Archive for the 'musicology' Category

Diva – The family tree of French electro in 2008


Diva no. 1 - March-April 2008 - pp. 14-77-79 - The family tree of French electro in 2008 by Christelle Dierickx, Alain Jouve and Sébastien Licky (source : scan Christophe Monier - The Micronauts WordPress blog)

Diva no. 1 - March-April 2008 - p. 81 - The family tree of French electro in 2008 by Christelle Dierickx, Alain Jouve and Sébastien Licky (source : scan Christophe Monier - The Micronauts WordPress blog)

Here is the fourth and last diagram of our series (after Nova Magazine’s Parisian DJs subway map from 1996 and French touch artists’ relationships sketch from 1999, then Jockey Slut’s Underground map of electronic music from 2000). The family tree of the French electro scene was published in the first issue of the short-lived women’s music magazine Diva, dated March-April 2008. A couple of influential non-French acts were included.

About a decade after the other diagrams, what was called French touch 2.0 was in full swing, with a harder and rockier sound. This time, new wave and EBM influenced-producers were represented.

“My album ‘Damaging Consent’ had just been released on Vitalic-owned Citizen Records​, along with a compilation of some of the best remixes I have done as The Micronauts. It felt great to be surrounded by such big names.”

[Team The Micronauts]

Jockey Slut’s Underground Map Of Electronic Music


Jockey Slut Vol. 3 no. 5 - June 2000 - p. 26 - The Underground map of electronic music by Jim Butler, Rick Butler, Scott McCready and Harriet Fuller (source : scan Christophe Monier - The Micronauts WordPress blog)

Following Nova Magazine’s Parisian DJs subway map from 1996 and French touch artists’ relationships sketch from 1999 that we posted the last two weeks, here is the third diagram of our series. The Underground map of electronic music was published in June 2000 in Jockey Slut, a legendary British magazine which ran between 1993 and 2004 and was the bible of indie dance and everything leftfield.

The Micronauts are to be found on the “Beats” line, surrounded by the “Indie dance” and the “Techno” lines.

“I was pretty happy and proud to share the same line as Daft Punk, Lil Louis, The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Portishead Tipper, KLF, etc., as well as being close to a few music heroes of my adolescence such as New Order or Primal Scream!”

[Team The Micronauts]

Nova Magazine’s Sketch Of French Touch Artists’ Relationships From 1999


Nova Magazine nº 51 - mars 1999 - pp. 29 - diagramme des relations entre les artistes de la French touch (source : scan Christophe Monier - The Micronauts WordPress blog)

— Sketch of relationships between French touch artists in 1999, when the genre was at its height —

Following the Parisian DJs subway map that we posted last week, here is another diagram from Nova Magazine, originally published in March 1999. Designed by DJ Ivan Smagghe and music journalist Patrick Thévenin, It shows the work relationships, friendship and love, real or fantasized, between artists of the so-called French touch.

It should not be taken too seriously and the tone of the article that accompanies it is pretty satirical. As it’s written, those who make sense of it can boast of being part of the gang!

“This time I do appear in the diagram, but casted out as an outsider. Which of course I was very happy, I’ve never been comfortable with being tagged or put in a box, ha ha!”

[Team The Micronauts]

Nova Magazine’s Subway Map Of Parisian DJs From 1996


Nova Magazine nº 16S - avril 1996 - pp. 26-27 - plan du métro des DJs parisiens (source : scan Christophe Monier - The Micronauts WordPress blog)

— An archive document on the French touch early days! —

Diagrams such as subway maps or family trees were a popular way to show connections between artists. We’ve got four to share with you in the coming weeks.

This first one was published in April 1996 in Nova Magazine. Designed by music journalists George Bailey, David Blot and Vincent Borel, and mimicking a London Underground map, it claimed to represent every Parisian DJs of the time.

“I wasn’t a DJ yet, but those from the eDEN collective and those with whom I was making music (Tom Bouthier in The Eurostars, DJ Pascal R in Impulsion, Patrick Vidal in Discotique) are all there!”

[Team The Micronauts]

Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered.


Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!

The Trichordist

Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.


My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting…

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François Bayle – Fifty Years Of Musique Concrète


François Bayle for the booklet of the compilation “Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, 1948-1980” (Ellipsis Arts… 2000):

Musique concrète, or, in a broader sense, sound as a musical material, must not be confused with several other types of music, which belong to neighboring fields. The use of electricity to produce a sound wave dates back to 1906 with Thaddeus Cahill’s “telharmonium”, followed by Léon Theremin’s “aetherophone” in 1921, and the ondes Martenot (invented by Maurice Martenot) in 1928. The futurist movement also had its composers, including Luigi Russolo, who published a radical futurist music manifesto entitled “L’Arte dei rumori” in 1913, while the American composer John Cage gave the first stage performance of a work using variable-speed turntables and frequency recordings (“Imaginary Landscape”, 1938). As for that great pioneer Edgard Varèse who composed “Ionisation,” a score written for thirteen percussionists, in 1931, and, before that, in 1926, “Integrales”, in which he envisaged a spatialization of sound, such gestures remained within the framework of conventional music, even though he tried to break away from it. The invention of musique concrète by Pierre Schaeffer in 1948 had nothing to do with these developments, except that it used a resource that had never been used before: sound presented on a medium and accessible from that medium without having to return to the initial acoustic causes (tape manipulations of naturally occurring sounds). Several degrees of freedom then suddenly became apparent: freedom from things, from time, and even from moments of sound.

At the end of his life, Olivier Messiaen himself declared that the invention of what he succinctly called “electronic” sound was the greatest adventure in music, going so far even as to influence conventional composition. New confers were born by the dozen, composers by the hundred, and works by the thousand. From the creation of a prestigious institute such as the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique) by Pierre Boulez, to spontaneous popular movements, from rock to techno, from the synthesizer to the computer, from real time to the Internet, the coming of sound has attained a major dimension.

In the worldwide dynamics of technological music, we must note the importance of the GRM, which has been present since the very beginning, the exceptional career it has achieved over the past fifty years, its extraordinary pertinence at each of the technical stages and turning points, which in fact confirmed every time the fruitful nature of the “concrete” approach, clearly postulated and established by Pierre Schaeffer.

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Robert Moog – The Theremin And The Synthesizer


Robert Moog for the booklet of the compilation “Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, 1948-1980” (Ellipsis Arts… 2000):

The theremin was one of the first electronic musical instruments. It was invented around 1920 by the Russian musician-physicist Léon Theremin. It is a space-controlled instrument. That is, the player determines the pitch and loudness of the instrument’s tone by moving her or his hands in the space around the instrument, without ever touching it. The sound suggests a violinist or singer but is distinctly unlike that of any traditional acoustic musical instrument. Because its pitch and loudness respond to every motion of the performer’s body, the theremin is inherently expressive-and difficult to play.

Leon Theremin was one of the founding fathers of electronic music technology. He developed many different types of electronic musical instruments and inspired innovators around the world to do the same. There is a continuous thread connecting Theremin’s early work not only with modern-day theremins, but also with a wide range of electronic keyboard instruments that have been manufactured since the 1930s.

The use of tape recorders as music production devices (rather than passive reproducers of performances) is a different branch of the music technology family tree. This branch began with Edgard Varèse, who assembled sounds with multiple disc recorders, and it continued with the many experimental composers who worked with tape recorders after 1945. In a typical early tape music studio, sounds were first recorded on tape from acoustic or electronic sources, then processed by electronic means such as filtering, modulation, and synthetic reverberation, and then assembled by mixing, tape splicing, and rerecording.

The modular electronic music synthesizers of the 1960s made by companies such as Buchla, Moog, and others combined some of the tone production and control features of theremins and other early instruments with the sorts of sound generation and processing that were developed by the post—World War II tape composers. Using the technical principle of voltage control, these large, telephone-switchboard-like instruments enabled musicians to shape and sequence sounds automatically and by purely electronic means. The explosion of synthesizer records in the late 1960s, and of live performance on synthesizers and other electronic instruments in the 1970s, represented the growing together of the innovative work started by Léon Theremin and the techniques developed of the tape music community.

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Bill Laswell – Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music


Bill Laswell for the booklet of the compilation “Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, 1948-1980” (Ellipsis Arts… 2000):

[With the coming of electronic music,] it was encouraging to hear how expansiv and experimental you could be with sound. Any acoustic sound could be electronically processed indefinitely. That’s very interesting. Obviously, it had a huge effect on dance music and house music. Ambient music in the last ten years has infiltrated all those types of music.

I think electronic music is now part of our life system. It has been integrated into how we exist, so it’s the pulse of what we’re doing. Everything is electric; everything is electricity. Those pulses are no different from your pulse, your heartbeat, and how you breathe. It’s all connected. It’s an electronic age.

Electronic music can’t exist without human thought. So everything that is generated is a thought. It’s very human, it’s not cold like people think. Computers and electronic music are not the opposite of warm, human music. They are exactly the same. You’re not going to necessarily find the equivalent. of Charlie Parker on a laptop, because we can’t perceive that. But there’ll be a time when someone can, and then it’ll happen. it’s all in your head.

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Brian Eno – Foreword to “Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music”


Foreword by Brian Eno to the booklet of the compilation “Ohm, The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music, 1948-1980” (Ellipsis Arts… 2000):

If you’re under ninety, chances are that you’ve spent most of your life listening to electronic music.

The experience that used to be called music up until about the 1920s—listening to someone sing or play a musical instrument live and unamplified—actually forms an increasingly minor percentage of our listening experiences now. Instead, we listen to records, or we listen to the radio, or we go to see musicians who transmit electronic signals through electronic PA systems.

It might seem extreme to include all the products of the recording age under the umbrella term electronic music, but I think it’s warranted. The process of recording music separated it from time and place and as such eventually led to all the amazing experiments presented on these records.

Whenever a new musical technology appears, new forms of music follow it. Debussy was apparently so thrilled by the three-pedal Steinway (the middle pedal allows you to sustain one chord while playing unsustained notes over it) that he wrote many new pieces specifically for it. In the same way, the many new possibilities of electronics have given rise to whole new forms of music.

John Cage said that any sound could be described by four characteristics: pitch, duration, timbre, and loudness. One way of thinking about electronic music is as a continuous expansion of all these characteristics. We can make sounds of almost infinite loudness, using pitches as low or as high as we want, that last for as long as there’s electricity, and of infinite shades of timbre. If you were to compare it with painting, it would be as though, about seventy years ago, painters started to discover how to make completely new colors, colors that no one had ever seen before.

But the electronic revolution changed more than just our ability to control the physical parameters of sounds. By turning sound into a plastic material manipulable in space and time—it drew the process of composition closer to the processes of the plastic and visual arts. The impressionists in their painting, had aspired to “the condition of music,” envying its ability to be both abstract and emotionally engaging. Meanwhile, much of the musical composition of our century has drawn closer to the condition of painting or sculpture, as composer have started to think about music as a tactile experience in time and space.

So many new areas of consideration now fall under the heading “composition.” For classical composers, there were certain describable islands of sound:
a clarinet, for example, is a number of sonic and playing possibilities, whereas a harp is another. If you write “violin” in a score, everybody knows what you mean. That isn’t possible, however, it you write “electric guitar” or “synthesizer.” A synthesizer isn’t really, in that sense one instrument, it is a bag of possibilities from which you assemble your instrument. So the first thing an electronic composer does is build a set of instruments, a soundworld.

But that’s only one issue. There are also quite new questions about where the music should take place. The concert hall is of course still a possibility, but only one among many. The home hi-fi, the gallery installation, the Walkman, the supermarket aisle, and the unexpected public space are all equally interesting. Are you making a private or public experience? And since the music can theoretically last as long as you want it to, are you making a ore-night performance or creating a sound-object to persist for decades? Are you making something that you expect people to hear once or hundreds of time? Are you making something that will stay the same or change endlessly? What will govern the way it changes? Does it react to anything outside itself, or is it driven by internal rules? What are those rules?

The composers represented on this compilation have addressed questions like these and many others. They’ve helped develop a vocabulary of perspectives for music that is quite new to this century and that has, perhaps surprisingly, become part of a very fruitful interchange with popular music. Indeed, one way of looking at contemporary pop is to see it as the offspring of an ongoing affair between African music and Western electronics (with European harmonization as the influential godmother).

Many of the Ideas in this collection have now been so completely assimilated into popular listening that it may sometimes be hard to remember how surprising it all was on first outing. Some of it still sounds pretty exotic. As music, some of it stands the test of time. As ideas, most of it does. […]
November 1999

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The Music Industry: It’s Becoming a Third World Country…


Paul Resnikoff for Digital Music News, Monday, 23 May 2011:

It was supposed to be the complete opposite. But years into this digital revolution, the music industry seems to resemble a Third World country. I’m talking about extreme gaps between the rich and poor, a depressingly large group in poverty, endemic corruption, extended decline, and the presence of pervasive, religious ideas that have little connection to reality.

This industry has become so totally bi-polar, I’m not even sure where to begin. Well, how about the charts—any chart. Whether it’s BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, Billboard’s Hot 100, or the most-streamed songs on Grooveshark, the top-ranked artists are all the same. It’s Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Justin Bieber, and the Black Eyed Peas, week after week, over and over again. And sure, indie success stories are definitely happening, but why aren’t they hogging the rankings next to the mainstream, major label priorities?

The rich are a tiny, elite cadre, and they’re benefiting from a preferential pipe that still matters. In fact, not only do mainstream channels like terrestrial radio and TV still matter, they have a dominant influence over music culture. But these channels are also controlled by a tiny group—ie, mostly the majors. Turn on a terrestrial station, and it’s the same artists played ad nauseum (in fact, it looks like this), while the masses languish in obscurity.

And how about the road? Maybe festivals are the bright spot, but the huge artist ransoms belong to Bon Jovi, U2, and Lady Gaga, who are minting millions every night. It’s a tiny group, but how can that be reconciled with the artists that are struggling to pay for gas for their tour bus? For example, Imogen Heap, and the mass of other artists struggling to cover tour costs?

Then there are the obscene—and questionable—salaries for a top cadre of executives. We just learned that RIAA president Cary Sherman yanked down $3.2 million in compensation for 2009, and Mitch Bainwol $1.6 million. And we’ve been witnessing a textbook looting of Warner Music Group for years, with a select group of operators walking away with tens of millions in cash. Yet, every week I hear about new layoffs, or get emails from people struggling to find employment in this business. It’s almost impossible to find a good job it seems—even for really qualified people. That’s why people are fleeing towards other industries, just like people emigrate from horrible economic situations.

And what about the impoverished artists? Instead of some egalitarian revolt, a vast majority of artists are barely surviving. Forget about the pricing debate between Tunecore and CD Baby for a second—because on both platforms, the average yearly payout is about $175 per artist—before costs (we calculated both). Yet the pervasive idea is that direct-to-fan channels can make artists self-supported winners, that intermediaries don’t matter, that radio is dead, that labels are redundant, and that the solution is to simply respond to every tweet and email.

And who gives us this misguided inspiration? The extremely rare lottery winner, or artists that were already promoted by the major label machine (like Amanda Palmer or Radiohead). As if somehow, these post-major success stories are a template for others to follow, rather than rare exceptions.

I’d say nothing’s changed from the ‘old days,’ but it seems like it’s actually gotten worse. And I’m left wondering why this ‘music nation’ keeps sliding.

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