Why Electronic Music Requires Talent And Deserves Respect
It was time by now that someone took the time to explain why the dance scene has always been criticized by many people, with their favorite argument: “a DJ doesn’t play an actual instrument”. That’s absolutely true. DJing is one of the easiest skills in the industry nowadays, especially with the invention of the CDJ, which require practically no talent as such, just practice. Buzzfeed made a video about the whole polemic on how easy it is to be a disc jockey nowadays, proving a random individual could learn the DJing basics in a single week (let’s take into account that this person had superstar DJs such as Dada Life as his mentor for this experience). Before you get mad at this statement, finish the whole article before coming to your conclusion.
It is true that the current state of DJing is losing its original shape, but we still have outstanding disc jockeys among us, with names such as A-Trak, Paul Van Dyk, Tiësto, Carl Cox, and a big part of the techno and underground scene. Just check out A-Trak’s demonstration of scratching, the most iconic form of DJing that lots of people tend to think is still used all the time nowadays.
But we’re not here to talk about DJing in specific. As we said previously, the art of the disc jockey is losing part of its culture, but we want to focus on the music. There’s a difference between what happens on stage and what happens in the studio, just in case you didn’t know. It’s at this point the talent comes to full fruition.
I, myself have heard comments such as “dude, ‘EDM’ only needs the push of a button on the mixer” or even “you just add some music in different channels and it blends into a song by itself”, but my favorite one has to be “I could even make a track by myself on VirtualDJ, it wasn’t even hard”. And that’s exactly when passionate followers, admirers of dance music get frustrated at people for blindly criticizing our beloved scene. But we have to understand them as well, since we do not know everything about every single genre of music. And here comes the fine balance between letting things go and sharing knowledge. If you don’t know anything about production, or you just want your friend to finally understand why electronic music does require talent here’s a taste of what it’s about.
Electronic music, and music in general, requires a producer, even your favorite rock bands, such as Pink Floyd who received help from audio engineers like Alan Parsons. Like it or not, what would be the purpose of the legendary album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” be without all the production that comes with it. The album would not have the connected, story-like, feeling around the topics Pink Floyd decided to cover.
If rock is not your cup of tea, and you’re more of a pop or indie listener, the same principle applies. While lyrics and vocals are very powerful and important, very few verses could stand without the musical production. Could you imagine a Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, or even a Mariah Carey song without its production? That’s what musical geniuses such as Zedd, Madeon, Otto Knows or if we want to make a little comeback, Giorgio Moroder did and do. Without those producers, the beat you dance to would be absent, and the song you like so much would lose its soul, its atmosphere. Take “Scream & Shout”, the 2013 hit for instance. Imagine it without all the ‘electronic’ part. It’s what makes the song so catchy, yet still draws criticism. However, knowing who produced the song also changes how you listen to a track. “Scream & Shout” was produced by Basto, the mind behind the anthemic “Again And Again”.
You may still find production an easy task, but insight of what producers actually contribute to your favorite songs always helps your appreciation of it. Production can be an extremely difficult process, where creativity and talent are a requirement. You may criticize the ‘EDM’ movement that has been generated in the last few years, and we have to agree with you. This new trend around EDM is lacking significant originality and is too-often guided by one or two hits every season.
The early 2000’s were the years of trance, and afterwards came the emergence of the house scene – when electronic music started to enter the mainstream spotlight and stopped being principally about underground raves and it’s cult leaders. 2012 was the year of melodic tracks, such as Avicii’s older style or Basto. 2013saw the emergence of big room house, with the boom generated and dominated by Martin Garrix’s “Animals”. Each year see’s a new sub-genre rise to the forefront of the industry’s trends, putting listeners at risk of thinking it “all sounds the same.” based on what sells each year.
For instance, the pop scene nowadays is ruled by a little repetitive yet catchy refrain that is generally accompanied by a rap verse or electronic music section. “See You Again” from Fast And Furious 7 or nearly every Pitbull song is the perfect example for that. Don’t get me wrong, it does not mean that those songs are bad, they just follow the trend that they know is selling the most at the time, exactly what happens in the dance scene.
Electronic music, and genres in general, that are produced on a computer are made with digital audio workstations (DAW). In the case of computers, which is the most common ‘studio’ used nowadays it is a software with what you produce your tracks. Below are some examples of projects on Ableton, FL Studio and Cubase – three popular DAWs. – – These are examples of relatively simple productions.
Every layer, every single colorful bar/row can take many hours of work just to find the perfect sound. Some of Daft Punk tracks took months of producing, even the ones many consider “super repetitive”, since the sounds that they use are close to perfection in terms of production. Eric Prydz is a modern example of this. His latest production “Opus” is a true example of perfected layers of sounds fused together. You just have to feel the music, feel every single part of it, from the bass line, the kicks, the synthesizers used, the instruments, the vocals. That is exactly why music is beautiful, no matter which genre we’re talking about.
In light of this, it important to highlight the need to respect everyone’s taste in music. Especially in the age of social-media and the keyboard warrior. No matter what people listen to, it has a beauty in it, even if you consider the lyrics or the sounds stupid. Superior tastes in music don’t exist, appreciated tastes do. It just depends on how opinions cross.
Spread the love, not the hate.