I've written here often of my admiration and ongoing semi-obsession with Brian Eno. His thoughts on art, science, emergence theory and a whole lot of other fascinating junk can be read here. (It opens with a woman talking about totem poles, but that's equally fascinating.)
An excerpt, to whet the wombat:
There are really only four things you can do. You can repeat something. You can re-evaluate something that used to be there and you've now put a different value on it. You can leave something out, and you can put something new in. And putting something new, which is always considered to be the defining act of being an artist, is only one of four, I think. All those other four decisions are just as important.
Of course, folk music and pop music apparently don't do very much of the latter one, of the innovation one. They are doing a lot of the other ones; they are reevaluating things that were around. They are choosing to leave something out, which can be a very important decision. They are looking again at what already exists; that's the definition of traditional and folk music.
But because of our sort of enlightenment history of wanting to reward novelty we tend to favor, or dignify, or elevate the forms of art that specialize in novelty. And I think we tend to over-reward them actually, or rather we over-value them at the expense at those other conversational forms of art that are going around all the time around people or between people, like hairstyles, there is a popular art form that nobody talks about except me and a few hairdressers.