Article | Onlythebeat

Beethoven Would Be A DJ

Saturday, November 01, 2014
Colin Rinehart

I was once told that, out of modern music, the song structure and style of heavy metal music is most similar to that of classical music. That's an interesting observation, but more of an opinion than anything. But, can we prove which modern genre is most similar to classical music? What modern genre of music would old school composers gravitate towards? While classical music is lumped into one genre today, the styles of two different composers vary just as much as the personalities of two different people. A composer like Beethoven or Vivaldi would probably prefer the loud, dramatic sounds of hard rock or metal; while someone like Mozart might have preferred something more along the lines of a smooth jazz song. Studies show that while both those who are open to new experiences enjoy classical and heavy metal music, simply being open to new experiences doesn't mean that one would enjoy both, or even either, of those genres. There's a whole mess of psychology behind music preferences and the reasons people prefer that music. I don't really care about all that. People can like the music they like for any number of reasons and I'm under-qualified to speculate as to what those reasons may be. I am, however, perfectly qualified to speculate as to why Bach, Beethoven, Mozart (or any other classical composer with a brain) would choose to compose EDM instead of metal, jazz or any other genre of modern music.

Why Classical Composers Would Compose EDM Over Any Other Modern Music Genre

They Can Compose Alone

Back in the day, writing music was a one man job. Sure...a piece could be performed by a bunch of different musicians, but that piece was written by one guy, usually at a piano. While collaborations are more common between artists today, back in the day they weren't such a common practice. We all know what artistic folks are like when they're being "stifled" by those around them. Every time some member breaks away from a band and they cite the reason as simply being  "creative differences," we realize the band just wasn't creative enough to come up with a better reason for splitting. Part of being in a band is having creative differences and making those differences blend with one another for the sake of the music you know you can create together. Listeners aren't so dumb as to think that the real reason that guy left the band is that he suddenly wanted to make drastically different music, especially when the new band he shows up with six months later is a shittier version of his previous band. Nonetheless, there are creative geniuses out there, such as people who can make music in their own heads on par with some of the best heads that were ever paired up. This is more than obvious in the world of EDM. Some musicians are just meant to be solo artists. There's nothing wrong with that. Just like there's nothing wrong with the solo art going on in my socks, mom.

The Instruments Have A Similar Design

Remember I said that composers would usually sit at a piano to write their piece? How do you think an electronic music producer writes their music?  They aren't sitting in front of a grand piano, but they're most likely looking at something similar to this: likethis   "Hey that looks an awful lot like a piano!" Yes it does, Jimmy. Yes it does. Sure there are a few new toys and gadgets, but the principle and  practice remain the same: play a few notes, decide whether you do or do not like that assortment of notes, play some slightly different notes, repeat until happy with notes as a whole or until you rage-quit.

There Are Little to No Lyrics in EDM

Perhaps the biggest shock someone from a few hundred years ago would experience while listening to modern music is the fact that the music is coming out of a drum shaped piece of plastic that seems to be magically vibrating back and forth. A close second would be the prominence of the human voice in today's popular music. Music during the classical era, unless it was either religious or an opera, was almost entirely instrumental. One could argue that pop music (especially dance music) has degenerated into this cookie cutter format of a pop star singing over what sounds like a beat that was produced in 30 minutes with stock instruments. One could also argue that nothing degenerated, and pop songs have always been this shitty. There are few words in the majority of electronic music because, well, the music is electronic. If there are words in an electronic track, then they're typically sampled, and even if they aren't, the majority of the listener's focus is on the instruments behind the voice because that's what the electronic musician emphasizes.

They Can Use Any Sound/Instrument They Want

The most common formation for a modern day band is to have one or two guitars, a bass, a drummer and a singer, maybe two singers. That's three instruments and someone yelling into a make-voice-loud-machine. Compared to an orchestra, which can contain around 70 people, a five-piece band doesn't have half of the range of sound that accompanies a full orchestra. A full orchestra doesn't have half the range of sound that accompanies the internet. As we all know: with the internet, all things are possible. Just look at rule 34. The possibilities of instruments and samples in electronic music are literally as vast as the full scope of sound recordings themselves. If the human eardrum can pick up the vibrations in the air and translate them into audible sound, then those vibrations in the air can be turned into an instrument and used to create music. Until the electronic method of music production came to fruition, the sounds that human beings could incorporate into music were limited to the instruments that they could build for themselves and manipulate to the desired tone and timing. Sure...instruments not typically thought of as musical devices have been used. Most recently and prominently (prior to the advent of electronic production being the norm), a little band called the Beatles used instruments such as alarm clocks and other seemingly random sounds on their albums, particularly "The White Album." However it has just been with the arrival of electronic production that people have the ability to synthesize the sound of that alarm clock entirely. We can create the sound we want by literally designing the soundwave that produces the sensory feeling we desire. yeahsciencebitch

EDM is Still Relatively Young in its Popularity, While Classical Music is Young to Modern Music

Classical music was there first. When you really get down to it, you have the Baroque period before the Classical and a few more, but I'm going to use classical music in layman's terms and have it refer to "all of that crap." "All of that crap" paved the way and wrote the books that instructed each and every musician who wrote even more books up to today. That's a pretty big influence to have had on history. Assuming these composers were dropped into our point in time, they would at some point realize their influence on an entire western art form. Surely they would want to keep up that repertoire of influence and prominence by doing exactly that. What better scene to get into to influence upcoming musicians and the future of music than EDM? We all know EDM isn't going anywhere, and it's growing every day.

 EDM is Not Improvised

Back in the days of poopie-pots and pack animals, music wasn't really done on the fly. These days, it's common to go to a concert and have the band pause the setlist for the guitarist, drummer and/or bassist (depending on how good the bassist is) to freestyle and trade solo and rhythm for as long as the crowd is into it. Back in poopie-pot time, that kind of shit would get you blackballed from the music community. There's 70 people required for some classical pieces, even more for others. Imagine if a violinist and a peni..ahem..pianist got up in the middle of a concierto and were like "STOP THE TRACK!" *commence with sick violin/piano solos* That'd be really cool, actually. So uh...yeah. Why didn't that happen? Because the conductor, who would have also been the composer in some cases, would most likely run over and shank you with his wand before you got a note out. They spent months, sometimes years composing their pieces. Those pieces were meant to be executed as written. The timing would be one of the most important parts of any musical piece, and the conductor was in charge of making sure each set of instruments stuck to the script. This only demonstrates further their ability and potential desire to DJ. A DJ has to keep time with multiple tracks and know what's coming next on top of that. Who could transition to that role more easily than a conductor/composer? As cool as it would be to have some crazy haired dudes in big ass collars come up and start making Fur Elise remixes, that probably isn't going to happen. Those musicians had their influence over the past couple hundred years. Now it's time for today's composers to make their own influence. For all we know electronic music actually is the new classical style, and two hundred years down the line EDM could turn out to be the building blocks upon which the future of music is made. So look for those artists who are making great music right now, because in two hundred years someone may be writing an editorial about them and what kind of music those DJ's would make then.