Wednesday, April 20, 2005

IEEEEE! electronic music!

there's a "virtual museum" hosted and run by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

and their current exhibit is Electronic Music: From Singing Arcs to the Theremin

It's a cute idea, but deeply deeply problematic.

Although in some ways it focuses on the technology rather than the people, there are glaring omissions. Although another exhibit focuses on the contributions of women to technological developents, this one has no attention to who was involved or not. No Delia Derbyshire, for example, um.. or.. Herbie Hancock..

The piece focuses entirely on synthesizing and a bit of sampling of pure sound, but omits any other discussion of sampling, drum machines, and production techniques. And these omissions leave out, hey hey, black culture and black people, (and dance music, generally). Hiphop, Dub (so much an electronic genre that depends on and pushes/repurposes technology), disco entirely missing, and literally a word or two on "techno." (I'm not educated enough to know what black contribution to synthesizers there might be, either). this is just lazy. out of date. irrelevant.

there's also an exibit called The Beat Goes On: How Sounds are Recorded and Played, includes such helpful comments "In the United States, white Americans heard the Jazz music of African Americans for the first time on disc" and their only mention of race and race issues is "White people helped to make Swing music even more popular." They mention the boost to the record industry that Glenn Miller gives by touring and playing on the radio, but no discussion about how that worked for black artists or bands. Blah blah, Al Jolson, Glenn Miller, up until the present day with.. The Chemical Brothers. uh. Fuck this. They jump to digital music with no mention of hiphop at all, no mention, again of dub. Again, they focus primarily on techniques, not socal conditions, so I'm not expecting an analysis of the racial politics of recording. But if you are actually interested in recording techniques, they've left out a lot of innovators. A HUGE category of them.

linked from Infoshare (thanks for the link, guys!)


  1. Hey, Troub. Just wanted to let you know that I listened to your cd quite a lot, and it made me think about a bunch of stuff. I really enjoyed it. Among the things it made me think of is how funny it is for so much of the music to go from digital to analog, like, music made on a computer printed to a vinyl record. Does it warm the coldness? Also, knowing you somewhat it's hard to separate you from your musical selections, etc.

    Thanks for the intro to new music for me. As always, you rule.

  2. Oh man, I'm glad you like it! It must be pretty different than what you are normally into, right? One of my big wishes is that I can make what I'm doing comprehensible (or beyond that, enjoyable) for people who may not be experts in whatever scenes I'm pulling the sounds from.

    I often think about the digital-analog thing...I know a lot of vinyl-purist djs who also play exclusively digitally created music. I always wonder what it is that happens to the music between being made (digitally) and being pressed onto vinyl, that they are so attached..

    I'd like to think that I'm not separated from the musical selections - I hope me and my music reinforce each other, or inform and frame each other, or something..