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January 6, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

We live in a remix culture. What does that mean for us? I'm interested in how electronic music has changed society's relationship to music, from both a musical performance and writing standpoint, and a cultural standpoint.

I'm looking for opinion and analysis about how electronic music (including hip hop) has affected our cultural and psychological makeup. Opinion/analysis can be from any field (sociology, musicology, psychology, general ranting) - bonus points for being accessible to a layperson.

Here are a few question I'm interested in:
+ How has electronic music changed the relationship between the artist and the audience?
+ How has electronic music changed our perception of time? i.e. electronic music is very regularly quantized - each beat/measure is consistently the same length to the millisecond, whereas "live" music will often have variations between measures, or beats within measure (see Viennese waltz)
+ How has it changed expectations of music and songwriting?
- How do the tools used for creating electronic music affect the song writing process?
- Western popular electronic music evolved from funk/disco which emphasizes "groove" - a compelling repeated motif - with less emphasis on thematic development. How does this affect listener expectations when listening to electronic music?
- Are there cultural differences in the approach to composing electronic music? Do other cultures emphasize other elements besides "groove" in composing electronic music?
+ How has electronic music affected musicianship?

This is kind of a free for all, if you have any other interesting opinions or analysis related to a question not asked here, that's awesome! This isn't for research, just personal curiosity as a musician and music fan.
posted by baniak to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
There's an entire area of research around this in Ethnomusicology right now, called "Technoculture". These kinds of questions get asked, initially in reference to isolated cultural groups coming into contact with technology like recording equipment for the first time, but more recently broadened out to include urban groups as well. Here's a book on the subject.
posted by LN at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your questions are worthy of several dissertations, but my first thought was to check out several of the columns on Pitchfork, such as Resonant Frequency, Poptimist, and Why We Fight. I'm sure other music critique sites such as Popmatters and Consequence of Sound have similar analytical columns.
posted by stroke_count at 9:02 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, I really enjoyed the book This is Your Brain on Music. Not only does it touch on the mechanics of "groove", but it also discusses how a conventional understanding of it fits within a more modern, electronic context, where rhythmic patterns are quantized, as you say. At a psychology conference last year, the author, Daniel Levitin, actually presented his research on humans judge "expressivity" in music and how it relates to the "robotic" sound of heavily quantized music.
posted by stroke_count at 9:18 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Steve Goodman (aka kode9)'s book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear may speak to some of your questions.
posted by everichon at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's a great article from the New Yorker that discusses time perception. The linked portion (starring MeFi favorite Brian Eno!) is about drumming+time perception in particular.
posted by raihan_ at 10:15 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been meaning to watch this doc for a while now: RIP! A remix manifesto

I thought this short doc about the Amen Break (a 6-second drum loop) was pretty amazing.
posted by tybeet at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Speaking purely from musical terms I think a great reference point would be the 1996 album Endtroducing by DJ Shadow which if I'm not lying, was composed exclusively from samples of other people's music using a version of the Akai MPC sampler. I can't personally give you too much about most of your questions, but if you do some in-depth searching via music reviews for that album and specifically the use of the MPC in creating sample based electronic music, that might lead you down some interesting paths.
posted by the foreground at 1:26 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

My totally amateur observation on this is that a lot of the music that comes out today is retro-flective. (I just made that word up.) It may not outright sample songs or steal melodies, but it refers back to other time periods and/or has a timeless quality about it. Many of Lady Gaga's songs have this effect in my head, where I hear it and think "wow, this is a good song, I haven't heard it in forever" when if fact, it is only 6 months old. Cee Lo Green also has a song that sounds like it could have been on one of Michael Jackson's 1980s albums. And LOTS of other pop songs have "we are going to have a good time tonight, almost as good as those other times we had in the past".
posted by gjc at 4:59 AM on January 7, 2012

I know the title of the page seems just TOO OBVIOUS, but this series addresses soe of what you speak of.

Everything Is A Remix
posted by kuanes at 6:26 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by kuanes at 6:26 AM on January 7, 2012

Thanks for the resources everyone! This will keep me busy for a while :)
posted by baniak at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2012

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