I really loved that! "I do not write new music." One can imagine that with a certain emphasis: "I do not write new music." That is perhaps the clearest rejection of the modernist project I have seen from a composer. It is probably the case that the idea of writing "new" music is characteristic of a certain time in history and not of other times. Composers in the Middle Ages didn't think of writing new music so much as writing music that was needed for certain occasions. And they wove into most pieces a great deal of age-old chant material so a part of every piece was old music. The inventors of opera around 1600 didn't think they were creating something new as that they were reviving something very old: the music that had been used to accompany ancient Greek drama. Composers in the 17th and 18th centuries were certainly writing new music every day, but I think that the newness of it was less important than that it be pleasing to the right listeners. Composers recycled music by themselves all the time and sometimes, short of time, they might even recycle music by someone else! Again, what was important was that the music be suitable and pleasing.
But the project of modernism was all about the newness of the music. That it sound new, not sound like anything written before, trumped the pleasure of the music. This is frankly the best explanation of why so much music over the last one hundred years sounds so very bad! It is not meant to sound "good", it is meant to sound "new".
A lot of new music is new in the sense that it has no memory--it is music without any sense of the past, music with amnesia. If you are writing music as an amnesiac, then you have no idea what might work. You know nothing of harmony or how to build a melody or what rhythmic devices have what effects. You are like a toddler tossing building blocks around and delighted when some fit together.
This is the modus operandi of what is sometimes called "experimental" music. I am uncomfortable with that term because I think that it is meant to be protective rather than meaningful. The word comes from science where it has a clear meaning. Most importantly, experiments succeed or fail and give us information in either case. We drop a small, light ball and a large heavy ball off a tower and expect that the heavy one will fall faster. But we are astonished to find that no, they both fall at the same rate. The experiment failed in a very interesting way. But how could this possibly work with music? You write a piece of experimental music and play it for an audience. Has any composer ever said afterwards, "well, that was an interesting failure!" No, we are all just supposed to believe that every musical experiment is a success. How odd! If there are not a great number of failed musical experiments, then we cannot call them experiments at all. What experimental music really is, is just self-indulgence by the composer that we are supposed to accept.
Let's listen to a couple of pieces that might illustrate the points: