Claude Chastagner, professeur d'anglais à l'Université Paul
Valéry à Montpellier.
Song Remains the Same".
creativity in popular music.Clic
and Listen to music.mid
(lien ouverture en popup)
droits réservés ©
Song Remains the Same".
But this conception too has its flaws.
Things are not so simple. Rock music far from
being revolutionary or counter-cultural "articulated
the reconciliation of rebelliousness and
capital" Frith, 2). This implies that
new genres are not simply radical departures
from previous ones. Behind the romanticism of
punk and other rock styles, the flag-brandishing,
the sacrifices on the altar of artistic "progress",
lies an attempt at preserving the status quo,
which coalesces with the pressure of the music
industry to recoup any deviance. Besides, the
revolution principle stresses too heavily
rupture and discontinuity.
Laing underlines that regarding punk rock, there
is a tendency to encourage "the view that
it is also revolutionary, having been created ex
nihilo, rather than formed out of the available
existing musical material... Seeing punk as
new clouded how it represented a re-working
of motifs familiar from rock music history"
(22-23). The periodization of rock history that
has been established conceals the continuity of
practises. As Lawrence Grossberg put it,
"punk attacked Rock & Roll, celebrating
anarchy and the pure negativity of its
deconstruction" but it also "reencapsulated"
it (117). This notion of reencapsulation is for
us capital. It suggests that there can be both
ruptures or revolutions, and continuity. More
important, it not only acknowledges the process
of popularization and conventionalization but it
also puts forward a possible explanation for
creativity in music. It implies that what is new
has an origin which is not necessarily "genius"
or "spontaneous creation".
Reencapsulation means taking
the past into account as a ferment for
creativity, as a basis to build upon. The
concept was best formulated and taken one step
further by Michael Jarret, notably in his
article "Concerning the Progress of Rock
& Roll" (167-180). Jarret founded his
model on the theory of decay. Transposed into
the realm of cultural studies, the theory of
decay enables to take into account the past and
the present, tradition and innovation, and
supplies "a paradigm of innovation that
could be generalized for every type of writing,
every field of knowledge" (171). Decay is a
digestive process. It breaks down existing
structures and uses their constitutive elements
to build something new. It implies that all
musics, even those we do not like, that seem
trivial, unimportant, boring, have their role to
play and that the whole history of music can be
treated as compost pile.
this point, what John Cage wrote in Silence,
"much can be learned about music by
devoting oneself to the mushroom" (274),
begins to make sense. What have fungi got to do
with the evolution of Rock & Roll music? The
answer is that fungi are saprophytes and as such
exemplify the logic of decomposition: they
thrive on dead or decaying matter. They recycle
nature by entertaining a bilateral relationship
with the host organism. As saprophytes,
"rock & roll", suggests M. Jarret,
"feeds off the decay of tradition"
compost pile of previous musical forms is there
not to be plundered but rather re-used,
appropriated, combined, through careful or
random selection to create something new.
Instead of becoming increasingly less relevant,
requiring, to be deciphered, the expertise of
specialists, cultural productions from the past
are transformed into signifying contemporary
practises. The past can still be enjoyed as such,
but it also becomes a nourishment, giving birth
to and nurturing innovation.
Pages 1 - 2
3 - 4