We always hear talk of new music and the new music release but, on closer examination, these terms are words that are loosely bandied about. They are words sent forward with dead certain intent and yet they have no certain criteria. They are like other words that we also use with serious intent that also have, at best, a subjective meaning; words such as ‘god,’ ‘soul,’ and ‘normal.’

First of all, when we use the words ‘new music,’ we make the arrogant assumption that we are talking about the new music of our own generation, as if preceding generations did not have and talk about new music. Let us go back to the early 1700s, at the end of J.S. Bach’s lifetime where we will find only one such circumstance of the advent of new music. J.S. Bach’s sons were among the proponents of this new music that we now call Classical.

The music of J.S. Bach’s day, the Baroque, was a more complex form of music, thus we see yet another instance of new music involving a de-evolution of sorts and part and parcel with a popular movement. As a student, I had a music history professor whose pet theory was that everything after J.S. Bach was just a recycling of material, as it were. If you look at music from the standpoint of the harmonies only, it is difficult to argue against what he said.

Again, in this day and age, we are seeing lots of lawsuits being filed by one artist against another, saying that their song was ‘ripped off.’ This happened even back in the days of Classic Rock, and understandably, since rock was so obviously derivative of the older big band sounds.

Even though we have been through a dozen or more labels since, such as new wave, punk, and grunge, there has not been much movement away from the usual chord progressions. The Beatles were quite glib about songs that they had ‘nicked’ or stolen, meaning that they had taken the chord structure of some song and changed the tempo and lyrics. One obvious example of this is ‘There Were Bells’ and ‘Little Child’ which appear on the same album!

A recent article in the Times defended this process, saying that when an artist makes certain changes to a song and individualizes it with their own view of it and interpretation, then they own that (version) of the song.

Ironically, this is more in line with the view composers in the baroque seemed to take. Bach thought nothing of changing Vivaldi violin concertos to harpsichord concertos as he thought nothing of his own music being played on completely different instruments than it was originally written for.

All of which begs the question; is there really such a thing as new music. Perhaps there is only the new music release.

Source by Fritz Kundler