Ten Observations for Electronic Musicians

I’ve been following electronic music since the early 1970s and have explored its growth and breadth going back to the musique concrete of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henryto the latest ambient/techno/electronica/glitch extrapolations.

Tonto with Malcolm Cecil & Robert Margouleff

More than almost any other music form, electronic music embodies the spirit of creation.  Every generation births new forms, technologies and sounds.  But through the 70-odd year history of electronic music, I think a few things have become true.  Here are ten of them.

1. Hitting the laptop space bar for play is not a live performance.

2. If you’re going for a cheesy sound, you can’t go wrong with saxophone or trumpet patches.

3. Before you create that loop, just consider:  How many drone zone CDs do you think anybody really needs?

4. If you aren’t a very good keyboard player, playing a piano or piano patch will only highlight your deficiencies.

Robert Rich with MOTM synthesizer

5. Does a remix mean you always have to put a thudding dance beat on it?

6. A sample of a complete musical phrase is not your creation.

7. Unless you’re doing something really interesting on top, the same rhythm for 30 minutes is not trance-inducing.  It’s just boring.

8. You can modulate the key signature.

9 . It’s okay to have some stage presence.

10. There is electronic music after 1978.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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4 Responses to “Ten Observations for Electronic Musicians”

  1. Allen Welty-Green Says:

    1. Hitting the laptop space bar for play is not a live performance.
    …unless that spacebar is followed by some unique and creative mouse, knob, slider and/or keyboard manipulations
    2. If you’re going for a cheesy sound, you can’t go wrong with saxophone or trumpet patches.
    …Mellotron Brass (or a similar synth patch) is an exception
    3. Before you create that loop, just consider:  How many drone zone CDs do you think anybody really needs?
    …depends on how unique it is.
    4. If you aren’t a very good keyboard player, playing a piano or piano patch will only highlight your deficiencies.
    …but maybe that’s what you WANT to do?
    5. Does a remix mean you always have to put a thudding dance beat on it?
    …only if your venue is the dance floor
    6. A sample of a complete musical phrase is not your creation.
    …unless you manipulate it INTo your creation
    7. Unless you’re doing something really interesting on top, the same rhythm for 30 minutes is not trance-inducing.  It’s just boring.
    …and “noise music” is sometimes just noise.
    8. You can modulate the key signature.
    …as long as you don’t do it gratuituossly
    9 . It’s okay to have some stage presence.
    …unless you have some kick-ass video projections!
    10. There is electronic music after 1978.
    …TOO much, infect. That’s when it started getting possible for anyone to called themselves an electronic musician. Before then, you had to really EARN that title!

  2. generalfuzz Says:

    I rather enjoyed / resonated with this post

  3. dwpbike Says:

    dead on, john. maybe i don’t get “out there” enough, but i seem to be adrift in the doldrums of listless music lately (a bad metaphor seemed appropriate).

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