Nicholas Lockey on”Re-thinking Convention and Innovation”

I’m a bit behind this week; still catching up after the annual AMS meeting in Louisville. Avid readers of The Avid Listener have probably already seen our newest essay, “Re-thinking Convention and Innovation” by Nicholas Lockey, another author new to our fold. But I want to flag this essay for those who haven’t seen it yet, because it’s chock full of tasty meta-thinking. (Also, it opens with a Ferris Bueller reference. Are you sold yet?)

Here are some teasers: “…convention is not just a backdrop for recognizing deviations; it is inextricably linked to innovation. On the one hand, conventions tend to originate from new ideas that are so widely replicated that they themselves become established and eventually lose their sense of novelty.” And: “On the other hand, if and when innovations become conventional, they can provide a catalyst for yet another generation of innovations.”

To illustrates the tension between innovation and convention, Lockey pulls his examples from Haydn, the Beatles, Handel, the Rolling Stones, and the Grateful Dead. If you liked Sara Haefeli’s essay about genius and Travis Stimeling’s essay about virtuosity, then this essay is for you. It adds another piece to our on-going discussion about how we think of music history narratives and who gets to be in the story. Read his entire essay here.

Stay tuned next Monday for “Art Mimics Art: Anthony Burgess’s Napoleon Symphony: A Novel in Four Movements” by Kendra Preston Leonard.

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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