One step beyond

One step beyond, literally a ‘madness’!

The last two weeks have been hectic in my mind. The Cambridge conference went better than I expected, I feel like I was bombardised with so much information I cannot even handle it. I was fascinated by the Sociologists’ work (Georgina Born and Nick Prior) even though I felt so depressed after their talks (“I’ll never be THAT good…”). These people have a language of their own, a code that can be understood by the rest of us, but it’s so hard to speak. Good for them I suppose!

Anyway, I’m still writing my upgrade. But there are many changes in there.

1) Circuit bending, 8 bit, hardware hacking and all the relevant DIY electronic music technoculture shall be examined as “glitch”. Extending the idea of glitch as a sociocultural phenomenon, rather just than a music genre, I see the re-purposing of technology as a sort of a ‘malfunction’, but without its negative burden. Errors are a key concept for DIY electronics and are part of the making process (we could be looking towards a materiality of errors in fact).

2) These communities could be seen as a part of a maker culture (see previous post). Obviously, their histories can be derived from hacker culture, demoscene, and the like, but at this moment they represent the musical aspect of maker culture due to their DIY character of making music and the relevant technology.

These are the two arguments I will examine in “The social relationships of DIY electronic music technoculture”.

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3 thoughts on “One step beyond

  1. I just discovered your project, so I know almost nothing about your work. But I wanted to point out one thing about 8 bit music. Many (most?) people that make chipmusic use software that was developed by others, that they downloaded, transfered/emulated and learnt how to use probably by reading manuals/tutorials/forums. If that is true, then maybe 8 bit music is not very do-it-YOURself.

    Computers (and even consoles, in a different way) were obviously designed to program (music) with, and 8 bit music is not re-purposing technology in that sense, but re-purposing certain ideas about technology.

    But perhaps you already thought about this. I’m writing my master thesis on chipmusic at the moment, so I’ve been struggling plenty with the relationships between materiality-people-culture. Coming from circuit-bending though, I can understand that your perspective would be different.

    If you’re interested in glitches/errors/artifacts, Rosa Menkman is doing her PhD on this. http://rosa-menkman.blogspot.com

    Btw, is there any texts from that conference you attended? Seemed very interesting!

  2. It is quite hard to make a generalisation about 8 bit music (and circuit bending), as there are people that do programming and make music with their own software and others that buy the cartridges or download ready-made software. It’s the same in circuit bending, there are people who just buy bent-instruments from ebay or private sellers. Of course this is interesting, but my focus is on the ‘glitching’ of hardware/software: game consoles were considered as toys and not as music instruments at the moment of their creation. Everyone who decides to see them as music instruments and not just as toys, they are entering a DIY ideology – and perhaps, the whole idea of DIY is changing, check Crawford’s book on Shop class as soulcraft if you haven’t read this!

    And yet, another more confusing aspect of 8 bit: people making music with hardware (c64, ataris, gameboys etc) and people making music just with software! So what defines 8 bit music? The device that produces the music? The outcome? And what about musicians that partially use 8 bit music elements in their music? It all depends on your perspective I believe, and it’s interesting to include all the different approaches if you’re writing the history of the phenomenon.

    I went through your blog yesterday, in fact that took me ages!

    I can send you my notes from the conference, unfortunately there were no papers or anything though.

    Nice to meet you!

  3. Nice to meet you too! You went through my blog, that’s impressive 🙂

    Indeed, 8-bit music can be defined both as technology and aesthetics, or medium and form as I put it. But it’s very difficult to say what “is” 8-bit. It usually makes more sense to consider it as a music genre in a continuous transformation.

    But anyway – I think you’re right that the idea of DIY is changing. It would be interesting to hear what you mean with a DIY-ideology aswell.

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