Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'd Give It a Ten But You Can't Dance to It

I am writing this latest blog post to provide some impression, thoughts, conclusions and other such meanderings on what I experienced in Heugenot this year at the Electro-Music festival. I have been to the festival now for two years although I trucated my first visit. What impressed me the most about the festival is that I found a group of people who did what I do that is make "electronic music'.

"Electronic Music" has been around now for a long time but clearly defining what exactly it is is perhaps left to better philosophers than me. However, what was clear to me was that what I was listening to at this festival was not "dance music". If anyone came to the festival expectiing dance music and for example listened to Richard Lainhart would be sadly out of there musical element.

I am a would be student of Electronic Music history. I believe it has its roots more in classical music than any pop movement although the difficulty with defining it today is that is has been entrangled with pop and yes, with dance music. But the odd thing is that for the most part, those who write it don't write dance music. I know I am not making sense here but I guess what I am trying to say ever so badly is that while some people who make other kinds of music would call themselves electronic artists there is an "electronic music" that is a true genre however broad and ill definted. That genre is what I heard at the Electro Music festival and why I felt at home there. With people who where trying to do a version of what I do whatever that is.

A little side note here with a purpose. Its funny. I support and truely appreciate what music therapists do. They seem so together in clearly defining what they do to the point of having a certification process. I also appreciate the difference between therapist and artist and at times, I also find that desire to clarity everthing in music therapy a weakness as well. It seems closed in on itself and unable to benefit from other directions that might help expand it and allow it to grow.

No I come to the point of this blog. The "whatever that is" part. One thing that can be said of classical music is that through each era, each incarnation, each century there has been a way to define it. A set of methods, practices, ect. As music came to the 20th century, those practices began to dissolve. Despite the attempts of serialism, classical music took many different directions including it's spinoff, "Electronic Music", at least that is how I see it.

But now we have what? Drone music, space music, new age, krautrock, experimental, ok, i'm not going to give an extensive list but you get the idea. Defining what it is that we do is very difficult. But more than that, talking about it is even more difficult. If you want to talk about Bach you pull out sheet music. There it is. OK, sure, there is some degree of interpretation but for the most part what a classical composer composes is sheet music (to illustrate a point).

What an electronic artist does is programming, finding new instruments, finding new controllers, layering sounds, again, the list could go on and on. So where to we from here? I don't know but perhaps this blog is an invitation to some to start talking about what is is that we do as electronic artists so that we can pull out the electronic music equivalent of sheet music (at least metaophoricaly) and for the reall great music proclaim: "I'd give it a 10 but you can't dance to it" and so it goes...

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's Old is New Again

I think sometimes in a world of quickly moving technology we often believe that if we just keep moving forward that things will improve. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't but as I a writing this blog, I am listening to an instrument made my Hammond called the Novachord. This instrument is truely haunting and beautiful. It reminds me of another beautiful instrument called the Ondes Martenot. It seems a strange turn of events that just recently these instrument have been revived both physically and in sample form. Hollow Sun and Sonic Couture both offer sampled versions of the Nova Chord and Sonic Couture has a sample Ondes. There is also the French Connection which is an actually hardware CV controller that works like the original Ondes. No doubt the design for the Haken Continuum is at least inspired by this instrument.

A Twitter friend reminded me recently in a great blog just how useful "old school" techniques can be. In her case, she found a variation on a "old school" roladex a very effective way to keep track of business cards. Both the Novachord and the Ondes Martenot are both very old school and yet, by modern standards perhaps they don't have the range of many modern synthesizers but they also don't have the annoying property that they also sound like every other synthesizers. In a musical world that claims to be cutting edge, I often find that the real game if you want to make the big bucks is sound almost like everything else but put a little twist in it, not to much, so your music gets a notice.

For me, I have been enjoying some instruments from the past, "old school" instruments that don't sound the same. I guess I like them because I feel inspired by them. Hopefully I can use them in my music in the future and break away from the pack by going back to the future, sampled "old school" here I come.