I read a great book recently, Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, which is essentially this fantastic global theory of poverty and progress that works flawlessly across all of history and the world. One of their key concepts is creative destruction, the idea that any innovation that improves living standards (e.g. printing press) destroys what came before (e.g. demand for hand-copying), which leads to conflict because some other group will have an interest in maintaining the status quo (e.g. scribes).
That’s also basically the story of experimentalism in music, so I began to wonder how far the parallels go. Well, upon reflection, it seems to me that there’s a biologically determined limit to this process as it applies to art, and this inherently creates a limit on experimentalism itself. We’ve reached that limit. It’s no longer possible to be an experimental artist in the true sense of the term. (more…)