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Techno music | Wikipedia audio article

Techno music | Wikipedia audio article

Techno is a form of electronic dance music
that emerged in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno
in reference to a specific genre of music was in 1988. Many styles of techno now exist, but Detroit
techno is seen as the foundation upon which a number of sub-genres have been built.In
Detroit, techno resulted from the melding of black styles including Chicago house, funk,
electro, and electric jazz with electronic music by artists such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio
Moroder, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Added to this is the influence of futuristic
and fictional themes relevant to life in American late capitalist society, with Alvin Toffler’s
book The Third Wave being a notable point of reference. Pioneering producer and DJ Juan Atkins cites
Toffler’s phrase “techno rebels” as inspiring him to use the word techno to describe the
musical style he helped to create. This unique blend of influences aligns techno
with the aesthetic referred to as afrofuturism.To producers such as Derrick May, the transference
of spirit from the body to the machine is often a central preoccupation; essentially
an expression of technological spirituality. In this manner: “techno dance music defeats
what Adorno saw as the alienating effect of mechanisation on the modern consciousness”.Stylistically,
techno is generally repetitive instrumental music, often produced for use in a continuous
DJ set. The central rhythmic component is most often
in common time (4/4), where time is marked with a bass drum on each quarter note pulse,
a backbeat played by snare or clap on the second and fourth pulses of the bar, and an
open hi-hat sounding every second eighth note. The tempo tends to vary between approximately
120 to 150 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the style of techno. The creative use of music production technology,
such as drum machines, synthesizers, and digital audio workstations, is viewed as an important
aspect of the music’s aesthetic. Many producers use retro electronic musical
devices to create what they consider to be an authentic techno sound. Drum machines from the 1980s such as Roland’s
TR-808 and TR-909 are highly prized, and software emulations of such retro technology are popular
among techno producers. Music journalists and fans of techno are generally
selective in their use of the term; so a clear distinction can be made between sometimes
related but often qualitatively different styles, such as tech house and trance.==Origins==The initial blueprint for techno developed
during the mid-1980s in Belleville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit by Juan Atkins, Kevin
Saunderson and Derrick May (the so-called The Belleville Three), all of whom attended
school together at Belleville High, with the addition of Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter and
James Pennington. By the close of the 1980s, the pioneers had
recorded and released material under various guises: Atkins as Model 500, Flintstones,
and Magic Juan; Fowlkes simply as Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes; Saunderson as Reeses, Keynotes, and
Kaos; with May as Mayday, R-Tyme, and Rhythim Is Rhythim. There were also a number of joint ventures,
including Kevin Saunderson’s group Inner City, which saw collaborations with Atkins, May,
vocalist Paris Grey, and fellow DJs James Pennington and [Arthur Forest]. The Electrifying Mojo was the first radio
DJ to play music by Atkins, May, and Saunderson. Mojo refused to follow pre-established radio
formats or playlists, and he promoted social and cultural awareness of the African American
community.===Notable influences===In exploring techno’s origins writer Kodwo
Eshun maintains that “Kraftwerk are to Techno what Muddy Waters is to the Rolling Stones:
the authentic, the origin, the real.” Juan Atkins has acknowledged that he had an
early enthusiasm for Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, particularly Moroder’s work with
Donna Summer and the producer’s own album E=MC2. Atkins also mentions that “around 1980
I had a tape of nothing but Kraftwerk, Telex, Devo, Giorgio Moroder and Gary Numan, and
I’d ride around in my car playing it.” Atkins has also claimed he was unaware of
Kraftwerk’s music prior to his collaboration with Richard “3070” Davis as Cybotron, which
was two years after he had first started experimenting with electronic instruments. Regarding his initial impression of Kraftwerk,
Atkins notes that they were “clean and precise” relative to the “weird UFO sounds” featured
in his seemingly “psychedelic” music.Derrick May identified the influence of Kraftwerk
and other European synthesizer music in commenting that “it was just classy and clean, and to
us it was beautiful, like outer space. Living around Detroit, there was so little
beauty… everything is an ugly mess in Detroit, and so we were attracted to this music. It, like, ignited our imagination!”. May has commented that he considered his music
a direct continuation of the European synthesizer tradition. He also identified Japanese synthpop act Yellow
Magic Orchestra, particularly member Ryuichi Sakamoto, and British band Ultravox, as influences,
along with Kraftwerk. YMO’s song “Technopolis” (1979), a tribute
to Tokyo as an electronic mecca, is considered an “interesting contribution” to the development
of Detroit techno, foreshadowing concepts that Atkins and Davis would later explore
with Cybotron.Kevin Saunderson has also acknowledged the influence of Europe but he claims to have
been more inspired by the idea of making music with electronic equipment: “I was more infatuated
with the idea that I can do this all myself.”===
School days===Prior to achieving notoriety, Atkins, Saunderson,
May, and Fowlkes shared common interests as budding musicians, “mix” tape traders, and
aspiring DJs. They also found musical inspiration via the
Midnight Funk Association, an eclectic five-hour late-night radio program hosted on various
Detroit radio stations, including WCHB, WGPR, and WJLB-FM from 1977 through the mid-1980s
by DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson. Mojo’s show featured electronic music by artists
such as Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Tangerine Dream, alongside
the funk sounds of acts such as Parliament Funkadelic and dance oriented new wave music
by bands like Devo and the B-52’s. Atkins has noted: He [Mojo] played all the Parliament and Funkadelic
that anybody ever wanted to hear. Those two groups were really big in Detroit
at the time. In fact, they were one of the main reasons
why disco didn’t really grab hold in Detroit in ’79. Mojo used to play a lot of funk just to be
different from all the other stations that had gone over to disco. When ‘Knee Deep’ came out, that just put the
last nail in the coffin of disco music. Despite the short-lived disco boom in Detroit,
it had the effect of inspiring many individuals to take up mixing, Juan Atkins among them. Subsequently, Atkins taught May how to mix
records, and in 1981, “Magic Juan”, Derrick “Mayday”, in conjunction with three other
DJ’s, one of whom was Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes, launched themselves as a party crew called
Deep Space Soundworks (also referred to as Deep Space). In 1980 or 1981 they met with Mojo and proposed
that they provide mixes for his show, which they did end up doing the following year.During
the late 1970s-early 1980s high school clubs such as Brats, Charivari, Ciabattino, Comrades,
Gables, Hardwear, Rafael, Rumours, Snobs, and Weekends created the incubator in which
techno was grown. These young promoters developed and nurtured
the local dance music scene by both catering to the tastes of the local audience of young
people and by marketing parties with new DJs and their music. As these local clubs grew in popularity, groups
of DJs began to band together to market their mixing skills and sound systems to the clubs
in order to cater to the growing audiences of listeners. Locations like local church activity centers,
vacant warehouses, offices, and YMCA auditoriums were the early locations where underage crowds
gathered and the musical form was nurtured and defined.===Juan Atkins===Of the four individuals responsible for establishing
techno as a genre in its own right, Juan Atkins is widely cited as “The Originator”. Atkins’ role was likewise acknowledged in
1995 by the American music technology publication Keyboard Magazine, which honoured Atkins as
one of 12 Who Count in the history of keyboard music.In the early 1980s, Atkins began recording
with musical partner Richard Davis (and later with a third member, Jon-5) as Cybotron. This trio released a number of rock and electro-inspired
tunes, the most successful of which were Clear (1983) and its moodier followup, “Techno City”
(1984).According to a recent bio on MySpace, Atkins claims to have “coined the term techno
to describe their music, taking as one inspiration the works of Futurist and author Alvin Toffler,
from whom he borrowed the terms ‘cybotron’ and ‘metroplex.’ Atkins has used the term to describe earlier
bands that made heavy use of synthesizers, such as Kraftwerk, although many people would
consider Kraftwerk’s music and Juan’s early music in Cybotron as electro.” Atkins viewed Cybotron’s “Cosmic Cars” (1982)
as unique, Germanic, synthesized funk, but he later heard Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet
Rock” (1982) and considered it to be a superior example of the music he envisioned. Inspired, he resolved to continue experimenting,
and he encouraged Saunderson and May to do likewise.Eventually, Atkins started producing
his own music under the pseudonym Model 500, and in 1985 he established the record label
Metroplex. The same year saw an important turning point
for the Detroit scene with the release of Model 500’s “No UFOs,” a seminal work that
is generally considered the first techno production. Of this time, Atkins has said: When I started Metroplex around February or
March of ’85 and released “No UFOs,” I thought I was just going to make my money back on
it, but I wound up selling between 10,000 and 15,000 copies. I had no idea that my record would happen
in Chicago. Derrick’s parents had moved there, and he
was making regular trips between Detroit and Chicago. So when I came out with ‘No UFOs,’ he took
copies out to Chicago and gave them to some DJs, and it just happened.===Detroit sound===The early producers, enabled by the increasing
affordability of sequencers and synthesizers, merged a European synthpop aesthetic with
aspects of soul, funk, disco, and electro, pushing electronic dance music into uncharted
terrain. They deliberately rejected the Motown legacy
and traditional formulas of R&B and soul, and instead embraced technological experimentation. Within the last 5 years or so, the Detroit
underground has been experimenting with technology, stretching it rather than simply using it. As the price of sequencers and synthesizers
has dropped, so the experimentation has become more intense. Basically, we’re tired of hearing about being
in love or falling out, tired of the R&B system, so a new progressive sound has emerged. We call it techno! The resulting Detroit sound was interpreted
by Derrick May and one journalist in 1988 as a “post-soul” sound with no debt to Motown,
but by another journalist a decade later as “soulful grooves” melding the beat-centric
styles of Motown with the music technology of the time. May famously described the sound of techno
as something that is “…like Detroit…a complete mistake. It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are
stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.” Juan Atkins has stated that it is “music that
sounds like technology, and not technology that sounds like music, meaning that most
of the music you listen to is made with technology, whether you know it or not. But with techno music, you know it.” One of the first Detroit productions to receive
wider attention was Derrick May’s “Strings of Life” (1987), which, together with May’s
previous release, “Nude Photo” (1987), helped raise techno’s profile in Europe, especially
the UK and Germany, during the 1987–1988 house music boom (see Second Summer of Love). It became May’s best known track, which, according
to Frankie Knuckles, “just exploded. It was like something you can’t imagine, the
kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can
accept a record that doesn’t have a bassline.”The Detroit sound exerted an influence on widely
differing styles of electronic music, yet it also maintained an identity as a genre
in its own right, one now commonly referred to as “Detroit techno”.===Chicago===The music’s producers, especially May and
Saunderson, admit to having been fascinated by the Chicago club scene and influenced by
house in particular. May’s 1987/1989 hit “Strings of Life” (released
under the alias Rhythim Is Rhythim) is considered a classic in both the house and techno genres.Juan
Atkins also believes that the first acid house producers, seeking to distance house music
from disco, emulated the techno sound. Atkins also suggests that the Chicago house
sound developed as a result of Frankie Knuckles’ using a drum machine he bought from Derrick
May. He claims: Derrick sold Chicago DJ Frankie Knuckles a
TR909 drum machine. This was back when the Powerplant was open
in Chicago, but before any of the Chicago DJs were making records. They were all into playing Italian imports;
‘No UFOs’ was the only U.S.-based independent record that they played. So Frankie Knuckles started using the 909
at his shows at the Powerplant. Boss had just brought out their little sampling
footpedal, and somebody took one along there. Somebody was on the mic, and they sampled
that and played it over the drumtrack pattern. Having got the drum machine and the sampler,
they could make their own tunes to play at parties. One thing just led to another, and Chip E
used the 909 to make his own record, and from then on, all these DJs in Chicago borrowed
that 909 to come out with their own records. In the UK, a club following for house music
grew steadily from 1985, with interest sustained by scenes in London, Manchester, Nottingham,
and later Sheffield and Leeds. The DJs thought to be responsible for house’s
early UK success include Mike Pickering, Mark Moore, Colin Faver, and Graeme Park.====Acid house====By 1988, house music had exploded in the UK,
and acid house was increasingly popular. There was also a long-established warehouse
party subculture based around the sound system scene. In 1988, the music played at warehouse parties
was predominantly house. That same year, the Balearic party vibe associated
with Ibiza-based DJ Alfredo Fiorito was transported to London, when Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold
opened the clubs Shoom and Spectrum, respectively. Both night spots quickly became synonymous
with acid house, and it was during this period that the use of MDMA, as a party drug, started
to gain prominence. Other important UK clubs at this time included
Back to Basics in Leeds, Sheffield’s Leadmill and Music Factory, and in Manchester The Haçienda,
where Mike Pickering and Graeme Park’s Friday night spot, Nude, was an important proving
ground for American underground dance music. Acid house party fever escalated in London
and Manchester, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. MDMA-fueled club goers, faced with 2 A.M.
closing hours, sought refuge in the warehouse party scene that ran all night. To escape the attention of the press and the
authorities, this after-hours activity quickly went underground. Within a year, however, up to 10,000 people
at a time were attending the first commercially organized mass parties, called raves, and
a media storm ensued.The success of house and acid house paved the way for wider acceptance
of the Detroit sound, and vice versa: techno was initially supported by a handful of house
music clubs in Chicago, New York, and Northern England, with London clubs catching up later;
but in 1987, it was “Strings of Life” which eased London club-goers into acceptance of
house, according to DJ Mark Moore.===The New Dance Sound of Detroit===
The explosion of interest in underground dance music during the late 1980s provided a context
for the development of techno as an identifiable genre. The mid-1988 UK release of Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit, an album compiled
by ex-Northern Soul DJ and Kool Kat Records boss Neil Rushton (at the time an A&R scout
for Virgin’s “10 Records” imprint) and Derrick May, was an important milestone and marked
the introduction of the word techno in reference to a specific genre of music. Although the compilation put techno into the
lexicon of music journalism, the music was, for a time, sometimes characterized as Detroit’s
high-tech interpretation of Chicago house rather than a relatively pure genre unto itself. In fact, the compilation’s working title had
been The House Sound of Detroit until the addition of Atkins’ song “Techno Music” prompted
reconsideration. Rushton was later quoted as saying he, Atkins,
May, and Saunderson came up with the compilation’s final name together, and that the Belleville
Three voted down calling the music some kind of regional brand of house; they instead favored
a term they were already using, techno. Derrick May views this as one of his busiest
times and recalls that it was a period where he was working with Carl Craig, helping Kevin,
helping Juan, trying to put Neil Rushton in the right position to meet everybody, trying
to get Blake Baxter endorsed so that everyone liked him, trying to convince Shake (Anthony
Shakir) that he should be more assertive…and keep making music as well as do the Mayday
mix (for the show Street Beat on Detroit’s WJLB radio station) and run Transmat records. Commercially, the release did not fare as
well as expected, and it failed to recoup, however Inner City’s production “Big Fun”
(1988), a track that was almost not included on the compilation, became a massive crossover
hit in fall 1988. The record was also responsible for bringing
industry attention to May, Atkins and Saunderson, which led to discussions with ZTT records
about forming a techno supergroup called Intellex. But, when the group were on the verge of finalising
their contract, May allegedly refused to agree to Top of the Pops appearances and negotiations
collapsed. According to May, ZTT label boss Trevor Horn
had envisaged that the trio would be marketed as a “black Petshop Boys.” Despite Virgin Records’ disappointment with
the poor sales of Rushton’s compilation, the record was successful in establishing an identity
for techno and was instrumental in creating a platform in Europe for both the music and
its producers. Ultimately, the release served to distinguish
the Detroit sound from Chicago house and other forms of underground dance music that were
emerging during the rave era of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period during which techno
became more adventurous and distinct.===Music Institute===
In mid-1988, developments in the Detroit scene led to the opening of a nightclub called the
Music Institute (MI), located at 1315 Broadway in downtown Detroit. The venue was secured by George Baker and
Alton Miller with Darryl Wynn and Derrick May participating as Friday night DJs, and
Baker and Chez Damier playing to a mostly gay crowd on Saturday nights. The club closed on November 24, 1989, with
Derrick May playing “Strings of Life” along with a recording of clock tower bells. May explains: It all happened at the right time by mistake,
and it didn’t last because it wasn’t supposed to last. Our careers took off right around the time
we [the MI] had to close, and maybe it was the best thing. I think we were peaking – we were so full
of energy and we didn’t know who we were or [how to] realize our potential. We had no inhibitions, no standards, we just
did it. That’s why it came off so fresh and innovative,
and that’s why…we got the best of the best. Though short-lived, MI was known internationally
for its all-night sets, its sparse white rooms, and its juice bar stocked with “smart drinks”
(the Institute never served liquor). The MI, notes Dan Sicko, along with Detroit’s
early techno pioneers, “helped give life to one of the city’s important musical subcultures
– one that was slowly growing into an international scene.”==Developments==
As the original sound evolved in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it also diverged to
such an extent that a wide spectrum of stylistically distinct music was being referred to as techno. This ranged from relatively pop oriented acts
such as Moby to the distinctly anti-commercial sentiments of Underground Resistance. Derrick May’s experimentation on works such
as Beyond the Dance (1989) and The Beginning (1990) were credited with taking techno “in
dozens of new directions at once and having the kind of expansive impact John Coltrane
had on Jazz”. The Birmingham-based label Network Records
label was instrumental in introducing Detroit techno to British audiences. By the early 1990s, the original techno sound
had garnered a large underground following in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands
and Belgium. The growth of techno’s popularity in Europe
between 1988 and 1992 was largely due to the emergence of the rave scene and a thriving
club culture.===Exodus===
In America, apart from regional scenes in Detroit, New York City, Chicago, and Orlando
interest was limited. Producers from Detroit, frustrated by the
lack of opportunity in their home country, looked to Europe for their future livelihood. This first wave of Detroit expatriates was
soon joined by a number of up-and-coming artists, the so-called “second wave”, including Carl
Craig, Octave One, Jay Denham, Kenny Larkin, and Stacey Pullen, with UR’s Jeff Mills, Mike
Banks, and Robert Hood pushing their own unique sound. A number of New York producers were also making
an impression at this time, notably Frankie Bones, Lenny Dee, and Joey Beltram. In the same period, close to Detroit (Windsor,
Ontario), Richie Hawtin, with business partner John Acquaviva, launched the influential imprint
Plus 8 Records.Developments in American-produced techno between 1990 and 1992 fueled the expansion
and eventual divergence of techno in Europe, particularly in Germany. In Berlin, following the closure of a free
party venue called Ufo, the club Tresor opened in 1991. The venue was for a time the standard bearer
for techno and played host to many of the leading Detroit producers, some of whom relocated
to Berlin. By 1993, as interest in techno in the UK club
scene started to wane, Berlin was considered the unofficial techno capital of Europe.Although
eclipsed by Germany, Belgium was another focus of second-wave techno in this time period. The Ghent-based label R&S Records embraced
harder-edged techno by “teenage prodigies” like Beltram and C.J. Bolland, releasing “tough,
metallic tracks…with harsh, discordant synth lines that sounded like distressed Hoovers,”
according to one music journalist.In the United Kingdom, Sub Club opening in Glasgow in 1987
and Trade which opened its doors to Londoners in 1990 were pioneering venues which helped
bring techno into the country. Both clubs were praised for their late opening
hours and party-focused clientele. Trade has often been referred to as the ‘original
all night bender’.===German techno scene===Germany’s engagement with American underground
dance music during the 1980s paralleled that in the UK. By 1987 a German party scene based around
the Chicago sound was well established. The following year (1988) saw acid house making
as significant an impact on popular consciousness in Germany as it had in England. In 1989 German DJs Westbam and Dr. Motte established
the Ufo club, an illegal party venue, and co-founded the Love Parade. After the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989,
free underground techno parties mushroomed in East Berlin, and a rave scene comparable
to that in the UK was established. East German DJ Paul van Dyk has remarked that
techno was a major force in reestablishing social connections between East and West Germany
during the unification period. In 1991 a number of party venues closed, including
Ufo, and the Berlin Techno scene centered itself around three locations close to the
foundations of the Berlin Wall: Planet, E-Werk, Bunker, and the long-lived Tresor. It was in Tresor at this time that a trend
in paramilitary clothing was established (amongst the techno fraternity) by DJ Tanith; possibly
as an expression of a commitment to the underground aesthetic of the music, or perhaps influenced
by UR’s paramilitary posturing. In the same period, German DJs began intensifying
the speed and abrasiveness of the sound, as an acid infused techno began transmuting into
hardcore. DJ Tanith commented at the time that “Berlin
was always hardcore, hardcore hippie, hardcore punk, and now we have a very hardcore house
sound.” This emerging sound is thought to have been
influenced by Dutch gabber and Belgian hardcore; styles that were in their own perverse way
paying homage to Underground Resistance and Richie Hawtin’s Plus 8 Records. Other influences on the development of this
style were European Electronic Body Music (EBM) groups of the mid-1980s such as DAF,
Front 242, and Nitzer Ebb. Changes were also taking place in Frankfurt
during the same period but it did not share the egalitarian approach found in the Berlin
party scene. It was instead very much centred around discothèques
and existing arrangements with various club owners. In 1988, after the Omen opened, the Frankfurt
dance music scene was allegedly dominated by the club’s management and they made it
difficult for other promoters to get a start. By the early 1990s Sven Väth had become perhaps
the first DJ in Germany to be worshipped like a rock star. He performed centre stage with his fans facing
him, and as co-owner of Omen, he is believed to have been the first techno DJ to run his
own club. One of the few real alternatives then was
The Bruckenkopf in Mainz, underneath a Rhine bridge, a venue that offered a non-commercial
alternative to Frankfurt’s discothèque-based clubs. Other notable underground parties were those
run by Force Inc. Music Works and Ata & Heiko from Playhouse
records (Ongaku Musik). By 1992 DJ Dag & Torsten Fenslau were running
a Sunday morning session at Dorian Gray, a plush discothèque near the Frankfurt airport. They initially played a mix of different styles
including Belgian new beat, Deep House, Chicago House, and synthpop such as Kraftwerk and
Yello and it was out of this blend of styles that the Frankfurt trance scene is believed
to have emerged.In 1993-94 rave became a mainstream music phenomenon in Germany, seeing with it
a return to “melody, New Age elements, insistently kitsch harmonies and timbres”. This undermining of the German underground
sound lead to the consolidation of a German “rave establishment,” spearheaded by the party
organisation Mayday, with its record label Low Spirit, DJ Westbam, Marusha, and a music
channel called VIVA. At this time the German popular music charts
were riddled with Low Spirit “pop-Tekno” German folk music reinterpretations of tunes such
as “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Tears Don’t Lie”, many of which became hits. At the same time, in Frankfurt, a supposed
alternative was a music characterised by Simon Reynolds as “moribund, middlebrow Electro-Trance
music, as represented by Frankfurt’s own Sven Väth and his Harthouse label.”====
Tekkno versus techno====In Germany, fans started to refer to the harder
techno sound emerging in the early 1990s as Tekkno (or Bretter). This alternative spelling, with varying numbers
of ks, began as a tongue-in-cheek attempt to emphasize the music’s hardness, but by
the mid-1990s it came to be associated with a controversial point of view that the music
was and perhaps always had been wholly separate from Detroit’s techno, deriving instead from
a 1980s EBM-oriented club scene cultivated in part by DJ/musician Talla 2XLC in Frankfurt. Talla, in the early to mid-1980s, worked in
City Music at Frankfurt Station and began to categorize artists such as New Order, Depeche
Mode, Kraftwerk, Heaven 17 and Front 242 under the heading techno, to sum up all technologically
created dance music. In 1984 Talla started an event called Technoclub
on Sunday afternoons at Frankfurts Disco No name, which then moved to the Dorian Gray
club in 1987. Talla’s club spot served as the hub for the
regional EBM and electronic music scene, and according to Jürgen Laarmann, of Frontpage
magazine, it had historical merit in being the first club in Germany to play almost exclusively
electronic dance music. Technoclub was “more or less an underground
thing for suburban kids,” it was, according to Laarmann, “never really hip to go there.”At
some point tension over “who defines techno” arose between scenes in Frankfurt and Berlin. DJ Tanith has expressed that Techno as a term
already existed in Germany but was to a large extent undefined. Dimitri Hegemann has stated that the Frankfurt
definition of techno associated with Talla’s Technoclub differed from that used in Berlin. Frankfurt’s Armin Johnert viewed techno as
having its roots in acts such DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, and Suicide, but a younger generation
of club goers had a perception of the older EBM and Industrial as handed down and outdated. The Berlin scene offered an alternative and
many began embracing an imported sound that was being referred to as Techno-House. The move away from EBM had started in Berlin
when acid house became popular, thanks to Monika Dietl’s radio show on SFB 4. Tanith distinguished acid-based dance music
from the earlier approaches, whether it be DAF or Nitzer Ebb, because the latter was
aggressive, he felt that it epitomised “being against something,” but of acid house he said,
“it’s electronic, it’s fun it’s nice.” By Spring 1990, Tanith, along with Wolle XDP,
an East-Berlin party organizer responsible for the X-tasy Dance Project, were organizing
the first large scale rave events in Germany. This development would lead to a permanent
move away from the sound associated with Techno-House and toward a hard edged mix of music that
came to define Tanith and Wolle’s Tekknozid parties. According to Wolle it was an “out and out
rejection of disco values,” instead they created a “sound storm” and encouraged a form of “dance
floor socialism,” where the DJ was not placed in the middle and you “lose yourself in light
and sound.”====A Techno Alliance====
In 1993, the German techno label Tresor Records released the compilation album Tresor II:
Berlin & Detroit – A Techno Alliance, a testament to the influence of the Detroit
sound upon the German techno scene and a celebration of a “mutual admiration pact” between the
two cities. As the mid-1990s approached, Berlin was becoming
a haven for Detroit producers; Jeff Mills and Blake Baxter even resided there for a
time. In the same period, with the assistance of
Tresor, Underground Resistance released their X-101/X-102/X103 album series, Juan Atkins
collaborated with 3MB’s Thomas Fehlmann and Moritz Von Oswald and Tresor-affiliated label
Basic Channel had its releases mastered by Detroit’s National Sound Corporation, the
main mastering house for the entire Detroit dance music scene. In a sense, popular electronic music had come
full circle, returning to Germany, home of a primary influence on the electronic dance
music of the 1980s: Düsseldorf’s Kraftwerk. Even the dance sounds of Chicago also had
a German connection, as it was in Munich that Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte first produced
the 1970s Eurodisco synthpop sound.===Minimal techno===As techno continued to transmute a number
of Detroit producers began to question the trajectory the music was taking. One response came in the form of so-called
minimal techno (a term producer Daniel Bell found difficult to accept, finding the term
minimalism, in the artistic sense of the word, too “arty”). It is thought that Robert Hood, a Detroit-based
producer and one time member of UR, is largely responsible for ushering in the minimal strain
of techno. Hood describes the situation in the early
1990s as one where techno had become too “ravey”, with increasing tempos, the emergence of gabber,
and related trends straying far from the social commentary and soul-infused sound of original
Detroit techno. In response, Hood and others sought to emphasize
a single element of the Detroit aesthetic, interpreting techno with “a basic stripped
down, raw sound. Just drums, basslines and funky grooves and
only what’s essential. Only what is essential to make people move”. Hood explains: I think Dan [Bell] and I both realized that
something was missing – an element…in what we both know as techno. It sounded great from a production point of
standpoint, but there was a ‘jack’ element in the [old] structure. People would complain that there’s no funk,
no feeling in techno anymore, and the easy escape is to put a vocalist and some piano
on top to fill the emotional gap. I thought it was time for a return to the
original underground.===Jazz influences===Some techno has also been influenced by or
directly infused with elements of jazz. This led to increased sophistication in the
use of both rhythm and harmony in a number of techno productions. Manchester (UK)-based techno act 808 State
helped fuel this development with tracks such as “Pacific State” and “Cobra Bora” in 1989. Detroit producer Mike Banks was heavily influenced
by jazz, as demonstrated on the influential Underground Resistance release Nation 2 Nation
(1991). By 1993, Detroit acts such as Model 500 and
UR had made explicit references to the genre, with the tracks “Jazz Is The Teacher” (1993)
and “Hi-Tech Jazz” (1993), the latter being part of a larger body of work and group called
Galaxy 2 Galaxy, a self-described jazz project based on Kraftwerk’s “man machine” doctrine. This lead was followed by a number of techno
producers in the UK who were influenced by both jazz and UR, Dave Angel’s “Seas of Tranquility”
EP (1994) being a case in point, Other notable artists who set about expanding upon the structure
of “classic techno” include Dan Curtin, Morgan Geist, Titonton Duvante and Ian O’Brien.===Intelligent techno===In 1991 UK music journalist Matthew Collin
wrote that “Europe may have the scene and the energy, but it’s America which supplies
the ideological direction…if Belgian techno gives us riffs, German techno
the noise, British techno the breakbeats, then Detroit supplies the sheer cerebral depth.” By 1992 a number of European producers and
labels began to associate rave culture with the corruption and commercialization of the
original techno ideal. Following this the notion of an intelligent
or Detroit inspired pure techno aesthetic began to take hold. Detroit techno had maintained its integrity
throughout the rave era and was pushing a new generation of so-called intelligent techno
producers forward. Simon Reynolds suggests that this progression
“involved a full-scale retreat from the most radically posthuman and hedonistically functional
aspects of rave music toward more traditional ideas about creativity, namely the auteur
theory of the solitary genius who humanizes technology.”The term intelligent techno was
used to differentiate more sophisticated versions of underground techno from rave-oriented styles
such as breakbeat hardcore, Schranz, Dutch Gabber. Warp Records was among the first to capitalize
upon this development with the release of the compilation album Artificial Intelligence
Of this time, Warp founder and managing director Steve Beckett said the dance scene was changing and we were hearing
B-sides that weren’t dance but were interesting and fitted into experimental, progressive
rock, so we decided to make the compilation Artificial Intelligence, which became a milestone…
it felt like we were leading the market rather than it leading us, the music was aimed at
home listening rather than clubs and dance floors: people coming home, off their nuts,
and having the most interesting part of the night listening to totally tripped out music. The sound fed the scene. Warp had originally marketed Artificial Intelligence
using the description electronic listening music but this was quickly replaced by intelligent
techno. In the same period (1992–93) other names
were also bandied about such as armchair techno, ambient techno, and electronica, but all were
used to describe an emerging form of post-rave dance music for the “sedentary and stay at
home”. Following the commercial success of the compilation
in the United States, Intelligent Dance Music eventually became the phrase most commonly
used to describe much of the experimental dance music emerging during the mid-to-late
1990s. Although it is primarily Warp that has been
credited with ushering the commercial growth of IDM and electronica, in the early 1990s
there were many notable labels associated with the initial intelligence trend that received
little, if any, wider attention. Amongst others they include: Black Dog Productions
(1989), Carl Craig’s Planet E (1991), Kirk Degiorgio’s Applied Rhythmic Technology (1991),
Eevo Lute Muzique (1991), General Production Recordings (1991), New Electronica (1993),
Mille Plateaux (1993), 100% Pure (1993), and Ferox Records (1993).===Free techno===In the early 1990s a post-rave, DIY, free
party scene had established itself in the UK. It was largely based around an alliance between
warehouse party goers from various urban squat scenes and politically inspired new age travellers. The new agers offered a readymade network
of countryside festivals that were hastily adopted by squatters and ravers alike. Prominent among the sound systems operating
at this time were Exodus in Luton, Tonka in Brighton, Smokescreen in Sheffield, DiY in
Nottingham, Bedlam, Circus Warp, LSDiesel and London’s Spiral Tribe. The high point of this free party period came
in May 1992 when with less than 24 hours notice and little publicity more than 35,000 gathered
at the Castlemorton Common Festival for 5 days of partying.This one event was largely
responsible for the introduction in 1994 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act;
effectively leaving the British free party scene for dead. Following this many of the traveller artists
moved away from Britain to Europe, the US, Goa in India, Koh Phangan in Thailand and
Australia’s East Coast. In the rest of Europe, due in some part to
the inspiration of traveling sound systems from the UK, rave enjoyed a prolonged existence
as it continued to expand across the continent.Spiral Tribe, Bedlam and other English sound systems
took their cooperative techno ideas to Europe, particularly Eastern Europe where it was cheaper
to live, and audiences were quick to appropriate the free party ideology. It was European Teknival free parties, such
as the annual Czechtek event in the Czech Republic that gave rise to several French,
German and Dutch sound systems. Many of these groups found audiences easily
and were often centered around squats in cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin.===Divergence===By 1994 there were a number of techno producers
in the UK and Europe building on the Detroit sound, but a number of other underground dance
music styles were by then vying for attention. Some drew upon the Detroit techno aesthetic,
while others fused components of preceding dance music forms. This led to the appearance (in the UK initially)
of inventive new music that sounded far-removed from techno. For instance jungle (drum and bass) demonstrated
influences ranging from hip-hop, soul, and reggae to techno and house. With an increasing diversification (and commercialization)
of dance music, the collectivist sentiment prominent in the early rave scene diminished,
each new faction having its own particular attitude and vision of how dance music (or
in certain cases, non-dance music) should evolve. Some examples not already mentioned are trance,
industrial techno, breakbeat hardcore, acid techno, and happy hardcore. Less well-known styles related to techno or
its subgenres include the primarily Sheffield (UK)-based bleep techno, a regional variant
that had some success between 1989 and 1991. According to Muzik magazine, by 1995 the UK
techno scene was in decline and dedicated club nights were dwindling. The music had become “too hard, too fast,
too male, too drug-oriented, too anally retentive.” Despite this, weekly night at clubs such as
Final Frontier (London), House of God (Birmingham), Pure (Edinburgh, whose resident DJ Twitch
later founded the more eclectic Optimo), and Bugged Out (Manchester) were still popular. With techno reaching a state of “creative
palsy,” and with a disproportionate number of underground dance music enthusiasts more
interested in the sounds of rave and jungle, in 1995 the future of the UK techno scene
looked uncertain as the market for “pure techno” waned. Muzik described the sound of UK techno at
this time as “dutiful grovelling at the altar of American techno with a total unwillingness
to compromise.” By the end of the 1990s, a number of post-techno
underground styles had emerged, including ghettotech (a style that combines some of
the aesthetics of techno with hip-hop and house music), nortec, glitch, digital hardcore,
the so-called no-beat techno, and electroclash.In attempting to sum up the changes since the
heyday of Detroit techno, Derrick May has since revised his famous quote in stating
that “Kraftwerk got off on the third floor and now George Clinton’s got Napalm Death
in there with him. The elevator’s stalled between the pharmacy
and the athletic wear store.”===Commercial exposure===While techno and its derivatives only occasionally
produce commercially successful mainstream acts—Underworld and Orbital being two better-known
examples—the genre has significantly affected many other areas of music. In an effort to appear relevant, many established
artists, for example Madonna and U2, have dabbled with dance music, yet such endeavors
have rarely evidenced a genuine understanding or appreciation of techno’s origins with the
former proclaiming in January 1996 that “Techno=Death”.The R&B artist, Missy Elliott, exposed the popular
music audience to the Detroit techno sound when she featured material from Cybotron’s
Clear on her 2006 release “Lose Control”; this resulted in Juan Atkins’ receiving a
Grammy Award nomination for his writing credit. Elliott’s 2001 album Miss E… So Addictive also clearly demonstrated the
influence of techno inspired club culture.In recent years, the publication of relatively
accurate histories by authors Simon Reynolds (Generation Ecstasy, also known as Energy
Flash) and Dan Sicko (Techno Rebels), plus mainstream press coverage of the Detroit Electronic
Music Festival, have helped to diffuse the genre’s more dubious mythology. Even the Detroit-based company Ford Motors
eventually became savvy to the mass appeal of techno, noting that “this music was created
partly by the pounding clangor of the Motor City’s auto factories. It became natural for us to incorporate Detroit
techno into our commercials after we discovered that young people are embracing techno.” With a marketing campaign targeting under-35s,
Ford used “Detroit Techno” as a print ad slogan and chose Model 500’s “No UFO’s” to underpin
its November 2000 MTV television advertisement for the Ford Focus.==Antecedents=====
Proto-techno===The popularity of Euro disco and Italo disco—referred
to as progressive in Detroit—and new romantic synthpop in the Detroit high school party
scene from which techno emerged has prompted a number of commentators to try to redefine
the origins of techno by incorporating musical precursors to the Detroit sound as part of
a wider historical survey of the genre’s development. The search for a mythical “first techno record”
leads such commentators to consider music from long before the 1988 naming of the genre. Aside from the artists whose music was popular
in the Detroit high school scene (“progressive” disco acts such as Giorgio Moroder, Alexander
Robotnick, and Claudio Simonetti and synthpop artists such as Visage, New Order, Depeche
Mode, The Human League, and Heaven 17), they point to examples such as “Sharevari” (1981)
by A Number of Names, danceable selections from Kraftwerk (1977–83), the earliest compositions
by Cybotron (1981), Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder’s “I Feel Love” (1977), Moroder’s
“From Here to Eternity” (1977), and Manuel Göttsching’s “proto-techno masterpiece” E2-E4
(1981). Another example is a record entitled Love
in C minor, released in 1976 by Parisian Euro disco producer Jean-Marc Cerrone; cited as
the first so called “conceptual disco” production and the record from which house, techno, and
other underground dance music styles flowed. Yet another example is Yellow Magic Orchestra’s
work which has been described as “proto-techno” YMO had also used the prefix “techno” in a
number of titles including the song “Technopolis” (1979), the album Technodelic (1981), and
a rare flexi disc EP, “The Spirit of Techno” (1983).===Prehistory===
Certain electro-disco and European synthpop productions share with techno a dependence
on machine-generated dance rhythms, but such comparisons are not without contention. Efforts to regress further into the past,
in search of earlier antecedents, entails a further regression, to the sequenced electronic
music of Raymond Scott, whose “The Rhythm Modulator,” “The Bass-Line Generator,” and
“IBM Probe” are considered early examples of techno-like music. In a review of Scott’s Manhattan Research
Inc. compilation album the English newspaper The Independent suggested that “Scott’s importance
lies mainly in his realization of the rhythmic possibilities of electronic music, which laid
the foundation for all electro-pop from disco to techno.” In 2008, a tape from the mid-to-late 1960s
by the original composer of the Doctor Who theme Delia Derbyshire, was found to contain
music that sounded remarkably like contemporary electronic dance music. Commenting on the tape, Paul Hartnoll, of
the dance group Orbital, described the example as “quite amazing,” noting that it sounded
not unlike something that “could be coming out next week on Warp Records.”==Music production practice=====
Stylistic considerations===In general, techno is very DJ-friendly, being
mainly instrumental (commercial varieties being an exception) and is produced with the
intention of its being heard in the context of a continuous DJ set, wherein the DJ progresses
from one record to the next via a synchronized segue or “mix.” Much of the instrumentation in techno emphasizes
the role of rhythm over other musical parameters, but the design of synthetic timbres, and the
creative use of music production technology in general, are important aspects of the overall
aesthetic practice. Unlike other forms of electronic dance music
that tend to be produced with synthesizer keyboards, techno does not always strictly
adhere to the harmonic practice of Western music and such structures are often ignored
in favor of timbral manipulation alone. Thus techno inherits from the modernist tradition
of the so-called Klangfarbenmelodie, or timbral serialism. The use of motivic development (though relatively
limited) and the employment of conventional musical frameworks is more widely found in
commercial techno styles, for example euro-trance, where the template is often an AABA song structure.The
main drum part is almost universally in common time (4/4); meaning 4 quarter note pulses
per bar. In its simplest form, time is marked with
kicks (bass drum beats) on each quarter-note pulse, a snare or clap on the second and fourth
pulse of the bar, with an open hi-hat sound every second eighth note. This is essentially a disco (or even polka)
drum pattern and is common throughout house and trance music as well. The tempo tends to vary between approximately
120 bpm (quarter note equals 120 pulses per minute) and 150 bpm, depending on the style
of techno. Some of the drum programming employed in the
original Detroit-based techno made use of syncopation and polyrhythm, yet in many cases
the basic disco-type pattern was used as a foundation, with polyrhythmic elaborations
added using other drum machine voices. This syncopated-feel (funkiness) distinguishes
the Detroit strain of techno from other variants. It is a feature that many DJs and producers
still use to differentiate their music from commercial forms of techno, the majority of
which tend to be devoid of syncopation. Derrick May has summed up the sound as ‘Hi-tech
Tribalism’: something “very spiritual, very bass oriented, and very drum oriented, very
percussive. The original techno music was very hi-tech
with a very percussive feel… it was extremely, extremely Tribal. It feels like you’re in some sort of hi-tech
Compositional techniques===There are many ways to create techno, but
the majority will depend upon the use of loop-based step sequencing as a compositional method. Techno musicians, or producers, rather than
employing traditional compositional techniques, may work in an improvisatory fashion, often
treating the electronic music studio as one large instrument. The collection of devices found in a typical
studio will include units that are capable of producing many different sounds and effects. Studio production equipment is generally synchronized
using a hardware- or computer-based MIDI sequencer, enabling the producer to combine in one arrangement
the sequenced output of many devices. A typical approach to using this type of technology
compositionally is to overdub successive layers of material while continuously looping a single
measure or sequence of measures. This process will usually continue until a
suitable multi-track arrangement has been produced.Once a single loop-based arrangement
has been generated, a producer may then focus on developing how the summing of the overdubbed
parts will unfold in time, and what the final structure of the piece will be. Some producers achieve this by adding or removing
layers of material at appropriate points in the mix. Quite often, this is achieved by physically
manipulating a mixer, sequencer, effects, dynamic processing, equalization, and filtering
while recording to a multi-track device. Other producers achieve similar results by
using the automation features of computer-based digital audio workstations. Techno can consist of little more than cleverly
programmed rhythmic sequences and looped motifs combined with signal processing of one variety
or another, frequency filtering being a commonly used process. A more idiosyncratic approach to production
is evident in the music of artists such as Twerk and Autechre, where aspects of algorithmic
composition are employed in the generation of material.===Retro technology===Instruments used by the original techno producers
based in Detroit, many of which are now highly sought after on the retro music technology
market, include classic drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, devices such
as the Roland TB-303 bass line generator, and synthesizers such as the Roland SH-101,
Kawai KC10, Yamaha DX7, and Yamaha DX100 (as heard on Derrick May’s seminal 1987 techno
release Nude Photo). Much of the early music sequencing was executed
via MIDI (but neither the TR-808 nor the TB-303 had MIDI, only DIN sync) using hardware sequencers
such as the Korg SQD1 and Roland MC-50, and the limited amount of sampling that was featured
in this early style was accomplished using an Akai S900.The TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines
have since achieved legendary status, a fact that is now reflected in the prices sought
for used devices. During the 1980s, the 808 became the staple
beat machine in Hip hop production while the 909 found its home in House music and techno. It was “the pioneers of Detroit techno [who]
were making the 909 the rhythmic basis of their sound, and setting the stage for the
rise of Roland’s vintage Rhythm Composer.” In November 1995 the UK music technology magazine
Sound on Sound noted: There can be few hi-tech instruments which
still command a second-hand price only slightly lower than their original selling price 10
years after their launch. Roland’s now near-legendary TR-909 is such
an example—released in 1984 with a retail price of £999, they now fetch up to £900
on the second-hand market! The irony of the situation is that barely
a year after its launch, the 909 was being ‘chopped out’ by hi-tech dealers for around
£375, to make way for the then-new TR-707 and TR-727. Prices hit a new low around 1988, when you
could often pick up a second-user 909 for under £200—and occasionally even under
£100. Musicians all over the country are now garrotting
themselves with MIDI leads as they remember that 909 they sneered at for £100—or worse,
the one they sold for £50 (did you ever hear the one about the guy who gave away his TB-303
Bassline—now worth anything up to £900 from true loony collectors—because he couldn’t
sell it?) By May 1996, Sound on Sound was reporting
that the popularity of the 808 had started to decline, with the rarer TR-909 taking its
place as “the dance floor drum machine to use.” This is thought to have arisen for a number
of reasons: the 909 gives more control over the drum sounds, has better programming and
includes MIDI as standard. Sound on Sound reported that the 909 was selling
for between £900 and £1100 and noted that the 808 was still collectible, but maximum
prices had peaked at about £700 to £800. Such prices have held in the 12 years since
the article was published, this can be evidenced by a quick search on eBay. Despite this fascination with retro music
technology, according to Derrick May “there is no recipe, there is no keyboard or drum
machine which makes the best techno, or whatever you want to call it. There never has been. It was down to the preferences of a few guys. The 808 was our preference. We were using Yamaha drum machines, different
percussion machines, whatever.”====Emulation====
In the latter half of the 1990s the demand for vintage drum machines and synthesizers
motivated a number of software companies to produce computer-based emulators. One of the most notable was the ReBirth RB-338,
produced by the Swedish company Propellerhead and originally released in May 1997. Version one of the software featured two TB-303s
and a TR-808 only, but the release of version two saw the inclusion of a TR-909. A Sound on Sound review of the RB-338 V2 in
November 1998 noted that Rebirth had been called “the ultimate techno software package”
and mentions that it was “a considerable software success story of 1997”. In America Keyboard Magazine asserted that
ReBirth had “opened up a whole new paradigm: modeled analog synthesizer tones, percussion
synthesis, pattern-based sequencing, all integrated in one piece of software”. Despite the success of ReBirth RB-338, it
was officially taken out of production in September 2005. Propellerhead then made it freely available
for download from a website called the “ReBirth Museum”. The site also features extensive information
about the software’s history and development.In March 2001, with the release of Reason V1,
Propellerhead upped the ante in providing a £300 software-based electronic music studio,
comprising a 14-input automated digital mixer, 99-note polyphonic ‘analogue’ synth, classic
Roland-style drum machine, sample-playback unit, analogue-style step sequencer, loop
player, multitrack sequencer, eight effects processors, and over 500 MB of synthesizer
patches and samples. With this release Propellerhead were credited
with “creating a buzz that only happens when a product has really tapped into the zeitgeist,
and may just be the one that many [were] waiting for.” Reason has since achieved popular appeal and
is as of 2018 at version 10.===Technological advances===
As computer technology became more accessible and music software advanced, interacting with
music production technology was possible using means that bore little relationship to traditional
musical performance practices: for instance, laptop performance (laptronica) and live coding. By the mid 2000s a number of software-based
virtual studio environments had emerged, with products such as Propellerhead’s Reason and
Ableton Live finding popular appeal. These software-based music production tools
offer viable and cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios,
and thanks to advances in microprocessor technology, can create high quality music using little
more than a single laptop computer. Such advances democratized music creation,
and lead to a massive increase in the amount of home-produced music available to the general
public via the internet. Artists can now also individuate their sound
by creating personalized software synthesizers, effects modules, and various composition environments. Devices that once existed exclusively in the
hardware domain can easily have virtual counterparts. Some of the more popular software tools for
achieving such ends are commercial releases such as Max/Msp and Reaktor and freeware packages
such as Pure Data, SuperCollider, and ChucK. In some sense, as a result of technological
innovation, the DIY mentality that was once a core part of dance music culture is seeing
a resurgence.==Other notable artists====
Notable contemporary techno venues==In Berlin, the most famous techno clubs since
the late 2000s include the Berghain, which has been referred to as the possible “current
world capital of techno”, as well as the second incarnation of the Tresor club. Also outside of Berlin, Germany has several
renowned techno clubs, such as for example MMA Club in Munich, Institut für Zukunft
in Leipzig or Robert Johnson in Offenbach. In the United Kingdom Glasgow’s Sub Club has
been associated with techno since the early 1990s and clubs such as London’s Fabric and
Egg London have gained notoriety for supporting techno.==See also==Detroit Electronic Music Archive==Bibliography====Filmography

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