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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.

The Spanish island, Ibiza, became the European capital of house and trance. Balearic beat, also known as Balearic house, initially was an eclectic blend of DJ-led dance music that emerged in the mid-1980s. Balearic beat was named for its popularity among European nightclub and beach rave patrons on the island of Ibiza. Some dance music compilations referred to it as "the sound of Ibiza," even though many other, more aggressive and upbeat forms of dance music could be heard on the island., Latin, African, funk, and dub affectations; and production techniques borrowed from other styles of dance music that were popular at the time. Vocals were sometimes present, but much of the music was instrumental. Roger Shah, Mr Magic Island, became the master of Balearic sound and melodies. His music career was spectacular. He produced 500 releases in more than 80 countries and hit records. His music videos were viewed around the world. He recorded as the Sunlounger Project. In 2007 Armin van Buuren named Shah’s "Who Will Find Me" release his favorite track an invited collaboration. e Magic Island Records Shah’s primary record label joined Armin’s label, Armada Music.

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.

Disc Jockeys

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.

  • The idea of "new" has to be updated continuously. Someone many years ago decided that modern had ended, referring to "postmodern" architecture, art and music. But the term modern, like new, properly used, describes a continuously advancing wave of events that must be updated continuously. In the history of music, each musical "genius" added his own innovations so that the ideas that drove musical composition progressed, despite the resistance of patrons and audiences.

    There were different schools of progressive music. Composers of symphonic works dabbled in new scales and dissonances; audiences expecting more Mozart and Beethoven were not pleased. Similar notions of scale experimentation emerged in modern jazz. As synthesizers evolved along with computer composition (sequencers) all possibilities became possible.

    Music styles have interbred and proliferated beyond anyone's ability to classify and defend musical styles in a meaningful way. The proliferation of styles is supported by the internet and unprecedented music distribution network that erases many boundaries and permits aspiring musician to seek direct access to audiences. The results are often far from good music as rhythmic noise competes with thoughtful compositions.

    Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the titles Persona Digital, P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. Music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are arrangements and performances completed in house by Stephen Gislason. The music selections and their history are explained in the book, Sound of Music.

    The Sound of Music by Stephen Gislason

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