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Music of the mad.
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IanB
IanB
6761 posts

Edited Aug 18, 2011, 07:41
Re: Music of the mad.
Aug 18, 2011, 07:26
Robot Emperor wrote:
FifePsy wrote:
Robot, i'm guessing you may have had a read of Terry Castle's piece in the latest LRB? If not it would be right up your street.


Got it in one. Great article that does not shy away from the moral ambiguities that collecting such art creates.

I have been thinking about this all day (dull repetitive work, you need something to reflect on or you would go... well, you know). The most interesting things in music possibly come from those who could be described as being estranged from society, not only because it is a much wider group than the institutionalised but also because making music is a more communal activity. It requires at least some engagement with society. This would be beyond some of the artists in the art brut article. Obviously technology is changing this. I bet there are a few hair raising musical scores lying unknown in mental institutions around the world.

Music by those estranged from society, by choice or nature, seems to be JC's bag. Certainly a recurring riff back in the days of the "Album of the month" (this place misses them a lot I reckon).

Don't think western culture ever lost its thing about the holy fool (and whatever - whisper Shaman around these parts) being party to hidden truths and possessing abilites beyond "normal" people. Would it be possible to suggest a balancing act - the dreadfully artisan ability to be proficient or even brilliant at playing an instrument has been seen secondary to the gifts of the holy fool? That the balance has been out of kilter for so long (40 years?)... building on foundations of sand again. Time for bed.


This a an excellent thread. I think there is also a misguided belief in the existence of raw, pure, unmediated art that has avoided the need for tuition or graft or ambition, has side-stepped disappointment, compromise, commercialisation or the creative dead end. If you are working with that set of criteria to hand what would be more worthy of our approval than the kind of art we have been discussing here?

That is of course nonsensical. Show me a "holy fool" creating genius work in any field of art, though music is probably the toughest, and I'll show you someone who has sweated to develop the craft that gives them the tools to run wild. The bonds of conventional thought and behaviour may have needed to be cut for the creative leap to happen but without the bedrock of facility there could be no leap in the first place. Some rock n roll people prefer to think in more romantic terms but the list of people without a hard-won technical facility who can make truly free art worth listening to is very short indeed.

This is also the dark side of the Primitivist movement who denied the non European artist an indentity or even the notion of talent (so much easier to plunder from the unnamed and the unskilled!) while praising them for being more in touch than the European bourgeoisie with nature, "the spirit world" and, of course, their sexuality. There's Jim Morrison shtick for you in a nutshell. Add the idea that their technique is raw and their rhythms repetetive or unsophisticated and you have a very good parallel for rock n roll's obsession with the work of the unhinged.

So the question for me is when are middle class rock n rollers going to stop hating themselves just enough that they can get away from these nonsensical ideas about where art comes from?
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