Music Teacher's Helper Blog

One thing is the origin of a specific genre of music and another is its crowd or audience, which have the big cultural repercussions on their hands, as it happened with rock.

There is a need to make this particular difference because there are indeed too many genres of music to remember, there are so many ramifications and small variants at this point that many people just say that they listen about everything to avoid getting into a very boring and complex subject of labels and names.

However there is just not an audience for each genre of music that exists out there; if we take the word “audience” as a group of peoplethat listens to a type of music, we should also add to it the power of cultural movements and change.

According to Jordy Cummings:

The important distinction, thus, to make, when gauging the origin of a specific cultural form is not merely the origin of the form itself, but the origin of its audience, which can roughly be dated to 1955 and 1956, the years of “Tutti Frutti”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, and “Blue Suede Shoes”. This audience exponentially grew in the fifties, among young men and women, among white people and people of colour, largely due to the advent and mass-availability of television sets, ‘Hi-Fi’ systems, and the growth of music-oriented radio stations along with radio ‘personalities’.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

The Message

Audience

Rock adn Roll delivered a very simple message, it was one of autencity and rebellion against the suit and tie. At the time the world was steering towards a well oiled modern machine with the boom of media, advertising and technological advancement. For many people it was easy to find themselves in this sort of sentiment, and it spread fast and easy.

This was a message in a bottled that was then carried by the hands of bands like “The Beatles” to “Nirvana” and now artists like ” Jack White” and “Josh Homme” from “Queens of the Stone Age”.

The message is still the same, even though the eviroment has changed the establishment will always close doors and the counterculture will find their way to break its windows.

In and Out

While the rock audience used to strongly represent the counterculture, there is now a more of a gray area, since everything that has a strong enough impact is a money maker, this happened with rock as well.

As established entertainment conglomerates took over rock and roll and created its own star system, the means with which one could be unique depended far more on self-marketing, mystique and virtuosity. Or it could just as well mean being buddies with people at the major labels, hippies turned hip capitalists. Rock criticism, as form, started out in the“underground press”, including the newspapers of the far-Left, with smatterings of material in the journals of the intelligentsia, notably the New Yorker.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

It’s actually a bit strange because the nature of what makes rock what it is, revolves around the fact that it’s all about going against the establishment in some way, that “I don’t care attitude” and making music just for the sake of playing, however with such a big audience it’s hard for it not to be mainstream sometimes. With bands such as “The Beatles”, “Nirvana”, “Metallica”, or “Queen” there is a very underground beginning which ended in them being extremely famous, but there are some layers to this fame.

Different Rock Audience

After the sixties, began a transition, which in turn changed the audience.

At its best, this transitional form led to real sonic inventiveness, even sometimes the use of traditional folk instrumentation alongside a rock rhythm section, other times predominantly covering other artists and quite literally superimposing Dylan with the Beatles, as was the case with the Byrds. In England, this took the form, for The Kinks in particular, of incorporating music-hall and vaudeville type songwriting.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

Rock also began to be a middle ground between all other genres, due to its flexibility an incredible amount of sub genres began to appear, but there was always the “rock” part of it alive in every single one.

As for the rock audience, they may very well be just people that want to enjoy something real, something that screams from inside and resonates with passionate locked ideas and inspire them to keep going, to be more specific is impossible after the 60s and 70s.

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There are many different posistions when it comes to technological advancement in music, some praise how far we’ve come, others reject the modern methods as inferior ways to make music, but there is no denying that computers are a big part in music today in many ways, the question in this article is, can we consider the computer an instrument?

Ongoing Debate

The debate of whether computers can be considered as musical instruments is a debate that has been brewing in the background as computers have become more powerful in their music capabilities. With the growth of digital music, the shift towards a digital and connected lifestyle, and the constant need to do things better and faster, for proponents, it is but a natural flow of things for the computer to have music capabilities in the process. These people believe that as long as there is artistry behind the music production process, any medium behind such production can be considered a music instrument and that includes the computer with all its softwares and plug-ins.

6amgroup.com

That being said, it’s important to note the argument of those who oppose this idea of considering computers as a musical instrument, which is that it’s impossible to replicate the feeling and soul of a human being making music. However what if the idea is not to replicate but to find something new?

When you play a guitar you don’t try to copy the sound of a piano, or anything like that, the idea is to make the most of the possibilities that the guitar offers as an instrument, when that is the approach with a computer, the results can be quite impressive.

Sampling and Manipulating Sounds

Aside from all the copyright issues associated with sampling and using another musician’s sounds, there is a sort of magic surrounding this particular aspect of making music with a computer. While sampling comes from way even before the 80s, it peaked when the digital era established itself in the world.

The idea is that any sound can be changed and molded into whatever the musician wants it to, you can record a few steps or a dog barking, or both, and make a song out of it. People may argue that this doesn’t really make a computer a real instrument, maybe a very advanced recording tool but not an instrument but, what is a musical instrument?.

Make Music With A Computer

Computer

A musical instrument is simply a device used to make music, so by those standards we could say that a computer is indeed a musical instrument, however there is the idea of imitating other instruments, but this is true at some degree, since you can make sounds and music that would not have been possible if there were no computer and digital work stations.

There is however another argument about the relationship between a musician and a computer, which is the performance.

Some observers have felt that the elimination of the performer as interpreter, while it may enable the composer to realize perfectly his intentions, is nevertheless a serious loss. Performance, it is argued, is a creative discipline complementary to that of composition itself, and varieties of interpretation add richness to the musical experience; moreover, the physical presence of the performer infuses drama into what would be otherwise a purely aural, intellectual, and, by implication, somewhat lifeless event.

britannica.com

One could also argue that this only happens on the imitation aspect of things, because how could someone say that there is a loss when a techno artist makes his music, it doesn’t make sense does it?

There is a very gray area with technology and music, because art cannot be objective and technology is, so making the most of technological progress to make new music sometimes feels like uncharted territory, and in many ways it still is. A computer can be meny things, and in the it can be in fact a musical instrument if used correctly, not a recording tool, or a digital sound imitating a piano or a violin, an instrument to make new sounds. The best way to approach this issue is to never think about computers as a way to replace other instruments or types of music, it’s just something new.

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A question so simple that could be answered with “just look for it” may be a bit more complicated. While there is too much music out there, probably only half of it or even less is easily available to everyone, due to all the complicated business, marketing and recording side of things.

Today, music distribution has changed quite a bit from the traditional radio and TV experience. Nowadays the main way to go about it is through the internet, but the difference is that we choose what we want to listen to, or do we?

Algorithm

Youtube, Spotify, Deezer and other music platforms provide some sort of algorithm that allows for recommendations to be made based on the history of music played.

Writer and Musician Sasha Frere-Jones says:

Discovering music does not frustrate me or cause me to have takes. (I don’t listen to Pandora, which might make that happen.) I like it when SoundCloud drops into autoplay mode and delivers a sequence of songs tagged as related. I like it when YouTube does the same thing. I’m happy to learn what Spotify Discover thinks I want to hear. I learn names; I hear songs.

gq.com

While there is still control about what is being played and what is being ignored, it’s hard not to pay attention to so many recommendations, in a way the hook is curiosity, the same as it always has been. When you used to tune in to MTV and began watching a video, you could just change the channel, but you stayed to see what happened, this “control” aspect makes things even easier, since you can skip the songs you don’t like and have everything at your disposal.

Best Of… Lists

Another way to discover new music from any time period is just to search for tops, either genre based, time based or any other category. The internet is filled with these, and while music is not something you can easily it’s good or bad, it may be a good starting point to begin a music research.

It’s all about doing a little research, depending on what you would like to listen to, either good guitars, drummers, good jazz, or electronic, there are top 10s about pretty much everything. One tab with a list, another with YouTube, and you might just find some interesting music.

Soundcloud/ Bandcamp

If you are really craving for something new outside from all the mainstream famous artists, it may be a .good idea to spend some time in Soundcloud and Bandcamp, since it’s now the starting point of new artists.

Bear in mind, many of the artist may not have the best production there, since they are free and easy to use, they’ve gained popularity as a safe haven for independent artists wanting to share their music even if their production quality is nothing beyond a home studio.

Nevertheless, there are some amazing projects floating around those platforms so it may feel as a breath of fresh air.

Old School

Maybe you don’t spend too much time on the computer or cellphone, well, there is a world outside the internet, and it is still very much alive. There is nothing like the magic of going to a bar or a club and seeing a new artist perform live, sometimes to fall in love, others just to enjoy the moment without getting too attached to the music.

The radio still has some interesting ways to show some new music to people, but sometimes, you can’t seem to remember the artist, the song or they just don’t say it. In this case there are very useful alternatives like “Shazam” which is an app that can recognize a song through the phones mic.

Or maybe just the oldest way of them all, just talk to other people.

Teenager Vicky Sko was asked about how she discovered new music, and aside from apps she said:

I’m fortunate to have lots of classes with friends so we listen a lot during class by sharing our headphones with one another. We also love to listen to music at lunch and have gone to a couple concerts together. Spotify also has a great feature that allows you to stalk what your friends are listening to, and I use this to my advantage a lot.

gq.com

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