Killing the Father

In one of his essays, Umberto Eco vamps on how innovation can occur from taking influences beyond the immediately inherited. He describes this as “killing” the father through resorting to the grandfather for help.

Take two musical examples of this…

Claude Debussy, instead of inheriting Wagnerian grandiosity, chose to go back to the ancient practice of gamelan for influence. CW Gluck, instead of inheriting Baroque opera seria, chose to go back to the Greeks, both in material and in increased emphasis of the chorus.

Both of these men changed the course of music not by exclusively inheriting what came before them but by going back even further for influence.

Within the same musical vocabularly, the person who stands out is usually the one person who has an influence that nobody else has, that nobody else has heard of, that nobody else has researched. That’s what gives that band its edge.

As Mike Watt has said, the only thing that’s new is you finding out about it.

Happy Fathers Day!


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