Musical Space

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Four on the floor is certain style of drum beat where the bass drum is hit with a steady quarter-note pulse; four equal stomps on the foot-pedal per measure. It’s very different from older pop beats where the bass drum typically hits beats 1 and 3. It really came into prominence with disco in the seventies, a real departure from rock and funk. Four on the floor is popular now as the driving force of many kinds of electronic dance music.

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The drum machine is the most culturally important new musical instrument since the electric guitar.

Electronic drums have been around for generations, and the early ones sounded like the cheesy rhythm attachments on home organs.

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When it first appeared on the market in the early 1980s the Roland TR-808 could be purchased at about a quarter the price of competing brands. Imitation drums sounded cheap, too.

These were not digital samples, but simple analog circuits. The bass drum sound was a strange, deep, ringing thud; the snare was a high, papery snap; the cowbell was an obnoxious clank.

Playing music is a skill that can be exercised and enjoyed for an entire lifetime. In other words, music is the ideal hobby.

Musical Space: Hip Hop

Jun 25, 2013

Sampling in Hip-Hop reached its height in the late 80s and early 90s. The legality of using samples from someone else’s song was vague; a lot of djs risked being sued, and ended up doing amazing things by putting together quotations of wildly different familiar music.

Four examples of samples that ended up being used by the band De La Soul:

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Street music has probably been around as long as there have been streets.

Igor Stravinsky’s revolutionary ballet The Rite of Spring was premiered 100 years ago this May.

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You might not have heard of John Hammond, but in terms of cultural significance he was arguably the world’s most influential record producer.

At the beginning of his career in the 1930s, largely because of his deep convictions about racial equality and civil rights, Hammond helped shape the the jazz scene.

Makers of pop music have always engineered their songs to sound big and loud. Motown records, for instance, have a legendary, huge sound. Sometimes, though, loudness can be overdone, and this problem seems to be getting worse.

The technology behind this is a device called a compressor. Its job is to keep a volume level consistent. This is great when you want, say, a vocalist to remain audible above the other instruments.

For two decades now, Beck Hansen has been keeping his music fresh and compelling by never letting it be defined by genre or convention. He gets his listeners to rethink pop formulas by deconstructing, combining and transcending them. Every release by Beck is different from the last one; previous albums have merged and reexamined rock, hip-hop, latin and folk styles. With his latest release, Song Reader, Beck has outdone himself.

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