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Dance Music Too Competent? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 6th September 2018
  #1
Old 6th September 2018
  #2
Interesting article
Old 6th September 2018
  #3
I read it quickly but it chimed with me.
There are standards in dance music that are drummed into you.
Rules about the tempo, the swing amount, the filtering off of unwanted frequencies etc, etc....
There is a lot of videos on how to make House and Techno that talk almost exclusively about eq, compression and fx and hardly anything about great content (music).
You are right, it's not just about electronic music, but I definitely feel people are terrified to step out and be different. The way music commerce is - with very little income from hard copies, and the mountain of digital content being filtered through DJ playlists and Spotify charts, it's very easy to be out in the cold, with no exposure and no income if you are attempting to do something unusual.
Which is what I think the article is saying.
Old 6th September 2018
  #4
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Barfunkel's Avatar
 

Yeah most tutorial videos just speak about the technical issues, there are very few ones that talk about how to write good music.
Old 6th September 2018
  #5
Obviously writing good music is hard to teach. You either can or you can't...or you learn to by making loads of crap tracks and learning by experience.
The point I'm making is it's taught as a positive to use the same templates, the same few drum samples on all of your tracks, to filter off the same low and high frequencies, to eq the bass drum to the same ideal frequency on a scope etc, etc....
It's as the article says, a lot of people have become skilled at production techniques, which MIGHT be getting in the way of their urge to do something completely left field.
Old 6th September 2018
  #6
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BTByrd's Avatar
Apologies to Chrisso; I deleted my original post not knowing he responded to it. It read something like:
"I wish people wouldn't create new threads where the content of the original post is merely a link to an article and the title of the thread is an inaccurate statement of the article's thesis.

The issue isn't whether or not dance music is too competent -- as if there could be such a thing as too much competence -- but whether too much dance music is merely competent but not sufficiently "artistic" or culturally risk-taking. And this is an old complaint made in most all genres of music. "Records today are well produced and have a nice sound to them, but they ain't got no soul! What happened to the 'real' artists?".

I also take issue with the conception of "competence" at the core of the article, which conflates competence at mixing or "production" (narrowly construed) with being a competent producer in the sense of being able to craft an entire track or song, not just mix it or make sure the kick and bass are slammin'.
I'll add on that the complaints in the article seem best explained by Sturgeon's law. Most creations in most domains are crap. Dance music is no exception.

But I think that one of the real problems is that many wannabe-competent dance music "producers" can't actually play an instrument expressively or produce music in realtime. At root, they're musically incompetent. Of course, musical competence is no guarantee of artistic greatness. But it's a much better starting point than plopping notes onto a grid at random with a mouse and hoping that your track's a banger.
Old 6th September 2018
  #7
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dirtROBOT's Avatar
I agree, basically electronic music production has hit a critical mass of internet education resources where you can learn how to 'sound like x' and mix your stuff 'like x' so all the rough edges get sanded down. The ears also get used to it so it sounds 'off' when you get into the weeds and start exploring.

The baseline for mixing and production quality has risen quite a bit as a result but it gets a little samey on the ears. Also there's a lot of people just in it to make a boring living and they incestuate the formulas. ITB production's biggest sin is it can stifle the spark that comes from jamming with a few boxes - and guess what spawned all the classic tracks?
Old 6th September 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by BTByrd View Post
Apologies to Chrisso
Thanks, and your post is interesting.
I have to say as an experienced musician but a complete novice in all the dance genres, I've always been tempted to use a Linn kick in a track, or real played tambourine, or acoustic hats instead of off beat 909, and what you get from those more experienced is 'oh no, we don't do that', probably for very valid reasons, like it won't sound good on a club sound system, or it will clear the dance floor, or it won't mix with another track the DJ wants to bring in.
But in the end, it creates a climate where you are terrified not to conform, unless you are a genius producer and can say f**k 'em and it ends up working out (like Aphex Twin).
Old 6th September 2018
  #9
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Sclr's Avatar
just ****ing create
Old 6th September 2018
  #10
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StrangeSatellite's Avatar
 

Quote:
But the question surely has to be: who wants competent art? Surely we should demand art that is bone-marrow-meltingly good, music that burns its way deep into our souls, never to be forgotten.
Who is this guy to decide what is good? We should "demand art that is bone-marrow-meltingly good"? What a joke. This guy is just another pair of ears like everyone else. Music that moves people IS good, and dance is defined by the fact that it does. Millions of people LOVE it. That isn't good enough? Meanwhile, this guy sits around, thinks he can critique the creations of others and has contributed nothing himself. Pretty typical.
Old 6th September 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeSatellite View Post
Who is this guy to decide what is good? We should "demand art that is bone-marrow-meltingly good"? What a joke. This guy is just another pair of ears like everyone else. Music that moves people IS good, and dance is defined by the fact that it does. Millions of people LOVE it. That isn't good enough? Meanwhile, this guy sits around, thinks he can critique the creations of others and has contributed nothing himself. Pretty typical.
I’ve been into dance music a long time. My music buying has slown down a lot in recent years (maybe the last decade). What’s the point in buying more records that do the same thing?
Old 6th September 2018
  #12
Deleted User
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Strange to find 'Chrisso' in here as this exactly what we've been arguing about, to qoute....

"Every week, there are hundreds of tracks released that sound as though they’ve been put together quickly, with little thought or creativity, and by the sound of it with no struggle, pain or emotion. Based on templates, sample packs and presets, the hi-hats, snares and claps are always in the same place, the same bass sounds are endlessly recycled and the parts are set out into virtually identical arrangements"

Yep no shizz. Hence rubbish paint by numbers 'Clone Radio', that I'm sick of pointing out Chrisso. But hey everything's cool right now and as good as it ever was right
Old 6th September 2018
  #13
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SetuT's Avatar
 

dude, have you considered smoking weed? it can be quite relaxing.
Old 6th September 2018
  #14
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Playing mastered music on precisely tuned high end systems introduces a scientific control of sort. This definitely pushes things in the direction of "correct answers" and "incorrect answers" to many creative decisions, as far as how they relate to the feel of the listener experience on known high end systems.

Once you start performing out on these systems playing mastered music, you naturally get pushed towards the "if I make this decision I sound better" direction, which does all lead down a few similar streets.

Whether you're taught this the way music theory is taught (IE tutorials on known tools and techniques), or you go out and play a lot of gigs while fine tuning your creative decisions as you go. . you end up in the same sets of places.

Bands playing on massively varying systems (usually quite muddy) pushed things in a different direction sonically. The way the sonics added up mattered less. The point was to sing along and jam out to instrument solos back then, not ride a perfectly hitting sub as it vibrates your body the perfect way with the perfect high end sizzle on top playing with your ears the perfect way.

The biggest tracks often aren't put together quickly though, there's lots of love and blood and tears going into many of the biggest ones, and much of the music that's out there. They will have "that sound" though. . . that range of sound that feels the best on the high end finely tuned big systems.

EDIT -

Also this was #1 on Beatport recently for several weeks straight. The arrangement described in the article is already passe. He's largely describing the big room club sound of 2010-2016. YouTube
Old 6th September 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SetuT View Post
dude, have you considered smoking weed? it can be quite relaxing.
Best you quote me so I know it's me your prescribing drugs to. Your American I take it. Weed is still not legal here.
Old 6th September 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SetuT View Post
dude, have you considered smoking weed? it can be quite relaxing.

i get ****ing chest pain

last for several days and kicks in when im jogging, working out etc
Old 7th September 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barfunkel View Post
Yeah most tutorial videos just speak about the technical issues, there are very few ones that talk about how to write good music.
There would not be much use making a tutorial on how to compose good music. Firstly, good is subjective as is the emotional response triggered by music. Secondly, being able to compose music which resonates with people is a gift...you are born with it. Of course you need to learn musical theory and how to play instruments if you want to make the most of your gift, but music comes from inspiration...the heart and mind.

Some people might not believe it but yes, even in dance music this is the case. However, in dance music that is only a part of the package. Sound design and engineering skills are needed too and those are things you can actually learn, hence the overload of tutorials focusing on that part.

Personally I think that the low threshold to release music these days has ruined a lot and the market is now swamped with material which is often half finished, badly produced/mixed/mastered.
Everyone can start a label, everyone thinks they can do everything themselves and quality control has become a thing of the past. Even respected labels have resorted to signing tracks only from people who have a large (often fake) online fan base in the hope to make a fast buck. Hence 'artists' are now lining the pockets of Facebook, Twitter, Sound Cloud, You tube etc instead of their local equipment store, engineering institutions and mastering houses.

If you now would take all these people and ask them to hone their skills, invest in their studios and try to convince an A&R manager to part with a decent chunk of his budget, probably 0.0001% would pass the test.

And after saying all this, there are still lots of talented artists out there that are slaying it with every release and every DJ set they play
Old 7th September 2018
  #18
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re5etuk's Avatar
i'd guess its aimed at quite mainstream dance music , calvin harris / deadmau5 / the big popular selling stuff that seems popular in vegas according to shows on vice tv.

exactly the type of stuff i very rarely listen to , if i have a choice i turn it off and put something more interesting on.
i just bought all the funckarma back catalogue , thats full of innovation and interesting stuff , some of it is probably 20 years old and still sounds ahead of many things released.

in general i think there is much more stuff being released by many more people via more methods .. i tend to rely on the labels and particular artists , cpu records , n5md , warp , .. whenever i look on amazon music i get bored scrolling through endless pages of complete ****.
Old 7th September 2018
  #19
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As someone who's incompetent when it comes to both musical and production skills, I like to think I'm bucking the trend.
Old 7th September 2018
  #20
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Barfunkel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Morley View Post
There would not be much use making a tutorial on how to compose good music. Firstly, good is subjective as is the emotional response triggered by music. Secondly, being able to compose music which resonates with people is a gift...you are born with it. Of course you need to learn musical theory and how to play instruments if you want to make the most of your gift, but music comes from inspiration...the heart and mind.
)
I call bs... composing is a skill, it's not a "gift" that can't be practiced. Some people are of course more talented and pick up certain skills more easily than the others.
Old 7th September 2018
  #21
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CasimirsBlake's Avatar
 

"criticism is re-branded as ‘hating’ — as though having a strong opinion on music is hate."

So glad they bring this up. Snowflake culture benefits no one.

On the other hand, while it's laudable that djmag shout out for creativity and bravery in art and music, finding labels that have the "bravery" to put out music that doesn't conform to genre stereotypes and actually pages boundaries not playing it safe seems more difficult every year.
Old 7th September 2018
  #22
yeah, we need more "weird stuff".
but to make that sound great involves a different process as paint-by-number production.
it's 2018 and let's chuck in a 4/4 909 pattern
Old 7th September 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
yeah, we need more "weird stuff".
but to make that sound great involves a different process as paint-by-number production.
it's 2018 and let's chuck in a 4/4 909 pattern
waltz gabbertechno in 3/4 with a 707 is the trend 2019
Old 7th September 2018
  #24
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El-Burrito's Avatar
Oh, how much "easier" everything was in 1996. Our mixer didn't have EQ's and while the studio was filled with synths, there was not a single compressor. We didn't even know what compressor was :D

Since we didn't have to think about "technical" stuff, we spent all days just making new tracks. Track a day was a norm. Those "badly" mixed tracks were then released on CD and today people pay $500 to buy one. If they can even find it. And nobody buys it for fidelity reasons.

But there is genres where the "high quality" sound is required. If you want to gig, the promoters are the gatekeepers. If you don't sound as loud and crisp as others, you will not get booked.

And then there is UG deep house genre where "low fidewlity" is preferred. And kids come to forums ask how they can make their soft synth sound more crappier :D
Old 7th September 2018
  #25
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Dance music is as captivating as ever, you just have to explore its fringes. Everything is a niche, and once you find one / several you’re into, it’s a neverending journey. And then you dip your toe into another niche... endless discovery and gratification ahead!
Mainstream (club) music often sucks bug time, and it always has and certainly always will. Wether I / you / we / they like it is a whole different story.
By the way, I love when competent producers use their skills to produce fantastic tracks. Yup, you can call me Captain Obvious now.

Last edited by nil hartman; 7th September 2018 at 01:30 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 7th September 2018
  #26
Gear Maniac
As if DJ Mag know anything about the cutting edge of club music- they have always been more about the brands than the music. There's plenty of good dance music about if you can be bothered to sort through the bilge. Yes, it's time consuming and fatiguing, but as anyone with a copy of Ableton Live and some sample packs is now a self-styled 'producer' it's understandable that you have to sift through shedloads of mediocre tracks to find something that's works for you. The white noise of the Interwebz needs filtering
Old 7th September 2018
  #27
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by re5etuk View Post
i'd guess its aimed at quite mainstream dance music , calvin harris / deadmau5 / the big popular selling stuff that seems popular in vegas according to shows on vice tv.
I'd guess it's not - big popular stuff can't afford to sound too similar.

Just below the top 10 on Beatport or in automatically generated lists on Spotify, you have this beige music. Interchangeable names, interchangeable tracks, interchangeable labels, and as a result, completely forgettable.

Quote:
i just bought all the funckarma back catalogue , thats full of innovation and interesting stuff , some of it is probably 20 years old and still sounds ahead of many things released.
But can you dance to it? Don't get me wrong, I've got Mings Feaner, but it's not the first thing I play when I want to move.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CasimirsBlake View Post
"criticism is re-branded as ‘hating’ — as though having a strong opinion on music is hate."

So glad they bring this up. Snowflake culture benefits no one.
The term's use originated in hiphop, and it was quickly adopted by pretty much everyone because of its effectiveness as a rhetorical tool. You can dismiss criticism by removing all nuance in one fell swoop, allowing people to only choose two sides - and if you're on one side, then you're on the other.
Old 7th September 2018
  #28
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re5etuk's Avatar
i know its not music , and maybe creeping into stuff that is best not on here , but snowflake culture is leading to everyone becoming a victim of something.
its being reported as new , blamed on social media ... people disagreeing , but arguing/insults etc have been going on forever , the only way facebook can stop it (as theyre ussually blamed) is to stop humans using facebook . its so easy to blame facebook.

my point about buying funckarma was more that there is far more to dance music than what djmag article is discussing , though i suspect the typical djmag reader is more club oriented , i used to buy djmag / mix mag but much of it was about headline dj acts and taking drugs so i moved to reading the wire and websites . there are still lots of interesting 'club' nights going on that don't focus on the big build ups , snare rolls or mumbling over an 808.

I wasnt very convinced by adamski's attempt at waltz acid techno thing ... i love killer though , great 'club' tune from many years ago , but i cant blame him from trying new things .
Old 7th September 2018
  #29
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re5etuk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pppch View Post
waltz gabbertechno in 3/4 with a 707 is the trend 2019
did you listen to adamski's recent work ? i think he's been heading towards waltz techno stuff for the last few years.
Old 7th September 2018
  #30
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struggling sales @DJMag article about poor state of dance music, totally not true, bitter article written by failed DJ.....SAD. Dance music has never been better, more people at clubs AND festivals than ever before. Even day clubbing HOT. All due to my administration's pro-DJ legislation. Merkel took me to #overrated Berghain. NO drops entire night......BORING.
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