Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jonah Dempcy: Electronic Music Production as Design?

.:Jonah Dempcy: Electronic Music Production as Design?:.

Above is an article where the author Jonah Dempcy talks about electronic music as a design and art compared to traditional songwriting. It is a nice little reflective post on the broader continuing debate that surrounds electronic music as a genre in general.

I'm sure others have made this comparison before, but I was thinking about how electronic music production vis-a-vis conventional songwriting is similar to the dichotomy between design and art. It is conventionally argued that design is concerned with craftsmanship and functionality while art (be it painting, illustration or other forms of self-expression) is concerned with creative expression. So, although a Steinway piano may be a beautiful work of craftsmanship, the creators of the piano were not trying to express creativity but to make a high-quality functional product. The beauty inherent in the craftsmanship is a side effect of the craftsmanship, rather than being a goal unto itself.


J. Wells said...

Now, I'm not sure I agree with the perspective offered in this article. I'm a builder as a day job right now, but I've also been a working artist for a few years, too, so I feel like I have one foot on both sides of the idea-- the design side and the expressive side. I guess basically, my issue is with Mr. Dempcy's assumption that craft and art are irreconcilable, when really they are able to dovetail quite nicely. The perspective of the electronica producer being a mere "crafter of sonic experience" is too narrow; anyone who listens as a "producer" fits into that, regardless of genre. And, ALL music is meant to "effect the listener" and (usually) "make the crowd dance". From my point of view the musician of any type or style is half technician, half artist, and that attention to beauty and detail can and should guide every step of the process of creating anything, regardless of function. Function by itself is barren; beauty without function is useless and fragile.

Jeez... have you ever sat down and listened to a song that was "meant to produce an effect" and no more? Did you listen TWICE? That sort of attitude makes for boring, condescending, vapid music. (Like top 40 pop, hip-hop and r&b)

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