By conceptual music, I mean music that My Retirement Plan Shirt , harmonies, or melodies. Examples of this include the work of Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and styles such as free jazz, noise rock, and musique concrète. The reason this development is crucial is that it extended the boundaries of music as far as they can possibly go—up to the border of meaningless sound. After conceptual music gained traction, literally anything could be called music, including a performer going onstage and playing nothing at all, as in Cage’s infamous “4’33”.” There was no longer an aesthetic difference between music and pure sound; rather, music could only be distinguished by a difference in intention.
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This echoes the ideas that philosopher Arthur Danto had My Retirement Plan Shirt after Andy Warhol produced art objects that were indistinguishable from their everyday counterparts, any purely formal distinction between art and non-art was impossible. I think the same is true of music; once any sound can be classified as art, there are no more sonic boundaries to be broken. Indeed, it seems that every end of the aural spectrum has already been reached. From silence to grating noise, mindless drone to pure randomness, street sounds to re-recorded music, every extreme of musical possibility has been covered. What’s more, contemporary music now reaches every corner of the attitude spectrum. Music can be reverent or impudent, rational or illogical, transcendental or mundane. It’s true that these ideas have existed in music throughout history, but they haven’t been taken to their logical extremes like they have in the past century. If the boundaries of music have been expanded as far as they can go, the question, then, is can we find something new somewhere in the middle?