Why Electronic Music is so f**king great 1 | Conductr

Why Electronic Music Is So F**king Great? (1)

Music is what matters

Why Electronic Music Is So F**king Great? (1)

Why Electronic Music is so f**king great | Conductr Ableton Live Controller for iPad

Electronic music is the most exciting and revolutionary thing that happened to music in the last 500 years. Plain and simple. Beyond genres and styles, its very own nature has meant —and still means— a radical reformulation of how we think of music, how we make music and, ultimately, what music is. But why?

In the “Why Electronic Music is so f**king great” series we’ll see… well, why electronic music is so f**king great through some of the music paradigm shifts it has meant during its first 100 years.

There is no such thing as noise
Any sound can be music

Since Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo’s “L’Arte dei Rumori” (The Art of Noises) manifesto, written in 1913 (!), the concept of what a ‘noise’ sound is, as opposed to a ‘music’ sound, has progressively lost its meaning. A century of electronic music has taught us that ANY sound, be it pleasant or annoying, can actually be significantly used in a music composition and therefore be musical.

A ‘non-musician’, as Brian Eno would put it 60 years later, Russolo claimed in his manifesto for an increase of the sound palette to be used in music, meaning that timbres beyond the classical and traditional instrumental ranges —which is, devices specifically designed to generate “musical” sounds: drums, piano, guitar, trumpet et al.— should also be accepted as ‘musical’ when used with the purpose of making music.

 

Although quite rudimentary, deliberately iconoclastic and even naive, Russolo’s demand —and its practice with his astonishing intonarumori— was the seed of a “democratization of sound” idea that would be developed later by artists and theorists like John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer or Iannis Xenakis, among many others, in a far more sophisticated way. Schaeffer, for instance, integrated sounds recorded from his environment —‘noises’, as understood from a traditional point of view— onto his compositions in what he would name musique concrète, as early as the 1950’s. Xenakis, on the other hand, explored the boundaries of electronically-generated sound —again, ‘noise’ for most of his ancestors— within his hyper-complex, mathematics-based stochastic composition system.

 

Today, 90% of the sounds we listen to, dance to and enjoy in music, both electronically generated or sampled, would have been tagged as “noises” by our grandparents.
Obviously, all of this evolution on sound variety acceptance in contemporary music wouldn’t have been possible without the suitable technology to allow such experiments. That’s where electronic media takes credit not only as an extension of the music instruments range, but as a generator of radically new aesthetics. We wouldn’t be talking about the subject of noise as an integral part of modern music —or, best said, its total disintegration into modern music— if synthesizers, sequencers, microphones, samplers and magnetic tapes hadn’t existed.

 

This is probably the most important change of the musical paradigm that electronic music has meant: ‘noise’ —as some of its traditional definitions used to assert: “a loud or unpleasant sound”; “one that lacks agreeable musical quality”— is not an objective fact in music anymore but a subjective appreciation of sound aesthetics. Simply, because there is no such thing as a common, universal “agreeable musical quality” anymore. Digital glitches. Interferences. Surface noise. Lo-fi samples. White, pink and even brown noise. You may like it or not, but as Donald Judd said, “If someone says it’s art, it’s art”.

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2 Comments

  1. […] of technology as a symbol of progress and sublimation of the human ability for transformation. As Russolo claimed, they chose “Noise Music” as the soundtrack for the new world. A neat and happy world. […]

  2. […] Continue Reading: Conductr | Why Electronic Music Is So F**king Great? (1) […]

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