Electronic music

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Electronic music is a loose term for music created using electronic equipment. Now, any sound produced by the means of an electrical signal could be called electronic, and the term is sometimes used that way -- in music where acoustic performance is the norm, even the introduction of electronic amplifiers may touch off discussions of electronic music. Jazz and folk music, for example, have gone through a good deal of argument about the topic.

But as a category of criticism and marketing, electronic music is the broad term for music that is produced exclusively by electronic components, in instruments such as synthesizers, computers and drum machines. Theoretically, the music could include any of an array of other "instruments." The earliest example of a purely electronic instrument would be the Theremin, invented in 1917.

In the years following World War II, Electronic music was embraced by contemporary "art" musicians, and was hailed as a way to exceed the limits of traditional instruments. Modern Electronic composition is considered to have begun in force with the development of Musique Concrete in 1948, only to evolve further with the creation of early analog synthesizers. Some landmark compositions were authored by avant garde classical composers such as Edgar Varese, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Steve Reich. Stockhausen has worked for many years as part of Berlin's Studio for Electronic Music combining electronically generated sounds with conventional orchestras. See Electronic art music for more information.

The Radiophonic Workshop, the sound special effects unit of the BBC created one of the first electronic signature tunes for television with the theme music for Dr Who. Stanley Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey" showcased another famous piece, "Lux Aeterna" by Gyorgy Ligeti.

Although Electronic Music began in the world of classical (or "art") composition, within a few years it had been adopted into popular culture with sometimes interesting results. In the 1960s, Walter Carlos (now Wendy Carlos) popularized early synthesizer music with two notable albums The Well Tempered Synthesiser and Switched On Bach, which took pieces of classical music and reproduced them on Moog synthesizers.

As technology developed, and synthesizers became cheaper, more robust and portable, they were adopted by many rock bands. Examples of relatively early adopters in this field are bands like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, and although their music is not thought of as being primarily electronic, much of their resulting sound was dependant upon the synthesised element. In the 1970s, this style was mainly popularised by Kraftwerk, who used electronics and robotics to symbolise the alienation of the modern world; to this day their music remains uncompromisingly electronic.

In jazz, amplified acoustic instruments and synthesizers were mixed in a series of influential recordings by Weather Report. Joe Zawinul, the synthesizer player in that group, has continued to field ensembles of the same kind.

Musicians such as Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and groups like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were to further popularise the sound of electronic music. The film industry also began to make extensive use of electronic music in soundtracks; an example of a film whose soundtrack is heavily dependent upon this is Stanley Kubrick's film of Anthony Burgess's novel A Clockwork Orange. Forbidden Planet had used an electronic score in 1956 and, once electronic sounds became a more common part of popular recordings, other science fiction films such as Blade Runner and the Alien series of movies began to depend heavily for mood and ambience upon the use of electronic music and electronically derived effects. Electronic groups were also hired to produce entire soundtracks, in the same way as other popular music stars.

The Acid House movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s went on to further promote the development and acceptance of electronic music into the mainstream. More recently, electronic instruments have been used to create dance music with rhythms faster and more precise than previously possible with ordinary percussion, and the sound of this music has often featured electronically altered sounds and samples of traditional instruments; the falling price of suitable equipment has meant that popular music has increasingly been made electronically. Artists such as Bjork and Moby have further popularized variants of this form of music within the mainstream. In the 1990s a Turkish electronic musician Murat Ses published his electronic works which incorporated original Levantine, Central Asian, Anatolian musics in a so-called trilogy with the concept: "The Timeless and Boundariless Context of Culture and Civilization".

One of the principle sources for dissemination of information about electronic music is the magazine The Wire, a monthly publication which covers the whole scene extensively.

Contemporary Electronic music includes many different styles, such as

Big Beat
Drum and Bass
Electric Levantine
Tech Step
Trip hop aka Bristol Sound

Notable artists in some genre of electronic music:

Aphex Twin
Art of Trance
Brian Eno
Daft Punk
Depeche Mode
Dust Brothers
Fatboy Slim aka Norman Cook
Funk Function
Jean Michel Jarre
JoCa - http://www.jocamusic.com
Jungle Brothers
Klaus Schulze
Mike Paradinas
Moby - http://www.moby.org
Murat Ses
Oliver Lieb
Sneaker Pimps
Sven Vath
The Talking Heads
Tangerine Dream
The Chemical Brothers
The Orb
The Residents
Thomas Dolby
Timo Mass

Notable record labels:

Bedrock Records
Bonzai Records
Harthouse -- http://www.harthouse.com/
Hooj Choons -- http://www.hooj-choons.co.uk/
Moonshine Music
Ninja Tune -- http://www.ninjatune.net
Platipus -- http://www.platipus.com/
Ralph America -- http://www.ralphamerica.com/

Notable DJs:

Darren Emerson
Jeff Mills
John Digweed
Judge Jules
LTJ Bukem
Paul Oakenfold
Sander Kleinenberg