p.s. I'm only evangelizing this stuff so much because honestly if I set out to run 10k I'll listen to this and it will help me get there more than anything else. Or if I wanna kill a new comp or a handful of bugs, [PLAY] and it sucks me in like a vortex.
How/why has bargain-basement recycled eurotrance from 15 years ago become the latest thing amongst american youth?
As someone living in the south of the UK this is one of the strangest and most unexpected developments in global popular music in recent years.
I'm sorry if this sounds snobbish but I genuinely want/need to understand this, and I would appreciate any opinions or theories from americans as to how/why this happened and who/what forces could be responsible. Email in profile.
This happens with every genre of music. When it's young it's well known in the area it starts. As it spreads the new areas tend to lag. As popularity grows the genre changes and people who knew about it since it was young bitch about how going mainstream killed it.
What you are saying is true. However that's not really my point.
Firstly, I've never liked trance, so I'm not trying to defend my pet genre from infiltrators. On the contrary, I thought I'd seen the back of it ten years ago, outside certain areas of continental europe. then, suddenly, it's the thing in the US.
Now, the united states has always had its own rich history of electronic dance music, indeed they invented it. Pretty much all electronic music from the last 30 years worldwide is derived from Detroit techno and Chicago house. That lineage has continued unbroken in those places to this day, yet that type of dance music has never really attained popular success in its own country.
So, why is this form of very continentally-european music suddenly achieving populaity in what is actually its distant ancestral home? And why now? These things usually lag about three to five years as you say; trance has been a creative cul-de-sac for at least four of those cycles.
The stateside rise of dubstep and electro house makes more sense to me: it's a substitute for nu-metal and radio rock. Trance, as I say, is an absolute non sequitur.
Because the electronic wave of the 90's/00's was completely missed by most Americans, and it has just taken that long to break into the cultural mainstream here. Radio friendly DJ's who promoted their brands to the masses such as Oakenfold and Tiesto were a big factor, but it is also generational. For instance, my friends and I were pretty into the late 90's electronic scene in the NE US. We loved trance, progressive, house, jungle, dnb, breakbeat, and adored the ambient/experimental stuff as well. At that point though it felt like almost everything great was coming out of Europe and we were regarded as weirdos at school for being into this music.
However, some of us had younger siblings, and cousins. And they grew up looking up to someone they though was cool and loved this music. So they thought it must be cool too, and showed their friends. At the same time, many of the people I grew up with were graduating college and started to work, and putting their favorite electronic music in advertising and websites and music soundtracks etc. Why didn't it catch on earlier, as it had in Europe? I think much of it had to with American attitudes and policy toward drugs and the control of the record companies on music promotion. The only place you might hear electronic back then was late night college radio or MTV late Saturday night. There was a sense that this was very much dirty underground druggy music, and event promotion was still very much by flyers and word of mouth. That kind of thing will never catch on in the US mainstream, where there needs to be a sexy, familiar face on the posters and TV advertisements.
Thanks, this makes sense. 15 years is about a generation in this context.
>However, some of us had younger siblings, and cousins.
This in particular fits. The "cool older brother" thing is a perennial motif in the evolution of dance music.
The race/class/geography aspects of EDM history are fascinating. First you have upper-middle-class often gay black kids in detroit rejecting the polyrhythms and rowdy attitude of the hiphop and funk around them in pursuit of the perceived sophistication of androgynous european synth-pop. Then this gets picked up by white working class british teenagers who add syncopated hip hop drums and dub bass in pursuit of the street legitimacy of US hiphop and jamaican dancehall. This leads eventually to dubstep, which then gets crossed with stadium rock and exported back to america, to the center of the mainstream. When music makes these geographical leaps it is shorn of its sociocultural context and meaning, leading to the sacking of old sacred grounds and the sanctification of new ones. The acceleration of this cycle in the internet age is fascinating. I'm sure many here will see parallels with the spread of hacker/startup culture.
> I think much of it had to with American attitudes and policy toward drugs and the control of the record companies on music promotion ... That kind of thing will never catch on in the US mainstream, where there needs to be a sexy, familiar face on the posters and TV advertisements.
All of that has always been true in the UK as well. When rave music started to penetrate the charts at the start of the 90s, that wasn't via involvement from the music industry. Those hardcore tracks were getting in the top 10 purely from ravers going out and buying 12"s in independent record shops, tracks which were pressed and distributed by companies owned and operated by the artists. The huge, often illegal events where people were going to dance to these records were similarly done with no involvement from the music industry, at least at first.
The major difference, at least where the UK is concerned, is the impact of pirate radio, which until very recently provided a framework to promote the music, the events and the culture entirely unmolested by the establishment. This in turn is enabled by high population density: more people in your signal footprint, and social housing placed in convenient 20-storey towers on which to mount your antenna. The US's low population density, which you would have thought would make massive unregulated parties in remote locations easy to execute, makes pirate radio broadcasting uneconomical and unviable. Again, one could draw interesting comparisons to the communities based around local BBSes and how that changed with the spread of internet access.
I think it's mainly because of the availability and popularity of very easy software to slap together something in your own computer. The influx of new people playing with sound loops and their close networks, basically.
Hm. There is quite a bit of misinformation (I like to think it was done unintentionally) that your comment caused when people replied to you. The biggest one being that the US 'invented' 'electronic dance music'.
I can sit here and write an overly, but necessary long reply or recommend a couple of books. I'll do the latter, all of them by Simon Reynolds: Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture; Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past.
Music history is filled with ambiguities and nebulous, complex definitions that have changed throughout history. What's more, how electronic dance music got from point A to B to C to D to E, and so on and so forth, usually sounds unintuitive to people who listen to mostly only very few music styles. A linear and extremely compressed timeline of electronic (dance) music can probably start as early as Kraftwerk in the early 70s, then NEU! and a lot of so-called 'krautrock', which morphed into things such as Joy Division, who is said to have influenced rave/club culture. Interestingly, the word 'rave' is actually 1960s British slang for modern day-like, club-like loud parties. These loans (both linguistically and musically from all periods in time) remain very common across all of music and makes it even more complex to explain. Anyway, the whole Hacienda club scene influenced club music in the 80s, especially when Ian Curtis died and New Order adopted a sound that allegedly Curtis had already thought of in the late 70s. The Human League shares a somewhat similar music development in the sense that early Human League incorporated more 'rock' elements with 'electronic' ones, and then mostly switched to pure 'electronic' elements. With the help of hip hop (borrowing and sampling music to form their own music), a type of 'explosion' in electronic music occurred. There were some artists already making electronic dance music but it hit mainstream in the early 80s when hip hop started sampling from other artists and using non-traditional (for that time) ways of making music with electronic equipment.
You get bands such as Duran Duran to DJs 'mixing' to, basically, C+C Music Factory. Then comes probably the epitome of rave and electronic dance music: UK garage, dnb, 2-step, jungle, etc.; that all-encompassing term 'rave music'. This is probably when every type of electronic and electronic dance music was created and the rest is history.
See, the problem is that by the 80s, electronic dance music had already been invented and various locations took those ideas at the same time, so people sometimes emphasise New York (electro), Chicago or Detroit (house), and at the point the music from these places 'sounded' more like what we relate to 'house music' now, many other places (in the UK, especially) were doing the same thing. If we look back at Chicago and Detroit before this time, they still had house, but it sounded like funk or disco or dance music with upgraded gear. In other words, it was funk, disco, or dance music using more electronic sounding equipment that we now equate to an '80s sound'. It wasn't electronic music using dance elements. It was dance music using electronic elements.
The funny thing about the States is that in the 90s, electronic music switched to a mainstream emphasis. There were still raves in the States, interesting DJs, and a thriving club scene, but it was underground. The American 90s were characterized by the rise of underground 'indie music'/'rock'/'grunge'/'alternative' music. As much as I hate to admit it (because I don't like them), but Nirvana is a good example of this, as are bands such as Pavement, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.
If you look, I think you'll find that the "misinformation" in those replies was also posted by me ;)
I have also read the Reynolds book, and most of what I said is backed up by what he writes in it.
You can trace things back to the Paradise Garage, the Warehouse, to the Electrifyin' Mojo, to Amnesia on Ibiza, to David Mancuso's loft, to Kraftwerk, to the Human League, to the 100 club, to the flower children and their "happenings," to Wigan Pier, or you can go back to the Radiophonic Workshop, Musique Concrète, Léon Theremin, you could cite the Dancing Plague of 1518 or ancient african ritual dances if you wanted. Nothing new is ever invented, etc.
I still think that what Reynolds calls the Hardcore Continuum and its assorted tributaries started in some meaningful sense in Chicago and Detroit, as much as you may always be able to eventually link everything to everything else. The influence of records like Strings of Life is writ large in a way that is separate to the way in which the Human League and Giorgio Moroder are still influential on other strands of music history, despite their common sonic signatures. This is especially true if you consider the cultural/political identity of the scenes as separate from the musical evolution: the mythology of proletarian urban militancy surrounding rave arguably started in detroit with Underground Resistance. That must be the element most conspicuously missing from the current Diplo-fuelled chapter in rave history :)
I suppose we inevitably tend towards taxonomy and categorisation as a cognitive survival strategy.
EDIT: re-reading what I wrote, I admit that bold-facedly stating that the US "invented" EDM was perhaps rash.
I wrote a reply but was using this HN app for the iPhone and, of course, it didn't go through.
We disagree on a couple of contentious issues, which is fine :)
I'll try to re-cap very briefly (Argh! No time for long, deep conversations, anymore!)
I think the keyword is 'meaningful'. I think Reynolds would agree that music genres and movements aren't linear or unorganic. They start, have hiccups, move and are flexible. They're dynamic. As you kind of alluded to in your edit. So, I guess we half-agree (?) on this.
The African thing is a bit of a stretch, no? The comparisons I made are in-tune with each other and had stronger (and direct) ties and similarities. This is the tricky part of comparing conceptual/theoretical ties within music periods and sound, from a musicology point of view. The treatment of sound within my comparisons are much closer, I think.
Also, remember that the 'electronic dance music' that is now popular in the States wasn't so in the 90s--it was underground--whereas you can make a case for it being popular in the UK in the 90s. If you hear people like Kevin Shields talk about music in the US vs. the UK back in the 90s and 80s, he talks about how the UK had a larger audience that was 'thirstier' for newer sounds and it was more accessible to 'mainstream audiences', whereas the States had a strong disparate audience and division.
For example, talk to anybody in the US and ask them if they think The Smiths is mainstream. They will tell you they are not. Yet The Smiths was an extremely popular band in the UK.
The same sort of thing occurs now in the radio up until now. So-called 'indie' or 'underground' music in the States is popular or listened to at a wider scale in the UK and even Canada.
I feel that Kap-Slap is too close what you hear to radio on every day.
For working there is nothing better than repeating, simple melodies and patterns. What I consider to be a good song is something that you can work along with and not even notice it. This can be classical (Arvo Part, Philip Glass), but I often find that electronical music with a baseline beat is more mellow and fluid.
If you like Knife Party, you might like the band's main project (Knife Party is a mini-project by two band members from a group named Pendulum.) They do fantastic drum and bass. Immersion, their most recent album, may be their best.
I absolutely love upbeat electronic music and it's awesome to know I'm not the only one on Hacker News! For over six months I've been scouring the music blogs and accumulating a playlist on Spotify. I think you'll love everything I have in here - feel free to subscribe!
Many already mentioned by others, but also Madeon and Hood Internet perhaps? 2 Many DJs mixes. Oh, and look up Paris DJs and if you like a bit of variety check out the Molested Laura mixes, especially #6. DJ Z Trip too.
I think the comments here are responding negatively to the title of the post. True, you're probably not going to spend the rest of the day coding to the music you make in incredibox. But this app is still very cool for what it is: a fun, easily accessible experiment in making music with loops.
I put together a couple of little songs that sounded pretty cool, and the experience was simple and enjoyable. I give props to whoever made Incredibox, and think this general direction is promising for casual music making, an activity that could benefit all of us.
This app also made me smile, but I have to disagree with you - I often can't stop smiling while coding. The feeling of satisfaction when something works out really is unrivalled. Each to thier own though!
I'm also a big fan of SomaFM for background music, although which stream I go for varies depending on my mood. I've found Cliqhop better when feeling tired, and Beat Blender more suitable when feeling fidgety.
Another favourite of mine is [http://kohina.com/] -- I definitely find old-school game music helps me focus. Perhaps it's conditioning from the hours on end spent sat in front of an Atari ST in my youth...
Totally ditto this!! Groove Salad has saved so many mornings where I needed to work, and evening commutes where I needed to sleep. It's so relaxing, doesn't capture your mind's thinking, but makes you feel you're living in a future technological utopia.
Didn't hate it, but their aesthetic  turns out to be totally wrong for me to program to. Instead of droning and textures without rhythm, I need a heavy beat, vocals, and strong melody (or at least prominent and fast arpeggiated synth). Instead of that I tend to listen to di.fm Vocal Trance, if I'm sick of listening to my collection.
90% of coding for me seems to require that I distract most of my brain. When a problem gets really hard I often just turn off the music. I should try listening to MFP under those circumstances and see if it works better then. :)
Regardless: Glad it works for you. Not trying to dis MFP. Different people need different soundtracks.
I think this is a mighty clever app; I'm not really sure why there are so many negative comments.
It would be nice if the url changed with the sample combinations though. It looks like you can record a chunk of the sound and share that, but I'm far more interested in sharing the exact combination that I come up with than I am the sound itself. I'd love to just send a link to a friend so that they could not only see the combination in action but also dive in and make it their own.
I really like listening to online streams like soma.fm or di.fm when coding. Not just because their sounds are great (they are!) and put me into the zone (they do!), but because it keeps me motivated when I get the inner urge to click around the interwebs. Why? Because I know that while I'm listening and trying to stay focused on my coding, somebody else somewhere in the world is listening to exactly the same tunes at the same moment and is being productive. That really keeps my motivation to produce stuff high!
This is really fun. I like the vocals a lot and I like the interface to control each track. The title is incorrect because I don't think the intent of this app is for programmers to make background music to work to.
Every once in a while all of them pause in sync. Try using distinct primes for the length of a musical cycle to create a different sound. Not sure how it would for beats, but I know visually this is useful.
3. with luck came across \incredibox-0\incredibox_fla\MainTimeline.class.asasm lines 24827-24840
Took me longer to write this post than to figure it out, but, I am guessing I got lucky. I only decided to attempt checking this out as I started playing around with the RABCDAsm couple hours ago. I've little to no idea how to read those .asasm files yet, but I'm learning more about them.
Since people are suggesting online stations here, Notch (he of Minecraft fame) often listens to http://www.di.fm/electro/ and somehow I got addicted to it as well while watching him code his Ludum Dare entry. Kinda high energy though.
I like to listen to my turntable while coding. Getting up every ~15 minutes to flip/change a record actually helps me focus because it gives me constant tiny breaks. The mindless nature of the task also doesn't interrupt my thoughts but does give me a change to stretch my legs.
Great thing. Although I don't think it is the best music to code by, especially as it just loops and loops!
I made a similar 'remixer' in about 2003 for my university dissertation, although mine was networked so you could mix with a friend ;)
Love the art style though
I would like to take this opportunity to make this shameless plug. I use it to play background music while programming. An app that is a full music player but in your browser and 100% html5. It plays local music like vlc or windows media player. It also runs entirely offline and in background (close the tab or browser and music still plays).
I think it's funny how [negative] some of these comments are. I think the negative reactions here are a perfect example of Louis C.K.'s joke/rant:  "Today's Tech is Wasted on the Crappiest Generation"
It's funny, i'm 2/3 of the way down this thread and so far most comments have been of the "i can't believe all these negative comments" ilk. I haven't seen one negative one yet. I guess they're lower down... i think HNers should have more faith in the upvote/downvote process.
true, same experience here often. I'm often reading things here after they've been on for a while, and I often have to read over comments complaining about other people being negative... I would probably agree with them, if only I would have seen any negativity besides the comments about negativity ..
I enjoy listening to live streams from clubs around the world thanks to time difference and http://www.awdio.com . On friday afternoons (in Europe) I ended the working week with electro/house from http://www.awdio.com/yumla. Now i'm in Asia myself and this doesnt work anymore :(
I'm surprised no one mentioned the Buddha Machine -- a physical box that loops sounds and beats to make a similar sort of music: http://www.fm3buddhamachine.com/v2/ This site reminds me a bit of the iPad app, which lets you work half a dozen virtual machines.