Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What About Tonality?

As a person who's been brought on electronic music from day dot, not able play an instrument or to read sheet music two incidents of the last weeks made me think about different ways of approaching music production, especially electronic music production as this is the field I work in when doing music.
First incident happened when I was in the studio of Herr Brandt of Sonnenbrandt-/ The Convent-fame which is packed with loads of analogue and midi gear - working on ideas for a specific project he was playing a bassline on one of the synths and thinking about how he once learned harmonics and how all these tones work together theoretically. While doing that I - neither trained in harmonics nor in the use of a fingerboard - was fooling around with another synth, not a fixed idea in mind but sth. vague I'd like to add to this bassline, just trusting my ears and surely breaking all harmonic rules but suddenly it worked out and everything was fine.
Incident two happened last friday, working on a remix with The Crystal Apes - the original song was sth. like 120 bpm but we sped the parts up to 152 bpm which changed not only the sound of the original vocal parts but the whole harmonic structure which is understood. Tintin, the bands vocalist, recognized some dissonant sounds in the used string and orchestra samples and was willing to correct those but not able to as she would've needed somewhat like a third of fifth part of a note and was quite surprised as I told her that harmonics and tonality are not necessarily important in electronic music as long as the tracks as a whole works out right.
I know that some ppl even are making a fuzz about doing their DJ-sets like what they call "mixing in key" but is electronic music really about that? Having a look at the roots of the electronic music scene composers and producers were trying to create something new which is based on noises, found sounds, samples, a new experimental way of aural excitement, sound to please not only ears and brain but also the body if cranked up to a high level - I'm talking club or rave level here -, non-music to many who experienced these new world for the first time. These sonic worlds have been explored for decades now but still we have seen - or heard - only a small percentage of what is possible, we should still be curious about what might be happening next instead of trying to follow old formulas although these basics are useful in their own right. We've left tonality and harmonics behind, now we should be ready to explore what's way beyond.


Post a Comment

<< Home