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Intelligent dance music

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Intelligent dance music (or intellectual dance music, commonly referenced as IDM, is an electronic music genre based on novelty and complicated sequencer programming. The genre name was invented by fans of Aphex Twin and Warp Records, but has grown to include the music of other artists:

The IDM list was originally created in August of 1993 for the discussion of music relating to Aphex Twin and Warp's early "Artificial Intelligence" compilations. Since that time, both the list and the range of music that is discussed on it have grown considerably. As there is no set definition of the boundaries of "Intelligent Dance Music", the official stance is that all opinions are to be respected. That being said, when you declare that "Rozalla is intelligent dance music", you should be willing and able to back it up - not just "because it obviously is."

The term IDM originated from the creation of an electronic mailing list called the IDM list in August 1993, originally intended for discussion of Rephlex Records. Thus the actual musical definition of the genre evolved as the artists it originally described evolved. The term subsequently gained a life of its own, and became popular around the world as a means of referring to the then-novel mainstream success of certain kinds of experimental electronic dance music. The use of the term is somewhat contentious, owing to the inherent assumption that all non "IDM" electronic music is then "unintelligent". Rephlex poked fun at this pigeonholing of their music by coining the word "braindance" as a parody. Alternatives terms that have been used include electronic listening music, armchair techno, intelligent techno, intelli-tech, listening techno, art techno, and experimental techno.

Contents

Overview

IDM differs from other forms of electronic music by the sequencing and audio processing techniques used in its production. As a genre, it encompasses music derived from many other styles including drum and bass, ambient, house, techno, hip hop, UK garage and even jazz. The music of B12, Kirk Degiorgio, Squarepusher, for example, has a strong jazz influences. Other influences include musique concrète and avant-garde classical composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis, and early hip hop musicians like Mantronix.

The initials IDM appeared in music magazines in 1992 – 1993, but the term caught on with the formation of the IDM electronic mailing list in August 1993. Initially, the discussion list focused on the music of Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) and the Rephlex Records label, as well as various forms of electronic dub by artists such as The Orb, Richard H. Kirk, and Future Sound of London. In fact, any form of new, percussive electronic music that was not easy to categorize as pure house, trance, electro or techno was fair game for discussion; it was not unusual for artists such as System 7, William Orbit, Sabres of Paradise, Orbital, Plastikman and Björk to take equal footing as IDM alongside Autechre, Atom Heart, and LFO.

In 1994Warp's second Artificial Intelligence compilation was released, which featured various postings from the mailing list incorporated into the typographic artwork in the sleeve notes. IDM became increasingly identified with the quirky, experimental brands of electronic music produced by Warp Records artists such as Polygon Window (an alias of Richard D. James), Autechre, LFO, B12, Seefeel and Black Dog Productions. Lesser-known artists on the Likemind label and Kirk Degiorgio's A.R.T. and Op-Art labels, including Degiorgio himself under various names (As One, Future/Past, Esoterik), Steve Pickton (Stasis), and Nurmad Jusat (Nuron) also took the label of IDM. The music of other artists, however, such as Björk and Future Sound of London, continued to be upheld as IDM as well. The majority of IDM's pioneers during this era were based in Britain, but a few artists, such as Sun Electric from Berlin, hailed from other countries.

Spread of IDM

In the late 1990s and early 2000s artists and labels from around the globe were pushing electronic 'listening music' in new directions. Notable influences at the beginning of this period include the music of Boards of Canada, the Skam Records label, and artists using software synthesis, a technology that had recently become possible to use on ordinary personal computers.

In particular, during this period, IDM production greatly increased in the United States. One of the more notable hubs of activity was Miami, Florida, with labels like Schematic, Merck Records, Nophi Recordings and The Beta Bodega Coalition sprouting up and releasing material by artists such as Phoenecia, Dino Felipe, Machinedrum, and Proem. Another burgeoning scene was the Chicago/Milwaukee area, with labels such as Addict, Chocolate Industries, Hefty, and Zod supporting artists like Doormouse and Emotional Joystick.

Developed out of the IDM community was a filesharing program called Soulseek, which underground artists used to share their music and make contacts. The artist's Khonnor and Venetian Snareswent on from Soulseek to earn public acclaim.

IDM has also infiltrated the artists in the rock and post-rock scenes. In particular, Radiohead has cited Aphex Twin and Warp Records as influences.

The influence of Warp Records grew in about 1999, mostly centered around internet forums dedicated to the genre. The widespread popularity of Warp artists resulted in IDM which is highly derivative of artists such as Aphex Twin, The Black Dog, Boards of Canada, Plaid, and Autechre. Copycats were quick to release mp3 albums which sounded like their heroes and uploaded them to filesharing programs as the real thing. When Aphex Twin's drukqs was released, many reviewers harshly criticised it by declaring that they couldn't tell the difference between his songs and Aphex Twin fans' imitations and fake mp3 releases.

Sound production in IDM

Early IDM was produced in much the same way as other forms of electronic music at the time, using hardware drum machines and rackmounted equipment. The advent of the MIDI musical intrument protocol in the mid-1980s gave IDM musicians the power to easily control their hardware. Since the late 1990s, however, IDM production has become increasingly reliant on personal computer software, including advanced sequencing and synthesis software such as Cubase, Reaktor, Renoise, Logic Pro and Max/MSP. The limited number of music production software suites popular among modern IDM musicians has led to the widespread use of certain trademark audio effects. One such example is digital distortion (also called "bit reduction"), a technique in which the artist manipulates the sampling rate and bit depth of the playback.

Live IDM performances are commonly played entirely on laptop computers with MIDI controllers, using software like Ableton Live or programming languages like Max. "Groove boxes" such as the Roland MC-909 are used as well. The amount of pre-sequenced and pre-recorded material versus real-time production generally varies from one performance to the next. In many cases, live performance is a combination of the two.

Amateur IDM production is often done with free tracker software such as Jeskola Buzz, or semi-professional software such as Fruityloops. Akai samplers, often purchased secondhand or by through online auctions, are popular tools for amateur IDM production. Some professionals also take advantage of this inexpensive technology — Breakcore artist Venetian Snares uses Med Sound Studio, a free tracking software package. Proem uses Fruityloops in his studio setup.

Criticisms of the name 'IDM'

The term "intelligent dance music" is often criticized for grouping other music genres while not being a specific description of the music genre itself. Whether or not intelligence or dancing are involved, or whether everybody else's music is not intelligent is irrelevant as the name is now in common usage. IDM as a genre name is criticized because it wasn't created by the artists whose work it named, and those artists may not particularly want their work associated with their genre name peers.

The IDM genre name is a third party creation by the high volume IDM mailing list and some British music magazines printed around 1991, and the genre name was apparently more memorable than other competing phrases. The term "intelligent" is believed to have derived from the often cerebral qualities that the music holds.

Detractors of the phrase have occasionally used the term "dolphin music" as a disparaging alternative to "intelligent".

In a September, 1997 interview, Aphex Twin commented on the 'Intelligent Dance Music' label: "I just think it's really funny to have terms like that. It's basically saying 'this is intelligent and everything else is stupid.' It's really nasty to everyone else's music. (laughs) It makes me laugh, things like that. I don't use names. I just say that I like something or I don't."

Criticisms of IDM

The famous electrical recording engineer Steve Albini says of IDM "As the idiom developed, the music became more and more about the novelty of certain sounds and treatments, ridiculously trivial aspects like tempo and choice of samples, and the public personae of the makers. It became a race to novelty. I find that kind of evolution beneath triviality. It is a decorative, not substantive, evolution."

Intelligent dance music samples

References

See also

External links

Labels

Community


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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