If you've ever studied phonetics, you need to check this out:
With some clever keyboard controls perhaps one could learn to actually "talk" with it?
IBM 7094 singing Daisy Bell (1961)
There's something magical about messing around with a sequencer/arpeggiator, mixing together a couple of VCOs, changing their wave type, detuning them, modulating filters, amplitudes, rhythms. The sonic options are staggering, you can sit there all day turning knobs and stumbling upon interesting and quirky ideas.
Part of me thinks that "it's all been done before", yet there's joy to you doing this yourself from scratch, even if you're not the pioneer.
The important bit for me is Richard D. James's interest in promoting microtonal music, and that Tatsuya and Korg were cool enough to implement it in a relatively cheap synth.
Microtonal music is a vast landscape that I feel has so much left to uncover. I hope that tools like Korg's *logue line of synths will get new folks interested in breaking out of the limits of 12 tone equal temperament.
Unfortunately, as with the highly complex rhythms that RDJ employed in some of his work (e.g. the "drill-and-bass" style), microtones are likely to entertain only a relatively small demographic of anoraks while striking the mainstream as too “weird”.
Heck, it has also marginalized many local non-microtonal traditions.
By the power of marketing money (and thus constant cross-media hammering), cheap thrills for teenagers, cheap sexualization of the singers, and so on, has made most of the global top-ten an image of the increasingly crappier Billboard top-10.
Article with more info: https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2018/09/the-granular-c...
I guess he did work on it enough to want to see some units move.
Outside the artistic creativity itself, I find his music more enjoyable by recognizing the craftsmanship and musicianship required to create his unique sounds and rhythms. Once you realize it’s not just random noises, perhaps some of the songs may speak to you like I found.
If you have ever tried creating electronic music with drum machines, synthesizers, midi loopers, etc, it would be a lot easier to appreciate his music I think.
Maybe similar to say, free jazz? If you don’t appreciate or understand the nuances, I doubt you’d enjoy listening to it.
I’m on mobile or I’d research, but I’m sure there are some great videos on YouTube explaining some of his or similar techniques?
Or if you merely like to listen to electronic music, like hundreds of millions of people around the world?
Seems like your comment comes from someone for whom "real" music is rock, jazz, etc, and they assume everybody starts like that.
But in electronic there are far more niche genres than Aphex Twin's. He was left of field in the semi-mainstream, not across the board.
They'd use the term EDM now for anything, including Nitzer Ebb and Autechre...
AKA "beard stroking music" in the D&B world.
It's music that doesn't energize people and get them on the dance floor. Go see a IDM/"experimental/"beard stroking" DJ live, all you see are a bunch of young male hipsters standing around stroking their beards, commenting on the uniqueness of the "interplay".
This is the best way I've seen it put.
For example in SAW2 trk1 "cliffs" there's kind of a "peak and drop" moment. It's implemented as a very small shift in phasing between two voices, one which was lagging the other begins leading the other. And maybe Although it's barely audible the feeling of the track changes from... maybe a wistful reverie on a solitary walk on an ocean clifftop in the breeze and sun of a late-summer afternoon... to something more "unblocked", like joyfully running down a hill to home.
That kind of detail -- "Tempo" as a feeling, not just a BPM, accomplished by changing other stuff besides pitch and average loudness of notes. It is the sort of thing that one attends to when rehearsing with a good symphony conductor or a chamber-group coach. Or with a music teacher, e.g. "play through the measure to here [drawn out slightly]". You might be instructed to play something "scherzando", playfully, or "andante", leisurely. And God help you if you play something "lightly" instead of "playfully", or "dragging" rather than "stately", or vice versa! Rendering subtle emotional nuance through soundmaking tools is certainly learnable, and you get to learn Italian/Russian cursing for free.
Or "The oboes here are cats, there's a cat in heat and the oboes are meowing around. Then the bassoon comes in and it's like a pregnant cat and it's not so excitable". That one came from a world-class Boston Symphony musician, and it's absolutely serious.
Really good musicians play with sound. Sometimes they do things for the lols. Music being about pattern matching, good musicians also play with the listener's sense of expectation and fulfullment. Good musicians do with sound what good lovers do with touch. Good musicians do with sound what good comedians do with concepts.
There are lots of good musicians in the world, and many don't have good recordings. Afx is one who managed to make a pretty good musical career out of his artistic vision, which seems rare. It's nice that it's easy to find recordings and people who've heard those recordings, and there's always something new to hear in them.
An example of the expectations thing: An absolutely beautiful melody buried under much louder boring/aversive voices. It's impossible to focus on the melody so it leaves you wanting more. Related to this is the "bass drop" and the idk "fake-out bass drop", maybe. I think "teasing" / "trolling" / "ruining or messing with expectations" is something that seems pretty characteristic of Aphex Twin tracks.
I think enjoying "challenging listens" is really just about exposure and mindfulness. Truly listening to all music helps. And playing music, only because it forces you to pay attention to what actually makes things sound the way they do. And paying attention to the sounds of the world around you, and how sounds are modified by the environment. And listening to the same recording over and over agin, to build familiarity.
Personally, I became a total afx fanboy over decades, and it was an incremental and slow process. I was thoroughly and extensively trained in classical music through high school; I mostly just listened to Drukqs for the piano and endured the other stuff. In college I ate acid more often than usual; it was general knowledge that "listening to Aphex Twin... enhances your trip, it's like hacking your brain or something" and then you got on with the rest of your life. And then one day I found myself dissecting the auditory nuances of why I liked something, or why something seemed like a deliberate choice to irritate the listener.
I think appreciating nuance is just something that comes with age, in that experience of the fullest range and detail of human experience comes with age. And also appreciation of a wider range of qualia, just like stinky cheese is something one usually does not appreciate immediately.
Also, it's instructive to watch musicians playing, and see how they communicate with visuals, body cues, and sound. Chamber groups are good. Some bush-league music festivals are good, after the main day is over sometimes the professional musicians jam with each other for the lols, or sit in on another group's late night set.
Boy I feel old ;)
Turns out, plenty of IDM, breakcore and other electronic music sounds excellent when slowed down, e.g. the entire genre of Belgian new beat is slowed down acid hardcore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yBvP3616Wc
Hard house turns into pleasant groovy house with harder sound.
But you'll need speed adjustment that doesn't adjust the pitch (i.e. like vinyl but not like Youtube's speed control). VLC can do that if the time-stretching option is disabled in advanced settings under ‘audio’. The sox console program can do that in batch (ffmpeg botches the audio for some reason).
I guess a good starting point is girl/boy song on Richard D James. It's 90s drum n bass that was pretty new when it came out, but sounds quite mainstream nowadays.
It's typical Aphex Twin with pretty insane drum machine supporting a slow-moving melody. Many many many variations within the same track.
Drukqs, and the later stuff (syro, collapse) are quite mature, more rhapsodic (like with very different moments within the same track) with an emphasis on non-standard scales.
It takes careful, perhaps repeated listenings. My favorite time to listen to his stuff is while tripping though. From his 'weird' bleeps and bloops emerge something new entirely.
“Hat” : https://logosfoundation.org/instrum_gwr/HAT.html
“snar_2” : https://logosfoundation.org/instrum_gwr/snar2.html
He also has a full drum kit with actuatated drumsticks on each surface. I can’t find that online, but I saw it in an interview in his home studio.
But it's also very rare for him to tour
“RDJ: I’ve got one Japanese keyboard, Suzuki, which has got some Japanese tunings built in and a little string on one end that you can plucK”
I am impressed that Warp are still going, there is and was something magical about seeing that logo majestically spin round at 33 rpm. In the days before the Internet you only found Warp records in independent record shops, the High Street majors were hiding the good stuff from you. Plus the BBC banned dance music back then. You had to be a true 'raver' and into the music to hear Aphex Twin, it slotted in to the 'chill out' part of the scene.
This is why I find it so funny when I hear a little bit of Aphex Twin, Autechre or other Warp stablemates such as Sabres of Paradise as the backing track to a BBC documentary about serious stuff.
Imaginably anything is 'accessible' given enough time. The audience are always playing catch up with an innovative artist.
I wouldn't say the Beeb banned dance music, either. I first heard LFO's LFO on radio one, which is synonymous with WARP.
As for Sabres - Screamadelica won the Mercury music prize with Weatherall in charge. It's not like they were off the radar or anything.
Autechre started out quite normal, but have morphed into probably the most complex out of everything that you've mentioned. They're well-known, but their music is anything but mainstream today - it's a running joke that they used to make music :)