I had a late Friday night and sat down in front of my computer with a coffee cooling at my desk this morning, groggy and uninspired. I was asked to do a feature on the new Bufinjer release, and five minutes into the album, the coffee was no longer required. With brilliant synthesizer textures, solid drops, and uplifting melodies, Bufinjer (Out of Buffalo, New York) provides for a dynamic sonic atmosphere that could fill most any space.
As we all know the state of music is changing. It has been changing for years now. Especially electronic music.
Electronic music has existed from as far back as the 1920s, but it started becoming increasingly common starting in the late 1960s. During the 1970s after the more affordable and portable synthesizers were released, electronic music started to take off. Rock bands started toying with electronic music, and this lead to synth rock.
As the 70s progressed so did electronic music. With the development of MIDI and digital audio. Toward the end of the 70s and the early 80s, synthpop became more popular.
Through the 80s, electronic music changed into many forms. New genres started to pop up. Ambient, then Techno and Electronica, downtempo, and breakbeat. These forms grew in popularity in the 90’s. As the 2000s hit so did many more genres. Different forms of the electronic sounds morphed into new sounds and styles. This is about the time where Dubstep and EDM started gaining ground.
As time went by, many styles remained, but the electronic genre in mainstream music steadily declined.
Rock, metal, hip hop, and especially pop not only held their ground but took over the electronic scene.
The most recent figures show that electronic music only holds about 9% of the radio market. Pop/Rock holds 24% of that same market. EDM and Dubstep still tend to get the lion’s share of the plays worldwide in the electronic market.
The reason for this trend is because of the record label structure world wide. Universal holds most of the rights to music worldwide. With 57% of all music signed under Universal, it’s no wonder that Pop/Rock, and EDM are so much more popular, because Universal makes it that way.
Surprisingly independent labels hold 15% of the market,which is actually more than Sony at 13%. But keeping in mind that this is all of the independents combined.
Music has gone the way of streaming. But if you add up all the streaming services, Spotify, Beats Music, Deezer, Rdio, Rhapsody, Xbox Music, Sony Music Unlimited, what you get is that paid, on-demand subscription services account for just 3% of overall music spending.
This is the mountain we need to climb as electronic artists, and electronic music fans. We somehow need to figure out how to get that 9% of the radio market to increase dramatically.
With the advancement of the Internet, and the the growth of streaming services, getting any music heard is becoming much more difficult. Along with the fact that there are many more artists to compete with than ever before.
This is the reason why WEATNU was created. To try to bridge the gap, and give artists a better chance of getting heard.
A group of artists with a goal to help each other, and get the music out to the masses. The big goal, to get that 9% of the market closer to that 24% at the top.
Sources: Wikipedia - Electronic Music; Google Research : Music Timeline - Dance/Electronic; Next Big Sound Presents 2014: State Of The Industry; Digital Music News - On-Demand Streaming Subscriptions Account for 3% of Music Spending.
Electronic music has roots dating back to the 19th century, but it really started to take shape in the decade of the 1920s to 1930s.
During the 1920s there was a burst of interest in building an extraordinary variety of instruments, ranging from practical to absurd. It brought the development of audio-frequency technology.
By the early 1920s basic circuits for sine-, square-, and sawtooth-wave generators had been invented, as had amplifiers, filter circuits, and, most importantly, loudspeakers. (Sine waves are signals consisting of “pure tones” i.e., without overtones; sawtooth waves comprise fundamental tones and all related overtones; square waves consist only of the odd-numbered partials, or component tones, of the natural harmonic series.) Also, mechanical acoustical recording was replaced by electrical recording in the late 1920s.
It also brought the development of electromechanical and electronic musical instruments designed to replace existing musical instruments, specifically, the invention of electronic organs. This was a remarkable achievement and one that absorbed the attention of many ingenious inventors and circuit designers.
This decade brought a wealth of early electronic instruments and the first compositions for electronic instruments.
Electronic instruments invented during this period include the:
One of the first instruments, was the Etherophone. It was later renamed the Theremin. The Theremin was invented in 1920 by Lev Sergeevi, Theremin better known by his westernized name L. Theremin. He was a Russian inventor and scientist who developed it within a Russian government sponsored project on proximity sensors. He later patented in 1928 in the USA where Lev on moved after showing his invention across Europe.
The instrument is known for it’s eerie and ethereal sound often used in old thriller movies; it’s main characteristic is that it’s played by moving one’s hands in mid air between two antennas. This led to the first compositions for electronic instruments, as opposed to noisemakers and re-purposed machines. In 1929, Joseph Schillinger composed First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra. It premiered with the Cleveland Orchestra with Leon Theremin as soloist.
How many of you know what this instrument is? Even if you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it many times.
The instrument was used not only in movies but also for all sorts of music, initially symphonic but surprisingly it’s present throughout rock history from the sixties through the present.
You can also find its use in video games. Composer Gary Schyman used a Theremin for the musical score of the 2005 videogame “Destroy All Humans”. Lydia Kavina’s solo theremin is featured on the soundtrack for the 2006 MMORPG computer game “Soul of the Ultimate Nation”, composed by Howard Shore.
Today Theremins are produced by several companies, one being Moog. The late Bob Moog was fascinated by this instrument which is the basis of his modern synthesizers.
Here are some examples of the Theremin in use:
The first one is Lev on Theremin demonstrating his invention.
The second, “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage.
The third, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with their Theremin and violin bow solo.
The last, see what this street musician does with a looper, a Bassoon, and a Theremin
Music creativity has no limits.
The method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal, synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave.
Recording of sounds made a leap in 1927, when American inventor J. A. O’Neill developed a recording device that used magnetically coated ribbon. However, this was a commercial failure. The invention is attributed to both American inventor J. A. O’Neill and German engineer Fritz Pfleumer. Pfleumer filed the first audiotape patent in 1929. In 1935, the German electronics firm AEG produced a prototype (first version) of a record/playback machine, called a magnetophon. It was based on Pfleumer’s idea, but used a plastic tape. Another firm, BASF, went on to refine the tape AEG used, presenting the first usable magnetic tape in 1935.
The Ondes Martenot was invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, who debuted it in Paris. Jonny Greenwood is often credited with bringing the Ondes to a larger audience through Radiohead’s Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), Hail to the Thief (2003), In Rainbows (2007), and The King of Limbs (2011) albums. Greenwood uses the Ondes Martenot often in his solo efforts, and has written a piece for the instrument, entitled Smear. In live concerts, Radiohead have used six Ondes for “How to Disappear Completely”.
The Ondes Martenot was also utilized by Bryan Ferry, in 1999, on the album As Time Goes By. It was also used by Joe Jackson on his 1988 soundtrack album for Tucker: The Man and His Dream, and his 1994 album Night Music. Recently, Ondist Thomas Bloch has toured in Tom Waits and Robert Wilson’s show “The Black Rider” with Marianne Faithfull (2004-06) and in Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn’s show “Monkey: Journey to the West” (2007 onward). In 2009, bruit direct disques released a 12′ , 45rpm vinyl record of original Ondes Martenot compositions by Accident du travail.
In their 2013 album Random Access Memories, Daft Punk used the Ondes Martenot on Track #7 – “Touch” featuring Paul Williams. It was played by Thomas Bloch.
In 1929, Laurens Hammond established his company for the manufacture of electronic instruments. He went on to produce the Hammond organ, which was based on the principles of the Telharmonium, along with other developments including early reverberation units. Hammond (along with John Hanert and C. N. Williams) would also go on to invent another electronic instrument, the Novachord, which Hammond’s company manufactured from 1939-1942. The first opera to be written with electronic instruments was Antheil’s Mr. Bloom. This was composed in 1929, but was never finished.
In this same period, experiments began with sound art, early practitioners of which include Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and others.
A continuation to this story, The History of Electronic Music: 30s to the 40s, will be coming soon.
Wikipedia Electronic Music
Wikipedia Ondes Martenot
Encyclopaedia Britannica Electronic music
Indiana University ELECTRONIC MUSIC HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
blogcritics Music Playlist: Songs of Theremin
Science Clarified Magnetic recording/audiocassette