Talk:Postmodern music/Archive 1

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First Principles[edit]

As a classifying term, this article must cover all the views which are agreed upon. Since this is a living, contemporary term, it will be particularly difficult to find agreement and references, so I suggest a cautious, first principles approach:
• Start with clarity
• Stay within zones of agreement among REFERENCES
• Remove Point Of View material
Alan Parmenter (talk) 10:45, 11 July 2008 (UTC)


Please bear in mind there are whole modernism pages elsewhere, better prepared than this one, no doubt. Therefore, even if there is much need for reference to modernism, there is no need for discourse on modernism and modern music on this page.

György Ligeti[edit]

Why does Ligeti's name appear in this article? Ligeti has gone out of his way to say that he's not a post modern composer.

"[My music is] in no way post-modern, as the ironic theatricalizing of the past is quite foreign to me." —booklet of Ligeti Edition 3.


How so?[edit]

How are these styles of music 'postmodern'? I've never heard of them referred to as postmodern music, though I've never heard any music at all referred to as postmodern, so maybe I'm just ignorant... -- SJK

No, you're not. I think it is certainly possible for certain musicians to be postmodern, but amongst the key features of postmodernism are a tendency towards self-referentiality, and a fair degree of irony which disqualifies Punk, Disco, Grunge and certainly the first wave of 60s psychedelia in one fell swoop... A good example of a postmodernist musician would be someone like Tom Lehrer who was so far ahead of his time that he was a postmodernist before postmodernism had been thought of... User:sjc
These qualities (self-referentiality, irony) surely don't disqualify recent forms of electronic dance music, such as House music, Techno music & hip hop, though. User:ihh
What is the source for the inherent irony of postmodernism? The postmodernism page only has one reference to "Postmodern Ironist" being "one of the four world-views" of Walter Truett Anderson Alan Parmenter (talk) 10:26, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Saved here[edit]

Does anyone else agree that hip hop should be much more prominent here? In my view it is THE postmodern form of music, since its based on sampling, which is a form of pastiche. Also, hip hop artists are very self-referential and constantly refer to other songs... it is quite common for a track to sample a song that is only a few years old. Furthermore, hip hop is unabashedly commercial and has basically made the idea of "selling out" obsolete; remember that artistic integrity and the idea that an artist must be separated from or "above" society was one of the central modernist credos. To a certain extent I feel like intellectualizing music in this way is counter-productive, but this sort of thing is probably inevitable so I might as well throw in my two cents.

As a musical condition, postmodern music is music situated after the modern age, during the present period, where music has become primarily a commodity and a culture, rather than a form of idealized modernist expression. Some authors have suggested that the transition in music from modern to postmodern occurred in the late 1960s, influenced in part by psychedelic music and the late Beatles albums. (Sullivan, 1995, p.217.) In the 1970s, the postmodern trend continued with the advent of disco, punk rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, and a newly-commodified country music.

The difference between modern music and postmodern music then is that modernist music was characterized by a focus on musical fundamentals and expression. In postmodern music, however, the commodity being sold by record companies and pop stars is not the fundamentals of the music, but the cultural image surrounding the music, which reverberates through film, television, and other media.

List of postmodern musical artists[edit]

I was surprised to see Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen listed as postmodernists. Surely their music has all the characteristics of modernism, and none of those of postmodernism; no polystylism, no bricolage, no irony etc. Their works are based on a rethinking of the fundamentals of musical language, and are definitely examples of pure, elitist if you will, "high art". (Interviewer: "Do you think modern music should be more accessible?" Boulez: "A whore is accessible.") The same goes I think, for most of Ligeti's compositions, with only very few exceptions (Le grand macabre comes to mind); his use of African music is not a stylistic game, but a way to focus on the fundamentals of rhythm. I've left Ornette Coleman there, but I have to say I don't really understand why he is mentioned. Can someone explain?

Personally I would not put Boulez on the list, but would put KS there for many of his "middle period" works which were aleatoric or frame referential. Stirling Newberry 23:10, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This list might as well include absolutely everyone who has ever recorded a song. THere are thousands of artists who could be classified as postmodern musicians. Why bother with this list? Its a futile and utterly worthless gesture. All songs are based on collage and a composition of stylistic genres!!!! There are only so many strings on a guitar, only so many keys on a piano. Each and every musical composition consists a variation of existing themes, or musicians 'speaking' to their field.

Postmodernism series[edit]

I've created a template feel free to add other important examples of postmodernism - broadly defined - in this template so that readers can gain a better understanding of the terms involved by comparing and contrasting their use over several articles. Stirling Newberry 17:26, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This needs to be discussed[edit]

Having a section on POVs which question the existence of post-modern music, or question its standing as anything other than bastardized modernism is entirely reasonable. It is a prevalent POV in music, architecture, literature and a host of other fields. This verbiage however, doesn't do it. It is POV personal essay from the title forward. Thus I am moving it here for discussion so that there may be an appropriate section on "Reactions to post-modern music" which would include this POV, as well as other POVs on post-modern music - from laudatory to critical. Stirling Newberry 13:58, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

=== Postmodern Music: The Very Idea ===
The phrase postmodern music is essentially contested. The extent to which we have surpassed the age of modern music is an empirical question, which is open to conflicting interpretations. It is possible to question the very notion of postmodern music since such a notion would seem to rely on a false dichotomy between 'modernist music' and 'postmodernist music'. After all, every musical compositition is based on a diverse melange of previous influences. All musicians are inspired by what has gone before them - modernist or otherwise. There are only so many keys on a piano, so many strings on a guitar. All music is based on inter-textuality and the re-interpretation of common themes in different contexts.
In addition, and perhaps more damningly, the 'postmodern music thesis' seems intellectually elitist as it reinforces a false distinction between high art and low art. This is demonstrated by the so-called virtues of musical fundamentals and expression (discussed above). According to the thesis these virtues were thought to prevail in the age of modern music, whereas during the postmodern age music has merely become a commodity bought and sold on the market like all other commodities, with little concern for asthetic value. Such a thesis would seem to run contrary to the sheer scale of indie, punk, goth and metal cultures which apparently make music for the sake of music, so to speak, with little commercial success.
You acknowledge that we need some sorta critical section, toward the end. So, why don't we keep that one (or edit it slightly) in the meantime until someone can improve on it. Keeping that section is better than nothing, no?--Nicholas 14:03, 14 July 2005 (UTC)
In this case no. It violated "No Personal Essays" and NPOV. I am strongly in favor of a section on critical reaction, including negative critical reaction. I am strongly against anything that says things like "more damning" etc. I'd write something but I am currently writing (for money) under deadline. Stirling Newberry 14:56, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

How about we merely edit the above material to make it more balanced? Complete deletion is unnecessary. If you ain’t happy with these edits, but you agree that we need an extra chapter, then i think the onus is on you to come up with something else, once you are ready.--Nicholas 18:46, 14 July 2005 (UTC) --Nicholas 18:46, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

Second revert. Please read wiki style policy. Stirling Newberry 19:08, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

Why don't you discuss your problems with the debated material? One or two other editors have accepted the contribution to the article. It acts as an effective counter-balance to the current edit which takes the idea of postmodern music as a given. This is surely not a neutral point of view. Your censorship is not very constructive, since you won't provide an alternative nor make the edits that you perceive to be necessary.--Nicholas 21:28, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

It's clearly POV. "We've moved beyond" alone should be a red flag of POV writing. Asserting "false dichotomy". That's not an almost universally conceded fact. Particularly with critical reactions sections Who said What about Whom, When and for What Reason should be answered. And No personal attacks please. Stirling Newberry 12:06, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

This whole article is POV - from start to finish. In its current form this article is not befitting of encyclopaedic standards. The Beatles as postmodern? Butthole Surfers? I mean c'mon. What nonsense. The list in this article might as well include everyone who has ever written or recorded a song. The whole idea behind 'postmodern music' is complete nonsense and ditto this article because it accepts the idea as a given. I also think it will be impossible to find references for this proposed critical section, I don't think critics would even bother wasting their time with the idea of 'postmodern music'.--Nicholas 15:13, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

To the contrary, there has been a lot written about the postmodern aspects of music. But the problem I see with this article is that nearly every contributor seems to confuse two distinctly different things: (1) postmodernism as a musical style, and (2) postmodernism as a way to describe the state of music in postmodernity. When people talk about the Beatles being postmodern, that has nothing to do with their style. Stylistically, the Beatles were consumate modernists. But from a socialogical point of view, some writers have suggested that the late Beatles albums were symptomatic of (or trend-setting for) a cultural shift in music which mirrored other postmodern trends at the time. But to include the Beatles on some list of "postmodern musicians" is silly. Actually, up until the late 1990s, there were very few pop artists who could truly be called postmodern in style (it was more common in the classical realm). Nowadays, however, it's become trendy, so we start to see people like Gwen Stefani dabbling with self-consciously postmodern styles. So it really doesn't make sense to list every artist who has done something stylistically postmodern. COGDEN 18:55, July 19, 2005 (UTC)

Another point I wanted to make in reaction to the critical section: the postmodern style means more than just borrowing material from others. Certainly, borrowing is common in modernist and premodernist art forms, as well. The difference is that postmodern borrowing has an element of irony and self-consciousness. Typically, the postmodern music will simultaneously parody and embrace the thing borrowed. COGDEN 19:07, July 19, 2005 (UTC)

'Postmodern music' a period in history or a stylistic genre?[edit]

Hi Cogden: Whilst I don't necessarily agree with everything that you say, thanks for entering into the debate. Do you have a point of view that 'postmodern music' is simply a stylistic genre and not a historical period in music? I wonder if you can work that POV into the article? I think it would make things a lot clearer. At the moment the article seems to refer to 'postmodern music' as both a period in the history of music and at the same time a stylistic genre. Either way, i think the distinction needs to be clarified.--Nicholas 19:58, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I think it's way too strong to say that postmodernism is a period of music. I wouldn't say it is a genre, either, except to the extent that Minimalist music is a genre. From the point of view of style, postmodernism is more like a group of traits exhibited by certain musical works. From the distinct, second point of view unrelated to style, postmodern music is not a period, but a particular condition, which may or may not always correspond to the real world, and may or may not be permanent. In this non-stylistic sense, I wonder if it actually shouldn't be called something like music in postmodernity, rather than postmodern music, which is a bit confusing. I'll try to think of a way to edit the article, but I'm not sure I can do it right away. COGDEN 21:38, July 19, 2005 (UTC)

Mr. Cimini seems to be ignorant of the basic wikipedia policy of NPOV. Let me review this for him. A wikipage is not the sum of the POV's of the contributors, it is an project to document notable and encyclopediac POVs that are in use. He has called "censorship" removal of his POV, and demand the article have a POV. To the extent that "postmodern music" is used in various ways, the article must reflect those usages. It will make life a great deal more pleasant and productive if Mr. Cimini begins to adhere to the rules of the project. Stirling Newberry 23:31, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Excuse me.
The article as it currently stands is terribly biased. You know that. I know that. COgden knows that. Everyone knows that. If you, Mr Newbury, think that you're such an expert on 'postmodern music' and the wikipedia style policy then why don't you make the article more balanced and stop with the personal attacks. There are so many problems with this article, that its almost unreadable, but you seem intent on deleting only the material that doesn't conform to your biased POV. I've said it once and i'll say it again: Mr Newbury, your censorship is not very constructive.--Nicholas 09:28, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
No Personal attacks please. Just because the article is incomplete without a critical reactions section does not mean that your material is an improvment or even acceptable. So far you have shown not the slightest interest in editting to consensus. Stirling Newberry 14:14, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Listen mate. I'll tell you whats unnacceptable: your censorship. You continue to remove that material (which i have re-edited on several occasions) in the ambigous name of nPOV. This article is not a mouthpiece for fashionable nonsense. It requires a critical section. Stylistically, there are several bad sentences/paragraphs in this article. But they all conform to your narrow point of view so you are happy to leave them unedited. If you are not happy with the debated material then write something else. Until then i will persist with my critical section. Thanks --Nicholas 14:42, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Personal attacks, POV pushing and revert warring are violations of wiki rules. Please either adhere to the rules. Stirling Newberry 16:09, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Pot calling the kettle black?
Why don't you work on your contributions to the article? Instead of simply deleting anything and everything that cotradicts with your POV. -- 16:15, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Oops, I forgot to sign in. I could very easily delete loads of stuff from that article, because it doesn't make consistent sense nor does it present a balanced account of postmodern music. Instead I am being more constructive than that and I am trying to add a critical section. If onlyi had a little co-operation! Sadly, all i get is censorship from someone who is clearly unwilling to co-operate.--Nicholas 16:17, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Why is Adorno mentioned on this page? Adorno was very clearly a marxist/modernist. Just because he talks about music someone has added his name to this page to try and give it more cudos.--Nicholas 19:55, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure where you think that rule was established. I believe it is acceptable for, say, Marxists to talk about capitalism, and post-modernists may talk about modernism, and the other ways around. Farmers may do math, and mathematicians may garden. Considering that, during modernism, Adorno commented on postmodern features such as quotation, I would say he is relevant. Hyacinth 23:26, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Rules? Did i mention anything about rules? Adorno never talked about postmodernism. He did however talk about a late-capitalism and (amongst other things) musicology. But he would not have condonned many of the nihilistic (relativistic) tendencies within postmodernism.--Nicholas 09:08, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

RE: "The difference between modern music and postmodern music then is that modernist music was characterized by a focus on musical fundamentals and expression. In postmodern music, however, the commodity being sold by record companies and pop stars is not the fundamentals of the music, but the cultural image surrounding the music, which reverberates through film, television, and other media".
I thought that postmodern music was meant to dissolve the boundary between high art and low art?--Nicholas 09:19, 21 July 2005 (UTC)
I suggest you read it again, it makes the argument that the defining characteristics of "low", namely it being popular, are extrinsic social signifiers and therefore irrelevant to the question of the music's validity as proper subject matter for academic attention. Stirling Newberry 15:09, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

Request for Summary[edit]

I have no particular interest in postmodern music, because I do not believe that the concept of postmodernism is valid. I agree with John Reilly that postmodernism is really only late modernism.

However, a Request for Comments on user conduct was posted.

Can the two parties to the dispute please summarize briefly what their positions are? Robert McClenon 01:10, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

My position is summarized on the RFC. Mr. Cimini has repeatedly inserted POV material, shown contempt for developing a consensus or writing an NPOV section, and has engaged in admitted personal attacks. He and you share the same POV on this matter - which is no concern of mine, however, the policy of wikipedia is Wikipedia:NPOV and Wikipedia:Good Faith. I will also note that the viewpoint that postmodernity is degenerate or late modernism is referenced in the article:

As with modernity and postmodernity in general, modernity may be considered to not have yet ended, and thus there is no postmodern condition.

I posted an RFC on the article, which was ignored, and was forced to move to an RFC on user content when Mr. Cimini began engaging in personal attacks, unsupported accusations, vandalism and trolling.

Stirling Newberry 01:16, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Request for Links[edit]

Can you please provide me with links to indicate that he was trolling or engaging in vandalism?

I agree that the issue of whether there is such a thing as postmodernism is a POV. Robert McClenon 03:06, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Initially there was agreement that a section needed to be drafted which dealt with various POVs on critical reactions to postmodernism and music. I believe there is still consensus that this material is lacking in the article as is currently. Links were provided with the RFC. Stirling Newberry 04:27, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Please try mediation[edit]

I have re-read the talk page. I think that mediation would be a good idea. Are you both willing to agree to mediation? Robert McClenon 03:17, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Mediation is always preferable except in extreme cases. Stirling Newberry 04:27, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Extreme? Mr Newbury will be pleased to know that I'm finished with this article. He has scared me away with his refusal to co-operate and his witch hunt against me. Considering the topic, it's not worth me wasting my time.--Nicholas 10:17, 22 July 2005 (UTC)


I removed a bunch of vandalism from the article (several section titles were messed with and some silly puns and jokes inserted into the text--"tape loops and fruity loops," "on the other hand (my left)"--but as I was doing that I noticed the section on post-rock. Is it really necessary to this article? The only post-rock band that I can think of that really could be considered post-modern is GY!BE because of their use of spoken word samples and so on but I wonder if the section wasn't simply included because of the "post-". 04:36, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

(from another user:) I think what qualifies many of these artists as post-modern is their fusion of several distinct traditions (often fusing "high art" with "low art"... if you combine heavily distorted guitars and airy string arrangements into a song, for instance, its fair to call that "postmodern".... Radiohead, for instance.... combining Jazz arrangement styles, Beatles-esque songwriting, Pixies-esque guitar riffs, and production techniques that include modular synthesis, mellotrons, old-school VCO synths, funny analog filters, and a martenot... this pretty much makes them not containable within any tradition or movement. Granted, they may be a part of the rock "movement," and rock and roll has taken these turns before (Beatles, Pink Floyd), but IMHO many such rock acts have been postmodern. Rock and roll, in essence, is very much a pastiche-type genre, while the true "tradition" at its core is the blues tradition (which was around long before rock).


  • One of the most prominent compositive postmodern artists is Michael Jackson. One example of his post-modern compositions is his 1997 piece Morphine which combines two pieces of electronic music and one of small-form neoclassical music. The latter piece is arranged with the sounds of medical equipment and voices of medical personnel (as part of programme music concept). In his other works, Jackson creates unique timbres and uses mechanical sounds, or sounds of nature as samples for leading and accompanying instruments. Jackson often considers the task of implementing in the record the sound that "comes to his head." The difficulty lies in the complex nature of controlling electronic techniques allowing for the exact timbre and therefore satisfying the truthfulness of artistic self-expression.

I removed the above. At one point it referred to Mark Anthony Turnage (similar album title, actual composer). Hyacinth 11:50, 26 February 2006 (UTC)


is not punk a postmodern musical response to rock? punk rock? i am surprised punk is not mentioned here Xsxex 03:47, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

How is punk post-modern? WesleyDodds 07:00, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

"serious" music and the audience[edit]

In the Modernist view, such a connection was unnecessary - "serious" music was the place where serious ideas could be presented in musical form unfettered by the need to flatter or patronize an audience

It seems it's not true - AFAIK such composers as F.Liszt or A.Skriabin were rather intrested in the audience aspiring to bear their enlightening ideas to the masses. Such idea is alien to postmodernism thus in Postmodernism such connection is unnecessary. --A4 09:21, 14 December 2006 (UTC)


I had to revert to the last versin because someone deleted considerable parts of the article and wrote comments as if he were in the talk page. Didn't seem like vandalism to me, though. Maybe someone completely new to Wikipedia. Nekrorider (talk) 05:18, 25 October 2008 (UTC)