Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband.com
This week I want to address the accusation made by far too many people that all electronic music requires no talent or skill.
Being someone that writes and performs electronic music, this pops up time and again in comments such as this and this and this and this.
You know, So a track with heavy vocal processing comes on and “What happened to people who can actually sing?!” or the bass will drop in a more intense track and “These are just noises made on a computer, anyone could slap that together in 10 minutes” but sit them in front of a studio computer and they come up with this.
Then you realised you had Plants vs Zombies installed on that computer and no-one can be expected to produce with that kind of immediate temptation so you uninstall it and give them another 10 minutes and you get this:
So to enlighten those people, I’ve come up with another thought experiment which, for the sake of internet attention spans, once again involves my cat Quistis. I call it:
Davestein’s Theory of Relativity
So we have two dudes, a cat, and a dog.
The two dudes are looking at the dog. One throws a ball, and says “Hey, Fetch.” and when the dog does so, the other guy concludes that “it’s pretty cool that when you throw something, the dog will return it to you.”
The same two dudes proceed to look at the cat. The first dude is like “aww, that cat looks cute, I might post a picture of it to Reddit.” but the second dude throws a ball, notices the cat is not about to go get it back for him, and gets horrendously angry saying “This animal can’t do ANYTHING! What a waste of space, why would anyone even get a cat?” Completely ignoring the fact that the cuteness of the cat is already pleasing millions all over the internet, and in clubs the world over.
The reason dude #2 feels it involves no talent is because he’s comparing these *oranges* with these *apples* – or rather these with these. There are talents involved, he just doesn’t understand what those talents are yet.
So for the benefit of people like dude #2 let me take the liberty of roughly outlining said talents with one of the most commonly contrasted composers that these arguments are levelled between.
So we’ve got our guitarist and our computer musician.
So argument #1 – mr. guitarist has spent years developing his skill on the guitar so he can write a song; mr. computer musician can knock up a song in 10 minutes! And as we’ve established, he sure can, if he wants it to sound like a casio keyboard preset – It can take frickin’ years of study and practice to learn how to produce a professional sounding track.
argument #2 – But you can feel mr. guitarist has authenticity, mr. computer musician’s music is too processed, there’s no imperfections – there’s no talent involved because it doesn’t feel human any more! For sure a lot of electronic music is autotuned and quantised to be precise – but there are still talents involved. Songwriting, for instance – Not just anyone can write a catchy riff, make a clean and powerful mix, or pick a memorable sample to put before a drop.
*cut to someone sitting at a table thinking hard with a piece of paper that says “let the *crossed out words* cannon kick it*
argument #3 – But they’re not even playing anything!
No matter how annoyed you get, that cat is not going to catch that ball. It is really narrow minded to suggest that they are not artists because nobody can play the guitar. Anyway, some electronic musicians do play instruments, just look at MPCs and kaoss pads and…
argument #4 – those aren’t instruments, anyone can press a sequence of buttons. There’s no technique involved, They may as well be playing a video game!
First of all, as the millions of people who watch the world’s top gamers will tell you, someone who can press a complicated sequence of buttons in a specific order can be massively entertaining. And as they’d probably go on to explain, there is more to it than that.
Let’s take a look at a piano – it’s essentially pressing things in a sequence at different intensities. Same with drums. And a plethora of other instruments many of the people proposing this argument would refer to as “legitimate”.
argument #5 – When all these run out, a common retaliating argument I see is that it doesn’t have any “soul” or “heart” in it, which is another way of saying “I can’t think of an adjective that actually has a meaning to express why I don’t like this.”
Perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are talking about how emotional the music sounds – in which case, I could easily say that I find some of the chord progressions and synth sounds in trance music give me emotional chills where a performance from [insert well respected guitarist] will probably leave me cold.
Or I could argue that some of the screamers in metal bands show so much raw emotion with their voice that they can’t even control it, meaning they are more intense in that respect than a singer who is capable of perfecting a vibrato in the “soul” genre.
And it’s not that these people don’t have talent, I can recognise that they do, it’s just that it’s a very different talent, and I personally don’t enjoy that talent as much. I feel that in order to respect the effort they’ve put into cultivating that talent, that’s an important distinction to make.
If you stop expecting the talents from different genres to match up *match up* then you’ll save yourself a considerable amount of time that you would have spent getting angry at people – perhaps you can take up a hobby. Tennis for example. *holds up ball*
So what do you think about the electronic music talent thing? From both sides of the fence, I’d love to hear your opinions. Let’s have a discussion in the comments.
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Cheers for watching and have a nice day!