What the heck is “Modern Creative” music?
Dr. Suzuki raised an interesting point in our conversation yesterday when he asked what exactly I meant when I talked about "Modern Creative" music. Well, I hate to sound like I'm parroting Allmusic, but he caught me off guard so I rattled off something about how it mixes free improvisation with other elements or something like that, then went on to talk about John Zorn's game pieces.
But again, Dean's question leads me back to the question that troubles me: what exactly is Modern Creative music? I guess I must be on the right path– after all the Bay Area Improvisers' Network site specifically states that it serves "the San Francisco Creative Music Community". Likewise, the Creative Music Guild is an Oregon nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing improvisation and composition. Waitaminnit though… Shouldn't all original music be considered "creative"? After all, someone created it, right? Perhaps the "creative music" tag originates from improvised music's extreme demands on one's creativity. There are no common song structures, chord progressions, rhyme schemes, etc. to draw from; the improviser is creating music without a safety net, spontaneously acting and reacting to other performers, the environment, etc.. Every performance is different; the improvising musician cannot rely on rote memorization and muscle memory to carry him through another rendition of his song list.
Even though that makes sense to me, I don't think it's a very fair label or a very clear descriptor for improvised music. When people ask me what kind of music I play, I usually reply "improvised music" and try to leave it at that; other times I might glibly say "whatever comes out". I'm uncomfortable with saying that I make "creative music", because it seems to suggest that other ("lesser") music possessing easily discernible form, harmony, melody, etc. is somehow not creative. The discerning musical elitist in me knows that a lot of popular music is mindless crap; however, it would be folly to think that there isn't music outside the free-improv realm that isn't dazzlingly creative.