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The 20th century gave birth to many dreams and ideas about the future like electronic music, how it could look like and wether it was good or bad, it always seemed a little alien compared to what we are used to. This started happening in many areas including of course technological research and different areas of cience.

As the world was subject to an impressive amount of change from the beginning of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century, people began to express more and more their feelings of excitement or anguish about the future, with movies, literature, paintings, and of course music. Every single form of art moved by the technological advances both ideally and literally.

Electronic Music

electronic

Synthersizers were a big part of this genre in the beginning as it managed to bring a more machine like sound, something that distanced itself from the very human and organic sounds of traditional instruments. This allowed musicians to reinvent the way music was in the 80s, with so many ideas of the future, music also took a giant leap and explored new ground in ways to make, record and even sell music.

But as years went by electronic music made another big leap towards computers, and now electronic music is one of the biggest most heard genres, not only because there are so many artists using samples and PCs to make music, but because of what it inspires and what it really means to make and listen to electronic music.

Why Should We Listen To It?

Listening to some artists or types of music does not mean you have to love it, however there are times when we appreciate something because of it’s cultural or historical impact, rather than entertainment value. Of course it could get you hooked too. In this case, there is no doubt that electronic music marks a new era in music as a whole in many ways.

A few decades ago, it would have been ridiculous to think that music could be made with a computer, much less produce, and make whole records with just one computer. A studio is no longer necessary for some genres of music, of course if more traditional instruments and natural sounds are needed, there is still the need of proper acoustic and a studio. However it is now possible to do everything from your computer, and electronic music tends to be like this.

There is an interesting aspect about this genre, which is that, while it’s not a natural organic sound, that is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s different, and sound works in a different way. Sound are not just waves, sounds in a computer are numbers, and numbers work in a different way, but it allows for easier manipulation..

Machine Beat

What does it feel like to listen to electronic music? It can be quite varied, but there is a recurring factor in every composition of electronic music, and that is something that can’t be changed, because it comes from the nature of its origin, it’s all artificial, it’s a machine that is making the sounds, and the musician operates, works with the machine as if it were a band member in order to create a musical piece. The feeling of something perfect, artificial, it’s there and that’s what is so strange about it, but at the same time so engaging. One of the reasons electronic music has had so much success is that it manages to sync the rythm of large crowds, this feeling of happiness and energy comes from the fact that machines don’t skip a beat, they don’t make mistakes, you can feel sounds going forward and everything just falls into place like a perfect algorithm.

That’s also the reason why experimenting with music that can channel this feelings is so interesting, because it allows very complex structures and feelings to be in a composition, integrate the perfection of a machine with the flawed perfection of musical structure and order of human beings is still something new, but as any new ground, it has to be conquered and as musicians we have to make the most of each era, make new was of composing and learning new ways to experiment with sounds.

Electronic music is part of our culture, it’s very young and it’s very much alive, to ignore it would be stubborn from our part and we as musicians would be missing great oportunities of our time.

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Day 283 / 365 - SkillsI remember it as though it were yesterday. The song was called “Moonlight and Roses.” I hated that piece. I still do!

With tears streaming down my face, try as I might, I was getting nowhere. My mum patiently sat with me, trying to coax me to work through my frustration but to no avail.

Things just went from bad to worse. As my progress on the song deteriorated, frustration turned to anger. “I HATE this song!” “I HATE my music teacher!” “I want to QUIT my music lessons!” “I GIVE UP!” I screamed, red in the face, anger exploding from every fibre of my 8-year-old body.

What happened next was my mum’s worst and finest hour of parenting! In hindsight, she should have  [···]

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Light Bulb MomentA few weeks ago, I conducted an experiment on my pupils! No, don’t worry! No one was harmed in the process!!!

I simply asked them to share with me a memorable event from their childhood. It soon became clear that things that make the most impression on our memory, are events that had the greatest stimulus on our senses.

I can’t remember much of my childhood. So much of it was playing, eating and sleeping. Just the normal, everyday activities.  But I do remember going for my first music lesson as a seven year old…

I can still see and smell the thick fog of cigarette smoke that greeted me as I opened the music shop door and stepped into what felt like a scene from a Dickens novel. And the intrepidation I felt as I heard for the first time the voice of the Fagan-like character who introduced himself as “Mr. Coffin.” I remember the feeling of hopelessness as my mother disappeared off into the distance. I still feel uncomfortable now as I recall the feeling of his long, bony fingers pressing down on my back and guiding me further and further into the gloom of the music shop towards the instrument that I was to learn on.

Why does this long ago memory feel like yesterday? How can I remember so many details?

The answer is simple. The event had such an impact on my senses and indeed, the rest of my life. (For although, Mr. Coffin ironically died a month or two later, I carried on studying music with a new teacher. And my new teacher’s studio was called the “torture chamber” but that’s another story!)

So if stimulating the senses has such an impact on long-term memory, how can we as music teachers exploit this knowledge to help our students learn new concepts better?

10 suggestions to involve more senses   [···]

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