My Post-Reflection Posting
Jerry Lucky Commentary February 2017
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2017 All Rights Reserved
We live in a world of fads, novelties and trivia. It has become practically accepted that young people will know more about entertainment than they will of current events. I see this as a kind of outgrowth of my own generation. I distinctly remember my high school teachers encouraging us to pay more attention to the world around us, while we all felt somewhat detached from it and felt more pleasure simply getting to know our favourite music and movie stars. That was perhaps the start. With the advent of personalized media itís not hard to see how Millennials and those around them are quite comfortable shutting out the outside world. Except for when they choose to do a little bit of ďvirtue signalingĒ that is.
Now Iím not sure how this will fit together with the idea of fads, novelties and trivia, but I have a sense it does. Over the years Iíve written extensively about music labels, how Iíve come to feel we simply have for too many labels for our own good. One of those labels that has become faddishly popular is to attach the prefix ďpostĒ to whatever it is you are trying to attach yourself too. Doing so, carries with it the implication that you are doing something ďlikeĒ that but that that no longer exists like it once did. You got that?
Iíve been seeing more and more of this type of descriptive over the past year or more. It shows up on band descriptions or promotion material where we see terms such as; Post-Rock, Post-Prog, Post-Industrial, Post-ďwhatever you want.Ē Iím not sure why it is weíve resorted to using this term ďpostĒ as a prefix, especially as it relates to describing music. Truth be told, this is not a new term at all, itís been rattling around the halls of academia for decades. I first came to learn of this prefix from listening to Roger Waterís album Amused To Death which took its inspiration from the writings of Neil Postman. It was while reading Postmanís 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death I came to learn more about the term ďpost-modernismĒ a term that refers to the time AFTER modernism. Iím not sure how it became a term that might be applied to musical descriptions and thatís why Iíve put this notion into the fads, novelties and trivia category. I just donít buy its application when it comes to describing music. It just seems a bit forced to me.
I have a hunch weíve resorted to using this term because itís simply become a fashionable catch-all. Rather than trying to actually come up with a new musical term to describe a bandís style, but not wanting to count your bandís style in with the old terms whatever they may be, we simply say theyíre performing a musical style that is the type of music that comes Öafter that other stuff. Perhaps bands and PR people use it because it makes them sound clever or at the leading edge. To call or describe yourself as ďPost-somethingĒ carries with it a cache that you are more than contemporary? I donít know. It might also mean they were at a loss when it came time to somehow describe their music. Itís a peculiar thing and something Iím going to think about and perhaps write extensively on in the future.
I guess the thing that troubles me most about all of this is that we are just getting needlessly deeper and deeper in descriptives. If I thought we had too many style type descriptions ten years ago. Today itís just even a bit more crazy.
Now at the risk of having my whole thought-process come apart, Iím not that bothered by the prefix-term ďProtoĒ. Yes I can hear some of you saying thatís very hypocritical of me to shun a prefix that refers to a time after, while accepting a prefix that refers to the earlier. Hereís why I donít see a conflict using one over the other. I simply feel it is easier to quantify the earlier, the precursor, the beginnings than I do trying to identify that something has ended and this new things thing is the thing that comes after it. When did it end? How do we know it ended? Can something co-exist with itís forerunner? Seems to me it begs too many questions.
On the other hand the Proto-tag describes a very specific aspect of something Ė Proto-Prog is easily seen to be a sound that hints at what we know to be Prog. That hinting of whatís to come, can come in many different shapes and forms. The Post-tag on the other hand suggests that the genre that itís attached to no longer exists. At least thatís how term is usually used. We say Post-Modernism because Modernism no longer exists. There is a thinking that the music ISNíT Ambient anymoreÖitís POST-AMBIENT Ė (you can insert your favorite genre type). The problem is Ambient music still exists. Can you have music that still exists alongside music that claims it not longer exists in that form? But perhaps Iím wrong on this point? Perhaps the two can co-exist.
Hey I realize Iím just making an argument where perhaps there doesnít need to be one, but Iím throwing this out for discussion based on my core belief that we donít need more description titles. We have plenty already and Iím quite sure that whatever music you are making you can find an existing style description that fits. Thereís no need to keep coming up with news ones. After all, as someone once said, there is nothing new under the sun. At least thatís what I think.