EDM Artists Aren't Real Musicians

I am looking into the issue of whether EDM is real music and the artists that create it are real musicians for my Gold Arts Award Unit 1:Part D.

EDM Artists Aren't Real Musicians

For my investigation into an arts issue I have chosen to look at the controversial opinion that people who compose music through the medium of digital sequencing aren't real musicians. I have chosen this issue because as part of my course and also my Arts Award I am developing my skills as a digital composer. I have also played the drums since I was 8 and consider myself to be a musician in the more conventional sense. When I discuss the use of digital media with friends who only play acoustic instruments they have differing views and I often find myself split between the two camps. By investigating the issue more broadly and by considering a number of different viewpoints. I hope to be able clarify my position and perhaps give my argument that EDM artists are real musicians more credence.

So what is an EDM artist and what do they do? EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music and involves a broad range of genres composed for nightclubs, festivals and raves. The music is usually pre-recorded for playback at the event but can be remixed live by DJs. I think that this is possibly where the argument stems from. If an artist performs live no matter what their medium, surely this makes them a real musician. However, if a computer and software eliminates the chance of mistakes or makes every performance potentially identical, then EDM can't be considered to be real music or the artists that compose it real musicians.

The first argument that digital composers and DJs are talented and professional performers has been hindered by the common misconception that electronic music only covers one genre rather than coming in different forms, but just like any other form of music such as rock, pop or rap there are different forms and interpretations that are influenced by different outside forces and respond to different tastes, cultures and countries. A very basic belief that you need to play a conventional instrument to be a musician is really quite outdated in the 21st Century and many now believe that the computer, software and mixer are just a modern and natural development of the art form.

Some believe that it takes no real talent or skill to produce electronic music but an example against this argument that anyone can do it is Avicii's "Levels", widely considered to be a well-crafted and skilfully produced piece. Many electronic artists are highly skilled in playing keyboard and drums, and because EDM isn't just about reading music, passing grades and learning "drills" doesn't mean that it isn't great music and no skill is required. It is just an extension of traditional skills.

For my investigation into an arts issue I have chosen to look at the controversial opinion that people who compose music through the medium of digital sequencing aren't real musicians. I have chosen this issue because as part of my course and also my Arts Award I am developing my skills as a digital composer. I have also played the drums since I was 8 and consider myself to be a musician in the more conventional sense. When I discuss the use of digital media with friends who only play acoustic instruments they have differing views and I often find myself split between the two camps. By investigating the issue more broadly and by considering a number of different viewpoints. I hope to be able clarify my position and perhaps give my argument that EDM artists are real musicians more credence.

So what is an EDM artist and what do they do? EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music and involves a broad range of genres composed for nightclubs, festivals and raves. The music is usually pre-recorded for playback at the event but can be remixed live by DJs. I think that this is possibly where the argument stems from. If an artist performs live no matter what their medium, surely this makes them a real musician. However, if a computer and software eliminates the chance of mistakes or makes every performance potentially identical, then EDM can't be considered to be real music or the artists that compose it real musicians.

The first argument that digital composers and DJs are talented and professional performers has been hindered by the common misconception that electronic music only covers one genre rather than coming in different forms, but just like any other form of music such as rock, pop or rap there are different forms and interpretations that are influenced by different outside forces and respond to different tastes, cultures and countries. A very basic belief that you need to play a conventional instrument to be a musician is really quite outdated in the 21st Century and many now believe that the computer, software and mixer are just a modern and natural development of the art form.

The Final Argument

Some believe that it takes no real talent or skill to produce electronic music but an example against this argument that anyone can do it is Avicii's "Levels", widely considered to be a well-crafted and skilfully produced piece. Many electronic artists are highly skilled in playing keyboard and drums, and because EDM isn't just about reading music, passing grades and learning "drills" doesn't mean that it isn't great music and no skill is required. It is just an extension of traditional skills

"When a beat is well-composed, the world moves with it. Whether its creator presses play or not couldn't matter less."

Having looked at both sides of the argument and considered the views of others including musicians and DJs and also reading Blogs from the general public, I think that I believe that all music no matter what form or genre it takes is about the "composition and not about the performance". When we consider well known composers and musicians from history it is their compositions that are their legacy and not their performances. However, no one could argue that these massive live events aren't about performance and putting on a show. Any entertaining art takes skill and to appeal to huge crowds at massive venues requires huge talent.

However, I agree with the view that that EDM musicians are "musicians at home in the studio and performers on the stage". As such, whilst I do believe that electronic music is a valid art form and the computer is just a different instrument like an electric guitar versus an acoustic and it takes someone with a musical talent to manipulate and combine many different sounds at once, I also think that you need to have an understanding of how sounds work and can be manipulated and I have found in my own work that it helps to play an acoustic instrument such as drums and to be able to read and write traditional notation helps to have an informed overview of how beats and rhythms work together.

I think that it is easy to make rapid progress when creating electronic music and personally I get quicker results with my computer than I do when learning something new on my drums. As a result it can be easy for people to believe that anyone can create EDM but to be really skilled at it and be able to take it to the level of mass appeal I think that you need to be every bit as talented and committed as any other musician or artist. To me music is about our history and culture-something primitive in all of us and how we manifest and communicate that doesn't really matter so long as we do it with passion and skill.

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Lisa Knights

Lisa Knights

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2 Comments

  • Luke Taylor

    On 24 October 2017, 13:45 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    Really well researched! EDM is always considered by outsiders as "easy music" and lacks musical intellect. However, in my opinion, it takes a lot of skill to work out how to use a synthesizer...

  • Subculture Zero

    On 9 May 2018, 08:37 Subculture Zero commented:

    Great article. Although my favourite type of EDM is Techno I love aspects of most of the other sub genres.

    SZ

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