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Is electronic music real music ?


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Hi everyone :)

 

Well since I'm asking myself this question like 4 times a day, I just wanna discuss it here with you psyheadz.

Several friends of mine are playing "real" instruments like guitar, bass, drums, cello, piano... Some of them are really good at it but after years of practice mostly they just can't create their own tunes because they are still not good enough. I mean it's really hard and needs a lot of work.

But in electronic music anyone can build a good track after few years of practice only...

 

The result in both cases is music, ok. But are we musicians ? Are we just writting a tune ? Or are we just playing around on a software ?

 

 

Is electronic music not a real music just because it's virtual ?

 

For me, electronic music is also a way to express ourselves without any limits. If you wanna create something special, you just need to listen to musics and to practice until you understand how to build it. Maybe it's not like playing music because you don't do it live most of time, but it's, i think, some kind of a knowledge or another way to get emotions thrue the sound..

 

So I need your opinion, let's discuss and think together a bit :)

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What Rotwang said... Music has a lot more dimensions to it than playing an instrument. As long as it has any kind of musical theory behind it, it is music I think.

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I don't know what more there is to be said.

 

On reflection, there's this: the first post of this thread seems to compare playing an instrument to making electronic music with software, but I don't think that's a meaningful comparison. Making music with a sequencer or programming language or whatever is more akin to composing a piece of music for an orchestra than playing one of the orchestra's instruments; whether you're composing classical music or sequencing electronic music, in both cases what you're really doing is writing an algorithm using a music-centric language (which may be stave notation, or a sequencer's GUI, or a visual programming language like Max) which will eventually be executed by something (which may be an orchestra, or a bunch of synths with MIDI connections, or a computer) that outputs music.

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On reflection, there's this: the first post of this thread seems to compare playing an instrument to making electronic music with software, but I don't think that's a meaningful comparison. Making music with a sequencer or programming language or whatever is more akin to composing a piece of music for an orchestra than playing one of the orchestra's instruments; whether you're composing classical music or sequencing electronic music, in both cases what you're really doing is writing an algorithm using a music-centric language (which may be stave notation, or a sequencer's GUI, or a visual programming language like Max) which will eventually be executed by something (which may be an orchestra, or a bunch of synths with MIDI connections, or a computer) to make music.

 

Agree ! So in the end the idea "music" (the algorithm) is more powerful than his materialization (the sound). Are we dancing to the sound or to the algorithm ? :P

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So in the end the idea "music" (the algorithm) is more powerful than his materialization (the sound).

 

Well I think that depends a lot on the genre of music, and IMO that comes down to how precisely a given language is able to specify what the end result will sound like. At one extreme you have something like folk or rock where what gets put on the record depends at least as much on the performers' creative input as the composers'. That's why someone like Elvis or is often more famous than whoever wrote the songs he sang - because if someone else had sung them they wouldn't have been the same. In the middle you have classical music, where any two recordings of a single piece of music probably sound very similar to the untrained ear, but having a world-class performer can make all the difference to fans; hence classical performers can be famous, but composers can be more famous. At the other extreme you have music that's made by telling a computer to output a WAV file created according to a precise algorithm. Any two computers would have produced the exact same sequence of bytes, and all the creative input came from the producer.

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Very interesting ! So if we consider ourselves as composers, do we have to learn music theory to write a tune ? Or is it possible to "feel" the music while compose it, just like for example free jazz players do ?

 

I have to say that I really improved my skills in music when I stopped thinking too much and more tried to feel it... But maybe both are complementary in the end !

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So if we consider ourselves as composers, do we have to learn music theory to write a tune ?

 

I can't write decent music to save my life, but my guess is that music theory is not essential but is helpful - learning it certainly won't do any harm.

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Of course it is. I don't know what more there is to be said.

 

There is always more to be said. Like the fact that music is not a corporeal thing.

As a physicist, you should know that you can't roll a song down a hill and expect it to hit another song which then starts to roll down the hill.

Mick Jagger famously lectured on this topic at Cambridge, then proceeded to name his band The Rolling Stones.

As such, electronic music cannot be mastered. It cannot be contained into the sphere of a brass ball.

One cannot capture the spirit, nor the essence of electronic music.

Sure, you can study how sound waves travel through space, but that does not begin to understand how sound becomes music.

Music theory is a set of understandings about sounds in 'notes' or pitches that we differentiate from other pitches like colors or smells.

Again, it is not music and it cannot be used to master or define music whether it be electronic or not.

Electronic music is famously easy to learn because we humans are already interested in electronics and technology.

That is not universally true, however. Ask my mom to learn electronic music and she would fail terribly.

She is not interested in electronics nor technology.

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Music theory is a set of understandings about sounds in 'notes' or pitches that we differentiate from other pitches like colors or smells.

 

There's a lot more to music theory than pitches, it has plenty to say about rhythm and timbre and dynamics and so on.

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I like this idea of we succeed in what we are interested in. For sure our technology is becoming more and more important and I'm curious to know what the future will bring to us for all the creative fields. You talked as a physicist, I can talk as an architecture student.

In architecture we use to talk a lot about the digitization and all the virtual spaces and representations. In my opinion electronic music is pretty much concerned as far as there's no physical object that creates the sound (like strings or wind..)

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Very interesting ! So if we consider ourselves as composers, do we have to learn music theory to write a tune ? Or is it possible to "feel" the music while compose it, just like for example free jazz players do ?

Of course you don't 'have' to learn music theory to be a composer, but it can certainly come in handy. If you get stuck on a song, don't know where to take it next, knowing music theory can give you suggestions on complimentary chords to try that fumbling around trying to feel might take a while to get to. On the other hand, going through significant training in music theory, in my opinion, may make someone stuck in the box of music history and not able to break out and do something new. Knowing music theory also helps one communicate better with other musicians/composers about song structure and song writing.

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Of course you don't 'have' to learn music theory to be a composer, but it can certainly come in handy. If you get stuck on a song, don't know where to take it next, knowing music theory can give you suggestions on complimentary chords to try that fumbling around trying to feel might take a while to get to. On the other hand, going through significant training in music theory, in my opinion, may make someone stuck in the box of music history and not able to break out and do something new. Knowing music theory also helps one communicate better with other musicians/composers about song structure and song writing.

 

So it's always a good thing to stand back a little from what you are doing, and that's why I created this topic too ;)

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Very interesting ! So if we consider ourselves as composers, do we have to learn music theory to write a tune ? Or is it possible to "feel" the music while compose it, just like for example free jazz players do ?

 

I have to say that I really improved my skills in music when I stopped thinking too much and more tried to feel it... But maybe both are complementary in the end !

 

Free -jazz players know there share of music-theory, believe me ;)

I see it this way: To make music, you don't necessarily need the theory behind it, you can make music intuitively. But knowing something about the theory behind it, makes it a lot easier to discover the different 'roads' to take while composing. If you want to break boundaries, you have to know what the boundaries are first. And it's the same when making electronic music: you can make a fantastic song with samples an presets, but to create every sound that pops up in our head, you've got to know about synthesizing.

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Always come up against this when I talk about how amazing EDM is ;) Personally music is made by the effect it has on you. That is what makes music, period. It's about emotion and beauty. As long as it holds something for you, it is a piece of art. The process of creating that music only comes in if it contributes to the art-ness of the piece.

 

I don't think making EDM is that easy, it takes some understanding of the actually frequencies of different instruments, understanding of synths etc... , of the buildup and release of tension, of flow ... Besides I feel the whole point of technology is to empower. So we _should_ use technology to allow us to put our energy into the act of creation instead of spending it on perfecting an instrument.

 

Another interesting point people miss is that with traditional instruments one person can only play one instrument, but with EDM one person has to understand and put together every single instrument in the track.

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Another interesting point people miss is that with traditional instruments one person can only play one instrument, but with EDM one person has to understand and put together every single instrument in the track.

 

But this has less to do with EDM as a genre than with the perform/compose distinction I mentioned above - it's also the case that someone composing music for an orchestra has to understand and put together every instrument in the track.

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So we _should_ use technology to allow us to put our energy into the act of creation instead of spending it on perfecting an instrument.

 

I had the same though, we don't spend years to know how to play an instrument but we restore the balance by trying to understand all of them. But Rotwang is right I think it's all about distinction between performer and composer again ! :)

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OFC it is man who's brainwashing ur head? Electronic music is made with synthesizers which are musical instruments so there u go it's a different way of expressing music with different tools.

 

 

Jazz is mostly improvisation i think it's really cool cuz they show u a lot of things without even saying a word much like electronic music i'd say.

 

As a composer | producer for example i don't even have to feel the song i can do it just , play it and let other people feel it that's quite interesting :)

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So just like in experimental, music may become a concept :)

 

thing is some music you cannot feel but some other people can because we all have different perceptions of reality that's the interesting part for myself.

you can try some stuff in music you dont dig but some other people will because each one will see a different thing in the sounds , whatever goes in the brain the most complex machine ever.

 

the synthesizers can express music or create atmospheres not necessarily calling it a song but i guess im explaining the fact that instruments violins etc can create an atmosphere without the means of playing melodies n such.

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But this has less to do with EDM as a genre than with the perform/compose distinction I mentioned above - it's also the case that someone composing music for an orchestra has to understand and put together every instrument in the track.

 

Yeah I agree. What you said makes sense. I feel a remix is rather like EDM's version of 'perform'. The re-interpretation. If you think of every EDM track embodying an idea or a certain mood, then the way the original composer writes the track is his way of conveying that. And a remix is another person's re-interpretation of that conveyance and how they see fit to convey that idea/mood. I don't know if this makes sense though? And when a DJ mixes in two tracks, it's is the DJ's performance of the music and of how that DJ wants to convey the idea/mood. So I think of DJs & remixes as representing the perform side of things, DJs more so ofcourse.
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Yeah I agree. What you said makes sense. I feel a remix is rather like EDM's version of 'perform'. The re-interpretation. If you think of every EDM track embodying an idea or a certain mood, then the way the original composer writes the track is his way of conveying that. And a remix is another person's re-interpretation of that conveyance and how they see fit to convey that idea/mood. I don't know if this makes sense though? And when a DJ mixes in two tracks, it's is the DJ's performance of the music and of how that DJ wants to convey the idea/mood. So I think of DJs & remixes as representing the perform side of things, DJs more so ofcourse.

 

Interesting view! I never looked at it that way (except for the dj'ing) but it does make a lot of sense. Even though dj'ing might be the perform side of electronic music, it yet again is a completely different kind of performing than playing an instrument for instance. That's what makes it special imo. I also think it's ridiculous how some people narrow down the different options of 'playing' music to just be able to play an instrument. Instead, people should learn to embrace everything one CAN do with music without attaching any kind of value-judgement regarding the authenticity of the performance. Every kind of music performance has it's difficulties. I am very glad that nowadays you can choose from a vast array of options how you would like to play or make music, be it playing an instrument, singing, composing orchestral music (etc.) as being the more traditional kinds of 'making' music to dj'ing, producing music using software, analog hardware, etc... as being the more 'modern' kind of 'making' music. And I love them all.

Of course, to be able to compose orchestral music some understanding of the instruments involved is essential, but traditionalists seem to forget that producing electronic music requires the same basic knowledge about synthesizers, frequencies, etc..

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