ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : MusicalStuff

Quora Answer : Do you think we should bring back the 90s music in general?

Jun 27, 2018

Who is this "we"?

What power does it have to "bring back" 90s music?

If you want to listen to 90s music, it's all there on Youtube (and probably Spotify) and in your vinyl, CD, cassette, MP3, FLAC collection. Go listen to it.

Almost certainly, with 90s music being 20+ years old, there's going to be a phase of rediscovery, new analysis and filtering and a lot of young kids who were born in the 90s making music inspired by their favourite bands.

That's great.

But we - the generation who were there in the 90s and the main consumers of that music - we don't really get to choose that.

We'll have to leave it to the next generation to discover what they really like and want to preserve from that time, and what they'll forget.

Some is predictable. The classics of "golden age" hip-hop. Some contemporaneous trip-hop. Some grunge. Maybe a smattering of R'n'B producers. Another round of EDM producers loving rave, jungle and the origins of d'n'b.

But almost certainly we'll be surprised too. The things that became iconic of the 80s were not the things people in the 80s considered the most important / high-art / classics. The things that become iconic of the 90s may well not be the things you expect either.

Quora Answer : How did the world evolve from classical music to styles like rap, pop, etc.?

Jun 14, 2020

The big fundamental change was the invention of recording technology.

Before recording technology, the only way to "record" music was to write it down as a score. And for other people to learn to play it.

Writing music on paper is pretty good at capturing the parts of music that are easily "systematized" into theories. Theories of harmony, and of structure. Because you write down these theories and "rules". People study them by reading scores. And musicians have to be highly trained to read the scores and play back the music.

But written scores don't capture everything about the music. They don't capture the emotion or the personality of the performer. They don't capture the improvisation a performer makes to embellish a simple melody with extra notes. They don't capture any microtonal quirks that the performer adds. Or the swing the performer gives to accentuate the rhythm.

Any attempt to capture emotion in music is through rather formal "conventions". That this kind of interval or cadence represents that kind of feeling. Etc.

The nearest to "intimacy" music like this gets is someone playing a piano. Or perhaps a singer and an accompanist.

But when recording technology came along, suddenly everything changed. For the first time we could capture and record the actual sound of music. And it was very, very different from the way music looks when it's written down on paper.

For the first time, you really hear the performer. You can hear the microtonal quirks (blue notes). And the character of the voice and the playing. You can hear the improvisations. You can feel the swing.

Almost immediately after the invention and popularization of recording, we got an entirely new genre of music blowing up : jazz. And jazz was ALL ABOUT these things. The personality of the performer, the blue notes, the swing, the improvisation.

All the things that had been ignored by the academic Western musical tradition, because they couldn't be accurately captured by written scores, suddenly became the most interesting and sought after thing in music.

I sometimes make the analogy with the invention of photography. Three hundred years ago, when British painters wanted to represent the Italian countryside, they used a bunch of conventions which were well known ways that the countryside was meant to look. They had never seen the Italian countryside. They painted in dark studios with oil paints that took a month to dry. But everyone knew that these techniques were the way to paint what the Italian countryside looked like.

Then in the late 19th century, with the invention of cheap water-colours, painters could actually go out into the countryside and paint, in an afternoon, what the countryside looked like. And it looked nothing like those heavy indoor oil paintings. Painters spent their time in the outdoors and became obsessed with light.

Then when photography appeared, you didn't need any technique at all. You pointed a camera and went click. Again the resulting images looked very different from the conventional painting technique.

Similarly, when a 19th century opera composer wanted to represent an emotional young woman, or a braggadocios young man, they had a set of musical techniques that composer learned, and that everyone recognised as what a lovesick young woman was meant to sound like. Even if she was being portrayed on stage by a 40 year old with lungs to fill the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

But with the invention of recording technology, you didn't need that technique. Again, if you want to know what a love-sick 18 year old girl sounds like, you can find one, stick a microphone in front of her, and it is much more accurate reflection of that emotional state than any technique designed for a 40 year old professional on the stage.

This is the story of 20th century music. We could capture real sounds through the microphone, and we abandoned all the techniques that were designed to create an formalized impression of them, in favour of chasing a "purer" picture.

The story of jazz, of rock, of pop, of hip-hop and rap, these are all the story of a music that is made to try to capture the raw emotion and expression and personality of the performers, rather than mediating that emotion, expression and personality through particular tricks you can do with written scores.

Of course, it introduces new formalisms, new conventions of recording technology etc. It's not genuinely pure.

But it is more focused on the quality and texture of the sound. And less focused on rather unrealistic conventions for emulating those qualities when you only have the palette of the orchestra available to you.

So that's how we got from classical music to today's pop and rap. We invented recording technology. And realized that there was a lot more to say musically than the conventions we could write on paper.

See also : Phil Jones (He / Him)'s answer to Is new technology the main reason for why new types of music and new sounds in music appear, for example, when the electric guitar, synthesizer, or sampler was developed?

Quora Answer : Can I make old music like rock and roll or soul music popular again or make a good living off of it?

Nov 26

You can certainly find ways to popularize and maybe make money from old music.

Maybe start a YouTube channel that talks about it in an interesting and inspiring way, teaches its ideas, or its obscure stories.

Look at people like Rick Beato who loves and talks a lot about old music.

What you can't do, though, is rewind the clock and pretend the last 40 years haven't happened.

Those changes in music happened because each generation knew the music that had come before, and LIKED the changes they were making.

Maybe you don't like modern popular music. But it's popular precisely because most people today DO like it. And you aren't going to negate that.

You can't make old soul music and rock music as it was in the 1960s and 1970s mean the same thing in the 2020s, that it meant when it was new.

You can't play music that's a copy of music that was made 50 years ago, and be hailed as a great innovator and genius the way that the musicians who invented those sounds 50 years ago were.

You can copy Jimi Hendrix or Dave Gilmour's guitar playing. But that will not make you Jimi Hendrix or Dave Gilmour. Because those guys invented and perfected those sounds. They are the geniuses, and if you copy them you are a mere copyist.

Whatever you do today, if you want to make your mark, it has to be new and innovative and different.

And it will still be hard to earn money, because it always was bloody difficult to make any money from music.

So the good news is ... the world (and internet) are still full of strange and exciting new opportunities to work with music. There are people who love music from 500 years ago. Undoubtedly people can love music from 50 years ago. And you can be involved in that.

But the bad news is ... that the world of 50 years ago is gone. The formulas for success and popularity in music that were laid down then, are no longer the formulas that would work today. There aren't going to be innovative rock and soul artists who achieve the same significance as the artists in the 70s, by doing the same things that the people did then. That world has passed. And if you want to achieve significance, you have to make something for this world.