was right?


Yes and no.  The classic style (Gen, Yes, KC) definitely.  The new bands that are pushing the genre's boundaries (TMV, Kayo Dot, etc), no.


I'd like to know how they're pushing boundaries that is so different from other bands. Honestly, they make a lot of random noise with no structure and that's fine. But how does that push boundaries?


Since that's a blatantly false statement (whether you like them or not, neither band is "random" or has "no structure"), I find it hard to imagine I'll convince you, but here goes.

The Mars Volta pushes boundaries because of the way they've managed to turn punk songs (at heart) into prog songs.  Other bands have melded punk and prog (This Heat, Cardiacs, Ruins, etc), but TMV are the only band whose songs are not a mix of punk and prog, but rather simultaneously both punk and prog.  In that way, they opened up a whole new avenue in prog music still waiting to be explored.

Kayo Dot pushes boundaries because they don't just take the classical influences of trad prog and work them into rock songs, they, as the Mars Volta do for punk and prog, make songs that are simultaneously classical and rock/metal.  In addition, the way they layer their songs isn't present in any other prog bands.

Another good example would be Battles, who blur the line between prog and indie, and also take the inherent mathematical, intellectual end of prog hinted at in Genesis and take it to the extreme, further than any other prog band ever has in terms of mathematical precision.

All of these bands use similar techniques/influences as Genesis, Yes, and KC, but the way they structure their songs is different from those bands, whereas in Spock's Beard, the only reason their song structures aren't identical to those of those three bands is because their song structures are mashups of smaller sections, each identical to those used earlier by Gen, Yes, and KC.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 28 2008 at 14:56
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:


Originally posted by Pnoom! Pnoom! wrote:


Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

Should this music simply have faded away when the time was right?
Yes and no. The classic style (Gen, Yes, KC) definitely. The new bands that are pushing the genre's boundaries (TMV, Kayo Dot, etc), no.
I'd like to know how they're pushing boundaries that is so different from other bands. Honestly, they make a lot of random noise with no structure and that's fine. But how does that push boundaries?


To say Kayo Dot is without structure... I don't know how you back that up. Are Milton Babbitt and Charles Ives also without structure because their music isn't arranged the way you're used to?
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