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Electronic Dance Music EDM
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) developed in the 1980s. Dance music nightclubs
(discos), radio stations, shows and raves become popular. The sound sample
looping and sequencing that began with disco developed into trance, house
and techno music. Computers and increasingly sophisticated software became the
heart of recording studios and permitted people with little or no music training
to produce music albums. Electronic equipment manufactured produced "boom boxes"
that automated dance music production and empowered DJ's to stand in front of a
big audience and control them with deafening bass and drums sounds.
Chill-Out became a popular brand copied by many. Enigma was an early success, establishing a format of studio electronics, solo singing and visuals that feature nature scenes and fantasy.
Trance evolved into a dance formula beginning with a 4/4 time signature, tempo of 125 to 150 BPM and 32 beat phrases. A monotonous kick drum occupied every downbeat. A Wilkipedia description stated:" A trance refers to a state of hypnotism and heightened consciousness. This is portrayed in trance music by the mixing of layers with distinctly foreshadowed build-up and release. A characteristic of virtually all trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely, leaving the melody and/or atmospherics to stand alone for an extended period before gradually building up again. As a result, trance tracks are often lengthy to allow for this progression and sufficiently sparse opening and closing sections to facilitate mixing by DJs."
DubStep About entertainment describes another dance genre: " Dubstep is a new genre within electronic dance music. The best way to recognize a dubstep track or mix is by the reverberating sub-bass that is present in most productions. The sub-bass is reverberated at different speeds to give a sense of movement and insistence. The tracks are typically higher in BPM, ranging between 138 and 142 typically. The style does not favor four-to-the-floor beats, instead relying on spaced, syncopated percussion that the listener typically adds their own mental metronome to."
EDM has become big business in ever enlarging Vegas venues and massive gatherings of frantic fans in outdoor events such as the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas. In my search of Trance Dance, Chillout and Dubstep recordings rhythmic noise was abundant and music was scarce. Some of the best pieces had background vocals with lyrics that were often undecipherable, sung by anonymous ladies. Monotonous kick drums a bass thumps can induce a numb dissociation from all things beautiful and real. Trance became arm waving, head shaking and random bobbing movements.
EDM was often promoted by disc jockeys who advanced from small venues to large stadiums. The early days DJs did a lot of work onstage, queuing tracks on vinyl records to produce a continuous sound flow. They often interjected with quips and commentary. As EDM became a product of digital production and recording, DJs could entertain thousand of people gathered in front of banks of speakers powered by massive amplifiers. The more advanced DJs could no longer mix onstage but ran pre-recorded performances, joining audience members with arm waving, head bobbing and occasional pretend knob twisting to simulate mixing. DJs in Vegas nightclubs become cult performers earning in the $ millions per year.
Armin Van Buuren has been described as one of the most celebrated DJs in the world. Armin creates his own recordings achieving club and chart hits. Mike Senior interviewed Armin in 2009. He quoted Armin's self-description: "I'm a trance DJ, that's what people know me for, but I try to follow the trends as well. The bpm over the last couple of years went down, for example, and productions have a lot of influences from minimal and electro percussion right now. If we're making a track or a remix, we listen to the current sound a lot. You have to go on iTunes and listen to a lot of other records. That's really, really essential. You're not copying them, you're being inspired by them. The Beatles listened to Bob Dylan — it's that kind of thing. You kind of go with the flow. DJs won't play your record if it doesn't sound enough like the other records, because they're building a set and they've got to rock the crowd. So no matter how many hours of production you put into it, if it doesn't sound a little like the previous record or the record after it, then it's not going to fit, and they're not going to play it because it'll make their set sound really weird. So doing research is extremely important."
While Armin is a commercial success and a cult hero, he stays at a comfortable distance from creating real music. I see the social roles of DJs with their monotonous drum-bass drones and their big amplifier-speaker extravaganzas, but I do wish for a different evolutional path for new music.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is an electronic dance music festival first produced in 1997 in Los Angeles. It spread to various venues across the United States as well as abroad, including Mexico, the UK, Brazil & Japan. EDC was dubbed the "American Ibiza" in 2010. In 2009, EDC Las Vegas became a two-day event, and in 2011 a three-day event attended by 230,000 people. In 2015 attendance rose to 400,000 over 3-days. The city of Vegas welcomes the free spending visitors to EDC and reports a cumulative profit of $ billions from the event. These events remind us that humans want to congregate and indulge in intoxicated revelry. The result is often a confused frenzy that should frighten a sober onlooker. Sometimes the frenzy turns violent with property destruction , injury and even death of participants.
Is there a better future? Lets move another step into electronic dance. Try one experiment in EDM, called Pulsing.