Monday, October 29, 2007

On Originality

A thoughtful post from Matthew Guerrier about the nature of genius, Romantic thinking, and current notions of innovation reminded me of a particular email exchange with a friend a few years back:
Friend: Enthusiastic as I was about "My Father..." and many other Adams pieces, I don't like [Naive and Sentimental Music] at all. To me, it sounds like "Adams Does Adams," without anything new... no, just anything...to say. Sorry.

Me: And how did you feel about Haydn around Symphony No. 85?
Clearly some critical antipathy toward Philip Glass originates in the demand for constant newness and originality.


Steve Hicken said...

I think there's a difference between being in a rut (or plowing over and over in the same area) and having a well-defined approach that works over a long period of time. It may be that some critics think the Glass is an example of the former and that Haydn was an example of the latter.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I am absolutely sure you're right!

Mike Walsh said...

Your assessment of how you perceive a technique or approach is also a personal thing. If the approach doesn't work for you as a listener, you aren't likely to appreciate the subtler differences between instances of that approach and are likely to dismiss it with an "oh, God, that again".

David B said...

But many of the criticisms one sees of composers who are supposedly "in a rut" would apply equally aptly to a composer with "a well-defined approach that works over a long period of time." Declarations that a particular personal idiom is explored after only one or two works, that constant reinvention is necessary, that only the cutting-edge will be valuable in the future (which is closer to the opposite of the truth, although not very close to that, either) - that sort of crap is still uttered today.