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 - Is the Magic lost ? -

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:36 am    - Is the Magic lost ? - Reply with quoteBack to top

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by Glenn Folkvord


A synthesizer playing friend of mine once wondered why there are little or no truly amazing electronic
music around these days. It was a rhetorical question, but it is something I too have been thinking
about for some time. I remember the summer of 1989, when I bought my first CDs ever, they were all
electronic music; Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Yanni, Kitaro, Jarre. The summer of 1989 opened the
doors to a whole new world of different, exotic, innovative, rewarding, and exploratory music for me.

I have heard a lot of electronic music since then, and today (18 years later) I consider myself somewhat
jaded or saturated when it comes to exploring new sounds, and getting fewer shivers from music.
I have no problems with basic appreciation of electronic music or any other genre I listen to (mostly
classical music and movie soundtracks), but all the experience, time and age that has passed has
changed the listening experience. But I am not sure it's only those universal life circumstances that has
caused this.

To make a long story short, there is also what I call information and sensory overload.

Can there be too much information? In another time, in another century, reading the sleeves of LPs and
booklets of CDs would make me wonder about those cool sounding instruments and hearing the unusual
sounds that artists squeezed from them. During the last 10 years however, oodles of information has
been made available, mainly on the internet, and I have also been hanging around synthesizer guys
enough to know that there is nothing magic about the Moogs and the ARPs. In fact, they kind of sound
boring unless you work them. Wikipedia, YouTube, mySpace, official websites, forums, mailing lists, fan
communities and Facebook is changing the way content is created and distributed, and it all contributes
to enlighten us about what was once unknown, expensive (to make) and exotic music.

An even bigger problem than information overload is perhaps sensory overload. In the 60s and 70s,
electronic music was rare, and so were the instruments. During the 1990s electronic instruments became
affordable, and coincided with software synths arriving at the scene, and also the internet for communica-
tions, as well as home CDR burning. Artists flourished. The 90s snowballed electronic music, as electronica
and ambient music got a foothold in mainstream media; I learned about artists like Orbital, Air, The Orb,
Massive Attack and Sven V

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 11:02 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Excellent thoughts, Glenn, there's certainly something to think about. Perhaps with the Internet, there's so much music available, and sometimes it becomes a bit too much, as you just don't have enough time to browse through all those many releases. However, thankfully, I am not yet saturated (hopefully, I never will) and I can still sense magic when it's there.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 12:43 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Good story Glenn.

for me the magic is still there, but it is to easy to find it nowadays Wink

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:36 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Lots of good points, but it doesn't match my feelings about music. Back in the late 80s finding really excellent EM that matched my taste was extremely difficult, and there were only a handful of releases across several years that really struck a chord. Of course, they stayed with me for decades - I still listen to them, and they still send shivers up my spine.

Today by contrast I find it much easier to track down great music that I like. The fact that it's easier to make music means there's a lot more music out there, and perhaps surprisingly a lot of it is of excellent quality. Yesterday alone I heard three new albums (one I bought, two I downloaded because the artist offered them for free) that gave me shivers - I went to bed with great music in my head, and it took me quite a while to get to sleep. That was a once a year event back in 1987, but these days it's thankfully a lot more common.

My senses are also being overloaded, but in a very good way.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:25 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

I agree in general, but I think it is not just electronic music.

Recording used to be a major pain as studios cost a fortune and hardly anyone knew what went on in a studio, so you were at the hands of whichever engineer there was.
These days, most people have a studio at home (a PC)
The amount of RUBBISH released is phenomenal. It really is. Badly recorded, no original ideas at all and just rubbish. This is in every genre though. Maybe EM suffers a touch more than other genre, but I think it's just a consequence of the internet.
Moogs and ARPs are tools. It all depends how you work. I love working with them and they are to me real instruments. Learn to play them and you get magic in my opinion. Creative tools which in the right hands go further than just being "synths"
Vangelis on his CS80 for example. Now, a CS80 is an absolutely fabulous synth, but there are few people if any who can master a synth that well. ENO and his VCS3. Schulze and the big Moog.

That for me is the real problem. No one masters their instrument anymore. It should become an extension of your mind in a certain way, but that requires dedication as well as talent and few people have both these days.

Just eating Filet Mignon might become boring, maybe so, but it is not the only good cut of meat out there luckily.

Then again we end up on the argument of VALUE.
I filled up my car 2 days ago and I also bought a mobile phone as mine died after 5 years (yes, I am old school when it comes to phones!)
The mobile phone was the same price as a tank of petrol.
For my rent and monthly bills, I could buy a nice iMac new.
Luxuries have become cheap. Things we NEED have become expensive as we have to feed all those shareholders and the management...

In short, I agree that we are overloaded but I don't blame instruments or even serious musicians.
it's just that we are living in a world where instant gratification rules. No one wants to dedicate themselves or commit themselves.
They want rewards without the graft. Both listeners and "artists"

Rant over!

I'd say there is more good music around these days, but it is hidden behind the masses of shit out there... to put it nicely Wink

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:38 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

I mostly agree, but I suspect the proportion of good music out there is about the same as ever it was, however there is so much more rubbish around...
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 12:01 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

« dlmorley » wrote:
I agree in general, but I think it is not just electronic music.

Recording used to be a major pain as studios cost a fortune and hardly anyone knew what went on in a studio, so you were at the hands of whichever engineer there was.
These days, most people have a studio at home (a PC)
The amount of RUBBISH released is phenomenal. It really is. Badly recorded, no original ideas at all and just rubbish. This is in every genre though. Maybe EM suffers a touch more than other genre, but I think it's just a consequence of the internet.
Moogs and ARPs are tools. It all depends how you work. I love working with them and they are to me real instruments. Learn to play them and you get magic in my opinion. Creative tools which in the right hands go further than just being "synths"
Vangelis on his CS80 for example. Now, a CS80 is an absolutely fabulous synth, but there are few people if any who can master a synth that well. ENO and his VCS3. Schulze and the big Moog.

That for me is the real problem. No one masters their instrument anymore. It should become an extension of your mind in a certain way, but that requires dedication as well as talent and few people have both these days.

Just eating Filet Mignon might become boring, maybe so, but it is not the only good cut of meat out there luckily.

Then again we end up on the argument of VALUE.
I filled up my car 2 days ago and I also bought a mobile phone as mine died after 5 years (yes, I am old school when it comes to phones!)
The mobile phone was the same price as a tank of petrol.
For my rent and monthly bills, I could buy a nice iMac new.
Luxuries have become cheap. Things we NEED have become expensive as we have to feed all those shareholders and the management...

In short, I agree that we are overloaded but I don't blame instruments or even serious musicians.
it's just that we are living in a world where instant gratification rules. No one wants to dedicate themselves or commit themselves.
They want rewards without the graft. Both listeners and "artists"

Rant over!

I'd say there is more good music around these days, but it is hidden behind the masses of shit out there... to put it nicely Wink


Good points, David.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:14 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Time jades most things. Listening to a new musical style/genre for the first time is an exciting discovery. I still remember the time when I discovered Autobahn, Ricochet and Moondawn. At that time they were so unbelievably different to anything else on offer. 30 years down the line yes, the magic of those discoveries is lost. But I still enjoy listening to 'electronic music'. There is very little now that can truly be called 'new', but evry so often something comes along that fires that old spark.

The more knowledge you accumulate about a subject the more the 'mystery' will be diluted. I have learnt an enormous amount about 'electronic' music over the years, in particular with the advent of the internet (and forums like this). Some of this knowledge has killed off a few myths I once enjoyed ( I always assumed that if someone played 'live' they were actually playing live). Some of this knowledge has helped to re-kindle some of that original magic.

The internet cuts both ways, but the good far outweighs the bad. 30 years ago I knew of perhaps 4 EM artists. 20 years ago probably 20. 10 years ago and the information highway was pushing that number up to say, 50. Today I have access to 1000's. That most certainly isn't a bad thing. There is still some magic out there and it certainly isn't harder to find than it was 30 years ago.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:39 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

A lot of good points from everyone.

When I first listened to music, it was very rare to meet somone by accident who had heard of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream, let alone had a record.

The only difference I expereince now is that some people I meet may know of Tangerine Dream. I am talking in daily life through work and social acquaintances.

However, on the internet and via independent record labels there is far more EM, and every other sort of music, than I could possibly listen to. It's hard enough listening to everything I already have let alone collecting even more.

For me the original shivers I felt when discovering EM in the first place was after a long long time of not listening to any music. Discovering Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Oophoi as well as both new and remembered KS and TD was brilliant. But I only have about 4 TD CDs now, selling some after I realised I was rarely going to listen to them.

I don't think the magic is lost, there is a lot out there. Whether I'll be able to find everything that is magical for me is another matter.....Perhaps not being able to know or hear it all is part of the modern magic

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 3:25 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

If you
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:37 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

There's no question we've become over-saturated with the amount of music and information that is available to us. But, as it's been said, the amount of new artists and music I've discovered due to the Internet is amazing! The magic is rare, but that's how it should be anyway.

I think the key is to control the amount of new music you get (either purchasing or downloading) to a reasonable amount. If you get 10 new albums in one sitting, the amount of time it would take to truly appreciate each one would take too much time... and chances are you'll end up buying or downloading more before you finish with those first 10.

I generally get 2-3 CDs, and digest them over a week or two (mixing them in with my regularly played music). Doing that allows me to make a very easy decision whether I enjoyed it or not. This may take more time since we all know of those releases that take time to truly appreciate, but the key for me is mixing them with my usual favourites.

If I discover an artist that really makes an impact, I'll dedicate my usual purchases only to that artist. I find this also helps with the saturation problem.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:34 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

I think there is magic enough out there. Most of the times it is just not coming from the people you would like it coming from Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:51 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

« Seren » wrote:

I don't think the magic is lost, there is a lot out there. Whether I'll be able to find everything that is magical for me is another matter.....Perhaps not being able to know or hear it all is part of the modern magic


This is something I often think about - I think it would be a tragedy if it were possible to discover all the wonders out there (and this applies to more than just music) - it's knowing that there is always something else waiting around the corner that makes life so fascinating.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:04 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Yes! The unexpected is still exciting.
I still remember the day I bought EF's "Aqua" at a flea market. I knew TD but hadn't heard his solo stuff.
I took it home on that Sunday morning and put it on at home. An incredible moment for me. Those moments are very hard to come by and maybe these days because music has become data to a certain extent, it is harder to be surprised.
But it does happen.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:45 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

« synthnl » wrote:
I think there is magic enough out there. Most of the times it is just not coming from the people you would like it coming from Smile


That

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