På svenska

Manifesto Against Music

Made public on the 24th of March 2000 on the concert ANTIINSTRUMENTAL FRONT - NOISE AGAINST MUSIC at Fylkingen in Stockholm.
Published in Swedish in the last issue of Gränslöst, Magazine for Contemporary Music, 2000.

Depolitization and demoralization have been regarded as virtues even among music makers for a long time. Especially young musicians are well on the way to letting themselves be washed away by the hypnosis of repressive tolerance. Everyone likes the avant-garde (especially the "classical" of course) and it is invested in the modern (or, in de-ideologized terms, the "contemporary"), as long as it doesn't demand more than their little stages.

The music industry is just a self-serving circle for reproduction of already established values. It has no goal but to reproduce its market, maximize its profit and defend its positions.

Art music, jazz and the different alternative networks shouldn't believe that they are any exception.

Musicians, cultural administrators and writers that don't encourage methods to create excitement, beauty and shock (the creative and convulsive confusion) aren't worth any respect.

Instrumentalists that don't want to exceed their own and their instrument's history and limitations, who don't want to achieve the magical, the astonishing, should hang their instruments on the wall and make room for others that have something substantial to give. They're in the way!

I turn against musical pitiableness, in favour of those who want to give sound back its explosive possibility to surprise, make us amazed, shiver, cry and laugh.

For the instinctive, absurd, unmusical, raw, extremely romantic, vertiginous, improbable, revolting, tangible, explicit, material, concrete, grotesque, perverse.

For sound making that is and expresses an urge to use all known and unknown possibilities in life, and try to discover those that haven't been used before.

Against a formalistic "plurality" and pseudo-democratic inclusion of mediocrity and fool-virtuosity. For the "amateurs" and dilettantes that yearn for biting off more than they can chew, go too far, risk making fools of themselves - as long as they're willing to take responsibility for their actions, as long as they have an adventure to share with us with open eyes, and no image, wealth, position or fame to conquer(none of these are worth it).

What I demand first of all is an uncompromising consciousness about the miserable situation of music today and an uncompromising asperation toward inspired freedom of thought. What I demand is to name the many failures and limitations of these asperations by their real name: failures and limitations. What I demand is to attack the illusion that the limitation of freedom is grand or even acceptable, that unfreedom could even be freedom.

Against all cultural politics! If we use such things, it has to be in self-defence, in resistance, and it has to be said explicitly!

The striving for a cultural position is entirely nauseating. The avant-garde (or the "new") have voluntarily made themselves a hostage to power and even worse - they glorify it.

To create a new universe of wonders is a prerequisite for life. Anything less is a compromise.

The culturally commercial "news" are always shallow, harmless and ingratiating, i.e. not at all new but a total confirmation of the scheme of things.

The revolutionary will always be presented as old and antiquated.Certainly, revolt has its traditions and inspirations, but it's aiming at replacing the very foundations of its critics, the commercial and contemptuous foundations of culture.

Those who only want to make music aren't worthy of representing mankind. Those who with their music or in other ways only want to reconcile, make peace, heal, cheer up and amuse, betray all ideals about complete freedom. Those who claim that music is only music are liars and police. For them the state is only a state (or even "everybody"!) and not an organized class war. For them, a poor person is just poor, not exploited, for them, advertising is information and not a weapon of exploitation and stupidifying. For them, news is not propaganda. For them, Sweden (or England) is the best country in the world and not a hypocritical, self-flattering imperialism. For them, ideology is just a topic of conversation, not a our every-day life. For them, people who see through western propaganda are hysterical terrorists. For them, Hollywood is not a defense of white American middle class lifestyle but culture, i.e. on the same side as their own culture, only more successful, thus more enviable. They say music is just music, it's something to do if you're suited to it it, just like some become executioners, street sweepers, millionaires or drug addicts. They are proud of their stupidity and want to impose their stupidity upon us. For them, sound making can never be visionary, never an expression of the burning necessity to transform misery into miracle, to find gold in the dunghill, to break with repression and to conquer freedom.

Music is an art form. Of the arts, it's sometimes said they are possibly beautiful but definitely useless. But all music is functional and exists in relation to its situation. No music, no art, is made for eternity. The concept of art must be erased in order for us to see what art is replacing: the revolt of beauty, truth and adventure against ugliness, lie and boredom. A necessary paradox: if beauty, truth and adventure were self-evident in life, there would be no contradiction and thus no "art" as a separate domain.

The development of art from a craft with a social function into the right of individualists to express their wishes (in the illusion of being independent of an audience), corresponds to the development of the free market towards world hegemony. Everybody has something to sell and must themselves motivate the price on their goods. Artists are supposed to create an image of themselves that is marketable. If they have no personality, they must invent it, and conform to the needs of the market, or to the niche that suits them. In this way, both art products and artists are objectified with good help from themselves. Of course, art expresses the conditions and illusions of artists: their plea to the market for mercy.

The centre of music is really an interaction on the occasion of the performance or the listening, not just the sound object itself. Music must consciously be made for its special situation. We have a limited lifetime and -place and must relate to it. The same counts for musical works - children of their time and situation, not summarizing any eternal principle.

There's no difference between the process of performing music and the wishes of life of the musicians. If we discuss what is important for music, we must discuss what is important for man. What is then? To get rid of repression and famine, to liberate play, beauty, love and poetry. To inspire and induce courage. Music has no strategy like politics, music does it through action, must in itself be the necessary revolt, contain all the violence and straightforwardness that is needed for the liberation of beauty - it is reality as well as utopia.

Of the arts, I demand the same thing as of artists: to favour freedom and to inspire others to take their liberties, to revolt, create, improvize, invent. Even a "musical work", not only its preparation or the act of composition, must show a desire to experiment and open itself for processes, constitute an attempt, not mass produced, dead and meaningless perfection. Music is no special life form, but, if it has the possibility of being something, it is an image of the ideal life. We have to demand beauty, truth and freedom of everything: Music is a meeting between matter and body (the spiritualized: living, thinking and feeling body) - between body and body. It is impossible without two things: matter as a medium of turbulence, and spiritualized structures, i.e. the same that is demanded of and constitutes life. An "ideal music", or more correctly, musical activity, "musicking" (to use Christopher Small's term) can thus be a source of inspiration for the transformation of life and the world according to your ideals.

Music of course reflects the world. A social structure and general public that is stereotyped, commercial and dominated by the personality market, gets the music it deserves. That's why resistance is called for on all levels to stand against these structures. New and unusual beauties, structures and musical situations must be explored and invented, clichés in aesthetics and performance be challenged, the commercial forms counteracted with alternative formats and networks, but it has to be done without illusions about the little place given to music in commercial culture.


Contact
The Welcome Page

This page updated the 3rd of August 2008.
http://www.bergmark.org/manifesto.html