Techno Schmechno A Postmodern Approach To Electronica

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Techno Schmechno: A Postmodern Approach To Electronica Essay, Research Paper In searching for a properly post-modern style of music, it may be better to look at the electronic music scene, which began with house music in the early to middle 80s, rather than at hip-hop. It is true that the hip-hop artist generally disappears into the narrative of the music to the extent that many of their lives are a direct reflection of what they sing about: gang violence, drugs, racism, alienation in the US, etc. but here already we encounter two problems. One is the existential choice of reading: if we do read these lives as reflected, or as ghostly risings out of formal lyrical narratives called rap and hip-hop, which lend to the narratives distinct anthropological and sociological

connotations of a symbolic as opposed to structural order, or at least blur the concept ?reality? (qua the signified) with rapping (qua the signifier), then one perhaps makes the mistake of naturalising signs which are altogether become ambiguous, to the extent we have blurred an idea about ?nature? with a structural and then formal aspect of the narrative anyway. To do this makes the historical or ?real? experiences of gang violence, drugs, racism etc. little more than lame stereotypes or pastiches of the rap, now become Rap, or somewhat almighty in terms of its ?myth?. Whence, though originate these themes? To read as above, is altogether too much myth construction. Either the reality of experience is annulled as signified, in favour of structural or formal readings, or rap

narratives suck the lifeblood out of experience and turn it into symbolism. The other way then to read hip-hop, and this is where one encounters the second problem, is to commence with real experience: to see this art as a function of the artist’s experience, or even to annul the artistic dimension in favour of pure type of expression: cathartic, violent, confronting – this may salvage a political dimension, but that’s not very post-modern really. Nevertheless the primary elements for hip-hop to cross over into post-modernism were there, and post-modernism here primarily connotes a logical conclusion, which makes explicit the absence of a delineation between a staged performance and a real event. These elements should however include not only critical analyses of lyrical

content and its performance, but, and which is lacking, also the formal dynamics of mechanical production and reproduction as triggered by such technologies as synthesisers, samplers, sequencers and drum machines. House music (now ?dead?), and all its post-house sub-styles, ie, acid house, new beat, techno, and then the great proliferation from techno-pop to hardcore trance, jungle and other recent idiolects of electronica have more recognisable post-modern functions, in terms of musical form, which I hope to convey in this essay. I prefer to use the term ?idolect? rather than ?style? or ?genre? here as micro-genres of electronic music have distinct paradigmatic features, mainly connoted by the universal use of certain technical forms such as the use of rhythm, tonality etc. We

may, in general, call these forms, parametrical (see endnote 1) features which tend to index the whole of electronic music as a syntagm: as an integrational or cardinal form, the individual contents of which look metaphorical, distributional and catalytical (see endnote 2) . For example, the typical 4/4 time signature, which as a sign denotes a typical ‘dance song’. Wider shifts in content signify the proliferation of what we might have called styles, although the proliferation of these is so rapid, the styles are so short lived and there are so very many of them that it is quite possible for a ’style’ to be introduced on one album and then never to reappear. Therefore it is better to read electronic music overall or integrationally in terms of its syntagm as vertically