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 Definition of Avant-garde Metal? 
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Joined: July 9th, 2007, 2:15 pm
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Olivier Côté wrote:
What you're doing here is a little bit strange to me: you're explaining the nature of a whole 100 years old tree by trying to understand what one of its leaves might be. It appears to me that this method is forever condemned to confusion and arguments, because a leaf is not a leaf unless it grows from a tree.


Olivier Côté wrote:
What upsets me is when someone only listening to metal music is trying to define what avant-garde music is all about, as if metal was the only key leading to avant-garde. I mean come on, metal is only one drop of sound among millions of others right.


Man, your comment was sure very interesting reading. But where do you have the feeling I think anything different than you about this? Don’t you have the feeling to presume a little too fast about my approach?Ok sorry, since people are into lovely metaphors let me put this this way:
Don’t you have the feeling to judge a book on the cover? I know my previous posts were long, but may I ask you to read a little bit more carefully before replying to them?

What does make you think I only listen to metal? What does make you think I only try to define AGM only after the metal perspective? Man, I’m musicologist; my job is to get interested in every type of music. So don’t worry about me, I have a good overview of the "tree". If by the “100 years old tree”, you’re referring to musical modernism's roots, it indeed started 100 years ago with approaches such as Schoenberg’s expressionism and Busoni’s Futurism. Which are precisely the origins of what we call contemporary (serious) music. (avant-garde descendant of classical music). The first avant-garde music.

*Now haven’t I mentioned contemporary music in my previous post? Oh, btw for the record, contemporary music is one of my specialisations (most particularly the microtonal and the atonal field).

*Besides haven’t I mentioned references to contemporary music, free-jazz, avant-jazz, experimental rock, industrial music in my previous post? Aren't they precisely other forms of avant-gardism?

So I really wonder how you can have this impression I’m trying to define AGM only after the metal world. Which would be for sure biased, I concur.


Last edited by FRED on July 14th, 2007, 1:40 pm, edited 8 times in total.



July 14th, 2007, 12:24 pm
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Of course "avant-garde is always about destroying and surpassing what you already know or can conceive of music". That goes without saying. Once again where do you have the feeling I disagree or ignore this fact?But I'm not trying to define what an avant-garde approach is. We already know IT, thanks to all the different 20th century's avant-gardist artistic approaches. The issue is already clear for me. That’s why I don’t need to deal extensively about it.

My definition of AGM already takes in account the specificity of the avant-gardism approach in general.
AG doesn’t have any general unifying aesthetic. Which is a common aspect of any avant-gardist artistic branch.
Therefore the experimentations in AGM have no unifying direction. (because that’s the “dynamic/multi-formal side” as Honeywine suggested). the only basic common point is their metal roots ( the static part).

To put it simple :

I say no AGM bands sounds the same except the fact they have metal roots.
Therefore the experimental part of AGM doesn’t mean to create a unifying sound.

Is it clearer?


Last edited by FRED on July 14th, 2007, 5:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.



July 14th, 2007, 12:32 pm
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Olivier Côté wrote:

a rigid definition is useless here, unless you try to capture this specific movement of destroying & surpassing into a general formula.



When I say that AGM does not have any unifying aesthetic, am I not already acknowledging that a rigid definition of its aesthetic is impossible? Of course I am!

My point is the fact that we can't give a rigid definition to its aesthetic orientation is precisely THE definition of it.

In other words

The lack of aesthetic definition is precisely its definition

You’re here arguing against something I never implied. Cause I agree with you.


Last edited by FRED on July 17th, 2007, 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.



July 14th, 2007, 12:47 pm
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I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt you in any way: I never implied that you're only juging avant-garde from a metal point of view. I just said that it's something I don't understand and which upsets me. Sorry if it made you think that I was talking about you. No no, already from reading your posts, it's obvious that you have great knowledge in musicology and I highly respect that. I'll come back to your new comments but I just woke up and I'm heading to work in an hour or so. Let me have my ten coffees and talk to you later Fred hehe :) And by the way, I don't wanna fight or anything like that - it's just so cool to have open-minded discussions with cool people.


July 14th, 2007, 1:51 pm
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FRED!

Quote:
I say no AGM bands sounds the same except the fact they have metal roots.
Therefore the experimental part of AGM doesn’t mean to create a unifying sound.


Exactly! Because if AGM would turn to a more unifying sound - as it seemed to do the last few years with the new Arcturus and the Age Of Silence album plus the new two Solefalds - it stops being Avant-Garde Metal, being... some sort of post-black/progressive metal, much less fun! So I hope the new VBE will fuck us over in the eye and ear.

Now I'll go back some day to read all the other stuff you wrote. You seem to think a lot, and that is great.


July 15th, 2007, 1:39 pm
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Well of course that's fine Fred. I still don't know why you reacted this way. I wasn't intending to go against anyone. You say that you already knew about the hegelian formula of "destroying & surpassing" understood in an evolutionary musical context. So I started reading thoroughly your work on AGM in wikepedia, both in French and in English. It sure is interesting but I still don't think that we're thinking on the same lines. That is not to say that I'm against you as a person or as a thinker or as a musicology specialist, etc. I do not challenge your personal authority, Fred, please no worries about that :)

Here are your results to the question of avant-garde metal:

• Some use and research for unconventional arrangements in particular
• An emphasis on new timbre and sonorities
• Use of some unusual harmony (unusual and frequently dissonant chords, uncommon scales, obsessive and persistent ostinato, polytonality, bimodality and sometimes even flirt with atonality)
• Use of unconventional vocal or instrumental techniques
• Frequent loans from industrial metal, from contemporary music or Jazz (most particularly free-jazz and/or avant-jazz), experimental rock and occasionally from other different genres.
• Use of unconventional song structure


This is interesting and general enough to be applied to every avant-garde metal artist I'd guess. And if you stay inside a musical frame of thought, like a musicologue should and must do, everything's alright and I'm certainly not against that because I do respect your hard work.

But whereas you're judging avant-garde metal music within what it is at first glance - metal music with avant-garde affiliations - I'm basically just asking: what is being avant-garde? You say you take that for granted but I don't. After all, it is the musician, the living, pulsing organism, that creates avant-garde music. So, what is being avant-garde for a living organism? That is when we have to take each one of your results - unconventional arrangements, use of new timbres and sonorities, etc. - and try understanding how they have come to be what they are, how they are connected to living fonctions inside the musician, and how a living organism is pushing itself up to new levels of being by a "desire" of avant-gardism. I of course summarize my approach here but you can get my point.

Avant-gardism is essentially a radical movement of life starting inside an organism but surpassing its limited periphery: it is a pulsing motion destroying what is known and creating out of that destruction the unknown. How wonderful! And all of this isn't happening within the musician's awareness. If you frankly ask him: hey man, where are your compositons coming from? Most of them don't really know and don't really care either. It's forming itself somewhere inside. Some mention a creative core deep inside, some mention an obsession for mathematics, some have never even been thinking about it.

I remember Kim Solve saying that he's not composing music for fun, that it is a quite depressing obsession. Let me quote our great Editorship, Chrystof, from a 2001 interview: Generally KorovaKill is neither a Project, nor a Full-Time Job for us, it's just an Act of Self-Defense against those Floods of inner Pictures, that want to come alive through our Persons. Giving Birth is never a Pleasure, it's a Pain and you loose a lot of Blood. We do not create Pieces, the Pieces come to us. So KorovaKill is more a Pain than anything else. My point is that avant-gardism is not a conscious process, it isn't a choice or an ambition either, it's just there, growing, aiming for ex-pression. To me, it is like an ejaculation. But what is this ejaculation and how could we explain it?

To start with another quote from Chrystof: Our Skins are too wall-less to block out the Waves of the All. Our Music is just a Symptom of that, but not an Aim that we head to. What are are the waves of the All here?

You have to ask yourself: is avant-gardism only limited to music? Is it possible to find avant-gardism outside of music? Could we understand avant-gardism more thoroughly, if we look at it from a more basic, stripped-down point of view? Is it an organic process? Can we trace down avant-garde musical fonctions back to physical and biological fonctions, not only inside the musician, but also outside him, into the whole external, physical world around? In other words: can we make the assumption that there are obvious similarities between planetary life evolution, bio-diversity, Darwinian conflictual forces, biological growth and musical avant-gardism?

This approach I think is limitless and very time-consuming. I'm not saying it is the best either. I'm only trying to explain what I'm into. Your work as a musicologue is of course necessary and essential. Musical theory in itself is beneficial and I also like to study it. I'm just trying to take it further, only because I know that music wouldn't exist without any musical organism composing it, and because a musical organism composing it wouldn't exist without everything that came to existence before it, and because everything that came to existence before it wouldn't exist without a physical world where to grow in. As I told you earlier, you always have to keep the whole picture in mind.

Once again, I'm not against what you said, so please don't take it on a personal level here. My basic message is: music isn't sufficient to understand music.


July 15th, 2007, 5:53 pm
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First, please accept my apologies if you felt like I have overreacted. Well, I sure felt a little annoyed because I (wrongly) felt like I wasn’t understood very well. But I didn’t mean to be offensive or something. Well, at least I don’t have the feeling I was, but admittedly I may lack of distance and neutrality to be completely conscious of my precise emotional state at that very moment. Psychoanalysis may certainly regard my comment as some defence mechanism called denial…don’t know whatever… I’m extremely sorry if you felt aggressiveness and I have to say I sincerely admire your cold (cool) blooded attitude toward all of this. I don’t know if I could have reacted as relaxed as you if I have felt aggressed.


July 15th, 2007, 9:43 pm
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Now concerning your reflection that’s a very interesting approach.

You might be surprised to know I totally agree with your conception concerning the fact Music shouldn't be analysed only as a strict musical phenomenon.

And that’s actually what musicology realized in the last decades. That’s why there’s this new branch of musicology called “new musicology” which reacts against the strict musical-specialisation of traditional musicology which only focused on the historical, technical and aesthetic aspects.
New musicology on the other hand takes in account these traditional aspects, but tries to investigate new fields of them by using the hermeneutic tool. That is to say a way to analyse and interpret music according different other perspectives. We could also use other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, ideology, anthropology, philosophy and biology for example. I strongly defend that approach.
For my part I’m most particularly into the semiotic, the psychoanalytic, and psycho-cognitive approaches at least for the subjects Iam currently working on.

I was more prudent with the biological aspec however. Because I was extremely mistrustful with those scientists trying to explain everything and anything about the humanbeing as if it was a only a pure machine (including the cultural and psychological aspects), which may lead sometimes to some dubious genetic/cultural superiority theory.
However I was recently quite convinced by approaches of Musicologists such as Judith Becker notably who rather argue the close interaction of Biological and cultural aspects.

So yes we can take in account physical and biological fonctions, and also the whole external, physical world around?

Quote:
In other words: can we make the assumption that there are obvious similarities between planetary life evolution, bio-diversity, Darwinian conflictual forces, biological growth and musical avant-gardism?


That’s a very interesting issue.
Of course such similarity is seducing intellectually speaking.

But one should also be intellectually prudent with assumptions. Because when two forms share similarities. Even if it is pleasing for the poet, it doesn’t mean it is has necessarily a effective causal or structural relationship with it.
To take a concrete example: a ball and the sun share a spheric-like form but it doesn’t necessarily mean they share a causal relationship.

So yes Avant-gardism leans towards artistic evolution and revolution
and so does Planetary life biodiversity, biological growth as Darwin exposed.

But does it mean it has a causal relationship? I wouldn’t be surprised so.

But such a theory is simple to state for the poet
but on a scientifically ground it has to be verified and proved thanks to scientific studies. I mean direct scientific studies that can expose a direct and striking causal relationship between the evolutionary biological life and the evolutionary cultural life, at best with avant-garde metal.
I can tell you this is something, I can’t do for my part.
If you can I'll be interested to read about your research.

Anyway even though I think there’s something worth investigating on the biological level, I think before caring the biological aspect, one should first take in account the sociological, anthropological factors which appear much more direct and striking in relation to the evolutionary /revolutionary tendency of avant-gardist culture.

On a strict European ground it has been proved for a long time that social/economical changes heavily influences the evolution of music. Some may argue they often occur with certain ideological approaches.
I could even explain the avant-gardist aspect by psychoanalytic issues. But I guess here no one cares.

However claiming avant-gardism is the cultural pendant of the evolutionary biological process is fine and dandy, but one should also take in account the case the millenary traditional music of some cultures. If evolution selection is the reason of the existence of music, how can we explain that some ethnic traditional music who don’t change/adapt survive for over millenaries?

So whatever if we have to take in account every side that might implied in such complex cultural phenomenon, you would need several books.
Now my concern was just to define more humbly AGM music on a strict aesthetic issue without necessarily taking in account every latent issue behind the concept of AGM.

If we were to deal extensively with every implication behind each concept, we could not deal with a simple and short definition of that concept anymore.

Here’s the reason why I focus most particularly on the aesthetic aspect of the issue. Even though some biological aren’t openly treated within that definition.

Olivier Côté wrote:
Well of course that's fine Fred. I still don't know why you reacted this way. I wasn't intending to go against anyone. You say that you already knew about the hegelian formula of "destroying & surpassing" understood in an evolutionary musical context.


No I didn't. Actually I'm familiar with Hegel (most particularly for his work on music and his thought which influenced musical Romantism thought), but I wasn't familiar with that very hegelian formula itself, I only was with the concept itself.

I was more familiar with avant-garde music philosopher Adorno's stance who worded similar things. But Admitedly he was strongly influenced by Hegel.

Anyway that "destroying & surpassing" thing is kind of a credo for most of the avant-gardist arts. Hence the fact I was kind of familiar to it even before reading these two key philosopher.


Last edited by FRED on July 15th, 2007, 10:37 pm, edited 11 times in total.



July 15th, 2007, 9:43 pm
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Sorry my previous post was very long. For those who might be confused with all those discussions or don’t want to read all my boring stuff...I summarize it here :


1. I totally agree with Olivier on the fact music shouldn’t be analysed and interpreted only through a musical perspective.

2. That’s btw the purpose of the modern form of musicology: the new musicology, which analyses and interprets music through a hermeneutic perspective and non-musical approach (ideology, Psychology, biology, sociology, ethnology and so on…) . An approach I strongly subscribe to.

3. the parallel Olivier made between Biological/environmental evolution and the cultural avant-gardism evolution is intellectually seducing.

4. However in my view claiming it -just like poets point out similarities through metaphors- isn't sufficient. Such a theory must be investigated deeply with scientific means to be proved.

5. in addition to biological considerations, one should also/first take in account sociological, economical, ideological and psychological aspects which influence heavily the evolution of musical aesthetic and practice.

6. However taking all those aspects in account would demand several books. Now My concern -just like some other people I guess- is to put a quite simple aesthetic definition of AGM, even though it doesn’t take in account all these aspects. Even though the definition is thus limited.


July 15th, 2007, 9:57 pm
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aVoid wrote:
FRED!

Quote:
I say no AGM bands sounds the same except the fact they have metal roots.
Therefore the experimental part of AGM doesn’t mean to create a unifying sound.


Exactly! Because if AGM would turn to a more unifying sound - as it seemed to do the last few years with the new Arcturus and the Age Of Silence album plus the new two Solefalds - it stops being Avant-Garde Metal, being... some sort of post-black/progressive metal, much less fun! So I hope the new VBE will fuck us over in the eye and ear.

Now I'll go back some day to read all the other stuff you wrote. You seem to think a lot, and that is great.


Interesting,
You've provided an interesting beggining of an answer concerning a question I was asking earlier: the difference between AGM and post-(black)metal.
Well the difference between prog and AGM is clear. But it is less with post-metal or post black.
Do you think post-metal has a more static and unifying sound?
I have no ideas, because I hardly see for the moment what the difference is between both. But I'll be interested by your opinion.


July 17th, 2007, 10:20 am
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To me, the major difference between post-BM and AGM is that AGM doesn't necessarily originate from BM; a lot of avant-garde metal bands, such as Forgotten Silence etc, had very little to do with BM from the very beginning - those Czechs for example owe a lot to Cynic. Post-BM is to me bands that were "true" black metal in the beginning, such as DHG, Emperor, etc but have moved on to a newer more progressive sound, yet still keeping some of the BM-influences (vocal & guitar styles, basic satanic/elitist philosophy). Post-BM & AGM overlap each other all the time it seems, and the borders are quite fuzzy, but post-BM is definitely easier to define. But then we have bands like Arcturus, who come from the BM scene (Aspera has definite black things going on), but keep generally far away from black metal on their later albums. I guess the postBM tag has a lot to do with the philosophy, as with "ordinary" black metal - if it isn't satanic in any way, it's not black metal, regardless the musical sound & style.

Post Metal is however a totally new concept to me. What can you tell me of it?


July 17th, 2007, 11:59 am
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Anyway avantgarde is like atheism: U can't make an organisation (like a church) of atheists, isn't it right?!


July 17th, 2007, 2:56 pm
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Nice analogy Ulv, but I'm sorry to say that there are certain Atheist organisations here in Sweden. Rabid humanists trying to put an end to all "unenlightened" religious people. Narrow-minded pricks, those fellows. Not very humanist at all. But that's another topic.


July 18th, 2007, 3:46 pm
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We had a debate in the Vendlus Records forum on what is avant-gardism in music and the question of perspective suddenly popped up. Some people were saying that what is avant-garde and what is not is only up to who talks about it. For example, Dimmu Borgir isn't avant-garde for most of us, while for a Bad Religion fanatic, it may sounds really weird and out there, therefore it is, for him, avant-garde. So avant-gardism is limited to one's musical perspective and that's it.

What do you think about that?


Last edited by Oliver Side on July 27th, 2007, 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.



July 27th, 2007, 10:46 pm
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Well I'm not really convinced that it's only a matter of perspective. Of course to a certain degree, we could say that everything is avant-garde, only relating to this or this dude's musical tastes and knowledge. But if you're to seriously try to understand what is avant-garde in itself, not as a word among others nor as a fashion or a trend, but as a real, palpable artistic phenomenon, I would say that you have to dive into basically all existing kinds of music. ALL of them. Then it is easier to judge what is and what is not "forward-looking", or what has or hasn't been made before. If someone only listens to a one-dimensional musical universe, be it Britney Spears or Darkthrone-like BM or whatever, who cares about what is avant-garde for this person. It will of course be limited to his small perspective.

Let's have an image. You want to study physics at University. There's that one man who has never even studied it before, who never went into outer space, who never experiments with matter particles and vacuum, who isn't even into elementary degrees of mathematics. But his father occupies an important role at the University and wanted his son to teach physics, and there he is. Then there's that astronaut just coming back on Earth after a 10 years voyage on planet Mars, whose knowledge is not only rooted into past books but also into real and personal experiences and investigations. He has seen our planet as a grail of sand among all the other stars. He has felt inside him what is outer space, he lived it. Let's say he even had a LSD trip in his spaceship.

The first man comes to you and says: hey dude, let me teach you about the relations between mathematics, earthly physics and cosmic black energy. I'll tell you what's possible and what's not out there! Listen to me kid, I basically know everything and I'm paid for it! I can already state that it is scientifically impossible to have a LSD experience in a weightlessness state, so be careful when you hear that arrogant man who thinks he knows everything, and who says that I was only chosen to teach because my father is working here. He's a liar!!

The second man comes and says: if you want to learn about space traveling, lsd weightlessness powers and cosmic physics in general, come to my class. Here we'll concentrate ourselves on experiences and facts, let's forget about my ego, I'm just a passage between outer space and my students.

What is gonna be your teacher choice? Mine is clear enough. But the question is: these two guys obviously have two distinct perspectives on the matter of cosmic sciences. You can say to yourself: well, both of them have a valuable teaching, because both of them offer a different perspective on the same object. The more perspectives you get on the same objet, the more you get to know what it is. Or you can think: of course I'll go and listen to the astronaut because his experience is far more expanded than this little colon-licking daddy's ignorant boy. Personally, I'll take the second option anytime, there's no question about that.

I think it's the same with avant-garde. Britney can tell every journalist that her last album was original and forward-thinking, but who cares if it's not avant-garde at all, once compared to any European techno artist? It's like Nocturno Culto saying that the next Darkthrone album is gonna be "special" and like nothing he's done yet, even that it's maybe gonna shock his fans. Maybe it's different if you compare it to Transylvanian Hunger, but in the end it is nothing else than metal right?

Yeah sure, perspective is an important part of our lives. Everyone's perspective, in some way, can be interesting. But I also believe that the ones who are experiencing everything possibly experiencied in the realm of music, have a more valuable comprehension of music than anyone who is always limiting himself to more restricted areas of sound.

I'm not saying, though, that it's easy to explain what avant-garde is, and I'm not the one who can handle such a question! But perspectives aren't going to give us an interesting answer, other than a psychological one. Saying that everything is a question of perspective is limiting every object of experience to who perceives it. As a biopsychologist, I may want to know about who perceives it because my quest is to understand perception in itself, but as a physician, I want to know about it, that's all!

I don't want to sound arrogant or anything but I just think that perspective is a very limited realm when you seriously want to understand and experience what is the very nature of an object. Mathematics aren't only mathematicians, just like music isn't only the sum of its listeners. Do I make some sense here or?


July 27th, 2007, 10:47 pm
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