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Monday, 14 May 2012

Today’s Music Market like Fast-Food Consumption ... ?

Such an awkward title and yet so much of it seems to be true in our current times.  This fast-paced, electronic, high-speed wireless world has sped up not only our internet browsing experience but more significantly, our musical appetites.  We consume more and more fresh new music at such rapid speeds, moving on from song, to song, to song, as if music selection were a fast-food order and purchase.  It’s as if YouTube, social networking sites and digital download portals have stretched and expanded the horizons of this musical age, like a mighty revolution no one can seem to slow down, not even the artists or the record labels themselves can stop the mighty machine of consumption technology has created.  But of course, why would the music industry want to slow down the consumption rate, it is after all a business, and a business wants to make money.  Lots of money.  And with more record labels and publishing companies coming into existence, more artists gaining the spotlight and more new tracks hitting the market every single day world-wide, there is ultimately more competition that pushes the demand for each group to generate more sales, which means more and more music production.  Songs can be sold individually now online for cheaper and that means more and more people can afford to buy more and more music.

But really, who is complaining.  It seems to be a simple enough equation in which everyone is still benefiting and staying happy. 
And yet I have to wonder.  What ever happened to the kid who was so excited to walk into a music store (yes they still exist) and wait in a line-up to purchase his favorite artist album, who would then go home and savor every picture, every song, every lyrical phrase that band had worked so hard to construct?  Is it just me or does it feel like somehow, in some odd way, maybe we used to value individual songs just a tad longer in the past than we do today?  Was that mostly because it took artists longer to create full albums back then?  Or maybe it took us more time to appreciate them considering the purchasing cost.  After all, one would most likely buy the album in stores, not like today where you can purchase a song online for next to nothing (and dare I mention the illegal downloading that is crippling the music industry like a giant).
This is not to say that listeners today cannot feel the same satisfaction or value from a song that listeners of my generation did 10 years ago.  Or to say that artists do not have the same joy in writing new music to keep up with a craving market as they did years ago when the hype took longer to build and consequently, the legacy longer to soak.  Rather, this is all to say, that on the whole, there seems to be a greater demand, greater consumption rate of new music then ever experienced in history before.
Is this a bad thing?  Depends who you ask.
I’ll leave it at that and let you, the reader, consume those thoughts.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Trance Music is (I feel) like Post-Modern Art

Trance Music, in my opinion, is a lot of like Post-Modern Art - It is always finding new ways to be contemporary and unique, and then to reinvent itself over again.

I once took a University course on Post-Modern Poetry in my final year.  I remember asking my Professor at the end of the course, just days before the final exam, "Sir, What exactly DOES the term Post-Modern mean? How does one define it?"  With a sudden seriousness of expression, my Professor turned to me and said rather bluntly, "well, that is your answer.  There is no definition.  If you could define it, if there was an answer, it wouldn't be Post-Modern."

His rather ironic reply stuck with me over the years, and I began to eventually correlate it with the experience of creating Trance Music.  Well, Trance Music is an art-form, as all types of musical genres are.  The main idea tugging in Post-Modern art is that it cannot be defined or pulled into any one type of 'defining' structure.  It's a break-down of convention, it's an attack on what is expected, the 'norm'... it's really all over the map.

Before dipping my imagination into the vast expanse of creativity that the world of Trance Music begs for,  I started my songwriting career writing pop songs.  You know, the standard 3 minute and 40 second songs that blast our radios every day.  The song structure is often the same, rarely straying too far from expectation or convention of the norm, though contemporary times are starting to see some progress.  Commercial pop songs almost always secure a catchy introduction, followed by a verse, a pre-chorus, chorus, second verse, chorus, bridge, and finally, a final chorus.  There is not a whole lot of variation and you better make sure that every one of those 3 minutes and 40 seconds contains a mix bag of hooks in both melody and lyric.  Otherwise, your song might just well be sunk.

Writing commercial pop music can be compared to the sensation of wearing water wings in a big pool of murky dark water - That with a proper song structure in place, no matter how grey, murky and uncertain the music industry can be, at least you can rest assured you will float.

But that safety net for me was all over the day I was introduced to the unpredictable world of Trance Music.  I can remember talking with different producers over the direction of some tracks when I was just getting my feet wet in Trance songwriting a few years ago.  "What do you mean we might scrap the second verse?" I gasped.  That's Crazy, I thought! Who would do that in the pop world, the song would most likely wither and die before even getting started.

In fact, it felt at times that the more I tried to insert some kind of steady, expected structure into a Trance song, the more it was doomed to fail in the Electronic Dance market.

That was when I began to realize the character, the texture and the vision of Trance Music.  It is limitless.  There are no ceilings to bang your head against, no skylines, no mandatory boundaries sticking like glue over the melodies and lyrics that float along the drums and synths.  It is a new world of music that is purely post-modern in nature.  It is pure in thought, free in form and rich in imagination.  You cannot put a brace of structure around it because it in fact breaks down commercial structure to create something so unique and uncharted.

Writing Trance Music has truly been the most freeing and rewarding experience in my whole artistic career and life (even more so than the time when I was 6 years old and given an abundance of crayons, and told to go nuts colouring).

Now that I have found a beautiful open field to run in, a blank canvas of any shape and size to paint on, and a giant galaxy of stars to swim and sink in, why would anyone want to turn back time and be fenced-in ... ?