Okay, I know evolution isn’t the right word.  But I’m using it in a common enough misusage to make my point.

Composers growing up in the mid-20th century had an experience unknown to previous generations: hearing music on stations.  First radio stations; later on television.  This new experience, as I’m sure has been noted elsewhere, had a potent impact on musical postmodernism, one of the hallmarks of which is jumping from style to style in seemingly random juxtapositions, as though flipping a dial from one station to another.

The contemporary version of this experience is webbing ones way through the perpetual LOOKATME of the internet, and I think that shift is audible in the music being made now, and will probably be even more evident in the music of the next 10 to 20 years, as composers who experienced the internet in full bloom during their childhoods master the art of explaining their worlds through sound.

So the reason I’m misusing the word “evolution” is because I think the experience of flipping through stations and current online equivalents are more closely related than not: as I say, an audible shift is taking place, but I hear a fair amount of fluency from one to the other, though others may be hearing a revolution.

How can we tell for sure?  Stay tuned, as they used to say.

2 Responses to “Evolution of Postmodernism”
  1. GW says:

    Stylistic eclecticism, particularly of a random variety, is hardly a sign of post-modernism — which would imply instead a form of historical consciousness in which citation and juxtaposition of historical materials is a critical topic in itself, often used with irony, and often in contrast to a modernism based on a strictly chronological historical development — perhaps it’s just a sign of lazy, if not bad, composing?

  2. Lawrence Dillon says:

    It’s not an either-or question, GW. These musical juxtapositions can be both a facet of postmodernism AND a sign of “lazy, if not bad, composing,” depending on who is doing the juxtapositions and how they are being done. But isn’t this often true of musical techniques — that one can use them well or poorly?

    I’ve written about this difference here: http://www.sequenza21.com/dillon/?p=2183

    And to save you a click: “Lazy composing, post-postmodern-style, can mean slapping borrowed ideas together randomly, without purpose, to cover up an inability to devise ones own thoughts, or to cover up the inability to investigate the potentials of a given thought.”

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