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(:E cries at...


Hernan's Blog of Hate!

[ Friday, April 04, 2003 ]

 

ELECTRONIC MUSIC FOR DUMMIES (#1)


Introduction: What you are about to read (if you mind) is the result of my making music experience, practice I've been in since 1994 when I was first involved in a band. Honestly I'm no authority, but this is what I've learned in these years from me and from others like me. Hope it might illustrate some of the hard-work process of making music in our times.


Definition of Electronic Music


Electronic music is, reduced to its most basics, music done through (or with the help of) electronic devices. Nowadays society and technology allows any creative technic or process, and any form of art and expression, thus taking us to a time where music can be anything you want to make of it, you just have to find the right sounds and the right devices, which is really one of the huge number of problems in making music (You can have excellent ideas, but no resources to make it sound good). One of the advantages of making electronic music is that you dont need people around. That's why there's so many artists doing music alone (Aphex Twin, Etienne de Crecy, Moby, Enya, Yanny, Joe Satriani...). Their music. No chains, no misunderstandings, and no more human failures than your own. I'm not against bands, there's nothing like having chemistry with other people in a band, sharing the fascinations with others, but making music alone can help you develop your own ideas, so you can show them later to your band.


So in this times, to make good music you need mostly:


1. The Gift of Musical Talent (a very good ear will help dramatically)
2. Money (or any other way to get the instruments you may need)
3. The Gift of a "Production Ear" (to make things sound good)
4. Patience, Time and maybe Anti-Depressives
5. Objective people able to give you valuable feedback.


As you can see, it's not so easy after all. Anyone can make music today, I've seen it all (well kinda), BUT making good music is the real big challenge, and it's what can make you step ahead from the bulk.


Some important considerations about electronic music


- Most successful artists doing electronica are musical producers. Why? Because, as I said, producers can make your music sell, they can turn your songs inside out, add something here and there. The point is, musicians preocupate with musical details, notes, vibratos, bendings, silences, scales, harmonies..., while producers take care of the sound details, effects, ambiances, sensations, mixes, masterization... which is where electronics help the most.


- Synchronization is the backbone of it all. And it is provided by MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), the mechanism for sequencing. Thanks to it, you can start at the same time any number of connected devices, you can make them all run at a specified tempo, change measures or tempo at any time, synchronize images, lights and even fireworks with that huge impression you may want to provoke at the start of a gig, make voice and other samples sound just in the right moment when playing live, automatize the console so the guitar outstands in the precise moment when the solo begins or the voice gets full delay when the moment is right... etc! I can even sequence the patch changes in my guitar effects processor so I dont have to press a single pedal while playing a song, I can even automatize the expression pedal (like automaticing the "wah" effect so I can worry about the solo and not about the wah!).


- All this sounds great (and costs so much money too), but that's not all of it. If you intend to play along with 100 synched synthetizers, lights and video, you must sync to it too, using a metronome, clicking in your ear through some headphones, just like when recording in a studio, or your own timing might give you non-pleasant surprises..


- If you intend to use samples you should develop an ear for them, just like designers develop an "eye" for images, colors, shapes, fonts, palettes, etc. What does this mean? That you can go around in life hearing normally, when suddenly you recognize something that you actually could use in a song, or loop, or whatever musical project you have.


- Musical standards have risen up to a level where plain ideas just dont work for the listener. If you record some four chords in 4/4 it wont surprise anybody. Music makers use a lot of technics, like effects, layers of other sounds mixing at an almost subconscious level, where you cant hear it, but you actually "dig" it, etc. The secret lies in the details, music that everytime you hear it you find something new (and brilliant), music that makes you think and analyse, and search for the hidden details. I have even heard songs that when played backwards are a total new song (and lyrics)! Even musical "Palindromes" (like in Boards of Canada's music).


In subsequent updates I'll be "ranting" about effects, synthesizers, genres/sub-genres, how to make electronic music, and more.


(Music can wash brains and lead masses, bye.)


Hernán [1:11 AM] -


the hatemachine,
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