Electronic music. Where did it all go wrong?
For more than 15 years I have developed electronic music gear for other people. I started in the 90s which were an exciting time to be working on electronic music gear as there was a huge explosion in electronic music. This was principally dance music but it evolved into a variety of styles many of which you certainly couldn’t dance to.
Then, over time, two things happened:
- The dance music scene seemed to go stale and the music scene, in general, filled up with derivative guitar bands.
- Computer processing power increased to the point that a whole recording studio could run in a home computer.
I believe these two facts are related and this series of articles describes what I think should be done to make electronic music exciting again.
The musical instrument is the source of the music. If the instrument doesn’t make a good sound no amount of cleaver processing and recording is going to make it sound great. For this reason I’m going to concentrate on electronic musical instruments.
First, I think, we must go back to absolute basics and ask “What should an electronic musical instrument actually do?”.
To answer this question I need to give you an incite into my own attitudes to music…
I grew up listening to the music of this guy.
And the likes of these guys.
Play It Live
- To me – music has always been something that happens live – rather than in a club / disco.
- There is a theatrical element to live music – a communication between performer and audience.
- Most serious music is still produced by bands who win a lot of their fans from playing live.
- Live music has a buzz!
There is more to music than just the bit that reaches your ears. If you went to a piano concert – a little Beethoven, a little Mozart, perhaps a little Chopin – you would feel let down if the pianist sat down in front of an electronic piano rather than a big wooden box with “Steinway” written on the front. Even if, with your eyes closed, the sound was indistinguishable.
In the popular music world, for serious music at any rate, the guitar is still king! The guitarist is the guy standing at the front waving his arms and instrument about. Meanwhile, the keyboard player is just someone standing at the back – out of the way – behind a big box.
Even in dance music, the DJs became more famous and celebrated than the people actually making the music. This is because, if you go to a club you see the DJ not the guy who actually made the record. The DJ is the point of contact with the audience – they’re the ones doing something live.
I believe that for an electronic musical instrument to be exciting, should take center stage. I want people to go and see a band especially because they have a brilliant synthesizer player. In the following articles I shall detail how I believe this should come about.