ilzetzki on 01/11/2017 at 09:16AM
A quick look at the Wikipedia page entitled Experimental Music roughly two years ago would have disclosed that whoever wrote that article relates experimentalism in music pretty much exclusively with the NY school. As intertwined as these two might be, any person who knows the first thing about experimental music today would immediately see this definition as gravely insufficient. And indeed, visiting the same page just a few days ago disclosed some heavy editing attempting to put the topic in some broader perspective. However, the many quotes on that page from admired composers – notably, Michael Nyman and Pierre Boulez, disclose the general attitude towards an attempted definition: It seems that every side is trying to define experimentalism to the benefit of the school s/he’s affiliated with (whether this definition is favourable or not). And then, of course, there are the many musicologists trying to make sense of it all without inserting any judgement, as should be the case when trying to define something… poor souls.
My PhD research attempted a (pretty failed) look at the spectrum between open (supposedly experimental) and through composed (supposedly avant-garde) 20th century scores. Not only did I start getting a feeling throughout the research that these supposed opposites (avant-garde and experimentalism), are not in any way mutually exclusive, but I also realised time and again that the definition of experimentalism in music is as open as Walmart on black Friday! Just take a look at the “experimental” tag on this site: you’ll get anything from South American spoken word to Japanese minimal noise. And these two extremes travel through a plethora of styles that seem quite distant from, if at all exhibiting any awareness of the NY School or any other music mentioned on the aforementioned Wikipedia page. And so, a strengthened resolve started growing in me to try and make some sense of this opaque term! And I also immediately knew what methodological route I was bound to take: Past research had already taught me that that the best way to look at a subject was not from its macro to micro situation, but rather the opposite. And thus, Experimental Israel was born.