Saturday, 14 August 2010

Kraftwerk - a review

One of the bands that had a deep influence in me while I was in school was Kraftwerk. I just couldn’t get the song “feelin like a robota” outta my head. There was something in that music that sounded futuristic and intriguing at the same time had catchy tunes.

Now, what does Kraftwerk mean? It means "power plant" or "power station"

Kraftwerk is identified as a “pioneering and highly influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation”

The group's simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk was one of the first groups to popularize electronic music. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk's distinctive sound was revolutionary, and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.

Kraftwerk was formed in 1970 by Florian Schneider (flutes, synthesizers, electro-violin) and Ralf Hutter (electronic organ, synthesizers). The two had met as students at the Düsseldorf Conservatory in the late 1960s, participating in the German experimental music scene of the time, which the British music press dubbed "Krautrock". The group was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008

The band’s members over the years consisted of;

• Ralf Hutter – synthesizers, organ, lead vocals, vocoder
• (early works also include: bass guitar, drums and percussion) (1970 - present)
• Fritz Hilpert – electronic percussion, sound engineering (1987 - present)
• Henning Schmitz – electronic percussion, sound engineering, live keyboards (1991 - present)
• Stefan Pfaffe – video technician (2008 - present)
• Florian Schneider –synthesizers, background vocals, computer-generated vocals ( acoustic and electronic flutes, guitars, violin, percussion) (1970–2008)
• Karl Bartos – electronic percussion, live keyboards (1975–1991)
• Wolfgang Flur – electronic percussion (1973–1987)
• Klaus Roder – guitar, electro-violin (1974)
• Klaus Dinger – drums (1970–1971)
• Andreas Hohmann – drums (1970)

In May 1981 Kraftwerk released the album Computer World. Some of the electronic vocals on Computer World were created using a Texas Instruments Language Translator. Kraftwerk’s earlier track "The Model" reached the number one position in the UK making "The Model" Kraftwerk's most successful record in the UK.

Really a craft at work !

Monday, 2 August 2010

Musical Instrument Digital Interface

All those who have tried to compose electronic music have realized that it is not an easy task. Composers and people who produce music have struggled to come up with futuristic sounds, science fiction themes, electronic music and trying to express digital music as a means of things that is about to happen.

We know by now that electronic music originated as an experiment, by pioneers of the machine generated sound (such as electric guitars etc). During the initial period, electronic music relied heavily on creativity and improvisation of machine generated sounds.

Finally, it was during the eighties, when a group of musicians and audio merchants met in the UK to standardize an interface, by which new instruments could communicate control instructions with other instruments and the existing microcomputer. This new standard was identified or called as MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

A paper was authored by Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits and proposed to the Audio Engineering Society in 1981. Finally, it was during August 1983, the MIDI Specification 1.0 was finalized.

The advent of MIDI technology allows a single keystroke, control wheel motion, pedal movement, or command from a microcomputer to activate every device in the studio remotely and in synchrony, with each device responding according to conditions predetermined by the composer.

So much for MIDI

Now for some interesting facts.

Did you know that downloaded music accounts for 50.7% of music sold in the USA, with physical CD sales accounting for 49.3% in 2010

Did you also know that there are at least 1,000 computer music studios that exist in universities and institutions around the world out of which many of them are engaged in research. Since most personal studios are also computer music studios, there would be over hundreds of thousands to millions of such studios, worldwide.

Next week we discuss Kraftwerk and their contribution to music.

The top ten electronic songs in the UK is given below;

Witchcraft - Pendulum
I Think I Like It - Fake Blood
XXXO (Jay-Z Remix) - M.I.A.
Baptism - Crystal Castles
Fireflies - Owl City
4th of July (Fireworks) [Club Version] - Kelis
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Watercolour - Pendulum
Invaders Must Die - The Prodigy
Acapella - Kelis