Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat
One definition of 'experimental' is the precedent. Is there a precedent for what you're hearing? If so, how ingrained is that precedent?
Let's take Beethoven as an example. I will argue that Beethoven - in his time - was largely experimental. He follows a level of tradition, but Beethoven's style of composition is actually radically different to anything before it. The differences are subtle to modern tastes, but they are profound and kickstarted the Romantic movement.
One thing that is drilled into you at an academic compositional level is precedent awareness. Can you talk about previous composers that have influenced you? Or concepts that have inspired you - and in doing so, can you differentiate yourself sufficiently and distinctly? Then there is the question of the naive. Are you naive? Can you not find a precedent? Can your music be approached naively?
All music at some point is experimental to a degree - but there are levels of importance within that. If we take a band like The Beatles whose later catalogue is experimental for the time, you can then look at that and trace roots of what they were doing to more avant-garde composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen (whether they were aware of it or not) and you finally arrive at somebody who was 'ahead of their time', i.e. with a less traceable precedent. Then you're usually in the grounds of the experimental proper.
And I can buy that.
But at the same time, you're making my point exactly.
It was experimental, with in a defined
context. After all, there are only 12 notes in Western Music. Near endless combinations of said notes, but still, (nearly) everyone in our culture from the dark ages to Rebecca Black are using the same 12 notes to create, be it "new" or "recycled" musical ideas.
Unless you're pulling sounds out of thin air, everything has some level of precedent. As you pointed out, how much precedent determines level of experimentation. But at the same, precedent IS STILL there.
As you very well explained (thank you for that), it is the level of precedent, which automatically makes it relative.
And because it is relative, there is no clear line in the sand. You can draw one, but it's still a relative line.
Pink Floyd had a relative level of experimentation. You can argue it was NOT the same level of experimentation as Beethoven, due to different levels of precedent, but you can't just say this is and this is not, when it is a relative measurement to be determined based on context. And different context gives you different results.