Once upon a time “experimentalism” in music would have conjured up images of child like pounding of paint tubs and forks on pianos (as above). The abrasive use of discordance to make some sort of political existential message reflecting the chaos of the “artists” soul. Thankfully this is not what we mean by experimentalism today.
Experimentalism now is more about how technology is enabling musicians to create music that blurs music genres, if not a completely interwoven sound. This type of music used to be sidelined as “world music” or got nudged into some retro corner of electronic music. For a while there in the 90’s it looked as though DJ’s had taken over the electronic music scene. In the 00’s however electronic music seeped into every aspect of studio music.
Unfortunately this meant that much of the time the electronic sound either got left behind in the studio, or could only survive with a monster of technical support at massive stadium events. It is only recently in the last few years that the strength of DAW’s have enabled musicians to reprise electronic music from the DJ’s and claim it again for their own use.
What is now being called ‘experimental’ music is a word that is now being banded around a lot to describe this shifting trend in electronic music, however this isn’t really true.
Experimentalism is in the musicians get go mindset; it’s all about the sounds, how to merge the sounds and the magic when it all comes together and you have realised the sound that drives every musician’s creative urge. It’s just the technology is starting to catch up; with electronic music all things start in the studio, tweaking with various bits of equipment, analogue and digital synthesizers and such to get ‘that’ sound, when it is a complex slicing, re-slicing, re-organizing job to pull of of these separate sounds together to make the song work.
Thankfully the likes of Ableton Live and Looper technology it is even getting easier to bring this ‘experimentalism’ to the live performance. The need for technology to evolve to enable musicians to do their natural experimentation is what drove us to make Stage Looper.
‘Experimentalism’ was always there in music, it was just restricted by the limits of the technology of the time. But ‘times are changing’ and music evolving.