Have music composers run out of all possibilties for orginality and are they simply manipulating old ideas?
I think it depends on what kind of composers you are talking about. I am sure there are a lot of composers out there doing original compositions, however they may not be being produced and heard by the listening public.
In a sense, is there such a thing as true originality in the first place, or are we merely re-working on older examples and updating them or making subtle differences? I guess if we consider a parallel example, critics reckon that there are actually very few archetypal stories, that are just endlessly repeated and varied slightly to produce the vast number of books that we have today. Doesn't mean we can't enjoy literature any the less though...
It does seem that the avant-garde is missing in our society nowadays. But, cultures are known by their pleasures and by their music and their literature and their art. Perhaps our preoccupation with technology has limited our originality now. So, it may just be easier to rework an older idea....Many people do not recognize the piece as reminiscent of another, anyway.
While a lot of music has been re-made, re-worked, re-styled and recycled, it's hard for me to believe that there is no longer anything new which can be created. It's true that we haven't heard the words "musical genius" since Michael Jackson and Prince, but I have to wonder how much of that is really laziness. I look at the movie world, and I wonder the same thing--why aren't you creating anything new, simply rehashing and remaking all kinds TV shows and movies. Then comes something new and innovative and my hope is renewed. I feel the same about music, so I'm waiting....
This is a philosophically profound question. On one hand, the musicians that are known might be recycling old ideas into modern packaging. Yet, the ones who might be innovating and creating something new might not be well known, meaning that there will always be a paradox: What is known might be conventional, which is why it is known, and that which is new might not be publicized because of its sense of unconventionality. I would say that there is always a sense of what is being done as something that is stale and a perception that it is recycled. Adding to this would be the idea that globalization and increase access to information and file sharing has allowed a blurring to occur whereby more innovations are being borrowed and modified from existing elements. The question might need some level of clarification in terms of what type of musical composers are being examined. For example, popular artists, who make music for public consumption, might reference or build off of artists' contributions of the past. Does this mean that they are manipulating old ideas or rather paying homage to those who came before them? To an extent, I would say that musical composers have to come up with original approaches to music that are ahead of public consumptive tastes. If a musical approach is perceived as boring or tired, then the public will no longer patronize or support it. This might mean that originality is critical to success.