Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

What does 'experimental' mean, in 'experimental music'?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    To follow up, if 'experimental music' has no aim, then what is the experiment?



    Is it merely to inch further and further toward chaos and see if we still like what we hear?



    If that's the case, then a LOT OF THINGS can be 'experimental music.' But a heading that subsumes too much ends up describing (and meaning) nothing.



    Is its aim to eventually force us to *not* like what we hear, and say, "There. I did it. I finally found what you truly hate." Or, "This is it!! The center point of the audience's indifference. I finally have the sound that evokes NO response or feeling in the listener."



    Is that a victory?



    And here's another wrinkle. Lodovico Giustini's Sonate da cimbalo di piano was 'experimental music' by any definition of the word, as it was the first to employ the then-new instrument, the piano (well, the fortepiano) in the 1730s. Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was an experimental piece as well, as it debuted the celesta. Truly different and experimental, even risky, as careers go.



    But by modern standards (thanks to waves of atonal and arhythmic compositions that dominated the mid 20th century) Giustini and Tchaikovsky did not go nearly far enough. Musically, their scandalous "experiments" were equivalent to wearing a bathing suit that reveals the ankles.



    Ultimately we're forced to accept a broad definition of what is 'experimental' in music. It's just that some experiments are bolder than others.
    Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

    Comment


    • #32
      i think it implies the experiment was a failure.



      i prefer the term "exploratory music."
      main: http://suitandtieguy.com
      Lawrence Miles style rants: http://suitandtieguy.livejournal.com
      handbuilt boutique synthesiser modules: http://stgsoundlabs.com
      my digital albums: http://suitandtieguy.bandcamp.com

      Comment


      • #33
        Why are you all still posting?









        Quote Originally Posted by droolmaster0
        View Post

        Well, I suppose that this thread is a failed experiment. It wasn't intended to talk about pop music. It's fine that you think that this stuff is what is meant by the term. But I'm just not interested.




        I'm sorry this disappoints you. The fact that we have to share the planet with other people guarantees that there will always be currents in the conversation that aren't taking the boat where we might want it to go. Threads are like kids; you give birth to them, guide them, start them off with Solomonic wisdom that can't possibly result in them becoming anything less than epic successes. Then along comes other people to muck them up. You can either try to accept as inevitable what the boneheads are filling up your child with, or you can start a blog, with comments disabled.



        I admit that I haven't cared much for most exp music I've heard, but I've learned something from this thread and I'm going to listen to some of the artists mentioned here with which I'm not familiar.



        And I promise not to do this again, but I think that if George Martin had worked with The Beach Boys instead of The Beatles, things would have been mighty different.
        ComputerMusicGuide.com

        Comment


        • #34
          Experimental 40 years ago means something entirely different today. IMO, I strongly feel one must be in command of theory and compositions skills before they attempt to qualify their music as experimental. There is a difference between experimental and experimentation. But it also should be noted it depends what your base of reference is to begin with. In other words, Debie Gibson's experimenting with her approach to music is going to be radically different than John Cage's approach. By a pop-minded person, Cage may already seem experimental, but by his standards, experimental may be actually trying to create a pop sound.

          Comment


          • #35
            As the Wikipedia article makes perfectly clear, the term "experimental music" is just too ambiguous. When words mean different things to everyone they become useless.



            Example:



            I once had a huge argument with an atheist friend who claimed he was a Christian



            His defense was the word "Christian" did not imply to him belief in God. My counterargument was he was just abusing the word because to everyone else in the world it does imply belief in God.



            At some point semantics are important in order to communicate!
            My VCAs go to 11

            Comment


            • #36
              Well to be honest, the beach boys and the Beatles sort of culled from the experimental techniques and founders that had existed previously to them. In fact, I took several electronic music classes in college and I had one professor that positively drooled over the beach boys use of a thermin, despite the fact that it was invented in the late 20's and it was (in my opinion) thrown in as an anachronistic and intrinsic element in the music.



              All in all, there's nothing wrong with any of that and I think it's great if it gets people to recognize some of the aspects and history of experimental music. But it goes back to what I was saying about genre clashing or mixing up. The fact that they're using experimental techniques in their pop music, doesn't make it experimental.



              I can sympathize with drool on this point. Remember when Metallica used an orchestra in their music? Does that make them classical music? No.. But I remember a lot of people at the time thought it was so ground breaking and experimental and so on and so forth.



              I guess what I (or maybe we to an extent) are trying to say here is that experimental music is it's own genre, that I like to define by my own working definition. So, ergo, people like the beatles and the beach boys were clashing genres and not being experimental in and of them selves.



              Let's take being for the benefit of mr. kite. That's probably the only truly experimental song I think they have done to date. The technique they used is called (or was related to) dadaism. They didn't invent the technique, but they probably lay claim to the most famous example of it. And mostly because they were already famous before doing it and most of the people that heard it from them hadn't heard it before, so they probably think they invented it, which is a whole other discussion and now you can understand why people are mad at skirllex.



              But anyway, the tape loops the beatles used were actually pioneered in the late 1800's by the futurist movement. And again they didn't invent the technique, but they introduced it to the world of pop music. But there's both good and bad in that.. and now we're sitting here discussing the history of experimental music.. which I don't think is such a bad thing..








              Experimental 40 years ago means something entirely different today.



              What it sounds like yes, but I think we should still be able to define the qualities of that sound with the same terms and definitions regardless of the intrinsic sound though. Experimental music is also what some would define as "process" music, in that it's actually more about the way you do it than what it sounds like. I don't think you can define the sound, but you can define the process, or at least, in my opinion, the core aspects of it.



              But for most people into experimental music, I think it's about both the process and the resulting sound.
              Give me my moog, but **** off you american techno rockstar! people in countries I've never been to do it better than you!

              Computer Music Guide

              Comment


              • #37
                They had tape loops in the 1800s? What did they play them on?



                One of my profs eons ago was involved in what I would consider experimental music. At school they called it "electroacoustic composition".



                This was some pretty cool ****************, especially given that it was mid-90s. She did stuff where a computer+camera would interpret the movements of dancers and dynamically compose music to suit. Or, she placed a bajillion speakers around a conservation area and had the computer compose music to go along with the swaying of the trees. Talk about awesome.



                I just googled her (Kristi Allik) and found a YouTube video of what appears to be an updated version of the one from the conservation area --

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s-CHCe7Wt4
                Do daemons dream of electric sleep()?

                Comment


                • #38





                  They had tape loops in the 1800s? What did they play them on?



                  records and wax cylinders. no ****************. they had concerts that consisted of several men on stage, each with their own record player. the record or cylinder had one continuous groove with one sound on it, per person. they had a conductor at the front of the "band" who would then point to each person, who then either raise or lower the needle to the groove (put the needle on the groove wakka wakka wakka).



                  this in effect served the same function as using looped tape on several reel to reels and then running them into a mixer and playing on the faders.
                  Give me my moog, but **** off you american techno rockstar! people in countries I've never been to do it better than you!

                  Computer Music Guide

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    I keep meaning to post here but my mind goes blank and my lips keep chanting: "vacuum cleaner, vacuum cleaner."








                    records and wax cylinders. no ****************. they had concerts that consisted of several men on stage, each with their own record player. the record or cylinder had one continuous groove with one sound on it, per person. they had a conductor at the front of the "band" who would then point to each person, who then either raise or lower the needle to the groove (put the needle on the groove wakka wakka wakka).



                    My composition teacher (James Tenney) was a student of Cage's. He brought him in a couple of times. One piece had a bunch of ex-pat Americans reading random pieces of, IIRC, Walden. Another had a bunch of people with radios tuning them in to random frequencies. Memorable concepts and thought provoking.
                    Hi Mom!

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Excellent. I woke up this morning and this was here, saying much of what I would have said. Words are used differently in different contexts, and just because a musician or band experiments to some degree does not mean that their music is what is referred to by the term 'experimental music'.









                      Quote Originally Posted by Metrosonus
                      View Post

                      Well to be honest, the beach boys and the Beatles sort of culled from the experimental techniques and founders that had existed previously to them. In fact, I took several electronic music classes in college and I had one professor that positively drooled over the beach boys use of a thermin, despite the fact that it was invented in the late 20's and it was (in my opinion) thrown in as an anachronistic and intrinsic element in the music.



                      All in all, there's nothing wrong with any of that and I think it's great if it gets people to recognize some of the aspects and history of experimental music. But it goes back to what I was saying about genre clashing or mixing up. The fact that they're using experimental techniques in their pop music, doesn't make it experimental.



                      I can sympathize with drool on this point. Remember when Metallica used an orchestra in their music? Does that make them classical music? No.. But I remember a lot of people at the time thought it was so ground breaking and experimental and so on and so forth.



                      I guess what I (or maybe we to an extent) are trying to say here is that experimental music is it's own genre, that I like to define by my own working definition. So, ergo, people like the beatles and the beach boys were clashing genres and not being experimental in and of them selves.



                      Let's take being for the benefit of mr. kite. That's probably the only truly experimental song I think they have done to date. The technique they used is called (or was related to) dadaism. They didn't invent the technique, but they probably lay claim to the most famous example of it. And mostly because they were already famous before doing it and most of the people that heard it from them hadn't heard it before, so they probably think they invented it, which is a whole other discussion and now you can understand why people are mad at skirllex.



                      But anyway, the tape loops the beatles used were actually pioneered in the late 1800's by the futurist movement. And again they didn't invent the technique, but they introduced it to the world of pop music. But there's both good and bad in that.. and now we're sitting here discussing the history of experimental music.. which I don't think is such a bad thing..







                      What it sounds like yes, but I think we should still be able to define the qualities of that sound with the same terms and definitions regardless of the intrinsic sound though. Experimental music is also what some would define as "process" music, in that it's actually more about the way you do it than what it sounds like. I don't think you can define the sound, but you can define the process, or at least, in my opinion, the core aspects of it.



                      But for most people into experimental music, I think it's about both the process and the resulting sound.




                      Comment


                      • #41
                        For me, throwing Beach Boys and Shuggie Otis in the "experimental" category seems odd. The Beach Boys did some brilliant things in the technical department, but those "experimental" harmonies are entirely in the domain of Western music. In the late 1960s rock music actually seemed to notice the classical world and even borrow some new techniques from it (this includes the Beatles musique concrete sections), but at best I call it an application of experimental, not experimental music in itself.



                        I tend to have two types of music marked in my playlists as "experimental". The first, and the one I think fits best, is those whose work is almost entirely an exploration of a process. This fits, for instance, Laurie Spiegel who heavily worked with algorithmic music.






                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWKDsfARXMc





                        Or really obscure artists like Maryanne Amacher who wrote pieces to explore otoacoustic emission.






                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px2mz5ObenQ





                        Generally speaking, it is process oriented. Some avant-garde also fall in this category. The unfortunate downside is that in many cases the result is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Pop can sometimes borrow results from the experiments and make it pleasing. Radiohead took an experimental computer music piece by Paul Lansky and sampled it into "Idioteque" for a nice result. The original piece is a little more difficult to listen to.



                        The other type of music I have tagged as "experimental" is what is probably best called "outsider music", music that is a bit of a what the **************** is this type of thing. I tend to tag artists as experimental when they know what they are doing vs. the Wesley Willis type that are outsider because they don't know what they are doing. I mean, the guy who made the below piece is a bassist in a couple of Portland metal bands, and then this.






                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeANwFlPVyw
                        What I make with way too many blinky light modular items, plugins, and an Alesis Andromeda.
                        Forbidden Star: home studio / melodic ambient / New Age / the deep zone
                        Boney Fiend: the band, man / punk / garage / beer

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          I'm not sure that I understand why you find this implication, on the one hand. If someone does a scientific experiment, for instance, there is not an implication that it was a failure. What would a 'failure' be in this context, exactly? Not liking the result? I don't think that there is any implication that one won't like the result in the term 'experimental music'. And then there is the fact that while perhaps the result of a 'musical experiment' may not result in a piece that one likes, it may result in one having learned something, which is worthwhile.











                          Quote Originally Posted by Suit & Tie Guy
                          View Post

                          i think it implies the experiment was a failure.



                          i prefer the term "exploratory music."




                          Comment


                          • #43
                            I couldn't disagree more strongly that one must be thoroughly versed in theory and composition in order to call one's music experimental. To some degree, one might say that there are 2 basic elements in the characterization - one must embody the spirit of experimentation deeply in one's own approach, and then I suppose it must also be evident in the final work. In some sense, it's really none of the listener's business what background the composer has - listen to the music and react to it on its own. The cliche that one must know the rules in order to break them is pretty silly. If one is making 'noise music' for instance, one does not need to study harmony first. And in fact, I think that it's often true that when one studies a discipline, it 'brainwashes' them from ever being able to truly let that theory go. As a violin player, I'm sometimes amused by hearing the attempts of great classical players to play non classical music. It's usually horribly, horribly stiff.....









                            Quote Originally Posted by Mooginator
                            View Post

                            Experimental 40 years ago means something entirely different today. IMO, I strongly feel one must be in command of theory and compositions skills before they attempt to qualify their music as experimental. There is a difference between experimental and experimentation. But it also should be noted it depends what your base of reference is to begin with. In other words, Debie Gibson's experimenting with her approach to music is going to be radically different than John Cage's approach. By a pop-minded person, Cage may already seem experimental, but by his standards, experimental may be actually trying to create a pop sound.




                            Comment


                            • #44
                              This is experimental in any era:






                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyzmk0qio5E





                              So is this:






                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwsWZVawv3I
                              SPAM - Korg Poly-800 w/ Moog Slayer mod $250 shipped CONUS
                              Spunkytoofers Rabbit Hole (circuitbent PS-2) $300 shipped CONUS
                              E-Mu Ultraproteus, power cord, good shape (minor rack wear) $225 + shipping
                              Roland S-10 sampler, power cord, manual, and disks, great shape $100 + shipping (I just don't have room for it)

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                This is just my own personal reaction to something that you say, and not meant as an objective commentary on all of this....



                                I think that for some 'experimental musicians' the experimentation with the process leaves out the aesthetic result to too great a degree. Perhaps its analogous to long gear lists posted with tracks in a way...I might be curious, upon listening to a piece of music, how the sounds were made. This is kind of a professional interest - but if the gear is too much of an emphasis, you often get stuff that sounds like a 'demo'. The kind of thing that lots of people complain about on various forums, etc.



                                I find that there is always a give and take between the process and the result. Maybe some of the experimentation (in my own 'work') is working on this relationship and how to think about it. I precisely DON'T want to make music in which I know the outcome, and I want the result to diverge as much as possible from my expectation. I want to be surprised by what I'm getting. The technique, for me, involves many things - knowing the gear well enough to hold on for dear life and find things that surprise and delight me, learning to unlearn certain presuppositions about playing the violin, trying to improvise in new ways, etc - but always with the notion that the end result must please me. At the same time, I don't think that the methods that I used on some particular day are important in themselves, and I don't think (unless it's purely for professional interest) that the listener should really care about them. I suppose another analogy that comes to mind is people who let ideology trump what they see right in front of them. I think that some terms are kind of loaded, and not helpful, but (feeling inarticulate right now) I'm not quite thinking of another way of saying it. While I think that any assemblage of sound can be music, at the same time, if the person is simply an idealogue about process, with no taste, they can still produce crap, a statement that is of course further complicated by the fact that the quality of the result is subjective.









                                Quote Originally Posted by soundwave106
                                View Post

                                For me, throwing Beach Boys and Shuggie Otis in the "experimental" category seems odd. The Beach Boys did some brilliant things in the technical department, but those "experimental" harmonies are entirely in the domain of Western music. In the late 1960s rock music actually seemed to notice the classical world and even borrow some new techniques from it (this includes the Beatles musique concrete sections), but at best I call it an application of experimental, not experimental music in itself.



                                I tend to have two types of music marked in my playlists as "experimental". The first, and the one I think fits best, is those whose work is almost entirely an exploration of a process. This fits, for instance, Laurie Spiegel who heavily worked with algorithmic music.






                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWKDsfARXMc





                                Or really obscure artists like Maryanne Amacher who wrote pieces to explore otoacoustic emission.






                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px2mz5ObenQ





                                Generally speaking, it is process oriented. Some avant-garde also fall in this category. The unfortunate downside is that in many cases the result is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Pop can sometimes borrow results from the experiments and make it pleasing. Radiohead took an experimental computer music piece by Paul Lansky and sampled it into "Idioteque" for a nice result. The original piece is a little more difficult to listen to.



                                The other type of music I have tagged as "experimental" is what is probably best called "outsider music", music that is a bit of a what the **************** is this type of thing. I tend to tag artists as experimental when they know what they are doing vs. the Wesley Willis type that are outsider because they don't know what they are doing. I mean, the guy who made the below piece is a bassist in a couple of Portland metal bands, and then this.






                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeANwFlPVyw




                                Comment



                                Working...
                                X