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Electro re-emergence - Time for a conversation?

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Its nice to see more experimental electronica begin to spark and flourish. Certainly there are a few suitable names already in use and others that are relevant and easy to create.


Time for working collectively? It would certainly have pros and cons. If artists could coalesce around a few limited variations it might help. Outside EDM there is already a fairly thriving 80’s dominated Electronic scene, but there is a growing, active, experimental and progressive electronica scene. 

Maybe it is time it had a settled name or names for several genres? Having a more definite identity that allows a bit of flexibility would certainly make it easier for fans, and therefor easier for the genre as a whole to grow.


Getting some artists to discuss where they see things going would be a good thing.., somewhere that isn’t Twitter! Twitter should be for interacting with fans. You might meet other artists there, but don’t mix up creative discussions of ideas with other artists with fan engagement.... it’s a bad idea for many reasons.


Obviously Songstuff is ideal in terms of features, but that means getting as many such artists here as possible to make it meaningful. I think Songstuff could really help, but artists might well have different ideas!


Experimental electronica has been around a long time, and although it has had peaks, it’s never really broken through in the way that other electronica has. In part that is because it has lacked identity, because artists haven’t really come together to build in the way other genres do.


For me, I think there will be strong opinions, but a conversation or two could be exactly what is needed.


So, if you know any experimental, or progressive or ambient, of microtonal composers (for example) perhaps you could invite them here, to this topic? Perhaps encourage them to sign up and take part in the conversation?






PS please use @ to include any existing members that might be interested if you reply to this post, e.g.


@Steve Mueske @geographyhorse




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Electronica has always been a genre of micro-genres, and I dont see that aspect of it going away anytime soon. But, if we think of "progressive" not as a genre, but as a descriptor then that may help the discussion further. I.e. progressive rock is not a separate genre from rock, but progressive is added as a descriptor to rock to describe music that has met one or more points of criteria. 


Microtonal music and Progwave (the term I've been giving to the Hauntological and Nostalgia influenced stuff I'm creating) are two separate micro genres of electronica, but could both be brought under a broader umbrella of progressive electronica or progtronica. http://www.progarchives.com/ is a great site to show just how the various subgenres under progressive rock could be broken. I guess my proposal is to build a site and community to do the same for progressive electronic music. 


If I were to undertake this, I think the discussion Muesk, I and others need to have is "what are the bullet points that would affix the progressive label to an artist or artwork?" There's obvious ones in my mind like odd time signatures (although, there's plenty of art rock that has odd time signatures that aren't necessarily considered prog), key or mode changes, unusual keys, or atonal music (ditto), unusual song structures (ditto), longer song lengths (um.... ditto), musical or performance virtuosity (ditto), combining genres in new ways (ditto). So, it would seem that a "progressive" label would have to tick a few of these boxes. Ofcourse, there's always the tried and true "I knows it when I hears it!!" 😂😂😂

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1 hour ago, Steve Mueske said:

Of course, I have quite a bit to say on this topic, and the scope of the OP covers A LOT of territory. Rather than write a gigantic post and keep adding to it, I'll write a few things here and there as I have time. Right now, I'm pretty occupied with my upcoming retrospective release, so I apologize in advance.


I've never been comfortable with any meaningful label for the music I create, for a variety of reasons, but let's start with a bit of history. When electronic music was first being explored, it was called "electronic music" because the sounds were created via tape (and later computers). The pioneers had to literally create both the method of creating sounds but also marshall the resources to do so. There was a stark contrast between music created with acoustic instruments and music created by splicing tape (and later, with the introduction of oscillators, synthesized sounds). This grew into two major schools, Musique Concrete and Electronic Music (this isn't the correct spelling, but I don't want to go down that road because it's an unimportant detour). The former was interested in "acoustic" sounds, the latter being constructed entirely of self-generated sounds (that is, sounds created specifically for compositions). Both were done when composers gained access to one of only a handful of studios available worldwide.


[more later].


Thanks for starting this, @john

I've been listening to a lot of musique concrete and Lowercase music recently. It can really help center me in a weird way.

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The other really tough thing to figure out is that crazy intersection where art rock, progressive rock and the Avant-garde intersect and overlap because all three are bound to appear in an assessment of "progressive" and "experimental" electronic genres.


My take is that the "Art" prefix is applied when the work borrows a progressive or experimental idea but still is obviously trying to be its home genre. For example, David Bowie created a lot of Art rock that borrowed from Ambient, Progressive, Electronica etc. but was still trying to Pop. 


I'd imagine experimental or Avant-garde applies to music and sound art that where the "experiment" is the goal in and of itself. 


Whereas "Prog" takes an experimental or virtuosic idea and explores it within the context of it's home genre. 


Just some ramblings on my end. 

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On break at work. 


Still need time to digest everything. However, I think @john's needs and our independent needs are all going to be different. The question at the heart of this post is, I believe, how we can best help each other achieve those separate needs. 


For John's part, I believe attracting the EDM kids is hugely beneficial goal regardless of how I personally feel about Dance music. And given that about 75% of my fanbase are expats from those genres, it is probably useful on my part to figure out a way to help attract them here. 


It sucks, but at some point, us artists are forced to think like business people. And helping John cast a wide electronic net is useful if I get to keep the weird fish. 🤷‍♂️

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For @john's part, I'm wondering if the answer is creating independent subforums by "genre". This would make some sense. There's obviously universal principles for writing, producing, recording and marketing music. But, there's also many unique techniques and approaches that are "genre" specific. 


For example, "stealth" posting is generally looked down upon in many popular genres. However, that was "literal" advice given to me by a couple of blogs in regards to marketing niche music. Another difference is in song structure and the terms used to denote those structures. For example, in most pop music, all of you instinctually know what I mean by ABABCA. In most electronic music, structure is denoted by a series of false builds and an eventual "peak". 


I consider @snabbu's advice to be extremely valuable and on point, but I think we'd both struggle to give structure advice to somebody attempting to create the next hot "Gabber" track.  


This also begs the question as to whether or not John and the rest of the forum even want an influx of EDM kids and if being genre neutral is still the "superior" way to go. 


For my needs and what I'm considering for a future site, maybe asking John to create a somewhat hidden or an "off the beaten path" thread that I funnel people to is the better move as I'm sure it will be a very "lonely" space for a good while. 

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22 hours ago, VoiceEx said:

I`m not sure if i`m "allowed" into such a debated, being as my music is not commonly associated with electronic music. Which is actually a common misconception. The majority of my work in music has always been centered around the idea of mixing genres I love playing and experimenting with, through different sounds, different structures, concepts, and different instruments. Electronic music included. So.. to that end, I would like to give my two cents as well.


From a practical standpoint, I have never been a fan of labels. For me sub genres are just conceptual reference points and commonly known sets of ideas, to be utilized in accordance to what elements would empower the songs. As nicknames whose soul purpose is to provide a set of tags which are associated with various algorithms and composition approaches. In other words: I do in fact tinker with the necessary tags in order to "pass" the so called "check list" required to push content where most musicians and people would say that "it should be", in order to appease the desired statistics. But as far as i`m concerned? for me labels are just tools and nothing else. Knowing a subjects rich history, how it evolved, deducing where it might be heading, I think that all these elements serve a singular purpose - to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the times. Besides. Even when you label your own songs, there will always be a wide array of diverse communities which will call it something else, anyway.


Though as far as composition goes, I think that all bets should be off. The sky is the limit. Musicians are no longer bound by major labels and overly constricting "standards" in order to become successful. For all intents and purposes Indie --IS__ the wave of the future. The technology has advanced in such fantastically practical directions, offering such an abundance of easily accessible tools and HQ sound sources, along with easily manageable mastering & sequencing tools.


So to that end, i`m not sure everyone will agree with me on this, but I think musicians as a whole need to take full advantage of this technology, and stop thinking of Electronic music as an actual "goal". But rather, as a sound source and a structure with limitless possibilities. Sound can be artificially fitted and designed to compliment practically anything.


Like, say you want to make a Neo Classical piece, with all its instruments and dynamics, but you want it to be played by synths, and be structured like Synth-Pop. Why not make it. Or say you want your entire Electronic song be led by a 4/4 beat, and an Analog-Based choir littered with Soundscapes which expand onto 3D-Stereo. Why not make it. I think that even if a musician isn't necessarily proficient in something, than that shouldn't stop them from trying something on for size. A good musician will produce good results, even if something is WAY off of their comfort zone. And.. who knows they might even like it.


My point being, none of us really know whats going to be the next technological breakthrough. And I think that overthinking what something "is" or "should" be, is a self imposed limitation. Songs can grow and evolve, and take on a life of their own. And everything has an audience. There is no long term benefit to sounding like clones. I mean, sure, If one wishes to make songs just for the sake of making money, than that`s cool. We all got bills to pay. But as far as the stuff they can afford to make for themselves just fun (or for a dedicated fanbase), I think that there should never be a limit. I think that we would all be able to enjoy more diversity in music, if more musicians treated their songs, as if those were science experiments.

 Ofcourse, you're allowed to weigh in. 🙂

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10 hours ago, Steve Mueske said:

@geographyhorseMy apologies, all my posts were done in a stream, and I didn't realize you had so many prior posts.


I really like the term progressive, and it feels synonymous with exploration. @johnI don't know how far afield I am going with your post. I REALLY want to dialog about this and am listening for a solution. I want to hear your ideas. Bill, we're already engaging in a collective project. How can we help each other as individual artists striving toward "being seen."


Progressive is a great term, I agree. 

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19 minutes ago, VoiceEx said:


Thanks for acknowledging that and for replying :) since this is the internet, it is always good to state objectives in advance. Over the years I have seen my fair share of "musical purists" and snobs who only respond back and listen to people that make the same music as them, or to those who are considered by them as being of "equal stature". As ridicules as that sounds, this phenomena is unfortunately quite common on the internet.


Though in regards to the topic itself, I would like to point out something about what you said about subcategories. I think that you were spot on with providing more direction for places where artist can post more dedicated material. Like, if someones new to this place and if they want to just upload something, its not always clear where that should be done, or where their biggest audience is, since all the different uploading categories here kinda feel the same, visually.


Think about it: "Releasing Songs", "Writing Songs". All of which of course have relevant subcategories, but no real direction. And since the forums visual format is not traditionally column based, if a first timer came to this forum right now, then that would person would REALLY have to look around the forum if they want to find an ideal location for uploading their stuff. And even when they do find, they don`t have any real direction for placing something in front of their target audience. Which can lead to several problems.


For one, lets say you made an EDM song, Trance or SynthWave (etc etc). Where you gonna put it in here? "Releasing Songs"? Writing Songs?" "Image And video?" "Recording and Producing Song?" sure you could upload there. But those places are too generalized. You get lumped in with everyone else. Which means that neither you, or your target audience, are really going to connect and find other artists of similar interests. Second. Some genres are more popular than others. Which means that without having a dedicated place for your particular style, your stuff is likely going to be pushed back anyway. Its the same principle as, lets say, uploading a Metal song into a K-Pop forum. Will your stuff get noticed? yes. But not in a good way.


Which is why I think that if more dedicated categories were created, the best route would be to name the main theme of the a whole category ("Electronic Music & Sequencing" or whatever), while having the less generalized sub genres ("Trance", "Industrial", "DarkWave", etcetc), serve as their own mini categories. Might be a good idea to take that approach, and apply it to other genres as well. For example: "there is no "Alternative Rock" or "Metal" category here. Which is ashame because not only do artists of that sort have to uploaded their music in places where people might not be into that, but it also means that people have to "fish" out the music they want.


Which leads to a funny scenario where both artists and fans end up searching for music, without finding what their looking for - in a production oriented forum. What its true lol. Anyway just my two cents.

I'm in agreement. Everybody likes to say genre doesn't matter, but lets face it. It kinda does. Where genre tends to fail is when it gets overly specific or when the lines between two genres start to blur. 



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I grew up in the 70's having a fascination with "computers" that has never left me.  The notion of causing a machine to do something very interesting, without direct human intervention, always fascinated me and it still does.  In my youth, I pored over copies of BYTE Magazine and [Contemporary] Keyboard, reading stories about computer and music technology literally "as it developed."  My idols had Fairlights and Synclaviers, and sometimes [literally ...] spent $100,000+ to gain "an  edge."


I never(!) imagined that computer technology would not only "advance this far, this fast," within my lifetime, but would actually become cheap while doing so.  Nevertheless, I count myself extremely privileged "to have been there, then." Back when everything began.


The "electronic" music that I well remember was not only a product of "musical inventiveness," but also an effort to make $1.00 out of eleven cents. 😀  Because that was all that we had at the time.


The "electronic" music that I hear today is – in a very real way – "the same idea."  Even though we now have "an embarrassment of riches," technology-wise, and the former limitations no longer exist, people are still picking up things off the beach and trying to plug them together in new and different ways, to produce sounds that no one has ever heard before.  "May that drive never cease!" 😃


(P.S.:  Full disclosure ... "someday, your [x]grand(?)-kids and their computers might be having a grand chuckle, reading all of these posts, out there on their holodeck ...")

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10 hours ago, Steve Mueske said:


It's not. I absolutely don't want that. What I'm interested in is working with people with drive and experience, who want to unite around helping each other succeed with an organic ground-up approach.

Then given @VoiceEx's suggestions and your agreement with them. I'm thinking having genre based sections (in a very vague sense) would be useful, but its probably best to be pretty lax in the interpretation of genre. The rest we could leave up to tagging. 


I've always had the damndest time trying to categorize my music. I know it definitely falls under a broader "electronica" umbrella and maybe that's the most we need to know. Pick the most "inclusive" genre categories and list a sampling of sub-categories in the description to guide people and not worry too much beyond that. 


Then, when people are experimenting within those larger frameworks veterans possibly have an easier time guiding them. 

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What's kind of funny is that MOST music is computer music. Although, what we mean when we say "electronic" music is that kind we all think of with the bleeps and bloops whether it be made with computers or tiny little boxes sequenced together. 


And yet, the music I create, while mimicking the bleeps and bloops, is mostly done by hand. Does that mean that I am NOT creating "electronic" music? 😂😂😂

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On 2/24/2021 at 6:59 AM, Steve Mueske said:

Honestly, let me be up front. Just give us a separate forum. @johncould we do this?


in essence, yes. We used to have genre people boards... but a word of caution (don’t worry there are solutions)....


Every board... spreads your activity thinner

Every board.... is one more place to sift through to find the place you want to find.


So it will need thought, planning, trial and error, patience, great navigation, community support, volunteers, good communication amongst us, a strategy that for our community unites community outreach and promotion with on-board features and activities AND member support, especially+Especially for their music.


Then it begins to work.


Artists need to know, this is not the “end of the line”. Ie posting on the community should be the end of things, but hopefully the beginning of things. Then our community become part of their workflow, not a dead end add on. I have a lot of ideas on this and a lot of relevant experience. If we can get this right, there is A LOT of reasons to be excited and enthusiastic about this.


I know you guys are focused on this aspect of a board re-org and how decent support for music we love can make the most of this.... well part of this is the sustainability of the community (which I and the staff have to work out in the back ground). Simply put, real budget will make a big difference to.... everything. We are looking to ADD (not replace) things and explore ways the site can both get funding while increasing opportunity, features, stability, speed etc for our members. It just has to be sustainable. Affordable. Fair.


I say all this because, your opinions, thoughts and ideas are always very welcome and will always be fairly considered. I think the same will be true for ideas the staff bring forward. We are all just trying to find the best, most useful, and yes enjoyable way ahead. I don’t want you thinking it is going to be “just a business” to the staff. I’ve ran Songstuff for 20 years for free because I am passionate about music and supporting and educating writers/artists/producers. Importantly, I realised a number of years ago that being completely free to all... was not the best plan. Apart from anything, it has NEVER been free to me, and my pockets have been a choke hold on what Songstuff could truly achieve for a long time. Same goes for member commitment to free. Free becomes... assumed, taken for granted, easily dropped. Meanwhile people want value for money they spend. The site needs budget. We have skills, knowledge, resources, and upcoming products that are worth something. There is plenty of room for us to bring in a good operating budget to pull this all together.


My point is, don’t be scared about such discussions and activities going on. If anything, want them to be successful, because when we get the stars to align.... it’s going to change things for the MUCH better.


Your areas of interest are going to be your focus, but it’s good to know there is a bigger plan, and how your efforts will fit in. I hope this is not only exciting to you, but hopefully encouraging and confidence giving... because the larger picture being put in place mean the efforts we go to to now, building progtronic, rebuilding the musical presence and activity on Songstuff etc... is worthwhile. It’s not about to be suddenly dropped. Hard work is not suddenly lost.


Remember MP3.com? Awesome indie site. Sold and turned into a mainstream site overnight. A million hours of indie hard work on a free community and site.... gone. Literally overnight.


Same is true for a bunch of OMDs and sites that just disappeared. Because completely free is not sustainable. Unless I was a very benevolent multimillionaire. I might be benevolent, but my pockets are as far from a millionaire’s as anyone I know.


Which means, the community needs a realistic, and well understood, back bone. Staff. Volunteers. Members.


We all want to make this REALLY work. I get that from all you guys. Might be a larger scope going on around this discussion, but I think it is useful for you to know, even at this stage... it fits in to.... something workable. While not directly board re-org related, knowing we plan for the long haul.... I hope makes a difference?


I will continue these subjects elsewhere for anyone interested, so as not to sideline too much... here’s hoping you feel it to be good news, hopeful news.


We can always talk! ;)

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On 2/25/2021 at 9:04 PM, geographyhorse said:

And yet, the music I create, while mimicking the bleeps and bloops, is mostly done by hand. Does that mean that I am NOT creating "electronic" music?

I remember working on a music concréte piece in the mid 90s and thinking the same thing!

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Being, as I said, someone who was there when "the drum machine" was invented, and when "sequencers" were physical boxes and so on ... I vividly(!) remember the pure crap that was produced, just in order to "fill the airwaves."


For instance, we were insulted by "hip-hop-ified" arrangements.  To my ears, an awful lot of what's called "EDM" winds up sounding the same way.  I really don't want music to bore me.  Instead, I want it to surprise me.  I want to go, "Wow!"


And I know that you can do it, if you put your mind to it.  "Electro" could be a gold-mine of interesting music, as long as composers and producers don't simply resort to "musical tropes."


This lyric really was marketing research:  "We are here now. En - ter - tain us!"

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