Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Techno Show and Tell

I'll be the first to say that I thoroughly enjoyed today's crash course in techno music and disk-jockeying (that's what you call it, right?). I hadn't realized how little I knew, both about DJ-ing (?) and techno/electronic music. In fact, I'll admit I knew absolutely nothing and wasn't aware of that fact until he came in and started throwing around all this jargon that I couldn't make heads or tails of. Acknowledging that I knew nothing going in, I was really impressed with the process and how music is created from preexisting music. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that, when first staring out, he choreographed and mapped out all that he did, all the songs that he played. I mean, it's not like knowing how to play an instrument and then just following sheet music, but it's different than jazz improvisation too. Obviously, he's got to play for an audience and cater to their tastes, but he's got to keep it interesting while keeping everything in sync. I don't blame him for not just "going with the flow" right away. It's definitely something you've got to get good at.
I thought it was cool that he does a lot of field recording to find new sounds. Techno and electronic music in general allows you to be free of the limitations of traditional instruments, but also opens up the whole world to be turned into music -and not just in the Cagean sense. You gather sounds from anywhere, but then you can manipulate them on the computer, accentuating the parts that are interesting and toning down those elements that aren't desirable, or that simply don't "jive" with everything else. It's amazing how sounds could potentially be gathered from all over, but then put together in such a way so as to maintain a sense of unity. The same thing is done with different existing records. I mean, if you can make Jessica Simpson sound good, that's talent.
It was also interesting to note that techno and experimental music is more popular in other parts of the world. It's disappointing, really, because electronic music opens up so many more possibilities to music. But I guess that's telling of our culture's ethos. We don't like change, we're comfortable with conventions, and we could build on those conventions forever... and we do. Having pen pals in other countries (France, Senegal, Germany, and Australia) you really do get a sense that the rest of the world is more open to new and different possibilities. Personally, I think it's because of the size of the United States. If other countries were in closer proximity to US citizens, we would undoubtedly have to be more open to other cultures, especially if those cultures were dramatically different from ours. This openness to other cultures would almost have to transcend into other areas, so it's really no surprise that in Europe -where the distance from the center of two countries speaking different languages is comparable from the distance between the center of Ohio to Kentucky- people are generally more open to new ideas.

P.s. Who else thinks that Jimmy should become a DJ and play something for us?

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