BTB#7 – Glitch Music

Written by on January 3, 2009

The sound of error is the defining characteristic of a movement in electronic music sometimes called "glitch.

 

Glitch is a term used to describe a genre of experimental electronic music that emerged in the mid to late 1990s. The origins of the glitch aesthetic can be traced back to Luigi Russolo’s Futurist manifesto The Art of Noises, the basis of noise music. Glitch is characterized by a preoccupation with the sonic artifacts that can result from malfunctioning digital technology, such as those produced by bugs, crashes, system errors, hardware noise, CD skipping, and digital distortion.

 

Glitch is often produced on computers using modern digital production software to splice together small "cuts" of music from previously recorded works. These cuts are then integrated with the signature of glitch music: beats made up of glitches, clicks, scratches, and otherwise "erroneously" produced or sounding noise. These glitches are often very short, and are typically used in place of traditional percussion or instrumentation. Skipping CDs, scratched vinyl records, circuit bending, and other noise-like distortions figure prominently into the creation of rhythm and feeling in glitch; it is from the use of these digital artifacts that the genre derives its name.

 

The Art of Noises is a Futurist manifesto, written by Luigi Russolo in a 1913 letter to friend and Futurist composer Francesco Balilla Pratella. Russolo argues that the human ear has become accustomed to the speed, energy, and noise of the urban industrial soundscape; and that this new sonic palette requires a new approach to musical instrumentation and composition. He proposes a number of conclusions about how electronics and other technology will allow futurist musicians to "substitute for the limited variety of timbres that the orchestra possesses today the infinite variety of timbres in noises, reproduced with appropriate mechanisms".

 

The Art of Noises is considered to be one of the most important and influential texts in 20th century musical aesthetics.

 

Russolo includes a list of conclusions:
  1. Futurist composers should use their creativity and innovation to "enlarge and enrich the field of sound" by approaching the "noise-sound."

  2. Futurist musicians should strive to replicate the infinite timbres in noises.

  3. Futurist musicians should free themselves from the traditional and seek to explore the diverse rhythms of noise.

  4. The complex tonalities of noise can be achieved by creating instruments that replicate that complexity.

  5. The creation of instruments that replicate noise should not be a difficult task, since the manipulation of pitch will be simple once the mechanical principles that that create the noise have been recreated. Pitch can be manipulated through simples changes in speed or tension.

  6. The new orchestra will not evoke new and novel emotions by imitating the noises of life, but by finding new and unique combinations of timbres and rhythms in noise.

  7. The variety of noise is infinite, and as man creates new machines the number of noises he can differentiate between continues to grow.

  8. Therefore, he invites all talented musicians to pay attention to noises and their complexity, and once they discover the broadness of noise’s palette of timbres, they will develop a passion for noise. He predicts that our "multiplied sensibility, having been conquered by futurist eyes, will finally have some futurist ears, and . . . every workshop will become an intoxicating orchestra of noise."

Playlist

 

BugBrand Drone Machine – Chaotic Osc Feedback Squelch’n’pop

Britney Spears Glitch Music Video Remix

 
 
Tunng

Though the core members of Tunng, Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay, began their musical partnership composing scores for soft-core porn, they soon decided to form a band that would bring together Genders’ gentle vocals with Lindsay’s guitar playing and songwriting. To fill out their sound, the duo added more guitars as well as female vocals, turntables, programming, and other percussion. Often labeled as either "future folk" or "folktronica" by critics who had a hard time placing the band’s sound, Tunng released a handful of singles in their native Britain before their full-length debut, This Is…Tunng: Mother’s Daughter and Other Songs came out in 2005 (the album was later re-released in the U.S. the following year on Ace Fu). In 2006 their follow-up, Comments of the Inner Chorus, hit shelves. By this time more of a collective than anything else, especially because initially Genders had opted out of performing live, the six-piece (Genders and Lindsay plus vocalists Becky Jacobs and Ashley Bates and multi-instrumentalists Martin Smith and Phil Winter) released Good Arrows only the next year.

 

Sogar

While Sogar’s Jürgen Heckel works almost entirely in a digital realm, his source material comes mainly from guitar, albeit processed beyond recognition. That process might help explain why Basal has an organic quality that’s both familiar and unnerving.

 

Farben

Jan Jelinek is a German electronic musician who also operates under the names of Farben, Gramm and The Exposures. His music is usually categorized as minimal techno, glitch or microhouse, and is characterized by deep basslines, extensive use of samples from earlier jazz and rock recordings, and clicks & cuts effects.

 

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