Please note that the view point here is of the writer and not necessarily that of the club or it's members.

What is Electronic Music?

This is a question that I have been asked time and time again. How do you explain it to some one who is a new comer to this particular form of music? Firstly you ask the question of what makes this type of music electronic, and the obvious answer is by using electronic instruments, but is that really so obvious? Many people believe that in order to be successful in EM you must use the latest all singing, all dancing, fuel injected DX 16 valve turbo to produce your music on. When you go to a concert and see artists such as Tangerine Dream or Rick Wakeman with a stage full of gear, how often do you think "I must have gear like him to be successful". This is not the case, because EM can be produced with equipment of any type regardless of how new or old it is. Infact you do not have to use a synth to do it. Much of the first pioneering work was done using nothing more than tape machines and modified organs. Listen to something like Tangerine Dreams's Alpha Syntauri or Electronic Meditation and you will hear how household objects fed through effects they created totally new sounds. Another example is the early music for Dr.Who created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Before they had their fabled EMS Synthi 100 and VCS3's they relied on nothing more than oscillator banks, signal generators and Mellotrons. With a little creative use anything can sound inspiring. Take as an example the Jean Michel Jarre tracks that were played at the first club meeting. I am sure that we had a few of you fooled even if you do not like to admit it. The programmer of that used the instrument's weaknesses for effect. (To everyone that was not there that night, some Jarre tracks were performed exclusively from a Yamaha TG100).
My second point is about what makes EM is how many categories are within it. Today it has many avenues that have branched off after being given a new tag by the music press and public. In the seventies Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze were merely new electronic music. Today they are described as new age, ambient, progressive and even Kraut rock. The same can go for Kraftwerk, electro pop, industrial, Euro disco and Techno? Take your pick as there are enough suggestions. My point here is does it really matter that we must categorize the music to it's smallest detail. Surely all that matters is that the artist produces enjoyable and innovative electronic music.
My last point is that of electronic music being performed live. The argument here is that how much of the music must be played live? Unless you are able to hire roadies to transport your gear around, it becomes very difficult to take a lot of it on stage with you. The number of times I have wished I have had someone to transport my Hammond C3 to gigs. A sticky point to make here is that because of this, do we take out sequencers or tapes? EM by it's very nature cannot all be played live because of the multitudes of parts playing. Sequencers allow us to have these playing alongside ourselves, thus enabling all the music to be played as we intended it to be. They can also be treated as musical instrument in their own right allowing parts to be played that would be impossible by any musician to attempt. They can also be very temperamental on stage and have a tendency to crash, in particular old faithful, the Atari (major fight breaks out within editorial team disagreeing that the Atari does not crash, merely some poorly written software does - ed). Tape backup is very handy if anything does happen to your sequencer, as it means you do not have to walk away from your show with your head bent down. An example of this is the last Erasure tour where boffin Clarke, used various Jupiters, Prophets and Oberheims all triggered by a Roland MC4. This system packed up several times during the tour and was saved by using DAT backups. In my viewpoint I think I have aired the most common questions about EM and hopefully answered them well enough to give you a better understanding.


If anyone has any strong feelings about EM, write about it and submit it to BSC


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