I am non-musician (I neither play an instrument nor sing) and am excited by
the development of electronic music over the last 30+ years, particularly in
this decade. The wide spread use of samplers, computers, etc. has created
the possibility that musical non-entities like myself can create the music
which I hear in my head and which I wish I could get out to be heard, if by
no one other than myself. Many of you may decry this possibility since much
of what could be produced subsequently could be lousy music. But I imagine
that many of the artists working in the broad genre of electronica today
might otherwise not be pursuing musical paths without the availability of
this technology. It seems to me that samplers, etc. work against the
elitist tendencies that inevitably develop in any art form. Granted, there
will always be elitism in art, but our technology now affords more people
the ability and opportunity to develop their musical interests and to find
an audience for their works. I think that this is a very positive movement,
only made possible by this technology.
Influences are very important in the creation of all art and especially in
my chosen field which is architecture. Architects constantly and freely
"quote" from the work of others and from buildings which they find admirable
or important. This is especially true early in one's education and career.
Many of the great composers of music have done the same thing e.g.
"Variations on a theme of...etc." Samplers are a technology which
facilitates this "appropriation" of musical ideas and which allows those who
create music today to expand on the ideas of others and to develop their own
style or "voice" which can often be based initially on the work of others.
This proliferation of musical creation does have its problems. We are
inundated with musical choices, many of which are not very good. But we can
also find some truly wonderful listening. Critical writing is one vehicle
to discover music to which we might otherwise not have been exposed. The
Wire is the best publication I have come across for this exposure to new and
different music. The difficulty with all artistic criticism is that, after
awhile, a critic can become jaded because of the mountain of stuff they must
look at, or hear, in the course of their work. Vincent Canby of the New
York Times was once asked why he overlooked many good movies (by most
standards). He said that he was required to see so many films that he began
to look for only that which was truly exceptionable or which had something
that really grabbed his attention. I think the same thing happens with
those who write for The Wire or any other critical journal. The shear
volume of material, to which they have to listen, affects how they might
otherwise react to the music in a non-critical setting. This is not
necessarily bad but is a fact of life which readers should take into
consideration when judging a review. Technology has exacerbated this
situation and is both blessing and curse. Ultimately though, I think our
artistic lives are richer for it.
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