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Hear! Hear!

By Ian Nance - posted Thursday, 21 December 2017


I believe that I walk a very wide musical path - from Mozart to Madonna - and can be as moved by a solemn requiem as by a soulful or bright country music number.

I enjoy thoroughly what is often referred to as 'electronic music' a style in which notes are generated and treated for effect electronically, or else sampled digitally from live instruments and human voices.

It is recent listening to examples of this style on FM radio which raised my awareness of certain shortcomings in what I was hearing, hence prompted my writing this essay..

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The idea of music is extremely broad and difficult to limit.

Wikipedia, in a statement of the word's meaning, endeavors to give an accurate and concise explanation of music's basic attributes or essential nature. "Explications of the concept of music usually begin with the idea that music is organised sound. They go on to note that this characterisation is too broad, since there are many examples of organised sound that are not music, such as human speech, and the sounds which non-human animals and machines make" .

There have been many suggested definitions, but defining music turns out to be more difficult than might first be imagined, leading to ongoing controversy about how to define music.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as "the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds, or both, to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion."

However, the music genres known as noise music and musique concrète, for instance, challenge these ideas about what constitutes music's essential attributes by using sounds not widely considered as musical, like randomly produced electronic distortion, feedback, static, cacophony, and compositional processes using indeterminacy.

A thing which I realised is that so much of the music which we can access these days from our plethora of recording and playback systems, both broadcast as well as individually selected, is poorly produced, especially some 'electronic' music.

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Too much of it is a boring repetition of micro-second-precise tempo resulting in a mechanical performance style, whilst the total absence of live individualistic human renditioning with its tiny flaws in tempo, note playing, loudness or softness or effect, often results in an uninteresting playout.

So often in music performance by artists of high merit, it is these minor irregularities which lead to the charm and enjoyment of such talent.

As well, the minor ambiences of room noise and natural reverberation in the staging of many 'live' performances lend a feeling of authenticity which many producers of 'electronic' music find exceptionally hard, if not impossible to incorporate in their compilation.

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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