Cooperation Corner - History of Electronic Music

jmj713 - Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:42 pm
Post subject: History of Electronic Music
I have been thinking of starting some kind of online project (podcast, YouTube channel, blog) on the overall history of electronic music. I have been gathering ideas and lists for a couple of years now, and the goal is to cover electronic music in depth, year by year, using a very wide scope (electronic music to me is any music involving electronic instruments and tools, so this would include genres outside the so-called "electronic music" genre, such as hip-hop, pop, and new wave, as a few examples).

I don't think I will be able to actually do this by myself in a comprehensive way that I feel this needs to be, and I do think this would be a very valuable resource once it's realized. If anyone thinks they might be able to join me in this odyssey, or offer some assistance, I think a team of like-minded individuals with diverse tastes and backgrounds would make a project like this actually worth doing.

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable in all kinds of electronic music, and I know this particular forum is intended more for the traditional kind of EM, but again, the goal is to chart the complete history of electronic music as a whole, from pre-electronic roots with various musical instruments that paved the way for the early 20th century experiments like the Theremin, to the academic music concrete and tape loops and experimental computer music of the 1950s, to the Moog, and then to all the synths, and then the computers, and the genre explosion in the internet age.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please let me know here or via PM. I know there are lots of sources out there with sort of similar premises, but thus far I have not encountered a single resource where the dedication was for a narrative history of electronic music, from the beginning till now.
BruecknerAmbient - Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:03 am
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A giant project indeed! Shocked And of course very interesting.

Personally, I fear I lack the time (and for most styles You'll need to include then also the detailed knowledge), but I hope You'll be able to put a great team together and make it happen. Good luck!

jmj713 - Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:40 pm
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It would be sort of giant, I guess, yes, but also something that will never be truly complete. I'm leaning toward setting it up as a website, a blog, maybe similar to a wiki. I thought about doing a linear podcast or YouTube channel, but first, I don't have the voice for that, and two, it would be too restricting. I don't think this can be told in Episode 1, then Episode 2 fashion. Since 99% of music is probably available legally on YouTube or Spotify, it can be embedded in the text so the reader can listen to the full piece while reading about it, which you can't do with a podcast or video, for copyright and length reasons.

Although I would prefer a chronological narrative, and it would be fairly easy to sustain for the early years, but electronic music, and music in general, explodes into so many directions in later year that I'm still struggling to envision how it could be laid out. I'm thinking it would focus on notable recordings per year and once genres become too varied, it can then focus on that genre in that year (for example, "Disco in 1980").

It might be a good idea to also chart the chronology of important artists throughout, so if a musician puts out an album in a given year, there would be an article on that. But mainly the goal is to go year by year and record by record (be it single track or album), to see how electronic music developed and evolved and changed, and how instruments and tools evolved as well (hardware is something I'm very unfamiliar with as simply a listener).
BruecknerAmbient - Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:06 pm
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I think the electronic aspect of music grew exponentially. I guess You'll need an equally growing team to cover it all which, reaching the 2020s, will encompass all humanity - and who will read it all, then? Laughing

Kidding aside, it's a really worthy project, just maybe to cover (and cross-reference) every branch and aspect might be an overwhelming goal.

Most readers probably are served better with a slightly reduced dish (which will also be easier to deliver, and could be delicious as well...).

Just my two cents, of course. Smile

Jon - Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:23 am
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There was a book last year:

jmj713 - Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:41 am
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Thanks, I'll check it out. I've seen a few history books that seem interesting, but never seem to be as all-encompassing as I would like this project to be. And of course you don't get the full audio you can embed from legal sources.
dronescape - Sat Sep 28, 2019 9:52 am
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These days, everything I don't like is called Electronic Music -- a conversation I had recently went like this:

"What kind of music do you make?" -- "I make electronic music." -- "I'd never have thought you're a DJ."

jmj713 - Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:19 pm
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There's no accounting for taste, but "electronic music" is vastly diverse. That's part of the reason why I'd love to undertake this project, to talk about what electronic music even is. I'm a musical omnivore, I like all kinds of music, but my tastes generally lean to electronic music of all different genres and styles. And yes, typically when "electronic music" is mentioned, it's assumed it's dance music. Which I greatly enjoy and find a lot of it interesting to listen to, even while it's meant to be danced to.

My interest lies in how we progressed from, let's say, mid-1970s disco to mid-1980s synth-pop, to mid-1990s techno, to mid-2000s EDM, and so forth. That's not an exact timeline, but you get the idea. I'm curious to talk about the chronology of all of electronic music year by year and artist by artist, but also how genres evolved and split off. How did we get dubstep? Where did it go? And so on. There are a few resources out there with genre flowcharts but no narrative and history and audio examples of notable records.
dronescape - Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:59 pm
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Dubstep is one of those words that show me very clearly (and painfully) how old I have become... I have absolutely no clue what it is or what it sounds like.

jmj713 - Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:53 pm
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Personally, I find modern electronic music fascinating. I'm not that old but I'm also not that young either. But be it pop music, dance music, or "traditional" electronic music, the records being made today are extremely varied and so sonically interesting. The digital tools in the last decade or two have made it so you're not restricted to specific sets of sounds manufactured hardware is capable of, and this led, in part, to dubstep and other similar genres of the 2010s where it's as much about sound design as it is about musical things like harmony or melody.
jmj713 - Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:24 pm
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But just as dubstep or any other recent style is interesting, I'm more fascinated by origins of electronic music, and have been collecting information and records of early electronic music for a few years. For me, early electronic music is really anything prior to, say, 1970 or so.

Here's an article about some of these: https://www.factmag.com/2014/05/29/the-greatest-electronic-albums-of-the-1950s-and-1960s/
jmj713 - Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:29 am
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And some incredible early recordings here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUXl043M6v4PkvHNDHS0BbwEXPG9is0Si

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