eric coleridge wrote:IMO, the two aren't mutually exclusive.
Let me understand: You are saying there is no difference to you between a person who intentionally uses a creative tool to a creative end, and a person who uses a creative tool in order to emulate a sound that they are not otherwise capable of emulating? Certainly the two can overlap, but there seems to be a rather plain distinction to me.
eric coleridge wrote:It seems to me that there is a great deal of recorded music, electronic and otherwise, that is expressive, creative, unique, and even musically interesting made by "musicians" without traditional musical training or "chops" in a narrow sense of the word.
I would never question that. I would never suggest that musical training defines whether a person can create great music or not. Often, it is not the case... I have found that virtuosos usually write boring music; music theorists usually write extremely theoretical, but not very expressive, music, etc. Training and education do not necessarily make for great, creative, etc. music.
I think the main problem with uneducated musicians is that they are in great danger of creating music that they personally find unique which is not unique. Does that make it invalid? Of course not. It might be really really cool... but it's not going to be as exciting to someone who knows that what they have done has been done, perhaps frequently.
Here is a fundament of the point I'm trying to make: The days of sequenced music exploring the capability of sequenced music are over... the sequencer has been adequately explored. Which is to say, music which exploits and references the sound and function of sequencers as opposed to using sequencers as a creative end to music that is desired to be expressed is basically a "retro" activity.
Here is another fundament: (one that anyone can disagree with, should they like to... I do not assert it as the way everyone should think) Music is a progression. In any style, form, or genre, a major desire and goal is for that music to progress and improve, and essentially change. (this is largely limited to Western music, which is viewed by those who make it, to be an artistic process... so, I'm not talking about Balinese music, or other primitive music, which may NOT change and often has a functional or ritual usage as opposed to expressive) Those who make most specific genres desire to create a NEW interpretation of that genre... being both expressive of the ideals of that genre, expressive of the intent of that composer, and unique enough to gain the interest of an audience and/or other composers. This has been the way things have gone for centuries. (even when Romantic era composers like Mendelsohn resurrected Bach, their own music [while influenced by those they resurrected] was not an emulation, but rather merely inspired) In the 1970s, when 50s rock was revived in a big way (to the point of completely just writing songs entirely in that style), it was a new thing. Let me retroactively apply an anachronicstic term "retro" to it. : ) Progressively, many styles and genres were revived for the next couple of decades. In the 90s, something weird happened in popular music... genres which had largely been played out in the preceeding decade did not die.
For example, in 1985, when I was writing my first pop music, it would have been absolutely LUDICROUS to implement any of the stylistic elements present in music that had been made JUST 5 YEARS BEFORE. That music was over... the 70s were dead, and at least in 1985, anyone who was trying to be a rockstar would never be caught sounding anything like it.
However, in 1995 the hatred of 5 years before did not exist. People were pretty down on synthesizer-based music in the popular realm, but it didn't go away.
In 2005, not only were people still doing the exact same electronic music they were doing 5 years before, but "underground" electronic musicians were still doing the same thing they were doing TEN years before.
I will not insist that all music change based solely on my own adherence to a desire for music to progress and improve, but keeping that concept in mind, one could see why I would be confused by and judge the as-of-late lack of change. This is the basis for my rant about sequencing being done.
Keeping all of THAT in mind, add my last essay to the mix... the genre (to me) has become stagnant and worse than that, now EVERY SINGLE PERSON can do it RIGHT AT HOME on their OWN COMPUTER. In my day, we designed our own patches, worked our asses to get then-limited sequencers to do what we wished, and then went to great ends to get it recorded... often spending a great deal of money. These days, any 13 year old kid can drag some pre-made loops into Garage Band and jump into the electronic music conversation as if they really had anything to do with the music they "wrote."
eric coleridge wrote:But even in the event that an artist would use artificial tools to compensate for shortcomings in technical virtuosity, there is still an opportunity to make up for these shortcommings in other areas of expression or performance.
I completely agree. I am that person, too. I would never say that I was a technically brilliant performer. I have frequently used sequencing to make up for my own shortcomings... like, for example, the fact that I am not an orchestra. ; )
If the end justifies the means, people would not need to sequence, or even talk about sequencing... the fact that people DESIRE to sequence suggests that they seek that particular device out for a reason. They WANT to sequence, and use sequencers. And why is that? It IS just another form of recording... but it is a form of recording which ALLOWS certain things that other forms do not... and I state that those who seek to sequence seek to use the tool for those things it provides. Granted, creative music can still be made even if you seek a tool to overcome shortcomings... but so often it isn't... so often the tool defines the music made more than the user. That is what I protest.
And, I don't even really protest it... what I protest is that music made where the tool defines the product is given equal credit to a situation where the composer defines the product.
eric coleridge wrote:
I don't think it's possible for any one person to definitely know what is happening in in even one form of music, in every country at any one time, much less to predicate that the evolution of a perceptual form, which has been in perpetual flux since the birth of man, could all at once come to an end--could literally run out of permutations. So, respectfully museslave, these statements are preposterous to me.
Isn't electronic music just normal music but made on synthesizers, or organs, or theremins, or whatever?
Regarding perpetual flux: See what I wrote earlier about the progression of music.
I would never say that music has run out of permutations.
I would never even say that a single instrument can run out of permutations... but you have to concur that there are boundaries that we as humans tend to adhere to musically. While 12-tone music very clearly demonstrated that our system of music is infinite, it totally failed as far as being a generally expressive form of music. There are things we tend to require from music that limit it in some respects. While those requirements change gradually over time, there are still boundaries we seem to want to work within.
Electronic music is far LESS limited than even music made with traditional instruments. For that reason, i would expect that there would be an INFINITE and UNLIMITED list of genres... and despite everyone's desire to hang a new genre title on their individual music, the "genres" being created, in my opinion, rarely are distinctive enough to earn a new title.
If electronic music is SO unlimited, why are so many of those who consider themselves electronic artists still using the same drum machine patterns that were used 15 years ago? Why does House Music still exist? Why is it that with the exception of upon some college campuses the notion of electronic art music has been completely overshadowed by electronica?
I guess my protestations concerning electronic music might be boiled down to the fact that a grand artistic venture, the boundless creativity provided by electronic music, is now defined by everyone at home on their computer... without any knowledge of the history that came before.
I have nothing against electronic music... I have been writing it since 1985. I am complaining about how it is now as narrow as rap, and defined by those who live primarily in a "popular" permutation of it. (electronica)
Now to the point you were making: Yes, admittedly... I do not know every single thing that is happening in the entirety of the world in regard to what someone is doing with a sequencer. Every argument or debate requires both side to have the luxury of generalization... otherwise no one could ever argue a single point. : )
GRANTED: there are musicians doing AMAZING things with sequencers. There is someone somewhere who is doing something so amazing and groundbreaking with a sequencer as to make me seem like a total and complete idiot. There is someone, or a lot of someones, somewhere, whose sequenced music so exceeds my own music, sequenced or no, as to render my opinion completely invalid. But these people are VERY UNFORTUNATELY on the margins. Put them in the center of the bell curve, and I'll shut my yap. : )
As for what electronic music is:
If that is in question, yes... we probably need to define that before we can go any further in this discussion. ; )
There are a number of different types of electronic music. Sadly, the body of people think they are all one in the same... and it is THAT basis from which my argument stems. Many people think that say... Aphex Twin is in the same genre or history as Karlheinz Stockhausen. Like, for example, those who wrote that wretched book/movie Modulations. This is like saying that Elvis (or, someone who actually wrote music in the 1950s) is in the same direct lineage as Beethoven. While certainly all Western music, electronic or not, is connected... what is currently called "electronic music" in my opinion is not a direct relative of the groundbreaking experimental 20th Century (style, not century) music of Stockhausen. (nor, for that matter was Pierre Schaeffer "an early turntablist")
What would you say defines "electronic music," Eric?
eric coleridge wrote:I feel like all great music is timeless and even when the particular genre becomes stale or unfashionable the essence of whatever honest and pure expression was present always remains fresh and unmutable... whether it's dixieland jazz, polka, minimalism or rockabilly...
Indubitably. If many artists who consider themselves "electronic music" today referred to themselves as "retro," I would essentially have nothing to complain about. ; )
For example, you could easily call me a hypocrite. What sort of music do I currently primarily write? Why 1970s and 1960s emulative music, of course! The music I have the most fun writing is in really no way groundbreaking. I'm not doing anything new, really at all... except inasmuch as my particular creative style isn't necessarily a carbon copy of those I seek to emulate. The difference is: I am not proposing that I am breaking ground... I am fully aware of what has been done before. Too so, sadly. Still, I desire what I do to hopefully have a certain sort of "timelessness."
I feel like I need to restate that I am not condemning anyone's music. I'm sure someone is saying "this a**hole thinks his music is better than mine" or "this a**hole is condeming what I write!" But, I'm not. If you want, you can tell me to start writing something more new. ; )
eric coleridge wrote:I've never been there, but I think you're describing Josef Alber's Homage to the Square. He made 10,000 of them in different colors. It was a color study, and he also published a color theory book describing the ideas explored in the paintings-- which continues to be used today in many university level art programs. Which goes to show you that even if the painting style or conceptual idiom has become unfashionable or otherwise irrelavant to the contemporary popular form-- much of the essence of the piece is undisturbed.
If those who use sequencing in a "traditional" way will admit that they are essentially doing "retro," I'll drop my argument. : )
eric coleridge wrote:Even so, I'm not sure if I agree with youre statement--but it's not neccesarily a straight-forward comparison between artistic merit and percieved relevence at any given time is it? I mean is an artforms' newness or "revolutionairiness" or seminal status the only measure of it's beauty or effectiveness or strength?
I think you're making a great point, but for me to answer it, we need to define more issues.
There is no such thing as "musical merit" if we think that everything that everyone does is equally valid or meritous. If such a thing as musical merit exists, we have to be able to say that some music is essentially better than other music. I am willing to do this, but I'm not sure how willing you are...
Every musical creation has merit with the composer. Every person who writes a song or composes a piece, I am assuming, is moved by their own work or at least feels that they have created something that pleases them. In this way, ANY music has merit and is valuable.
However (unfortunately), the value of a piece of music is not defined by the composer... it is defined by the response of the musicians and general populace. Sadly, usually moreso the latter. It is a natural aspect of human nature that something groundbreaking and new AS WELL AS expressive is always going to be viewed as more important than something that is status quo and expressive.
Say you and I heard two musical pieces composed at the same time... both being high quality expressive music. I suspect we would both be more appreciative of the one that broke new ground. If the musicality and expressiveness are equal, groundbreaking will likely always win. It's because we as humans want that eternal musical progression to continue. With the general public, it's not as pronounced as it is with musicians... but it's still there.
eric coleridge wrote:
But for people who weren't around then, these gimmics are still novel... and can still be approached, potentially, from a fresh point of veiw. No?
The gimmicks may be novel for the new synth user who is writing at home... but how can they be if that person has heard any music written in the last 20 years?
I don't think the sequencer, as it currently stands, can be used with a fresh point of view. The music WRITTEN on one can be, though, I suppose... but then again, what about a sequencer could be fresh? Meters? Tempos? Quantization? Automated synth control? In the end, which I think is your argument, it's the MUSIC, not the device, that would be fresh... I believe the functional gimmicks of sequencers have currently been largely exploited.
eric coleridge wrote:]
Probably, but there's almost no difference btween software multi-tracking and sequencing anyway. As you probably know, they're typically one and the same program. Sometimes people use MIDI to save recording tracks as per their needs, and sometimes it's just a function of the new traditions and protocols that have grown around electronic production: first you sequence your instruments and beats, then record... or a vestige of when recording time was a very valuable commodity.[/quote]
If there is no difference between sequencing and realtime recording, why is everyone so dependent on having their analog synth retrofitted with MIDI? If these processes are essentially the same, there would be no need for the automated version.
Yes, I have often used sequencing as a sketchpad, and then gone in and recorded... and I'm sure plenty of people do that. But again... a sequencer is not required for the music in that situation, it's merely a convenience.
As recording time is now NOT a valuable commodity, the added step of sequencing, you'd think, would fall away.
But, it hasn't... and why? Because people specifically seek it as a recording tool. And why, when recording time and multitracking are no longer valuable commodities? As I said before: what defines the difference between a sequencer and a realtime recording device/program? Sequencers automate and quantize.
It is hard record music in realtime. It is difficult to play a musical instrument with precision timing, or even just timing... it's difficult to get the notes right. It's difficult to play expressively. These things require time, skill, and patience. It is FAR easier to sequence...
eric coleridge wrote:
Likewise, and sorry for all the disagreement. I respect what you write here and enjoy reading your opinions--as they often elevate the level of dialogue on this forum. But I think your being a little overly reactionairy... as if somehow technology has long past reached it's apex and now merely confines it's user. How could you allow this to be true and still care to work within this media?
Oh, man... I totally welcome disagreement. Especially informed and intelligent disagreement such as yours. I totally love a great debate!
I am being very reactionary... and probably a little heavy handed. Your viewpoint is very complimentary to mine because it balances it nicely. I think you and I are totally meeting in the middle.
I don't think technology has reached its apex at all. I think there are going to be some truly amazing advances. I think some of these advances will be of great use by creative musicians... but I think a lot of advances will also be purely for money... there is money to be made in software that allows everyone to be able to make music like their idol.
I am on MySpace, as I'm sure is evident from my signature. On my MySpace blog, I often type long-texted rants about analog synthesis. People also frequently find my MySpace page having watched my synthesizer videos on YouTube. So, who adds me? Electronica bands. Over and over. I have no idea why. I suppose because they like what I have to say about synthesizers, or whatever... but it certainly can't be because they think we write the same sort of music. ; ) Anyway... that which I have heard from the electronica bands who have added me has not been a celebration of sequenced creativity, but rather usually a musical nod to electronic artists of the past (and they are ALWAYS sequenced). Basically... the same thing that I'm doing... but the difference is, they consider themselves modern in their genre, whereas I fully recognize that I am "retro."
Why is it that the body of electronic artists are ALWAYS sequenced? I would love to hear electronic bands that were realtime. How cool would THAT be? (I'm sure they exist, but I haven't heard many)
Actually, I would love to see someone explore an idea I had in about 1995... I would love to see/hear a band that wrote "traditional" techno/industrial/electronica music using acoustic instruments in realtime. : )