Friday, February 6, 2009

zi Daft Punk riotinae: Classically Modern

Ever hear a song that throws you so far off kilter it leaves you asking, "where has this song been all my life?" Then you start imagining all the highlights of your life with the song playing in the background. Maybe that doesn't happen to you, but it inexplicably happens to me about every four months or so; and today was one of those days. The song: "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (live)" by the French mixers Daft Punk.

I have a love / hate relationship with electronic music--a song is either total shit, or a hyper-creative work of mind blowing genius on par with the best of Beethoven or Def Leppard. Since I don't write about shitty things (well there was that one post;), it's safe to say that Daft Punk is a powerful composer of the electronic symphony, an art elegantly unleashed in "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (live)." Watch and listen:

Many people I know find techo music annoying, and many of these same people tend to think classical music is boring. I think they feel this way because 1) they haven't heard exemplary pieces from the genres, and 2) because they don't have the mental framework with which to appreciate what they are not hearing. Connecting classical music and techno is not a stretch even though the two genres sound completely different and presented in drastically different atmospheres: you hear techno in dance clubs and classical in concert halls.

Underlying techno and classical music is a detailed and delicate mode of progression wherein a theme is built upon, dissolved, and recapitulated in a tsunamic climax. The theme is the baseline, the familiar musical phrase that hooks and carries the listener through the piece's movement. The dissolution of the theme, the breakdown, is the dispersion of the supporting elements built upon it during the rising action. During the breakdown, the artist will slowly and carefully recapitulate the supporting elements of the piece, culminating in a massive emotional climax that hits harder than original theme did in the first place. Different musics with similar underlying structures.

With this structural similarity in mind, I wonder when electronic music will be classified as "classical," or "later classical." Although the genre term "classical" applies to music delivered using traditional instruments, i.e. violins, cellos, pianos, etc., "classical" music wasn't considered "classical" in its own time, it was considered extremely modern.

Moving forward to the present, stop and consider what instruments are used for musical composition: keyboards, synthesizers, electric guitars, and above all, regardless of the genre, the computer. Perhaps someday in the future, when computers become tools of antiquity, techno music will be seen for what it is: the creative use of the era's breakthrough instruments, those powered by electricity whose sounds are compiled in bytes.

The future of music has already arrived, carrying its past upon its technologic shoulders.

1 comment:

  1. Daft Punk is a pioneer of the genre, with intense and mellow rhythms alike. You can't judge techno unless you've heard thier tracks "One More Time" and "Da Funk." One may not be inclined toward this style of music at first, but it is surely an acquired taste.