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Discussion Starter #261
Modern Classical

Beginning in the 20th century, modern classical comprises a multitude of different compositional approaches that deviate significantly from the previously-held tenets of Western Classical Music. Generally, the only aspect that various modern classical schools share is their abandonment of the traditional: the liberation of harmony from tonal centers, the employment of unconventional instrumental techniques, the reliance on non-musical sound sources, the introduction of new tuning scales, the admittance of randomness into the compositional process, and the deconstruction of musical themes and motifs into static, repetitious passages. Some aspects of Romanticism carried over into modern classical (in fact, many Romantic-era composers adopted the viewpoint of the modernists).

The early decades of the 1900s saw a change from the dramatic emotion of late Romanticism to the more restrained and dissonant approach of Expressionism. The expressionists began to morph the Romantic inclination towards chromaticism into complete disregard for tonal harmony.

In the 1950s, the process of composition itself was challenged by the proponents of aleatoric music, or Indeterminacy. This method introduced randomness or chance into either writing or performance. The work of John Cage popularized the indeterminist paradigm. Closely related is the Stochastic Music of Iannis Xenakis and followers. Xenakis looked to mathematics and probability for inspiration, writing pieces that were informed by randomness as they were being developed, but also necessitated direct guidance from the composer.

The 1960s brought Minimalism into the classical world, which strove to take short musical ideas and continually repeat them, sometimes with aleatoric elements or with multiple themes overlapping and interacting in different ways. The expanding idea of the minimalist approach led to the related school of Post-Minimalism, which incorporated elements of contemporary music outside of the classical tradition.

While experimentation with tuning systems outside of the twelve tones of Western music certainly existed in previous epochs of classical music, it was during the modern era that Microtonal approaches were given serious attention. The systems used in Gamelan and other styles far beyond the reach of Western music were examined by composers and repurposed for new compositions. Synthesizers made these new tuning systems accessible to many, but acoustic compositions were not uncommon, either.

Although there are many other schools of modern classical, some modern composers do not fit neatly into any of its sub-categories; the general qualities of 20th-century music may exist in their works, but they either do not fully commit to one approach or use an idiosyncratic system of their own.

Top albums, Part 1



  1. New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein - Le sacre du printemps (1958) Igor Stravinsky
  2. Takács Quartet - The 6 String Quartets (1997) Béla Bartók
  3. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Asko Ensemble / Riccardo Chailly - The Complete Works Edgard Varèse
  4. Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks / Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks / Sinfonieorchester des Südwestfunks / Michael Gielen / Wolfgang Schubert / Ernest Bour / Liliana Poli / Barbra Ericson / Antoinette Vischer - Requiem; Lontano; Continuum (1968) György Ligeti
  5. FLUX Quartet - Feldman Edition 6: String Quartet No. 2 (2002) Morton Feldman
  6. Luben Yordanoff / Albert Tétard / Claude Desurmont / Daniel Barenboim - Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1979) Olivier Messiaen
  7. Berliner Philharmoniker / Claudio Abbado / Martha Argerich - Klavierkonzert Nr. 3 C-dur / Klavierkonzert G-dur (1967) Maurice Ravel ; Sergei Prokofiev
  8. American Symphony Orchestra / Leopold Stokowski - Symphony No. 4 (1965) Charles Ives
  9. Klangforum Wien / Sylvain Cambreling - in vain (2003) Georg Friedrich Haas
  10. Meredith Monk - Dolmen Music (1981)

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Discussion Starter #262
Modern Classical

Top albums, Part 2


  1. Vladimir Sofronitsky - Scriabin chez Scriabin (2008) Alexander Scriabin
  2. Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks (2004)
  3. Chicago Symphony Orchestra / James Levine - Rhapsody in Blue; An American in Paris (1993) George Gershwin
  4. Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice) / Antoni Wit - Orchestral Works Vol. 1 (2000) Krzysztof Penderecki
  5. Joshua Gordon / Randall Hodgkinson - Complete Works for Cello and Piano (2007) Leo Ornstein

Expressionism is the term generally used to describe music composed between the abandonment of tonality at the conclusion of the Romantic period and Arnold Schoenberg's creation of twelve-tone composition. The genre is associated with the composers of the Second Viennese School: Schoenberg and his students, Alban Berg and Anton Webern.


Arditti String Quartet / Dawn Upshaw - Arnold Schoenberg 2: Streichquartette I-IV (1994) Arnold Schoenberg


Classical compositions leaving elements of composition, performance, or both up to chance.


  1. Aloys Kontarsky / Harald Bojé / Johannes Fritsch / Alfred Alings / Rolf Gehlhaar / J.-F. Jenny-Clark / Jean-Pierre Drouet / Carlos Roqué Alsina / Michel Portal / Péter Eötvös / Herbert Henck / Michael Vetter / Karlheinz Stockhausen - Aus den sieben Tagen (1973) Karlheinz Stockhausen
  2. Nima Gousheh - The Great Learning (2010) Cornelius Cardew
Stochastic Music

Stochastic music is a method of Modern Classical composition primarily developed by Iannis Xenakis in the early 1950s, and described in his book Formalized Music. Xenakis meant to create music that would evade bindings of causality but would remain logical, and its inherent logic would be perceivable on the macroscopic level. "Stochastic" is a term borrowed from theory of probability and Xenakis describes it as "an asymptotic evolution towards a stable state, towards a kind of goal, of stochos". Stochastic music is kind of guided indeterminism, where the following state is only partially determined by the preceding state, meaning that the concrete state n+2 follows after the state n+1 only with some probability. Every aspect of music, be it pitch, duration, timbre, dynamics and so on can be subordinated to such laws of chance.

Stochastic music heavily borrows from mathematics such as law of large numbers, probability theory, game theory, Boolean algebra, Markov chains, Poisson law, group theory and so on. These mathematical means are used to guide the indeterminism. However, this method is different to Indeterminacy, where the randomness is not guided by mathematical or other such laws. Also, the output of stochastic processes is usually fixed in a traditional score in the end, where indeterminacy often uses open scores and even alternative notations.


  1. Orchestre National de l'O.R.T.F / Ensemble instrumental de musique contemporaine de Paris / Maurice Le Roux / Konstantin Simonovich / Yuji Takahashi - Metastasis; Pithoprakta; Eonta (1965) Iannis Xenakis
  2. Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia / José Ramón Encinar - Complete Orchestral Works (2003) Francisco Guerrero

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Discussion Starter #263

Minimalism is a genre of music that was developed in the U.S. in the 1960s. It is generally associated with the composers La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, though there were several other composers who contributed to its development. It gained in popularity in the 1970s, and has been practiced by many American and European composers.

Minimalism is usually recognized for its repetitive nature and relatively static harmony, as heard in the Hindustani Classical Music-influenced, Drone-oriented music of Young and Riley. However, one key aspect of the genre's development was its use of process. One example of this is Riley's In C (1964). The piece is composed of 53 short musical fragments of varying length. A pulse is established, and performers start repeating the first fragment a number of times, then proceed to the next fragment, working this way sequentially through all 53 fragments; the decision of how many times to repeat the fragment and when to move on to the next is left to the individual performer. Steve Reich's earlier tape works, It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966), were created by allowing different tape machines playing identical material to gradually slip out of synchronization (or "out of phase") with each other. Later, he adapted this technique to his instrumental works; Piano Phase (1967) employs the phasing effect by having an ensemble repeat a pattern, then requiring one performer to accelerate gradually until they are playing the pattern one beat "out of phase" with the rest of the ensemble.

Later minimalist composers, including European composers such as Arvo Pärt, Gavin Bryars, and Louis Andriessen, removed much of the emphasis on process and focused more on the other aesthetically-related elements, such as repetition and a limited harmonic language. Composers such as Pärt, Henryk Górecki, and John Taverner, frequently combined religious themes with their work, while composers such as Glass, John Adams, Michael Torke and Michael Nyman used the minimalist aesthetic as a foundation for Post-Minimalism.


  1. Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians (1978)
  2. Staatsorchester Stuttgart / Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra / The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Dennis Russell Davies / Saulius Sondeckis / Gidon Kremer / Keith Jarrett / Tatjana Grindenko / Alfred Schnittke - Tabula rasa (1984) Arvo Pärt
  3. Philip Glass - Glassworks (1982)
  4. Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air (1969)
  5. Gavin Bryars - The Sinking of the Titanic (1975)

Post-minimalism is a specific approach to Modern Classical that seeks to push Minimalism's linear composition style foward, and takes in influences from genres such as Jazz, Traditional Folk Music, and others. Minimalist composition techniques, such as additive and divisive rhythm, may appear in post-minimalist music, but are typically disguised and not in the forefront. The genre of post-minimalism sought out to expand minimalism's boundaries, with composers such as William Duckworth creating pieces that are often diatonic in nature.


Luciano Cilio - Dialoghi del presente (1977)


A movement in modern avant-garde music, Microtonal composers focus heavily on the use of microtonal intervals (i.e., pitches not found in Western music's traditional twelve-note scale). Although the use of electronic instruments often makes microtonal music easier and more precise, acoustic compositions are possible and not infrequent (Harry Partch was a pioneering acoustic microtonal artist).


  1. Orchestre et Chœur de la Radio-Télévision Polonaise de Cracovie / Jürg Wyttenbach / Carmen Fournier / Tristan Murail - Quattro pezzi per orchestra; Anahit; Uaxuctum (1989) Giacinto Scelsi
  2. Ensemble of Unique Instruments / Danlee Mitchell - Delusion of the Fury (1971) Harry Partch

Spectralism, or spectral music, is a compositional practice involving analysis, manipulation and transformation of sound spectra. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) used in computer based sound spectrum analysis is one of the most common methods in generating descriptive data. Spectral compositions are focused primarily on timbre and texture, eschewing melody and harmony. Tristan Murail has described spectral music as an attitude towards composition rather than a set of techniques, an aesthetic rather than style. Origins of spectralism can be traced in the works of Edgard Varèse, Olivier Messiaen, György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis.

The name "spectral music" was invented by a French composer Hugues Dufourt in 1979. Spectralism was primarily developed in IRCAM, Paris, pioneered by composers such as Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Another early pioneer is Danish composer Per Nørgård, whose work Voyage Into the Golden Screen is one of the earliest examples of spectralism. Spectral techniques were developed independently by many Romanian composers, such as Octavian Nemescu and Horațiu Rădulescu. In the "Romanian school" of spectralism compositions were usually created without the use of computers and spectrograms, which resulted in rawer sound. Romanian spectralism often draws inspiration from Romanian Folk Music. Within Romanian spectralism emerged a substyle called hyper-spectralism, represented by Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram. It is characterized by especially dense textures and heavy use of drones.


Asko Ensemble / WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln / Stefan Asbury / Garth Knox - Les espaces acoustiques (2005) Gérard Grisey

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Discussion Starter #264
Spanish Classical Music

In the 19th century, Felipe Pedrell, considered the father of Spanish musicology, published the manifesto "Por nuestra música" (For our music) which stated that “a culture must create its own style of music, incorporating national and folk song into art music”. The exchange of ideas with Pedrell was very influential on Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados, who studied and wrote about Spanish music of the past and incorporated forms and styles of past music into their own music. Albéniz wrote Suite Española, integrating the dances and/or rhythmic patterns associated with the folklore of several Spanish regions, whereas Iberia is considered his masterpiece due to the synthesis of Impressionism and Spanish Folk Music, such as Chotis Madrileño, seguidilla, saeta, fandanguillo, Sevillanas, Spanish Habanera or jota. Granados is also considered a nationalist composer, with works such as 10 danzas españolas, blending current European trends with Spanish folk music, such as popular Flamenco, jota and parranda.

Granados and Albéniz were precursors of a movement and style of nationalistic music known as neocasticismo (could be considered Spanish own Neoclassicism). The main composers were Manuel de Falla, which blended Spanish folklore, mainly flamenco, with Modern Classical music in works such as El amor brujo and Siete canciones populares españolas; Joaquín Turina and Francisco Tárrega, who pioneered the blend of guitar music with Spanish folk influences and Modern Classical music, and later on Joaquín Rodrigo whose Concierto de Aranjuez is considered one of the best exponents of neocasticismo due to its references to Spanish dances and rhythms and the influence of styles such as flamenco and fandango.

Andrés Segovia popularized classical guitar music following mainly the Spanish romantic-modern and nationalist style, whereas Narciso Yepes also integrated Spanish folklore into classical guitar playing.


Alicia de Larrocha - Iberia; Navarra; Suite española (1988) Isaac Albéniz

Brazilian Classical Music

The nationalistic movement that developed classical music based on popular and folkloric Brazilian music wasn't established until the late 19th century, with composers such as Alberto Nepomuceno, Francisco Ernani Braga and Ernesto Nazareth (the 'father' of the 'new popular movement'), who introduced styles such as Maxixe and Choro into classical music.

Heitor Villa-Lobos is considered the most important Brazilian composer. His works Bachianas brasileiras and the choros series revolutionized classical music with the blend of Modern Classical and Brazilian folk and popular music. The 'Modern Art Week' held in 1922 was also very influential; it stated that Brazilian people should avoid European art imitations and should reflect in their music the Brazilian soul and traditions.

In opposition to nationalism, the 'Música Viva' group, formed in 1945 by Edino Krieger and Claudio Santoro, amongst others, sought to work in an universal language, using dodecaphonic, atonalism and serial techniques. Whereas the Camargo Guarnieri 'school' approached Brazilian Music composition from an historical point of view. Another important movement was 'Música Nova', created in 1963, which followed a non-nationalistic experimental style. In the 1970s the interest in neo-traditional Brazilian music flourished again, although in Brazilian classical music the trends change constantly and usually every period of nationalism is followed by more 'universal' or avant-garde approaches.


Norbert Kraft - Complete Music for Solo Guitar (2000) Heitor Villa-Lobos

Arabic Classical Music

This tradition of Arabic classical music dates back to guidelines for modulation, rhythm and tuning set down in treatises in the 8th and 9th centuries. Like much pan-Islamic music, Arabic classical is modal (based on the maqam system) and monophonic, utilizing un-equal temperament. Unlike Arabic Folk Music, Arabic classical relies heavily on complex improvisation and modulation. Instrumental improvisations, called taqsim, generally features a solo performer, usually on a string instrument like the oud. Vocal music is accompanied by a small ensemble (as in Al-Maqam Al-Iraqi) and often involves modal improvisation (layali) and/or the recitation of poetic texts (muwashshah, mawwal).

In the 20th century Egypt was the center of activity for classical music, due to a growing entertainment and recording industry in Cairo. This led to the development of Traditional Arabic Pop, which was strongly influenced by traditional classical music.

Major modern classical artists include Munir Bashir, Yûsuf Omar and Farid el- Atrache.


Simon Shaheen & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - Saltanah (1997)

Persian Classical Music

Also known as: Iranian Classical Music

Persian classical music is the traditional art music of the Persian civilization. While it is mostly practiced in Persia (Iran), there are also closely related forms of Classical Music in territories historically being Persian domain - modern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Though Persian classical music influenced and was influenced by Arabic, Turkish, Byzantine and Indian classical musics, it is nevertheless an independent development. It has a uniquely deep mutual relation with poetry - the rhythms and melodic patterns of poems and tunes are often interconnected. Tunes are often based on poems, but it is also not uncommon to model a new poem upon the melody and rhythm of an existing tune. Sufism is another profound influence on Persian classical music.

Persian classical music is modal and monophonic, makes use of microtones and is typically performed by small ensembles. Such ensembles are usually led by a vocalist; key instruments are: long-necked lutes (tar, setar, tanbur, dotar), spike-fiddle (kamencheh), drums (tombak, daf), end-blown flute (ney) and hammered dulcimer (santur).

There are six forms of Persian classical music: four instrumental (pishdaramad, daramad, cheharmezrab, and reng) and two vocal (tasnif and avaz). A typical performance would include all those forms in a sequence, together forming a kind of "suite". While compositional basis in the form of tunes and modes does exist, Persian classical music is always at least partially improvised, the skill of a musician being judged by his ability to "dress" the tune in extensive ornamentation. Other typical traits include: melody concentrated on a relatively narrow register, fast tempo, simple rhythmic patterns, repetition of phrases at different pitches, emphasis on cadenza.

Persian classical music probably started forming in the Sassanid Era (6th century), but as it lacked musical notation at the time, there is no way of checking its relation to the modern forms. The earliest examples of Persian classical music which are directly linked to the modern performance date from the times of Safavid dynasty (16/17th century), while its codification into modern form happened during Qajar reign (19th century). Until the 1900s, Persian classical music was almost exclusively within the purview of the royal courts and small, wealthy audiences. During the 20th century, it saw more widespread performance and increased freedom of artistic expression. However, this was stopped by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, since which Persian classical music is at times condemned, at other times encouraged and most of the time just barely tolerated.


  1. Ghazal - Moon Rise Over the Silk Road (2000)
  2. Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider - Silent City (2008)
Hindustani Classical Music

The North Indian traditional music (also including parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan) with roots reaching back to the 12th century CE.

Unlike the South Indian Carnatic Classical Music, Hindustani Classical Music incorporated Arabic Classical Music and Persian Classical Music influences to become one of the major hybrid musical styles of the world.


  1. Ravi Shankar - Music of India: Three Classical Rāgas (1956)
  2. Zakir Hussain & Shivkumar Sharma - Rag Madhuvanti and Rag Misra Tilang (1987)
  3. Hariprasad Chaurasia - Raga Darbari Kanada - Dhun in Raga Mishra Pilu (1993)
  4. Ali Akbar Khan - The 80 Minute Râga (1969)

Qawwali is a form of religious vocal music in India and Pakistan using the raga and tala templates of Hindustani Classical Music. The ecstatic, trance-like singing reflects its origins in Sufi culture. The primary instruments are tabla, dholak, hand claps and harmonium. The rhythms are more aggressive and repetitive than other styles of Hindustani Classical Music music like Khyal. The style is frequently adapted in Filmi music. Iconic exponents of Qawwali include Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen.


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Shahen-Shah (1989)

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Discussion Starter #265

Gamelan is a style of traditional music originated in the island of Java in Indonesia and representing part of a larger Southeast Asian "gong-chime culture". Strictly speaking, the term "Gamelan" refers to ensemble of instruments—typically consisting of metallophones and gongs, sometimes augmented with drums, flutes and human voices—but the term is often used to describe the music played by those ensembles as well.

Over time gamelan music evolved into many variations, ranging from exceptionally slow-paced and conservative "royal court" styles to fast-paced and entertainment-oriented "village dance" styles. However, almost all kinds of traditional gamelan performance have three distinct features:

  1. They are very, sometimes even extremely long from Western perception (up to six hours of continuous playing without distinguishable breaks between the pieces)
  2. The composition serves only as a basis for 'controlled improvisation', this usually taking form of slight variations in ornamentations
  3. In a traditional setting, gamelan performance is almost never given for the sake of music in itself. It almost always serves as an accompaniment for a ritual / dance performance / drama / shadow puppet performance.

Music From the Morning of the World: The Balinese Gamelan (1967)

Gamelan Jawa

Gamelan Jawa, or Javanese Gamelan (as it is known outside Indonesia) is a broad classification grouping together various Gamelan music genres native to Javanese culture. As it is a broad category it is hard to make generalizations about its common features. However, it can be said that what typically differentiates Gamelan Jawa from its Balinese and Sundanese counterparts is its unusually slow, "meditative" rhythm, greater variety of non-percussive timbres (sulings, rebabs, celempung, singers) as well as an emphasis on Gong Ageng, thought to be the "spiritual leader" of the ensemble.


K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat - Javanese Court Gamelan From the Pura Paku Alaman, Jogyakarta (1971)

Burmese Classical Music

Traditional court music of Burma (a.k.a Myanmar), developed from Southeast Asian, Hindu and Chinese influences. It is usually based on a pentatonic scale similar to the Chinese one, devoid of harmony and puts high emphasis on melody. An ancient collection of songs called Mahagita is a root and a source of constant inspiration of Burmese Classical music.

Burmese Classical Music can be roughly divided into four categories:
  • Solo Saung harp music, in modern times also adaptations of Saung harp repertoire for a piano tuned according to Burmese scale
  • Sidaw music: a set of drums accompanied by a large oboe
  • Chamber music: female singer accompanied by a harp, flute and zither
  • Hsaing Waing ensemble: an orchestra composed of gong-chimes, drums and an oboe, with a rare addition of flute, harp, zither or violin.

စိန်ချစ်တီး [Sein Chit Ti] - New Arrangements for Hsaing Ensemble (1987, cassette)

Japanese Classical Music

The classical music of Japan dates back to the 6th and 7th centuries with the integration of Buddhism and many elements of Chinese and Korean culture into Japan, including the koto and biwa, stringed instruments derived from the Chinese guzheng and pipa respectively. The development of the imperial court music Gagaku was heavily influenced by the court music of China (the ancient Yayue and banquet music engaku traditions) and Korea, and is a tradition that is still widely practiced in the 21st century, showcasing vibrant costumes, dances and the signature piercing sound of the hichiriki flute.

The ensuing centuries and periods saw the emergence of many vocal-based styles and forms of theatrical music. Examples of the former are the Buddhist Shōmyō chanting and the bardic Heikyoku tradition, whilst the latter are usually used in the dance-drama art form kabuki, including Noh, Nagauta and Jōruri.

The three instruments koto, shamisen (a 3-string lute) and shakuhachi (a flute) make up a line-up known as sankyoku. This trio, either performed together or apart form the basis for Sōkyoku and Jiuta. 宮城道雄 [Michio Miyagi], a blind koto virtuoso and soukyoku performer, was one of the most famous and celebrated 20th century Japanese classical musicians. These instruments are not exclusively performed as part of classical/court music: the shakuhachi and particularly the shamisen are also frequently used as the musical accompaniment to storytelling-focused Japanese Folk Music forms, including Min'yō, Kouta and Rōkyoku.


Also known as: 雅楽 😃

Gagaku is one of the oldest forms of Japanese Classical Music, originally integrated into Japanese culture from the imperial court music of China (Yayue) and Korea, and gaining popularity by the 9th century (the Heian period).

It uses the pentatonic Yo scale and adopts an elegant sound that is typically solemn, slow-paced and resonant. Initially played with the gakuso and gakubiwa, Gagaku is usually performed by a medium-sized ensemble consisting of wind, string and percussion instruments, with the piercing flute sound of the hichiriki or the ryuteki playing the primary melody. These ensembles often provide a highly visual experience as well as aural, employing vibrant costumes, displays and dances.


Tokyo Gakuso - Gagaku: Court Music of Japan (1994)


Sōkyoku is a style of Japanese Classical Music that gained popularity during the Edo period. It is played with a koto or a guzheng (its Chinese ancestor) and can sometimes be accompanied by shamisen and/or shakuhachi. Sōkyoku branches off into Eastern and Western Japanese families called Ikuta ryu and Yamada ryu respectively.


  1. Koto Ensemble of the Ikuta School - Japanese Koto Orchestra (1967)
  2. Kimio Eto - Koto Music (1959)

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Discussion Starter #266

Experimental music describes the most radical approaches that can be found throughout the history of recorded music. Experimental music has two main characteristics: the first is about the production and the other one is about the sound.

Firstly, experimental musicians use non-traditional production methods. It can be through the uncommon use of traditional instruments, such as guitars, cellos, saxophones, and even the human voice like in Sound Poetry. It can be through the production of sound with objects that aren't considered musical instruments in their original contexts, Musique concrète and radical Industrial music being examples of that method. It can be through the manipulation/application of multiple effects on already recorded material (Sound Collage). It even can be through the manipulation of the sound itself, as a physical entity (Microsound).

Secondly, these non-traditional production methods result in a sound that goes largely beyond the traditional boundaries of music. The use of traditional instruments outside of any academic structure, such as in Free Improvisation, can result in a complete absence of directing scheme in the music. Whatever production technique is used, the absence of clear rhythm or tempo or of any recognizable musical scale are then quite common. The textures can also be completely deconstructed, the remaining sound barely resembling to common definitions of music (Harsh Noise).

In the history of recorded music, experimental music has its roots in Classical Music of the beginning of the 20th century, for example in the Futurism movement. The first musicians to actively make and produce experimental music mostly carried an academical background (John Cage, Luigi Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer), but artists outside of the academic world (some early chronological examples being radical jazz artists such as Sun Ra, Chick Corea and Art Ensemble of Chicago derivating to Free Jazz and free improvisation) then began to heavily incorporate experimentation into their works. Since then, numerous artists have received some recognition making experimental music, such as Einstürzende Neubauten or Supersilent.

Since the end of the 20th century, the popularisation of Electronic instruments such as synthetizers and the spread of numerical tools for programming and manipulating sound allowed more people to experiment with music more easily. Digital electronic devices brought new sonical experimentations by themselves too, like in Glitch.


  1. The Residents - Not Available (1978)
  2. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (2011)
  3. Diamanda Galás - The Divine Punishment (1986)

Plunderphonics is a term invented by John Oswald in his essay, Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative, and refers to the compositional technique of utilising and manipulating one or more pre-existing audio sources to create a new composition. It is an Experimental form of sound art that uses similar techniques found in Sound Collage. Where plunderphonics differs from sound collage is usually in the execution/composition and the end result's links to more traditional music genres. A plunderphonics song could essentially be a soundscape of assorted layered samples in the same way a sound collage piece is put together; it could just as easily be a rhythmic Electronic piece made up entirely of pre-existing materials, such as is heard on The Avalanches' Since I Left You.

In his essay, Oswald describes this form of modern sample-based music as an extension of previous modes and methods of traditional composition. For example, he compares the instruments used by traditional musicians - such as the piano - as being a vehicle for composition. In the world of plunderphonics, the digital sampler is the vehicle for composition. This is compared to the Hip Hop method of scratching and sampling vinyl records within their songs as being a vehicle for composition. However, music containing samples and sample-based plunderphonics are still radically different fields. Plunderphonics itself is driven almost entirely by the sonic desires of the composer, using the samples as an instrument in their own right, as opposed to using them as an added "extra" within a song.

An overarching theme of both the essay and the music of plunderphonics on the whole - as the name implies - is the legality of sampling itself. Oswald attempts to justify the use of manipulation pre-existing sounds (legal or more commonly illegally acquired) with comparisons to traditional music tactics, such as indie bands attempting to sonically "copy" the sounds of more popular artists. A quote by Igor Stravinsky is included, "A good composer does not imitate; he steals." This extends to examples such as James Tenney's Collage #1 [Blue Suede], which is a Tape Music manipulation of Elvis Presley's song "Blue Suede Shoes" (the essay also refers to this song as being "borrowed" from Carl Perkins, who composed it originally).

One of the biggest arguments for sample-based music being justifiable is the plethora of popular music utilising pre-existing musical elements in new compositions, such as the example given of Herbie Hancock sampling Led Zeppelin on his track "Rockit". Lastly, in his essay Oswald argues that all Pop (and Folk) music essentially exists in the public domain due to how persistently one is bombarded with it, attempting to justify the manipulative usage of these recordings.

As a result, many musicians within the world of plunderphonics employ almost anarchistic mindsets in creating their sample-based compositions. Many releases focus entirely around the usage and legality of sampling, such as prominent sound collaging band Negativland's No Business. Band member Don Joyce also coined the term "culture jamming" in 1984, around the same time as the concepts of plunderphonics were being developed. The act itself is a form of guerilla anti-consumerism, which extends to music in the form of satirical jabs at culture and industry (such as the band's Dispepsi album, focusing entirely around soda giant Pepsi).

Expanding on the concept of turntable-based hip hop sampling, artists from the 90s onwards explored the idea of creating a mashup of stems/layers of other songs into a new piece of music. Danger Mouse's The Grey Album helped to popularise the concept, leading to a number of underground mashup mixes, even breaking into the mainstream with authorised and legal mashups such as Collision Course. Mashups are generally a less radical or experimental form of plunderphonics, usually danceable and often humorous in their approach. However, the concept of pop recycling is still apparent, such as is heard in the Radio Soulwax DJ mixes of 2 Many DJ's, which are solely made out of mashups of different pop songs (usually to a House beat).

With the increase in home computer use, the higher speeds and abilities of the internet, as well as both the underground and more public access to content piracy, sample-based music has become much easier to produce. While early composers used Musique concrète and other avant-garde and usually tape-based sampling to create their plunderphonics music, modern compositions often utilise manipulations of digital audio files. The counter-cultural mentality is still apparent in many recordings, but many artists use plunderphonics as a mode of creating their own sonic concepts, ignoring potential copyright violations in the process.


  1. The Avalanches - Since I Left You (2000)
  2. Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica (2011)
  3. DJ Rozwell - None of This Is Real (2014)

Vaporwave is a sample-based genre characterised by heavily synthesised and processed manipulation of corporate mood and background (elevator) music; though the source material can also include genres such as Pop, Contemporary R&B, Synth Funk, Smooth Jazz, and Exotica. Technically it generally consists of brief sketches or motifs altered by utilising Chopped and Screwed editing techniques (slowing down and cutting). Looping, glitching, pitch-bending, panning, and echoing are commonplace editing practices, and many use medium to heavy reverberation to create Ambient pieces out of the source material.

Initially referred to as "Eccojams", as noted on one of the earliest and most notable releases Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1, the name was changed to vaporwave once more producers took to the editing style. The name itself is a spin on the 1980s term "vaporware" (a software or hardware project that fails to be released to the public); as such, vaporwave alludes to a disconnection or separation from reality presented through its original form (heard by a song's manipulation vs. its original source). The sound results in a sacred, mystical, sultry, dreamy, hyper-real, and/or crystal-clear caricature of mass media from the late 1980s, to the popularity of the home computer of the mid-to-late 1990s, and onward. The genre took about 2 years to breach the underground, from 2012 onwards hundreds (even thousands) of releases began springing up, as many new (and old) producers took to the style to showcase their own spin on the genre.

As the genre grew and more people took to creating music in its style, the original sound of the genre became lost in a sea of thousands of releases posted to places such as Bandcamp. Many producers created music that was in no way related to the original sound, but instead simply used the aesthetic found within the scene's visual arts sector as a means of driving their music out. Some simply produced various forms of fuzzy, Electronic or ambient music and used a vaporwave-style album cover; others did the same but went outside the electronic sub-genres (even simply posting non-musical content, noise, etc.). As a result, many of these releases are often lumped into the same scene because of the art, titles, fonts, and/or way they are released. The self-satirising and counter-cultural overtones of the scene have lead to many micro-genres (and relevant scenes/cliques) being formed, often causing dissent within the overall scene.


  1. death's dynamic shroud.wmv - I'll Try Living Like This (2015)
  2. Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 (2010, cassette)
Interesting reading, isn't it?

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Discussion Starter #267

Drone music typically emphasizes a single sustained note, chord, or simply a repeated sound such as a spoken word or utterance. It is often very minimal and tracks can be quite lengthy, emphasizing major and minor harmonic variations emitted from these drones over a period of time.


  1. Natural Snow Buildings - The Dance of the Moon and the Sun (2006)
  2. Henry Flynt - You Are My Everlovin / Celestial Power (1986, cassette)
  3. Eliane Radigue - Trilogie de la mort (1998)
  4. Windy & Carl - Drawing of Sound (1996)
I may secretly grow a passion for this world. Such freedom gives me hope.

Sound Collage

Sound collaging is a musical technique where various sound pieces are layered and essentially "glued" together in order to create an auditory art piece. Arguably sound collage dates back to classical pieces such as Charles Ives' Central Park in the Dark, which featured layered melodies to create a specific atmosphere. These musical collages arguably pre-date the physical art collages for the early 1910s. However, collaging is generally seen as an Experimental Electronic artform, dating back to the late-1920s with avant-garde filmmaker Walter Ruttmann's piece Wochenende [Weekend].

With the creation of magnetic tape as a form of media storage, artists within the Musique concrète schools were able to create abstract collages of various sounds recorded to tape. Tape Music and Electroacoustic's development furthered the growth of collage-style music - however most of these were confined to the avant-garde and classical music fields, with artists such as Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, and Terry Riley utilising collaging as a catalyst to drive their artistic ideas forward. It wasn't until the late-1960s to 1970s (with more tape and media technology becoming readily available) that artists began making collage pieces primarily as collages in their own right.

The late-1970s and 1980s saw the rise of sampling within music, with bands like Negativland leading the way for sample-based, collage-style music. The rise of Industrial music also saw the use of collaging, with acts like Throbbing Gristle, Nurse With Wound, and Big City Orchestra creating haunting pieces of music made from collaging samples with original material.

With the rise of the availability of personal computers, digital collages became commonplace from the 1990s onwards. Music pirating allows for the rapid collection of many audio sources to be recycled and re-used in collage pieces. This also led to the creation of Microsound collages (dubbed "micromontages"), where groups of sounds less than a second are layered together to create multifarious results (though usually in the form of glitchy ambiance).


  1. Ground-Zero - Revolutionary Pekinese Opera Ver.1.28 (Kakumeikyōgeki) (1996)
  2. Standing on the Corner - Red Burns (2017)

Also known as micromontage, microsound is the usage of sounds on an incredibly small scale. These sounds usually last from 10 milliseconds to less than a tenth of a second. By arranging and manipulating these sounds digitally, complex patterns and compositions can be made in ways that aren't possible via solely acoustic means.

Microsound shares some similarities with Lowercase, as both genres use microsounds and work to magnify and structure songs around sounds that would otherwise be inaudible or not focused on. However, microsound as a genre is focused almost entirely on being produced digitally, and is more structurally focused than the often improvised nature of lowercase. The genre also shares similarities with Glitch music, to the point where the terms "microsound" and "glitch" are often conflated. While glitch can be incorporated into microsound, microsound is more deliberate in its nature and does not focus on emulating malfunctioning technology or sounds in order to be created.

Examples of artists in the genre include Ryoji Ikeda (who also incorporates elements of Minimal Techno in his music, as well as incorporating his music in sound installations), Miki Yui, Bernhard Günter, Richard Chartier, and Curtis Roads, who penned the textbook Microsound (2001) describing the genre and its origins.


Ryoji Ikeda - dataplex (2005)

Hilarious stuff! For your listening pleasure:

You start to laugh, and then you're "hey...". Captivating!

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Discussion Starter #268
Tape Music

The invention of the magnetic tape brought about new possibilities in the realm of Experimental music, namely Musique concrète, Electroacoustic and Sound Collage. Tape music composers capture raw real-world sounds, recordings of musical instruments or synthesized sounds on tape to present the sounds as acousmatic compositions, distinct from the Western Classical Music tradition of musical notation which results in different performances each time. These composers may also proceed to manipulate the sounds using methods characteristic of electroacoustic music. Some composers such as Steve Reich and William Basinski have combined Minimalism and tape music by looping snippets of audio using tapes.


  1. William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops (2002)
  2. Nuno Canavarro - Plux Quba (1988)
  3. Carl Stone - Mom's (1992)

Electroacoustic music is based on manipulation of acoustically-played ("unplugged") music with Experimental Electronic ("plugged") techniques such as loops, feedback, layering, delay, static/noise, backwards sampling, etc. It also tends to include synthetic sounds and is closely related to Tape Music, Musique concrète, acousmatic music, and elektronische musik (these terms are sometimes used interchangeably). Live performances tend to feature one or more people on acoustic instruments, and another group member sitting at a laptop computer applying the sound processing techniques in real-time.

Electroacoustic pioneers such as Bernard Parmegiani and Karlheinz Stockhausen were typically academically trained Modern Classical composers: their compositions are arranged with the refined sensibility of classical compositions and tend to focus on sounds of Orchestral-based instruments like viols and woodwinds. However, electroacoustic music involves the electronic manipulation of all sorts of sounds, including voice and sounds that do not originate from musical instruments (Musique concrète). Furthermore, although having originated from the academic compositional sphere, it is not strictly a classical style. It has developed and expanded into less academic and more non-idiomatic styles such as EAI, and has seeped into underground music styles similar to or involving elements of Ambient, Drone, Noise, or Sound Collage. Virtually all of the incarnations of electroacoustic music, whether early academic or recent underground, involve a style that focuses more on employing creative abstract sounds and sonic textures than on song structure or melody.


Roland Kayn - Tektra (1984)

Musique concrète

Developed by Pierre Schaeffer, musique concrète refers to music or sound art which defies the common constraints and conventions music is associated with. Musique concrète makes the attempt to create music while relying mainly on environmental/real-world sounds and noises, though it can also use recordings of human voice and various instruments. Those sounds can be transformed (sometimes to the point the original source is unrecognizable) and are given certain musical qualities thanks to repetition, rhythmization, contrapuntal layering or other formal techniques.

The name "concrete music" contrasts with the traditional "abstract music". Whereas abstract music starts as an idea in the mind of the composer and is then turned into sound, concrete music begins with the already existing sounds, composition being the last stage of its creation.


  1. Bernard Parmegiani - De natura sonorum (1975)
  2. Henri Pousseur & Michel Butor - Paysages planétaires (2004)
  3. Graham Lambkin / Jason Lescalleet - The Breadwinner (2008)

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Discussion Starter #269

Glitch is a style of experimental Electronic music that uses the sounds created by malfunctioning digital technology - bugs, crashes, system errors, hardware noise, CD skipping, and digital distortion - as main technique of composition. This unusual method of musical creation arguably began in Germany in the early 90s, with artists like Oval combining the technique with Ambient music to help cement its place in modern electronic music history. At the other end of the Glitch spectrum, Japanese musician 刀根康尚 [Yasunao Tone]'s use of damaged CDs created dense, extreme walls of sound, with Solo for Wounded CD perhaps being the best example. Modern glitch tends to use software to recreate these sounds, as opposed to genuinely defecting technology, and this increased ease of creation has resulted in the genre spreading out into other areas, such as Glitch Pop and Glitch Hop.


  1. Fennesz - Endless Summer (2001)
  2. Jan Jelinek - Loop-finding-jazz-records (2001)
  3. Oval - 94 Diskont (1995)

Noise is an Experimental genre that strays away from conventional music structure, tonality, and composition and - as the name implies - consists predominantly of noise. Such music can be created or generated with virtually anything, including acoustic and traditional instruments, non-musical objects and machinery, extreme vocal techniques, and electronic equipment. Noise is often cacophonous, improvised in its composition, dissonant, loud, and abrasive. These noisy techniques are commonly created with feedback, distortion, manipulation, computer generation, etc.

The origins of noise in music date back to the early 20th century and the Futurism movement. Luigi Russolo is credited for being one of the first artists to consciously use noise as a backbone of music composition. In his 1913 manifesto, L'arte dei rumori ("The Art of Noises"), he stated that artists should not limit themselves to traditional instruments, because there is an infinite number of different noises that can be used to enlarge and enrich the domain of musical sounds. He invented acoustic instruments called intonarumori (Italian for "noise makers"). In 1921, along with his brother, Antonio, the duo produced "Corale / Serenata", which is now the only surviving recording of these experiments.

Many Modern Classical and Musique concrète composers such as Edgard Varèse and John Cage continued to experiment with noise from the 1950s onwards. Cage and Max Neuhaus's Fontana Mix - Feed compositions of the 1950s/1960s utilised intense volume and feedback in order to take such Electroacoustic experiments to new extremes. In the early 2000s, Robert Ashley's Wolfman from 1964 and Pauline Oliveros's A Little Noise in the System from 1967 were both released, both being similar examples of intense feedback-driven noise music.

While avant-garde classical compositions and Electronic experiments of the early 1960s were steadily utilising noise more frequently, popular music was also starting to catch on to the style. In 1966, The Velvet Underground's John Cale recorded Loop, another track which honed in on audio feedback and Drone sounds. A similar approach was later used by Lou Reed on Metal Machine Music: The Amine β Ring in 1975. Containing solely guitar feedback played at different speeds, the album had a huge impact on spreading noise through popular music. Another notable early example is 天乃川 (1973 Live), recorded by 灰野敬二 [Keiji Haino] two years before Metal Machine Music, but released later in 1993.

Forming in late 1975, Throbbing Gristle pioneered and named the Industrial style that would further influence and develop noise music. The band's extreme and abrasive performances incorporated large amounts of atonal and distorted noise. This initial industrial style varied from a more Ambient or airy, noisy approach (as heard in their debut gig, At the Air Gallery in 1976) to a dissonant collage of traditional Rock and Punk music instrumentation layered amongst home-made synthesiser-driven noise.

This industrial approach was expanded upon in various ways, taking noise and Industrial Music both to varying directions. Bands such as Whitehouse pioneered Power Electronics, a genre which hybridised the dissonance and rawness of both genres and took the sound further still. Because of its links to the then-growing popular electronic genres such as Synthpop, industrial music often incorporated more dance elements and put emphasis on rhythm. This led to the style dubbed Power Noise, with artists such as Esplendor Geométrico performing such rhythmic noise since the early 1980s.

Various genres began implementing noise music more predominantly, and such a sound spread to different parts of the world. Japan in particular began growing a noise scene (generally referred to as "Japanoise"), and further developed noise music within it. The scene was particularly important in helping to pioneer the Harsh Noise style, especially through the likes of Merzbow, Incapacitants, and 非常階段 [Hijokaidan]. Like others before them, these artists often performed as a form of dissonant Free Improvisation.

Since its inception, noise has evolved into and influenced a wide spectrum of genres and styles, across all levels of intensity. While some took it to their harsh extremities, such as the Harsh Noise Wall style of often-unchanging walls of static noise, other styles like Noise Rock and Noise Pop used noise in a more accessible way, retaining traditional rock song tropes. Similarly, Post-Industrial styles such as Industrial Hip Hop, Industrial Metal, and Industrial Techno all grew within the 1980s and 1990s, using noise music alongside their respective roots, and spreading the style to further audiences still.


  1. Yellow Swans - Going Places (2010)
  2. Kevin Drumm - Sheer Hellish Miasma (2002)
  3. Pedestrian Deposit - Fatale (2006)
Harsh Noise

Harsh Noise is a term applied to Noise music that seeks to take the genre to its natural limits, resulting in hugely aggressive walls of sound that assault the listener. It has strong links with Japan, with 非常階段 [Hijokaidan], Masonna and Merzbow releasing many records key to the development of perhaps this most abrasive style of music, although related underground scenes exist worldwide.


Mo・Te - Life in a Peaceful New World (1996, cassette)

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Discussion Starter #270
Free Improvisation

A musical genre that while influenced by both Free Jazz and Classical Indeterminacy, exists outside of the boundaries of both. It came to be in the late 1960s with British artists Derek Bailey and AMM. Most often confused with Free Jazz, it differs in significant ways. Free Improvisation lacks the rhythmic drive of Free Jazz, it also tends to explore a more varied textural presentation, and the melodic material is far less scalular, giving Free Improvisation a more angular and abstract sound.


  1. Supersilent - 6 (2003)
  2. Loren MazzaCane Connors - Airs (1999)

EAI (Electroacoustic Improvisation) is a difficult to define style of Free Improvisation characterised by a very slow moving, physical, textured aesthetic, often created using unconventional instruments (like prepared guitars and turntables) processed through a laptop computer. It takes influence from a wide range of improvised music - such as Noise, Drone and experimental Jazz - although the sheer uniqueness of the genre makes it difficult to precisely pin down its development. It maintains a keen underground following worldwide, with labels such as Mego, Improvised Music From Japan and Erstwhile regularly releasing records from many of the key figures in the genre.


Keith Rowe & John Tilbury - Duos for Doris (2003)

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Discussion Starter #271
Industrial Music

Coinciding with Punk Rock, industrial music was a crucial movement in the late 1970s British counterculture. The harsh and mechanical sound depicting the gloomy and morbid reality of life in the industrial society quickly spread around European and North American underground music scenes, impacting a whole range of Experimental styles. Since the 1980s industrial music has incorporated a wide array of popular and classical influences, growing into a broad family of genres.

The original Industrial movement was born in 1976 with the London-based band Throbbing Gristle - a continuation of the avant-garde performance art act COUM Transmissions. One of the first Throbbing Gristle shows happened during the COUM Transmission's Prostitution show in 1976, whose highly controversial content caused media outrage and a debate in the British Parliament during which the group were called "the wreckers of civilisation". Not surprisingly, that only brought industrial music to the attention of a wider audience, stimulating the growth of this underground phenomenon. Soon industrial artists were appearing in the United States, Germany, France, Australia, and the rest of the "First World".

Influenced by Musique concrète, Krautrock, and going against the conventions of popular music at the time, the bands were aiming for a bleak and mechanical sound as well as cynical and shocking image and lyrical themes. That was often accomplished by the use of noise, electronic devices, non-musical instruments and unusual samples. Other influential bands, aside from the aforementioned Throbbing Gristle, included Boyd Rice/NON in the U.S., Cabaret Voltaire and Nurse With Wound in the U.K., SPK in Australia, Einstürzende Neubauten in Germany, and many others.

Over time industrial music has split into many sub-genres. In the early 1980s the growing influence of Synth Punk and Minimal Synth led to the emergence of EBM, a more beat-driven and melodic style pioneered by European bands like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Front 242. This electronic body music lacked the experimentation and harshness of the first wave industrial music, so a few years later artists such as Skinny Puppy started to combine the modern electronic feel of EBM back with the dark sound of early industrial music resulting in a complex sub-genre called Electro-Industrial. In the 1990s these electronic branches evolved even further in opposite directions. On one side of the spectrum there was the accessible Synthpop and Trance oriented Futurepop started by Apoptygma Berzerk and VNV Nation, whereas Hocico, Suicide Commando, and other Aggrotech artists chose a much more extreme approach of blending fast Hardcore [EDM]-like beats with harsh/distorted vocals.

But electronic influences were not the only direction undertaken by the post-industrial music scene in the 1980s. Artists such as Foetus, Chrome and Killing Joke were among the first to combine Post-Punk with industrial music, thus pioneering the guitar-driven genre of Industrial Rock. Then, bands like KMFDM, Ministry and Godflesh went for a heavier and more extreme sound of Industrial Metal. Industrial rock and metal have since then arguably become the most popular of all industrial styles, with Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein and Marilyn Manson reaching a very wide mainstream audience.

The repetitive sound and totalitarian aesthetic of some of the early industrial artists was taken to the extreme by Slovenian Laibach whose heavy, rhythmic percussion, war-related lyrics and Western Classical Music influences pioneered a style called Martial Industrial. In the 1990s groups like The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud and Blood Axis started to mix it with other styles of music and the genre began to significantly overlap with Neofolk, Dark Ambient and Neoclassical Darkwave, growing into its own scene far removed from the electronic and rock styles that dominated industrial music at the time. Because of the militaristic spirit and historical themes, many martial industrial artists have adopted a totalitarian right-wing image, but there are also some acts coming from the other side of the political spectrum, for example ROME.

Aside from its sub-genres, industrial has influenced many other styles of music as well. Its relentless avant-garde sound had a great impact on Noise, while the brooding and dark atmosphere was one of the leading forces behind the development of dark ambient in the 1980s. Industrial artists were also one of the first to widely use sampling in their music. In the late 1970s Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle built a sampler which his band-mate, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson, was using on stage even before the first samplers were commercially available. In Coil Sleazy experimented with other electronic devices, becoming one of the pioneers of Glitch music and influencing a range of IDM artists. Meanwhile, Current 93's and Death in June's blend of post-industrial experimental music and acoustic instrumentation resulted in the advent of neofolk.



  1. Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel - Nail (1985)
  2. Sozialistiches Patienten Kollektiv - Leichenschrei (1982)
  3. Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats (1979)
  4. Chu Ishikawa - Tetsuo (1992)
Death Industrial

A genre combining elements of Power Electronics and Dark Ambient, in that the techniques are similar to that of power electronics, but the music is less abrasive, deeper, and more ambient and atmospheric.


  1. Ramleh - Hole in the Heart (1987, cassette)
  2. LINGUA IGNOTA - All Bitches Die (2017)

Post-industrial music covers styles and genres that were influenced by Industrial but differ from the noisy and unrefined nature of Throbbing Gristle and early Einstürzende Neubauten. Post-industrial generally takes the dark and mechanical aesthetic of early industrial, and combines it with more accessible genres, such as Rock or Electronic Dance Music.


  1. Pan Sonic - Kesto (234.48:4) (2004)
  2. Jun Konagaya - Travel (2014)
Three Post-Industrial subgenres follow in the next post: Dark Ambient, Electro-Industrial and Industrial Rock.

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Discussion Starter #272
Dark Ambient

Dark ambient is a form of Post-Industrial music that emphasizes an ominous, gloomy, and dissonant atmosphere. Similarly to Ambient, the genre often abandons traditional music structure, but it tends to be more eerie and unsettling than other styles of ambient. This dark and disturbing atmosphere can be evoked with the use of Drone, Musique concrète, Field Recordings, rumbles, machine noises, simple percussive instruments, distortion and synthesizers.

Although the term "dark ambient" was coined in the 1990s to describe the music of raison d'être, the genre can be traced back to the 1970s. One of the earliest influences on the development of dark ambient were Tangerine Dream's Zeit and Klaus Schulze's Irrlicht. Both albums were released in 1972 and heavily used droning organs and muted guitars to create a unique, distant atmosphere that also led to the emergence of Space Ambient. While Zeit was recorded with a prominent presence of dissonant synthesizers and a string quartet, the effects on Irrlicht were achieved by reversing and post-processing an orchestral rehearsal. This use of Electronic and musique concrète techniques was later adopted by many industrial and dark ambient artists.

The next big step leading to dark ambient was the birth of industrial in 1976. Throbbing Gristle's radical approach to music varied in its abrasiveness. While some of the records and performances consisted of a lot of Noise, repetitive, heavy rhythms and screaming vocals, others were closer to the more restrained, menacing soundscapes that would become dark ambient. This less extreme side of Throbbing Gristle could be heard on some live recordings such as Music From the Death Factory, but it became the most prominent in the soundtracks to After Cease to Exist (featured on The Second Annual Report) and In the Shadow of the Sun (released as a stand-alone album, In the Shadow of the Sun). The transition from industrial to dark ambient was solidified in the 1980s by artists such as Nurse With Wound, :zoviet*france: and Lustmord.

Since the mid 1980s, dark ambient has been associated and combined with a variety of different styles that value its dark atmosphere. Some of the genres that have borrowed from dark ambient include Ritual Ambient, Black Ambient, Martial Industrial, Neoclassical Darkwave, Drone Metal, and Dark Jazz.

Since dark ambient can function as background music to enhance the mood, it has been found suitable for many soundtracks. One of the first and most acclaimed movies to feature a dark ambient soundtrack was David Lynch's Eraserhead from 1977. Other popular motion pictures with such music include Donnie Darko (2001), Silent Hill (2006) and The Social Network (2010). The genre also found its place in video game music, most notably Diablo II, Fallout: The Soundtrack and Silent Hill (as well as other installments in those series).


  1. Deathprod - Morals and Dogma (2004)
  2. Lustmørd - Heresy (1990)
  3. Troum & All Sides - Shutûn (2006)
  4. David Lynch & Alan R. Splet - Eraserhead (1982)
  5. Ben Frost - By the Throat (2009)
Ritual Ambient

Ritual Ambient is a subgenre of Dark Ambient that focuses on dark, deep, disturbing, ritualistic and occult atmosphere. It often features some chanting voices, tribal rhythms and appropriate samples.


I.corax - The Cadaver Pulse II: Mothelix Liquescent (2003)


Electro-industrial is a form of Industrial Music formed in the late 1980s and early 1990s that grew out of a combination of EBM and Industrial. It maintains some of the danceability of EBM but trades in the clean and stripped down approach of EBM for the harsher elements and more layered and complex sound of older industrial. It often has a much more modern feel to it than the typical industrial music of the 1980s, in part due to technological advances that have been made since then.


Skinny Puppy - Too Dark Park (1990)

Industrial Rock

Industrial rock is a hybrid of Rock and Industrial Music. Common musical characteristics include heavily distorted, abrasive guitars, percussion and vocals. The genre also employs keyboards, synthesisers, drum machines and samplers. Industrial rock has its roots in Post-Punk band Killing Joke and their debut album, Killing Joke (1980), as well as in the Experimental Rock band Chrome. It developed in the 1980s with artists such as Foetus, Ministry, Swans and The Young Gods, the last of which employed samplers instead of traditional rock guitars. The genre, along with its relative Industrial Metal, was brought to mainstream attention in the 1990s with artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. Industrial rock has had an influence over some other major pop/rock recording artists as well, including David Bowie and Gary Numan.


  1. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (1994)
  2. God - Possession (1992)
  3. Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals (1998)

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37,000 Posts
Discussion Starter #273
Tuning: we have covered genres of

Rock, Metal, Punk
Jazz, Blues
Classical Music, Film Score

Our next subjects will be

Hip Hop, R&B
Regional Music
Folk, Country

I follow the number or votes (that can still change meanwhile).

This thread is about discussing any kind of music. Comments are welcome anytime. I'm just developping about the genres with major help of RYM (that I use for definitions and albums selection). My only personal addition is to limit the albums selection to only one artist. No trees hiding a forest: just the forest - and only the edges! ;)

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Discussion Starter #274
Hip Hop

Also known as: Rap

Emerging mainly on the eastern coast of the United States in the late 1970s, hip hop is a form of music emphasizing rhythmic beat patterns and spoken delivery rather than harmonic melodies and sung vocals. Much of hip hop's roots can be traced to Deejay, a form of Reggae music that an immigrant DJ Kool Herc hoped to emulate in the Bronx borough of New York City. The style quickly took over in uptown neighborhoods such as Harlem and Queens, where many enjoyed the loose, afro-centric nature of the parties Kool Herc would put on. Adapting the format to Disco and Funk breaks rather than the reggae Herc was used to further enhanced the genre's appeal in urban communities.

The music quickly took over in New York and Connecticut while expanding across the United States and eventually other countries through the 1980s and 1990s. Eventually incorporating Soul and Jazz breaks into its musical lexicon, hip hop as it is known today continues to incorporate sampling of both popular and obscure tracks from the past and present that one or more MCs rap lyrics over in a stylized, rhythmic response or addition to the beat.


  1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
  2. Łona - Nic dziwnego (2004)
  3. Black Alien - Babylon by Gus, Vol 1: O ano do macaco (2004)
  4. Ten Typ Mes - Alkopoligamia: Zapiski Typa (2005)
This is a list of albums just described as Hip Hop. Kanye West also has Pop Rap as second tag. Is this generic Hip Hop? No, apart from Kanye West who seems to have blurred the genres for the better or the worse (I have no opinion on this), it's Hip Hop reaching other parts of the world: Poland for Łona and Ten Typ Mes, Brazil for Black Alien. I guess there should be Polish Hip Hop as there are French Hip Hop and UK Hip Hop, two of more than 15 genres that will be overviewed in this thread.

Conscious Hip Hop

Conscious hip hop is a term applied to Hip Hop artists whose lyrics deal with social issues. It has parallels with Political Hip Hop, although its focus is extended to topics such as religion, African American culture, everyday life and the state of hip hop itself. The term, while widely used by both fans and writers, is often the subject of controversy; artists such as Mos Def and Talib Kweli have rebelled against being labelled as strictly "conscious" rappers. Musically, conscious hip hop is a very broad sub-genre, embracing the whole spectrum of hip hop. However, a more chilled out Jazz Rap-influenced style of production is perhaps the most commonly used.


  1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
  2. Common - Be (2005)
  3. Racionais MC's - Sobrevivendo no inferno (1997)
  4. Reflection Eternal - Train of Thought (2000)
  5. Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens (2007)
  6. Grammatik - Światła miasta (2000)
A confirmation that there are Brazilian (Racionais MC's) and Polish (Grammatik) scenes!

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Discussion Starter #275
Abstract Hip Hop

Abstract hip hop is a style of Hip Hop which eschews many of the genre's conventions. It has become a fixture of the underground hip hop scene since the early 2000s. Lyrically, artists tend to focus on more abstract ideas such as existentialism or social institutions rather than everyday problems or braggadocio. The language and presentation of these lyrics also tends to avoid the more upfront, visceral language of typical hip hop, instead preferring extensive metaphors and symbolic word choice. Many artists tend to deviate from the typical conventions of rhyme and rhythm, often employing flows that border on Spoken Word. Musically, most abstract artists also feature unconventional beats that are akin in style to that of Experimental Hip Hop.


  1. Madvillain - Madvillainy (2004)
  2. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs (2018)
  3. Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein (2001)
  4. King Geedorah - Take Me to Your Leader (2003)
  5. Aesop Rock - Labor Days (2001)
  6. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal - Hiding Places (2019)
Instrumental Hip Hop

Essentially Hip Hop without an MC, instrumental hip hop can take many complex or basic forms and span a wide variety of different styles from artist to artist. Hip Hop producers release these sorts of albums in a variety of ways: some can be a collection of used and unused beats such as Special Herbs, Vols. 1 & 2 or conceptual releases like Endtroducing..... and Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note. Other producers will release instrumentals from a specific album, such as 2001: Instrumentals Only.

Turntablism appears throughout many instrumental releases through vocal samples and scratching, eventually becoming a separate style within the instrumental hip hop community through pioneers like DJ Q-Bert, D. ST. and Mix Master Mike.


  1. DJ Shadow - Endtroducing..... (1996)
  2. J Dilla - Donuts (2006)

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37,000 Posts
Discussion Starter #276
East Coast Hip Hop

East Coast hip hop is a highly influential style of Hip Hop that developed in New York City, particularly in the South Bronx, during the seventies. Its history can be traced back as far as the hip hop genre itself, with artists like Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and Afrika Bambaataa, and later the hugely successful Run-D.M.C. laying the foundations from which thousands of artists would build upon in the following decades, as well as being highly acclaimed and respected in their own right. While East Coast hip hop’s complex development and endless permutations can never be demonstrated by one particular sound, the late eighties and early nineties specifically saw a number of artists define themselves by hard-hitting, sample-heavy production, as well as lyricism with both a refined social conscience and trademark aggression. This can be seen in the early work of Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy and EPMD, and later in the Hardcore Hip Hop of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and The Notorious B.I.G.. This era also saw the rise of the Native Tongues, a collective incorporating generally good-natured, Afrocentric wordplay into a Jazz Rap sound, most notably De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. While perhaps not as wide-reaching as it had been during the previous decade, East Coast hip hop continued strongly following the turn of the millennium, with artists as diverse as Jay-Z, The Roots and MF DOOM enjoying great critical acclaim and popularity.

Top albums, Part 1



  1. Nas - Illmatic (1994)
  2. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
  3. The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die (1994)
  4. Mobb Deep - The Infamous (1995)
  5. Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)
  6. Mos Def - Black on Both Sides (1999)
  7. Gang Starr - Moment of Truth (1998)
  8. Organized Konfusion - Stress: The Extinction Agenda (1994)
  9. The Roots - Things Fall Apart (1999)
  10. Big L - Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous (1995)

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Discussion Starter #277
East Coast Hip Hop

Top albums, Part 2



  1. Jaÿ-Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996)
  2. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
  3. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - The Main Ingredient (1994)
  4. Eric B. & Rakim - Paid In Full (1987)
  5. Jeru the Damaja - The Sun Rises in the East (1994)
  6. Kool G. Rap & D.J. Polo - Live and Let Die (1992)
  7. Ultramagnetic MC's - Critical Beatdown (1988)
  8. Redman - Muddy Waters (1996)
  9. Smif-n-Wessun - Dah Shinin' (1995)
  10. Main Source - Breaking Atoms (1991)

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Discussion Starter #278
Surprised to not see Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell in that East Coast Top 20, but that's the wider field of Hip Hop by far... Maybe the earliest classic of the genre (released in 1986). Why not starting there? 😉


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Discussion Starter #279
Jazz Rap

A style of Hip Hop born out of the booming Hardcore Hip Hop scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, jazz rap has a noticeably different feel, instead usually opting for a laid back, mellow sound. Containing rhythms very familiar to other forms of hip hop, samples and extra production details are almost exclusively culled from various forms of Jazz, such as Jazz-Funk, Hard Bop and Soul Jazz, using trumpets, saxophones, looped piano and double bass etc. Early jazz rap groups such as A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr initially balanced jazz with traditional hip hop evenly, but in just a few years artists such as Digable Planets and Guru (through his Jazzmatazz series) would introduce live jazz instrumentation as a focus. This live 'feel' would become an important trait of the music, sometimes showcasing improvised vocals or instrumental solos.

Lyrically, most MCs latched onto the idea of jazz as "cool" (Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) being a prime example) and pushed hip hop closer to street poetry, heavily engaging in slang and laid back attitudes that would best express this coolness. These lyrics generally downplay if not completely ignore materialistic themes, opting for Afrocentric and racially positive messages focusing on the past successes and failures of blacks (and to a lesser extent all people) and the ways that communities might succeed going forward.


  1. A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (1991)
  2. Digable Planets - Blowout Comb (1994)
  3. Nujabes - Modal Soul (2005)
  4. Noname - Room 25 (2018)
  5. Avantdale Bowling Club (2018)
One of my favorite genres of Hip Hop. Hello to Jazz Rap from Japan (Nujabes) and New Zealand (Avantdale Bowling Club).

Experimental Hip Hop

Experimental Hip Hop is a style of Hip Hop music that refers to the experimental use of eccentric hip hop elements (usually including but not limited to abstract lyrics) in ways unconventional and considered unsuitable for traditional Hip Hop music. While Abstract Hip Hop and Experimental Hip Hop are sometimes used interchangeably, Abstract Hip Hop differs from Experimental Hip Hop in that the former refers directly to Hip Hop music with abstract lyrical content, while Experimental Hip Hop is an umbrella term for Hip Hop music that embodies elements of the genre that fall outside the constraints of convention. Experimental Hip Hop is usually electronically produced and sometimes incorporates elements of other sub-genres such as Turntablism or Plunderphonics.


  1. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition (2016)
  2. Deltron 3030 (2000)
  3. JPEGMAFIA - All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019)
  4. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (2011)
  5. Injury Reserve (2019)

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Discussion Starter #280
Side note: did you notice that tendency of many recent acts to have their artist/project name in capital letters? It seems to shout HYPE at you, and also GROSS need of spotlight and disdain of any kind of nuance. A sad sign of our times going for the disregarding bold. But it's not like Prince had never contributed, right.
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