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Decolonizing Electronic Music Starts With Its Software (Pitchfork article + browser apps)


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54 minutes ago, xox said:

Innovating use of a fish can?

I was actually thinking more how the 808 was originally introduced to be a replacement for a real drum set (I think to work with electric organs) but it was such a dismal failure at that, but instead found new life as a mainstay of techno and acid. Hence “nothing sounds quite like an 8 - 0 - 8.”
But the fish can works well. 

3 hours ago, brian trageskin said:

loop this thing, fucker, do it now

There’s a little known video of Robert Henke screaming that at oppressed Asian coders working on Ableton. 

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1 hour ago, chenGOD said:

I was actually thinking more how the 808 was originally introduced to be a replacement for a real drum set (I think to work with electric organs) but it was such a dismal failure at that, but instead found new life as a mainstay of techno and acid. Hence “nothing sounds quite like an 8 - 0 - 8.”
But the fish can works well. 

There’s a little known video of Robert Henke screaming that at oppressed Asian coders working on Ableton. 

That’s also just one of my favorite parts of equipment in general. Using things kinda as they weren’t originally intended to be. 303 as a replacement for a bass player turns into acid. Exploitation of video game equipment for chiptune. In some ways all electronic music evolved from that mentality. It’s what I like about it so much more than “blues guitar”. Really this whole topic is just drenched in irony, and somehow a nexus of artistic realities folding in on each other. 
 

I suppose tho- when it comes down to it, you see a lot of things that are getting spun into this concept. It’s really important, I think, for people to understand intentions. I’m not trying to say that “my dad should be allowed to wear Hawaiian shirts” or anything like that. But almost everything I like about creativity stems from some type of fusion, or even accident. At what point does Mr. Bungle become privileged tyrannical colonizers that exploit cultures to create something new, and not fascinating minds influenced by different cultures, evolving into something that might be better than the sum of its parts?

I guess it’s pretty much already been said in some ways on this thread. But I guess maybe I’m celebrating the fallout from errors? This lady’s concept spins all that out of whack, and makes me feel almost like a villain.

 

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Yeah I would love to hear something other than the tempered C major scale as the default for everything tbh 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Himelstein said:

It’s what I like about it so much more than “blues guitar”.

Nah, blues guitar was insanely innovative technically and compositionally until it became a white people thing in the 70s.

 

Don't let the Clapton crew detract from stuff like this:

 

 

Edited by TubularCorporation
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18 hours ago, chenGOD said:

I mean Aleksi has been pumping out Colundi records with some insane tuning in them non-stop for how many years now?

Aleksi uses samples. Go to the Colundi site. You can download them,

Proves the point. As does the list of microtuning capable software posted earlier:  there’s not a single major DAW on that list.

Look, I find the tone in which accusations like these are made just as distasteful as everyone else here,  but the fact of the matter is the West has done a real number on the rest of the world and people have every right to point that out.

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21 minutes ago, rhmilo said:

there’s not a single major DAW on that list.

Every version of Logic since 2004 is on that list.

 

Reaper isn't on the list but for whatever reason it often gets left off of lists in general.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, TubularCorporation said:

Nah, blues guitar was insanely innovative technically and compositionally until it became a white people thing in the 70s.

 

Don't let the Clapton crew detract from stuff like this:

 

 

But, I still feel like this is what the electric guitar was kinda made for. I suppose it was a bad example. It was mainly me just thinking of a random instrument and style, I meant, that naturally kinda evolved. I don’t think anyone originally working on the NES thought “maybe someone will want to develop a midi interface for this someday and play it like a synth.”

All that being said, I still don’t really like the music in that video, or any blues guitar that I’ve ever heard. In jazz when it gets close to that area, I start disliking it. Idk why. I get that it’s innovative and I do respect it, but it’s not for me. 
 

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but like what tuning system is he using tho lol. from what I remember from world music 101 in college arab tuning is basically just a quartertone scale, so 24 "notes" instead of 12 but it's still equal temperament right? so just "detune" down or up a quarter and you're set? I honestly don't know that much about DAWs but I do understand their basic restrictions, and my recommendation for that guy would be to not use a daw if he was trying to create a synth sound that could play in quartertones. Seems quite easy to achieve via other digital/electronic means. Which it seems like he did. Good for him. What does the synth guy in Omar Souleyman's band do? Those definitely have some funky notes in there.

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, dr lopez said:

What does the synth guy in Omar Souleyman's band do

It's some bog standard arranger keyboard, I forget which one.  A LOT of middle eastern and slavic pop music uses those.  It's all about the pitch bend (kind of like classical Indian music, which is based on the same intervals as a just-intuned chromatic European scale - all the microtonality comes from inflection.  If you've ever played a sitar, they're typically fretted to a diatonic major scale.

 

I've only seen him live once and it was great but it also made me think of El Mariachi (which incidentally did a much better job of talking about the colonial nature of music technology in this clip than the Pitchfork article did*):

 

 

It's worth pointing out that DAWs are garbage for classical string arrangement, too, because they don't easily allow for the mictrotonal differences in ascending and descending scales (a C# and a Bb are the same note on a piano or organ, but with something like a voice or a violin there's a lot more nuance.

 

 

It's really keyboard instruments and industrial revolution stuff valved brass instruments that screwed everything up (woodwinds are still pretty capable of microtonality). DAWs are just very fancy player pianos.

*also if we want to talk about colonialism, I tried to find some clips of ROMpler-heavy 90s banda music but Youtube doesn't understand the search term "banda" - not even enough to give one of those "did you actually mean.." messages, it just searches for "band" instead.

I had more luck with Nortec though:

 

Edited by TubularCorporation
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13 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:DAWs are just very fancy player pianos.

Yeah, exactly, nobody was trying to dominate anything when they developed these things. If anything they catered to people who weren’t trying to “learn” as much. Not forcing them to learn a pigeonholed view of music. It’s like “opportunistic aggression” or something. 

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1 hour ago, Himelstein said:

But, I still feel like this is what the electric guitar was kinda made for.

To get even more pedantic, the electric guitar was originally designed for Hawaiian slack key music and then adopted by country musicians. But the guitar in general is originally Persian, via Spain.

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16 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

the guitar in general is originally Persian, via Spain.

*everything* is originally Persian.

Not even exaggerating (much).

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A lot of very predictable replies in this thread. I think there’s a big difference between something being “not impossible” vs. being “welcomed”, when it comes to a piece of software. And equally so between something being welcomed and being a default. 

I mean, just the world of software in general… how many pieces of software, audio-related or otherwise, are _unavailable_ in English localization, vs. [insert your language here]? How many online communities such as this one assume that everyone is going to interact in English, is going to have fast internet access, is going to have some amount of disposable income to buy software and hardware, etc. etc?

That said, I didn’t click the link to the article because Pitchfork is terrible, but I feel like people are letting their distaste for the current state of flabby, “woke”, pseudo-journalism cloud their perception of what actual inequities there are out there, which are in my opinion enormous.

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Just now, ascdi said:

A lot of very predictable replies in this thread. I think there’s a big difference between something being “not impossible” vs. being “welcomed”, when it comes to a piece of software. And equally so between something being welcomed and being a default. 

I mean, just the world of software in general… how many pieces of software, audio-related or otherwise, are _unavailable_ in English localization, vs. [insert your language here]? How many online communities such as this one assume that everyone is going to interact in English, is going to have fast internet access, is going to have some amount of disposable income to buy software and hardware, etc. etc?

That said, I didn’t click the link to the article because Pitchfork is terrible, but I feel like people are letting their distaste for the current state of flabby, “woke”, pseudo-journalism cloud their perception of what actual inequities there are out there, which are in my opinion enormous.

i hear you but i'm guessing there is a music dork forum in Swahili that I don't know exists because I don't speak Swahili.. same for Farsi etc.. there are sure to be localized versions of different things that exist in the native language of that country.. japanese, hebrew, french, german etc.. all have forums and facebooks and twitters and instagrammars and on and on. 

don't assume that the english thing is the only one that exists. while yes.. i mean.. ableton is german but availlable in english.. and i think there's language selection for cimputer OS and perhaps that affects the software as well? can't confirm because i only had 3 years of highschool spanish. 

i know more and more modular synth makers are getting the manuals done in japanese as well as english.. some in german.. some in spanish.. it's a mix really based on what's available to any one developer. 

as for software.. yeah.. 'welcoming vs possible'..  but i'd argue that the problem, in some cases, is best solved locally by a software engineer or creative etc.. who can see that void of interface appeal to duk duk players and come up w/a solution that can be incorporated to existing platforms. 

 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, ascdi said:

That said, I didn’t click the link to the article because Pitchfork is terrible, but I feel like people are letting their distaste for the current state of flabby, “woke”, pseudo-journalism cloud their perception of what actual inequities there are out there, which are in my opinion enormous.

It's possible to recognize the one and still be annoyed by the other.

 

The stuff you're talking about isn't primarily a problem with software that will be solved by changing software, it's a symptom of neoliberalism.

 

I'd go as far as saying stuff like the article in the OP actually works AGAINST anticolonial goals.

 

Representation matters, but hyperfocusing on a fairly niche type of representation in the way the article does is a way for the author to get clout and the predominantly white, liberal, upper-middle class Pitchfork readership to feel good about themselves for being ONE OF THE GOOD ONES, while not really addressing any of the bigger, more complex issues that would actually require taking a less marketable stance.  I'm not even saying that's something deliberate on the author's part, the author is probably sincere.

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7 minutes ago, ascdi said:

A lot of very predictable replies in this thread. I think there’s a big difference between something being “not impossible” vs. being “welcomed”, when it comes to a piece of software. And equally so between something being welcomed and being a default. 

I mean, just the world of software in general… how many pieces of software, audio-related or otherwise, are _unavailable_ in English localization, vs. [insert your language here]? How many online communities such as this one assume that everyone is going to interact in English, is going to have fast internet access, is going to have some amount of disposable income to buy software and hardware, etc. etc?

That said, I didn’t click the link to the article because Pitchfork is terrible, but I feel like people are letting their distaste for the current state of flabby, “woke”, pseudo-journalism cloud their perception of what actual inequities there are out there, which are in my opinion enormous.

That is all well said. 

I guess my point was something of a personal disappointment with that woke culture suddenly hitting too close to home. It’s one thing to slam the show “angry boys” or “strangers with candy”. It’s expected. I understand, and even tho I would still watch them personally, I’m definitely not going to go online and rant about ending cancel culture. Those shows will offend people, just like South Park, friends and every other predictable offensive or perceived offensive thing.

I want to celebrate errors, and probably even limitations in equipment- almost in a “coil worship the glitch” way. That’s what I was getting at. I always thought this concept was welcoming, not appropriating.


 

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16 minutes ago, ignatius said:

i hear you but i'm guessing there is a music dork forum in Swahili that I don't know exists because I don't speak Swahili.. same for Farsi etc.. there are sure to be localized versions of different things that exist in the native language of that country.. japanese, hebrew, french, german etc.. all have forums and facebooks and twitters and instagrammars and on and on. 

[snip]

as for software.. yeah.. 'welcoming vs possible'..  but i'd argue that the problem, in some cases, is best solved locally by a software engineer or creative etc.. who can see that void of interface appeal to duk duk players and come up w/a solution that can be incorporated to existing platforms. 

Yep, that’s fair. I would guess that, although I have no real data on it, that whatever regional specific fora, etc. there are for musicians from other cultures, the number of those is dwarfed by the number that assume you are English-speaking, westernized in some way, a man even, etc. And I would theorize that, if you want to “make it” in electronic music, it is very hard to do so without engaging thoroughly with westernized music culture and expectations, eventually. It’s not impossible! But it’s harder to do, I reckon.

Agreed that in a way this is an opportunity! That’s what I gather this article, which I still have not read, is about. But again I feel compelled to point out the difference between “it’s a problem, but maybe it can be an opportunity!” And “you literally never have to think or worry about this.”

16 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

Representation matters, but hyperfocusing on a fairly niche type of representation in the way the article does is a way for the author to get clout and the predominantly white, liberal, upper-middle class Pitchfork readership to feel good about themselves for being ONE OF THE GOOD ONES, while not really addressing any of the bigger, more complex issues that would actually require taking a less marketable stance.  I'm not even saying that's something deliberate on the author's part, the author is probably sincere.

Huh, dunno. This is an argument that I feel like I’ve heard a bunch of times before, tbh. I feel like you have beef with some possible, but by no means certain, third- or fourth-order knock-on effects of what such an article could cause hypothetical people, whom you already do not like, to feel or do. That’s fair, but subtle, hypothetical, possible effects of the article should take a back seat to the main thrust of the article, which (I gather) is more about increasing inclusion _of something_ in a non-zero way. That’s not a terrible thing to happen. I’m not sure how an article could be written to increase representation equally across the board for all underrepresented groups in music, maybe a smart person could figure out how to write that. And if this article isn’t that, then maybe what you are saying is that this article is imperfect? Which is probably true. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad that it exists, IMO.

7 minutes ago, Himelstein said:

That is all well said. 

I guess my point was something of a personal disappointment with that woke culture suddenly hitting too close to home. It’s one thing to slam the show “angry boys” or “strangers with candy”. It’s expected. I understand, and even tho I would still watch them personally, I’m definitely not going to go online and rant about ending cancel culture. Those shows will offend people, just like South Park, friends and every other predictable offensive or perceived offensive thing.

I want to celebrate errors, and probably even limitations in equipment- almost in a “coil worship the glitch” way. That’s what I was getting at. I always thought this concept was welcoming, not appropriating.

I feel almost exactly the same way myself. I think it can be both things. I mean a lot of the “world” music already mentioned in this thread is related to the idea you mentioned — cultural clash between (for example) 12-tone tools and other tonal systems, etc. And I’m far from an expert but there’s a lot that’s going on in say electronic African music that strikes me as being this kind of thing — relatively normal software or idioms being repurposed in new ways that simultaneously acknowledge “classic” electronic music, modern production, and existing traditions of African music or rhythms or whatever. In a really cool way.

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in places like Iran i know that freedom of expression is a bigger road block to artists than software not having a native scale/interface. There's hip hop in iran but it's easy to be targeted by the religious islamic police who keep tabs on that kind of thing. the message coming from the rappers has to be very pro-party line ideas or it gets flagged and the people get arrested or limited in some way. 

but there's music and nightclubs in iran. often speak easy type places where everyone dances and women take off the burka and all that. these kinds of places go through feast or famine type cycles based on what the government is willing to turn a blind eye to. 

 

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