This was the topic of a discussion I had recently with my peer at BYU, Joseph Sowa.
In our discussion, we worked up to a very broad and unforgiving definition of these terms for ourselves, and hypothesized about what 'the next big thing' in music is/will be. (That is to say, 'contemporary classical music' - apparently the next big thing in popular music is 'electroclash bubble-goth' and that is a discussion for another day)
Postmodernism: see the wiki. This is music composed with a sense of irony, using any available musical materials. It challenges traditional notions of music in every way it can think how. Its approach asks, "Anything goes, so what do I want?"
Joseph and I both agreed that our generation (roughly composers maturing from the 90s to the present, but also including a number of older composers whose styles are moving beyond
Modernism/Postmodernism) is distancing itself from trends associated with either school of thought. The general mood is one of synthesis: 'Anything goes, so what do I want, and how do I make it all make sense together?'
Joseph called composers of this new trend 'Synthesists'. A term I have previously heard (in a slightly different context) is "Maximalist" (Though that term already has some baggage) In either case, the idea is one of collecting techniques, ideas, materials, and aesthetics from a broad range of influences and bringing them together into a unified, expressive whole.
In other words, exactly what I've set out from the beginning to do as a composer. Its encouraging to see that I'm not alone. It is definitely okay that I'm not the first. Is it wrong to want to be one of the best?
|I realize that this has the whole copyright thing going on, but I liked the image: is the urbanism of Postmodernism rising up to a new kind of Modernism, or is Modernism falling into a morphed breed of Postmodernism? I did track down the quote featured, it is from an interview with artist Milton Glaser.|
And the raised-on-science-fiction, matured-on-the-wave-of-the-Internet-era, technological-optimist in me wonders: does the future of new music lie in technology? (Two concepts to be explored in a later post: Music that is only possible thanks to 21st century technology and music that uses technology to challenge and change the very nature of music...)
|The Modern 'Synthesist' has only very little to do with the now ancient concept of a 'synthesizer'. Probably.|