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


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2 hours ago, TubularCorporation said:

Logic can literally load Scala files.

i've never used Logic so honest question, are the Scala files or any other tuning types still being imposed upon and used in the UI based on/presented in Western formatting, imposed upon a 12-note piano roll? playing occasionally with alternate tunings on my monologue it's been a bit weird trying to wrap my head around the tunings on the physical keys of the keyboard, how things don't line up line one expects (just simply an octave not being an octave, basically) and i think i've read of this being a major hurdle with using non-Western tunings in software/electronic hardware.

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Honestly I've used a piano roll for maybe 20 minutes total in the last decade, and never in Logic so I couldn't say. Piano roll isn't a very useful or inspiring tool for me.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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On 5/12/2021 at 2:18 PM, rhmilo said:


All the major DAWs, yes, all of them, use western tuning systems and have no provisions at all for using different ones. To the people who make them the 90% of the world that doesn’t use these tuning systems simply don’t exist. By itself that may not be oppression but it’s certainly a symptom of an extremely unequal world.

I read (in The Wire I think, long time back) that Terry Riley liked Logic because he could use different tuning systems.

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Honestly, a bigger complaint I have is that sequencers are all based around divisive rhytm, that's a WAY bigger limitation.  Additive rhythm is a huge part of a lot of nonwestern music, is way more intuitive for me personally, and tends to produce a lot more variety but it's ridiculously cumbersome to sequence additive rhythms in more or less anything, hardware or software.  Microtonal music in a DAW is really just a matter of turning of the piano display on the piano roll if it bugs you (which is one click in Reaper, can't speak for other DAWs), using instruments that can support different tuning systems (tons out there) and working from there.  I guess it would be kind of nice if alternative mnemonic devices other than the piano keyboard were options in more DAWs but it's pretty easy to work around that.  Sequencing in additive rhythm is universally a fucking mess, though.

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19 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

Honestly, a bigger complaint I have is that sequencers are all based around divisive rhytm, that's a WAY bigger limitation.  Additive rhythm is a huge part of a lot of nonwestern music, is way more intuitive for me personally, and tends to produce a lot more variety but it's ridiculously cumbersome to sequence additive rhythms in more or less anything, hardware or software.  Microtonal music in a DAW is really just a matter of turning of the piano display on the piano roll if it bugs you (which is one click in Reaper, can't speak for other DAWs), using instruments that can support different tuning systems (tons out there) and working from there.  I guess it would be kind of nice if alternative mnemonic devices other than the piano keyboard were options in more DAWs but it's pretty easy to work around that.  Sequencing in additive rhythm is universally a fucking mess, though.

What is it that you would need for additive rhythm that you are missing ? Never really heard those terms before.

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11 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

Honestly, a bigger complaint I have is that sequencers are all based around divisive rhytm, that's a WAY bigger limitation.  Additive rhythm is a huge part of a lot of nonwestern music, is way more intuitive for me personally, and tends to produce a lot more variety but it's ridiculously cumbersome to sequence additive rhythms in more or less anything, hardware or software.  Microtonal music in a DAW is really just a matter of turning of the piano display on the piano roll if it bugs you (which is one click in Reaper, can't speak for other DAWs), using instruments that can support different tuning systems (tons out there) and working from there.  I guess it would be kind of nice if alternative mnemonic devices other than the piano keyboard were options in more DAWs but it's pretty easy to work around that.  Sequencing in additive rhythm is universally a fucking mess, though.

Could you imagine a way for sequencers to do this? Are you talking about maybe each step could be either 2/8 or 3/8 and you could configure it? If you're into odd-time that could be pretty killer.

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2 minutes ago, Wunderbar said:

What is it that you would need for additive rhythm that you are missing ? Never really heard those terms before.

It's just a matter of changing the time signature in the sequencer, right?

If you want a piece with a grouping of (3+3+2+2), for example, you change the time signature to 10/8. 

(2+2+3) = 7/8

(3+3+3+3+2) = 14/8

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had to google:

https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Additive_rhythm#:~:text=Additive rhythms are larger periods,divided into smaller rhythmic units.

Quote

 

Additive rhythms are larger periods of time constructed from sequences of smaller rhythmic units added to the end of the previous unit. This is contrasted with divisive rhythms, in which a larger period of time is divided into smaller rhythmic units.

 

The relationship between additive and divisive rhythms is complex, and the terms are often used in imprecise ways. The seventh edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, in its article on rhythm, states that "In discussions of rhythmic notation, practice or style, few terms are as confusing or as confusingly used as 'additive' and 'divisive'." Winold recommends that, "metric structure is best described through detailed analysis of pulse groupings on various levels rather than through attempts to represent the organization with a single term." (DeLone et. al. (Eds.), 1975, chap. 3)

Most western music is primarily divisive, while Indian and other musics, may be considered as primarily additive. However, most pieces of music cannot be clearly labeled divisive or additive. For instance, Ewe music uses additive rhythms against a time-background that is divisive.

The term additive rhythm is also often used to refer to what are also incorrectly called asymmetric rhythms and even irregular rhythms - that is, metres which have a regular pattern of beats of uneven length. For example, the time signature 4/4 indicates each bar is eight quavers long, and has four beats, each a crotchet (that is, two quavers) long. The asymmetric time signature 3+3+2/8, on the other hand, while also having eight quavers in a bar, divides them into three beats, the first three quavers long, the second three quavers long, and the last just two quavers long. These kinds of rhythms are used, for example, by Béla Bartók, who was influenced by similar rhtyhms in Bulgarian folk music, and in some music of Philip Glass, and other minimalists, most noticeably the "one-two-one-two-three" chorus parts in Einstein on the Beach. They may also occur in passing in pieces which are on the whole in conventional metres. Obviously the "asymmetric" rhythm 3+3+2 may be written 3+2+3, in which case it is symmetric, and if repeated regularly, no longer is it "irregular".

Source

  • DeLone et. al. (Eds.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0130493465.

 

 

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2 hours ago, TubularCorporation said:

I guess it would be kind of nice if alternative mnemonic devices other than the piano keyboard were options in more DAWs

yeah i mean that's basically what the article/the bulk of this thread is saying: DAWs would be serving their users better by having things not inherently tied to the piano / Western 12-note scale. and your further point of allowing different approaches to rhythms by sorting them as additive versus divisive could be good i assume? reading what ignatius linked^ it seems additive = divisive it's just a different perspective in how it's being counted, but i'm sure if someone was used to additive music then trying to reconfigure their natural tendencies when writing to fit into an divisive format could be a hindrance. 

Edited by auxien
got werds mixed up cause i m smart
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I know that a lot of people are maybe annoyed with this thread, but I honestly think it’s fun, thought provoking, and important. I hope some of the people involved in the article might someday come across it. If I was on social media I would blast it. 
 

Also- in reference to DAWs- what can’t be done in cubase? I have always looked at it as a blank canvas with limitless possibilities. The only thing I was never able to do was have it be the slave in syncing, it had to be the master. But, that might not even be the case anymore. I once downloaded the beetlejuice midi file because I was trying to learn how to play it and delegate other parts to my band members, who knew limited theory. The key editor was insane, it had tempo changes, pitch control changes (similar to the post I made about our song) and all types of crazy shit.

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I'm not annoyed with the thread, other than these discussions always being a little nervewracking because criticizing misappropriation of things like postcolonialism and intersectionality from the left without coming off like a class reductionist shitheel is kind of a minefield, even on here (not much on here). Especially when you're like me and just spray out some words and hope, rather than carefully formulating an argument or something.

42 minutes ago, auxien said:

yeah i mean that's basically what the article/the bulk of this thread is saying: DAWs would be serving their users better by having things not inherently tied to the piano / Western 12-note scale.

Yeah, that's not really my beef with the article, what I'm complaining about is that it frames it as if that would be some kind of big step instead of a bandaid on a comparatively minor symptom of a much bigger problem.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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As far as additive rhythms go I don't really have much vocabulary to talk about them in Western-theory terms because I learned most of what I know about them through playing (gamelan and tabla).  The way it was explained tome for Indian music doesn't really line up that well with the stuff on Wikipedia etc, what I learned was that phrases were based on multiples of a single beat rather than divisions of a bar.

And then Balinese Gamelan is different still because a rhythmic cycle is actually one beat longer than the number of beats you actually play in a rhythmic cycle, because the first and last beat of the cycle are the same beat.  But that's more conceptual, in practicle terms it's pretty sequencer friendly in a lot of ways, at least in terms of how a cycle is divided up for a given instrument (across the entire Gamelan it's all kind of like bifurcations, though, where the main melodic part is relatively slow but the other instruments will be playing complex, interlocking subdivisions of that part if they're higher pitched, or only playing some of the notes if they're lower pitched... which is oversimplifying it a lot but it has been a while and again, it was all taught to us by playing rather than theory and notation)

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I'm not annoyed with the thread - as always it has produced some good conversation (and I've probably pissed off more people, furthering my goal of becoming a total shut-in). I think the article is, as mentioned above, making a mountain out of a molehill.

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4 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

The last few posts are a good case study of why message boards are superior to Twitter.

There are sane voices interested in civil discussion on Twitter. But boy they're hard to find.

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I love Balinese Gamelan music. I actually got into it thru reading about the soundtrack to Secret of Mana back in the day. Hiroki Kikuta was really into it, and the soundtrack is really influenced by it.

Coincidentally, he created that soundtrack by creating tones, then hearing how they were processed on the snes, then sampling the snes altered sounds. Then he composed the rest of the soundtrack using the samples, so he would know exactly how the fidelity and limitations would affect the sound. We all know how sampled bells can be when resampled and pitched at different bit depths. So, I think that’s probably what he was going for. The weird nuances that happen with bells, organs, and flutes etc at different bitrates, and whatever harmonic changes happened due to that process.

So- he was totally at the mercy of the snes- probably a different tuning than he wanted, whatever the limitations were with whatever samplers and gear he used, and probably storage. He managed to make music that, to me, transcends the cultural influence- all the cultures and all their structures. Whether it was video game culture, Balinese culture, western theory culture, or I guess electronic music culture?

If he felt restricted and it was opressing him, he may have been frustrated at the time, but I doubt he felt that way later. Also, if he had to suffer thru those processes to create that, I’m ok with it, just like I don’t care if aphex twin gets enough sleep.

35 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

As far as additive rhythms go I don't really have much vocabulary to talk about them in Western-theory terms because I learned most of what I know about them through playing (gamelan and tabla).  The way it was explained tome for Indian music doesn't really line up that well with the stuff on Wikipedia etc, what I learned was that phrases were based on multiples of a single beat rather than divisions of a bar.

And then Balinese Gamelan is different still because a rhythmic cycle is actually one beat longer than the number of beats you actually play in a rhythmic cycle, because the first and last beat of the cycle are the same beat.  But that's more conceptual, in practicle terms it's pretty sequencer friendly in a lot of ways, at least in terms of how a cycle is divided up for a given instrument (across the entire Gamelan it's all kind of like bifurcations, though, where the main melodic part is relatively slow but the other instruments will be playing complex, interlocking subdivisions of that part if they're higher pitched, or only playing some of the notes if they're lower pitched... which is oversimplifying it a lot but it has been a while and again, it was all taught to us by playing rather than theory and notation)

 

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38 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

Yeah, that's not really my beef with the article, what I'm complaining about is that it frames it as if that would be some kind of big step instead of a bandaid on a comparatively minor symptom of a much bigger problem.

i get what you're saying yeah, and agree that the article isn't great. all i'm saying is that i've learned (slowly) that it's best not to underestimate what may seem 'big' to someone else, especially re: entire cultures literally a world away from me. the artists interviewed in the article shared their feelings and 100% that's worth paying attention to. any music company worth their salt should be paying attention to the best and brightest minds speaking about these tools their using, if for no reason other than their company's future.

 

 

 

(but also maybe good for the future of humanity's inclusion of cultural differences in music? maybe? idk? i guess? yeah?)

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46 minutes ago, Thu Zaw said:

There are sane voices interested in civil discussion on Twitter. But boy they're hard to find.

The entire design and business model of Twitter is based around incentivizing the exact opposite, so they're a small miracle when they do show up.

39 minutes ago, auxien said:

i get what you're saying yeah, and agree that the article isn't great. all i'm saying is that i've learned (slowly) that it's best not to underestimate what may seem 'big' to someone else, especially re: entire cultures literally a world away from me. the artists interviewed in the article shared their feelings and 100% that's worth paying attention to. any music company worth their salt should be paying attention to the best and brightest minds speaking about these tools their using, if for no reason other than their company's future.

 

 

 

(but also maybe good for the future of humanity's inclusion of cultural differences in music? maybe? idk? i guess? yeah?)

 

Yeah I don't disagree, I guess it's time to come clean that I didn't read most of the article and have been mostly willfully shitposting this whole time. Except for the the part about recommending The Sound Of Culture, that book is great if you're in to that kind of thing.

kdSY_P1NF_I.jpg

 

Edited by TubularCorporation
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6 hours ago, ArtificialDisco said:

This is pretty awesome. At the moment I'm playing the Indian Shruti tuning through the Surge plugin, using the free version of mts esp. I also came across this list: https://en.xen.wiki/w/List_of_Microtonal_Software_Plugins, which was helpful. There's also a lot of pre-made tunings available on-line, such as this site: https://sevish.com/music-resources/

This whole thing is kind of making me interested in mircotunings now.

Yea the full version goes  even deeper it allows u to make your own tunings however u want. You should check out the 30 day demo if u haven't. Making my own tuning tables was all a bit over my head still so i just stuck to pre made tunings for now until i figure it further out. Also here are some aphex twin tunings he released together with the minilogue ? i think. in case u find that fun look at.

Aphex Twin Tuning Files.zip

Edited by Wunderbar
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  • 1 year later...
On 5/12/2021 at 10:43 PM, brian trageskin said:

yeah, aside from the cringe notion of being oppressed by music notes (flol really), this is probably the dumbest thing from this article. no one forces you to write 1-2-3-4 music dude, moving away from it is like, 2 clicks away from you lol, you just have to use different time signatures and shit lol. the same goes for loops, no one's putting a gun to your head while yelling "loop this thing, fucker, do it now" lol

 

Actually time signatures aren't the be all and end all, because you can subdivide them relative to the time elapsed, so you can for instance hear 4-4 each second, or you can hear 4-4 in 1 25th of a second.

 

Ableton is limited in this regard, but that has more to do with club music than it does colonialism (which is a massive issue but pitchfork loves to concatenate unrelated things together.) If you listen to the Safa album that recently came out on UIQ in some of the tracks you can hear how the standard techno grid gets divided so it feels like it's speeding up or slowing down, whilst keeping the same base time signature. Particularly the track called Uda and the Strikers at Najd. Some form of markov chain def needs to be implemented but I'm not sure if this software does that. I think Safa made his album in macs msp, which seems very amenable to this. But I am not very sure.

 

Greetings from Turkey!

On 5/15/2021 at 5:32 PM, TubularCorporation said:

Honestly, a bigger complaint I have is that sequencers are all based around divisive rhytm, that's a WAY bigger limitation.  Additive rhythm is a huge part of a lot of nonwestern music, is way more intuitive for me personally, and tends to produce a lot more variety but it's ridiculously cumbersome to sequence additive rhythms in more or less anything, hardware or software.  Microtonal music in a DAW is really just a matter of turning of the piano display on the piano roll if it bugs you (which is one click in Reaper, can't speak for other DAWs), using instruments that can support different tuning systems (tons out there) and working from there.  I guess it would be kind of nice if alternative mnemonic devices other than the piano keyboard were options in more DAWs but it's pretty easy to work around that.  Sequencing in additive rhythm is universally a fucking mess, though.

 

This is correct. in fact most turkish, arabic, persian etc melodies can be played on synthesiser no problem. After all dabki is one of the biggest forms of electronic music worldwide, much bigger than German techno. But the rhythms to a degree will always remain inferior to darbuka players.

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On 5/14/2021 at 9:57 PM, ascdi said:

I didn’t call anyone any names in this thread. 🤷‍♀️

I guess it depends on your mental model of how the music culture works. If you think all music cultures start equal, like there are house music message boards, house music record labels, house music live gigs and fanbases, drum and bass message boards, drum and bass record labels, drum and bass live gigs and fanbases, Iranian (to pick a non-western culture that has been mentioned here at random) electronic music message boards, Iranian electronic music record labels, Iranian electronic music live gigs and fanbases, etc., then I can at least see how you get to the argument that each culture has enough resources and “stuff” and should stay in their own lane, so to speak.

I don’t really think that. I think that the vast majority of electronic music culture is centered on the western world. Learning resources, record labels, gig opportunities, access to fans, etc. All — in my opinion — skew incredibly heavily toward westerners. I’m sure people can find counter-examples but I still think we’re talking orders of magnitude difference in the amount of “stuff”.

Beyond that, the actual issue is for people to have access to not only the same amount of stuff, but actually the same stuff. Not trying to be inflammatory here, but “separate but equal” didn’t work out so good last time.

And also, I don’t want to be part of a music monoculture. That sucks. It benefits everyone if people with new ideas and different backgrounds are invited into ONE music culture. This is why Colundi sequences rewire our western brains, because we’ve spent our entire lives listening to equal tempered 12-tone bullshit.

I love Aleksi’s work a ton, but honestly it’s telling that the second other tuning systems are mentioned here, half the discussion jumps to a western musician who only recently has started dabbling with micro tuning, instead of like, the massive extant cultures and musical languages from around the world for whom “alternate” (even this term completely misses the point) tunings are an integral part of like, centuries of musical tradition.

 

 

Not only is western approaches to electronic music the dominant ones, but even house/detroit techno/disco/idm are minority scenes within that dominance. It is the sad truth that for instance, the biggest forms of electronic dance music as conscious scenes are progressive house, edm and the like. of course as I mentioned stuff like dabki is bigger than this stuff when looked at geographically, but dabki is not classified as electronic music so much as pop/wedding dance music played on keyboard. So it is misleading to put it in same categories as Iranian or Egyptian electronic experimental producers. It is sheer economy. Omar Soulimans band is not doing anything new. We used to call it org in turkey, for the pitch bending keyboards.

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On 5/12/2021 at 2:46 AM, dcom said:

Easily tunable string instruments can be tuned however the player wants, but there's an implicit pressure to use a tuning that takes into account the instrument's cultural history and background. A six-string guitar with a Western tuning is not a tool of oppression, nor is an Oud

mwo,x1000,ipad_2_snap-pad,750x1000,f8f8f8.u1.jpg

This gets lost sometimes with bedroom electronica but the real reason for standardized tuning is so musicians can easily collaborate with each other. It's really not some nefarious political scheme.

You're free to microtune if you want, but good luck explaining that to musicians you're working with.

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