Online Concerts: Inside the Den

Aka What is Electronic Music?

We had entered Sin;drome‘s den. An air conditioner hummed the frequencies of Delhi’s falling voltage, while other processors whined alive. As the computing capacity in the room awoke, we decided to revisit our concept: Ashhar and Vinny would create ‘electronic’ music, while Aazar, Rashmi and I would write rhymes or verse that reflected the notes we heard, Sowmya would take those words and project them onto a screen as tiny animation. The whole package, music, words and movement, would be transmitted live over the web. Anyone could join in and view the performance as it went on.

 

That’s exactly what we did. 3 hours, 6pm-9pm IST, of intense sounds and reflecting words projected onto a screen, caught on camera and transmitted across the globe. As we watched, the discordant sound-waves became disjointed words. When the waves became periodic, so did meter of the words. Two mediums, not always distant, came together. And that is the sum of what became of our collaboration.
And the last paragraph is odd. It has mathematical sounding words that attempt to describe something more physical. That feeling got me thinking, what is this sound, what is ‘Electronic’ music?
The consumption of music is ubiquitously digital or electronic. From the kabadiwala listening to FM on his chinese phone to the city boy with latest iPhone’s wired firmly planted into his ears, music is bits that microprocessors convert to waveforms.

But what about it’s production?

As a Metal fan, for me, the electric guitar is the cornerstone of every lick, whammy and riff. When I’m dragged into clubs, I find loops, samples and beats, welded together for the explicit purpose of dancing. And on a day when I feel masochistic enough to turn on the TV, I see gyrating bodies set to auto-tuned vocals. All music is also produced digitally or electronically. After all, all music is waveforms that can be analyzed, stored, tweaked, edited when converted to bits. Just like any other waveform that’s out there.

So what is ‘electronic music’?

When I walked into Sin;drome’s den, I wasnt sure of what to expect. And I can’t explain what it sounded like. If you pushed me, I’d say it was like an oscilloscope debating with a transistor radio in formal vulcan. It wasnt ‘discordant’, there were no chords. It was electronic waveforms being tweaked, juggled, filtered and augmented, to create a sonic-scape. One that sometimes made me feel like I was sitting on a beach where soundwaves broke on my ears. At others, I wanted to close my ears and just let my brain recover.

But isnt purpose of art to elicit a reaction?

I would say yes. Layer those sound-scapes with words and you can reach out to more senses. One way or another, those two make a cocktail guaranteed to make you think.
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