New Music, Unpopularity & Pushing Ourselves

Everything has been done before & nothing is new! The two most overused and depressive outlooks on life to form an adage. I guess I'll quit now..

I read an article today which saw Sandy Evans challenge what it is that goes in to creating a piece of new music - and it's worth a thought ! Evans points out that for music to be new it must contain the 'death of old sounds' (interesting in itself), and that therefore the latest Cold Play (or equiv) record isn't classified as new music because they have aligned themselves with those old adages in order to gain commercial success.

I'm the last one to 'cock a snook' at commercial success, however using Evans article, new music is by definition, unpopular. It pushes the boundaries of our ears, it can hurt, however once we get over that initial pain and commit to understanding what is being communicated we enter a new world fit for exploration, and it's for that reason that I love new music ..


Has anyone ever landed in a foreign country and immediately gained a headache from the new music they were confronted with on route to their hotel? Upon returning home I find I miss those sounds that I first found to be ugly, my brain rewires itself through necessity, I've even found myself reminiscing to friends on these sounds ..

The flip side, popular music, can of course also be fascinating. In many ways it is noticing what we have in common! Bobby McFerrin (Don't Worry Be Happy) demonstrates this perfectly.

The point? We notice the commonalities more than we move outside our comfort zones. Pushing ourselves to listen to new music is good for our well being, and good for the artists who are creating it. More often than not, due to it's unpopularity, those artists are truly penniless.

I find John Zorn a good stepping stone for people who are looking to get outside ... He may not be classified as 'unpopular', however you certainly won't find him on prime time TV.

"What I completely reject is the idea that music is a hierarchy: the so-called more complex forms, such as classical music, are higher than jazz, which in turn is more complex and therefore higher than blues, which is higher than pop music, or whatever. All of them are on the same level! And all of them should be respected in the same way.

All the genres are the f*!#ing same.

My music is ideal for impatient people, because it is packed full of information that changes very quickly."

John Zorn (Berendt & Huesman, 2009, p. 180)

And ... perhaps one day we'll all understand Harry Partch!

How do you define new music?

Do you push yourself regularly enough?


Berendt, J.E., Huesman, G., (2009). The jazz book: From ragtime to the 21st century. (7th ed.). Chicago IL: Lawrence Hill Books.    

Evans, S. (2008). Celebrating humanity through the creative process. Retrieved: