Electronic Music: Analogue & Digital

An Intentionally Biased & Revisionist History of Modern Electronic Music




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  • a&d

    a&d (other abbreviations are AD, Analord, analogue digital, and, a+d, a’n’d, etc.) is a genre of electronic music emerging from Great Britain that has gained popularity especially in Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and the United States of America. Notable artists include Ceephax and Aphex Twin (under his guises AFX, Analord, and The Tuss). The core philosophy of a&d is the desire to make music to dance, party, and chill out to either at a rave or at home with friends. Equally important is the exploration of the possibilities inherent in electronic music combined with the methodology of using real studio equipment rather than digital audio workstations. a&d tracks are often considered by critics and artists to have a strong sense of humour and playfulness.

    Aesthetic, methodology and influence

    Analogue and digital influenced the electronic music community to think more about aesthetic and methodology when making electronic music. The genre is named after the two main areas of electronics because exploring electronics in music is the key idea of the genre. Sound creation in a&d features both analogue and digital synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines; however a&d recordings are mostly done in the analogue domain due to a perceived better sound quality and individuality of the recording.

    The main non-musical characteristics of a&d include: working in a music studio with real studio equipment (based on analogue and digital electronics) rather than modern computers, recording the music to magnetic tape on a high quality tape machine, and releasing the music primarily on vinyl (especially high quality 180 gram).

    It has been known for a&d musicians to compromise by recording to digital audio workstations due to cheaper cost, despite the fact that a&d pushes itself towards a purer more classic aesthetic of recording an analogue signal to magnetic recording tape. Other compromises are made at the discretion of the artist.

    An example reel-to-reel tape recorder. Analogue recording is important to a&d’s methodology.

    Musical influences & progenitors

    a&d is heavily inspired by pioneers such as Larry Heard, Juan Atkins, Rob Hubbard, 808 State, Underground Resistance,  and Drexciya. The early pioneers of tape based electronic music such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bernard Parmegiani and Delia Derbyshire are also an influence, as well as synthesizer music such as Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Vangelis, and Wendy Carlos.

    Subgenres

    • Acid – Modern version of acid house made mostly with Roland music gear like Roland TB-303. (Song titles often begin or end with the word “acid”)
    • Computer Music – Music made with academic computer software such as SuperCollider, PureData, Max/Msp, and ChucK. Hardware includes the Eventide Orville and Eventide DSP 4000. Aphex Twin has used UPIC but has yet to release any tracks. Analogue computers and digital logic trainers include Comdyna, CES, Heathkit, & Romtek.
    • Oldschool Hardcore – nearly identical to the hardcore of the early 1990s. (Sample trackers such as Octamed on the Amiga are often used.)
    • Chiptune – Music made with microprocessor computers such as the Commodore 64 and Nintendo Gameboy.
    • a&d d&bJungle or drum and bass, made with hardware samplers by manufacturers such as Akai,E-mu,Roland, and Yamaha. Arrangements and drum programming are slightly more intricate and sophisticated than oldschool jungle yet offers a similar vibe. A good first stop for a&d artists due to the cheap price of high quality (due to unpopularity) of hardware samplers.
    • FM- Bizarre rhythmic music created with the frequency modulation synthesis discovered by John Chowning in 1967. Named after the Yamaha TX/DX range of FM synthesizer. Track title often contain TX or DX or both.

    Example analogue and digital electronic equipment

    Analogue Monosynth Fenix Modular EMS Synthi 100 Korg MS-20 Roland 100m Yamaha CS30
    Roland MC-202 Roland SH-101 Roland TB-303
    Analogue Organ Yamaha GX1 Yamaha E70 Yamaha E75 Yamaha D80 Allen Continental Carousel
    Analogue Polysynth Yamaha CS80 Yamaha CS70m Roland Jupiter 8 Roland Jupiter 6 Kawai SX-240
    Digital Synth Yamaha DX7 Kawai K4 Roland D50 Yamaha TX7 Yamaha TX816
    Sampler Akai S950 Akai S6000 Yamaha A5000 Yamaha A3000 E-mu Emulator III
    Sequencer Atari ST Roland MC-4 Microcomposer Roland MC-202 Roland TB-303 Yamaha QY300
    Drum Machine Roland TR-606 Roland TR-707 Roland TR-727 Roland TR-808 Roland TR-909
    Microcomputer Amiga 500 Commodore 64 Nintendo Gameboy ZX Spectrum Atari ST

    Each a&d artist makes up his or her own mind what to use. Nowhere near being a comprehensive database. Contributions welcome.

    Analogue effects such as spring reverb, plate reverb, and tape echo feature heavily. CV/Gate, V/Hz, MIDI, DCB and DIN sync controlled synths and drum machines are a must. Live performances are often done by the artist playing live keyboards, live effect knob twiddling, and live mixer slider sliding. Classic Roland synthesizers and drum machines, nicknamed the x0x series, such as the Roland TR-606, Roland TB-303, and Roland SH-101 often feature. a&d artists use whatever electronic equipment they prefer to create, modify, or do what they please to sounds. Artists such as Ceephax use classic Roland equipment (popular) while Florian Hecker uses a rare Comdyna Analog Computer along with Serge Modules (rare). Each artist has his or her own preferences.

    Background information

    Track titles and record artwork Song titles and artwork proudly display the electronic equipment used to create the music. For example Analord featured the sounds of the Synton Fenix programmed by a Roland MC-4 Microcomposer. Confederation Trough EP by The Tuss featured the rare Yamaha GX1 synthesizer.

    Rejection of early 2000’s fashionable trends a&d as a genre mostly rejects trends such as digital audio workstations, VST, and virtual analogue synthesizers. a&d is mostly created with classic studio gear. Analogue recording is a must. a&d is based on the idea that the process is as important as the end result, though not the only important feature of making music. Even the usefulness of stereo sound has been questioned, Naks Acid (mono) by AFX poking fun at the fashion of the time for surround sound technology and 24-bits/96KHz, was recorded on a Nakamichi high quality 3 head cassette deck, and could be heard (slightly subversively) on the soundtrack for the Sony PSP game Wipeout Pure. Naks is the shortening for Nakamichi used by the fan site naks.com

    An example Nakamichi cassette deck.

    Nomenclature a&d is sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘analogue music’, however while the recording medium is often strictly analogue in nature, the sound generating and control devices are a mix of analogue and digital, hence the genre title. For example digital samplers and digital drum machines feature prominently in many tracks. Around the world the genre is spelt with the spelling “analogue” rather than “analog” (U.K. spelling rather than U.S.A. spelling).

    The Lessines Chelmsford Prendergast Foundation In 2002 Ceephax along with Firstcask records created The Lessines Chelmsford Prendergast Foundation with its goal to “promote innovation in electronic music and popular cultures!”. A website was created detailing old synthesizers and old techniques in electronic music, but the site is no longer available. [1]

    The Star Wars argument

    The argument states that the virtual analogue, VST, and digital audio workstation music from about the year 2000 was similar to the new Star Wars movies (Computer Graphics for the sake of the argument was considered unacceptable and undesirable). The qualities of the original (non-Computer Graphics) Star Wars movies were more desirable so the argument was to lead the electronic music community away from virtual studio music towards real studio equipment. The original Star Wars movies were filmed using film cameras, and the space ships were real life scaled models and the aliens were puppets or people dressed in costumes. However the new Star Wars movies were filmed with digital techniques and the space ships and alien characters were created with computer imagery. Analogue & digital is basically the old Star Wars movies. Analogue & digital rejects the “new Star Wars movies” of music like the public rejected Jar Jar Binks. – Arnold “House” Dicá (explaining the reasoning behind a&d to an electronic music periodical).

    The Knight Rider argument

    The introduction sequence for the original Knight Rider series was a masterpiece of beauty and excitement, though the programme itself wasn’t always as great as the title sequence. A lot of the credit for the beauty goes to the Trans AM car used in the series, the 80s setting, and the stunning desert view. Later movies such as Knight Rider 2000 and remakes such as Team Knight Rider and Knight Rider 2008 were aesthetically and financially unsuccessful because the creators used talking cars instead of a talking Trans AM. What is Knight Rider without the Trans AM? – Gordon the Gopher (Explaining why achieving a perfect aesthetic is the true goal of a&d)

    Aphex Twin online Around the time of Analord’s release, Richard James went online and discussed his feelings about analogue equipment and VSTs in general, as well as software emulations of the TB-303, on the Planet Mu website forum. Because no interviews were conducted at the time, it was the only public conversation that James has conducted related to his Analord series. Three Aphex’s comments(search for “Analord”) He also explained his thoughts on electronic music gear on the Analog Heaven mailing list: Aphex Twin under pseudonyms Montly-Catalog and Panflet*Search*

    DIY record labels Ceephax and Acid Quiff started Funbox Records, a cassette tape label dedicated to releasing music on out of fashion yet still useful formats such as VHS and cassette tape.

    Influential documents

    Forums

    We Are The Music Makers
    American Aphex Twin fan site run by a fella from Texas called Joyrex.

    xltronic
    European Aphex Twin fan site run by the hard-as-nails Phobiazero. The archive goes back to 2001, so you can laugh at each other’s old posts.

    Safe Bra
    Electronic music website. Keep on topic and don’t be rude otherwise pub landlord Mr F. Bastard will clonk you over the head with his Ken Griffey Jr baseball bat. Safe.

    Braindance
    Planet Mu closed its forum and the members started a new community.

    Shout outs to Dutch Acid Crews!!!

    103 Responses to “a&d”

    1. http://prussianphoenix.bandcamp.com – analogue and digital electronic music

    2. lu l'Hannez said

      hi, sounds nice

    3. Nice one!! We are 7 Estrelo from Brazil… we mix analogue with eletronic music in our own brazilian songs!!
      http://www.7estrelo.org

    4. kuromaku15 said

      http://britishacid.bandcamp.com/ http://britishacid.wordpress.com/ british acid trax / british acid ……. aciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid

    5. British Acid said

      http://britishacid.bandcamp.com
      British Acid Trax

    6. dghon said

      a&d

    7. P.G. Tips said

      http://www.amazon.com/Aesthetic-Anesthetic/dp/B004B2OS7Y
      mp3 samples

    8. P.G. Tips said

      http://www.brainchops.net

    9. pacifictrashvortex said

      check this guy out
      monarch
      funky mono-synth acid

      http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/aesthetic-anesthetic/id402188782

    10. Jade said

      Ha. What does that mean?

    11. Pedro said

      How FUCKING DARE you right THIS FUCKING article! Im COMING TO GET YOU SOON!

    12. dan said

      Quite interesting.

    13. Mork from ORK said

      Monolog X is fucking epic win

    14. Jade said

      And don’t get me started on those dream merchants called Primal Scream… *Fallsdown*

    15. Jade said

      And in the lead we have Japan with 879 visitors… traipsing behind at 791 we have Great Britain…

    16. Jade said

      I’m in love with Duel by Propaganda.

    17. Jade said

      http://freshonthenet.co.uk/the-manual-by-the-klf/

    18. Jade said

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manual

    19. Jade said

      Does anyone know what the drum machines and keyboard are on Positive Reaction by Mandy Smith?

    20. Jade said

      I’ve become obsessed with Mandy Smith. There’s something about her I can relate to. I wish one of her songs could be remade into a vengeful beast out for Bill Wyman’s guts.

    21. Jade said

      I love Depeche Mode. They’re so stand behind the keyboards.

    22. Jade said

      Edit: Obsessed.

    23. Jade said

      You should see DEVO live. They put bands half their age to shame. Mark Mothersbaugh threw a zimmerframe into the audience. The lights… I’ve never seen anything like it. They move very robotic. My uncle Gary stalks Gary Numan. He’s obssessed with DEVO. I went with the family to Birmingham Symphony Hall to see them. It was a room full of freaks. Scanners supported and tears fell. Then DEVO came on and everyone lost it.

    24. Jade said

      Only joking.

    25. Jade said

      The Saturdays are the future of electronic music.

    26. Jade said

      It’s amazing seeing the places where people are from who look on here. Mainly Northern places in England, and Japan. There’s Americans now, and everything.

    27. Jade Webster said

      Subvert the system. Or crash in. Believe in yourself. Why can’t you do it? Why?

    28. Jade Webster said

      http://www.mickkarn.net/

    29. envmod said

      New EP from Monolog X out extremely soon on Envmod!! Like, literally in a few days or something. Maybe longer. Look, I dunno OK??

      Soon.

    30. Paul F said

      Fantabuloso music! More! MORE!

    31. Jade said

      Good job. Whole of Soulseek is arguing over this blog.

      Why.

    32. Nick said

      New tune made with all hardware, mixed to 1/4 inch 2 track analogue.
      http://soundcloud.com/nsputnik/space-hop

    33. lol said

      http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/

    34. ACID said

      ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID ACID

    35. Pete "Octava Man" said

      Octava Man, my acid prject. Can u add it plz?

    36. Sawyer said

      A.c.I.d. R.o.B.o.T.s.

    37. wtf said

      wtf lol

      i like it

    38. D.A. Smart Bomb said

      a&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&da&d

    39. pppppppppppppppppp said

      Hurry up!!!

    40. mindbender47 said

      captain ! ?

    41. John Tykerinianin said

      Good job. Whole of Soulseek is arguing over this blog.

    42. Acid Meistro said

      Nakamichi == WIN

    43. last statian said

      lol @ last.fm comment pages

    44. grand theft electra said

      herrk ! a&d
      classic trolling/wind up
      good tunes man/men/women/woman

    45. a&d reality said

      http://www.theradgeworks.co.uk/music/2010/analogue-and-digital-1/

    46. sideways plain path said

      a&d sidechains

      chains four! chains

    47. Naks Acid said

      Electronic Music

    48. td75 said

      chris moss acid & eod are my favourates

      I shall be sure to try that envmod link

      Awesame web-site, Thank You

      perrie

    49. Phelix Phighter said

      Impakt Acid – Thats a Good Acid!!!

    50. Eh said

      impakt just released 18 tracks of a&d goodness at http://www.envmod.com

    51. THNX, who cares! said

      LOL

    52. N said

      Wicked website :)

    53. Jester said

      Put up some Free Stuff then!…

      Peace & Love!

    54. pete f said

      automatic tasty

    55. Fuck the process, it’s all about the results.

      There are only two types of music – good and bad.

      G&B not A&D

    56. FinalPhantasy said

      burp

      acid

    57. Dragon Fighter said

      Virtually great! a&D analogues and digitals signal. We get here! Electronic of Aphex Twin is a good

    58. mysterically men said

      v. drexciyan/analord-ish music here. i like a lot

    59. Todge said

      Thankx for this!! Im gonna buy a synth next week, Casio CZ 101
      Cant fuckin wait man!! Loads of good Music here. Fuckin thanks for sharing!!

    60. Bull shit said

      A & D is a fucking Bullshit name

    61. Software Bug said

      join the future

    62. aciiiiiiiiiiiid

    63. leftyjon1979 said

      if steve albini had picked up a 303 instead of a guitar…

    64. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/audio/2009/sep/30/music-weekly-warp-records

      • £20
        lets celebrate £20
        new compilation
        warp £20
        “give us £20, then another £20, then another £20″
        we use £20 to release more guitar
        influence the world into trendy guitar
        acid? no son, we spend our riches on guitar
        techno? no son, we pander to NME fashions
        20 years? £20!!!! give us your money!!!!!!! WE LOVE
        MONEY!!!!!!!
        Mmmmmmmmmmm LOTS OF MONEY FOR ME!!!!!!!!
        what about the electronic music ulture u abandoned
        u allow america to define everything u pushed out in
        the 90s
        all the mistakes u just stand by and watch the world
        electronic musics go to hell
        whos the leader u just stiting on your hands and knees begging aphex twin for new albums like the
        grovelling chumps
        in ur eye warp
        stuff yr £20 compilation u can shove a £20 where the sun dont shine
        and smoke £20 notes for breakfast
        who maked analord
        it was aphex the master pushing this forward yhet again
        and u beg and u beg
        support the electronic music culture
        dont give guitars warp more money

        That would make a great dance record. I can’t post on The Guardian website for some reason.

        • a&d

          Warp20 and this hoping that Aphex Twin bothers to give Warp an album one day seem like acts of desperation. The impression Warp give off is that they only care about money and they’re desperate for it. They’re probably laying off staff because of the credit crunch which would be really sad for them, but creatively Warp deserve to fail as a business because they have failed us by releasing dozens of shit rock music records over the last 10 years.

          Warp earned their reputation for putting out amazing electronic music and taking gambles on unconventional, hardly known artists and treating them well. The gamble paid off but they’ve leeched off the careers of geniuses like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher for far too long. They lost the good sense that took a gamble on those geniuses. For the last 10 years Warp have been the trend followers, not the trend setters.

          What would a new Aphex Twin album on Warp offer? Great music, sure. What is a kid who pays for that record going ask? Probably “This is great, I had better check out all the other stuff on Warp Records! Great label!”. What’s he going to get? !!!, Grizzly Bear, I could go on but I feel really sad for that kid. Fuck man, what would he get if he bought a vinyl from Rephlex? A fucking education in electronic music! Ceephax, Wisp, 808 State, DMX Krew, Ovuca, etc And when that kid puts his music on his myspace, it wont have any shitty guitars on it!

          Fuck Warp, they only care about money these days, let it die. The future of electronic music is in creative electronic music not money grubbing. Let’s stop deifying these desperately money mad businessmen and let’s make our own electronic music culture stronger.

          It’s an interview in itself.

          • girlfriend, your a nutter aren’t you? Bands such as Broadcast, Battles and Grizzly Bear are amazing musical acts. Dont forget Warp had an indie arm back in the day with Pulp records. They’ve aren’t their stripes in electronic music, so many amazing records. They given much to the progression of interesting electronic music, they have nothing left to prove in many ways but still keep bringing the acts in Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke etc…. Sure i prefer many other labels. But you acting like a madman!

            I think girlfriend is William Reid or Bobby Gillespie in disguise. As for guitars being rubbish, listen to The Jesus And Mary Chain or Primal Scream.

            • http://analogueanddigital.wordpress.com
              proper electronic music

              cultural success trumps financial success any day in art
              support the real electronic music with your money
              supporting warp just means more money goes towards guitars and chumps
              financial success is cool but if electronic music is the love of your life then you know the real artists deserve the money not the clever businessmen with bad taste. culturally great warp ended 10 years ago, now it’s only a business success.

              this is culture section of guardian not business section
              sometimes you have to fight to strengthen the culture
              because the mainstream opinion is sheepish
              time to become sheperds not sheep!!

              love electronic music? support the real artists and real electronic music culture

              Rock on.

          • loopymustard said

            @ jade webster..

            Aphex twin brothers???? WTF???? hahahaha

        • Anonymous said

          @ jade webster.

          aphex twin brothers??? WTF???

    65. giles said

      christmas has come early!!

    66. geminate said

      God, this stuff is as moribund and anachronistic as guitar based land fill…No future

    67. tony cross 2009 said

      warp ought to sign these a&d guys imho

    68. The Progressive said

      loading my ipod with a&d now
      god i love kickass free music

    69. Geraint said

      If only the Grauniad had the courage to write about this outstanding music! I have to say that Space Dimension Controller is absolutely amazing. a&d indeed!

    70. Elfed said

      What a wonderful ethic. I shall almost certainly attempt to deliver some songs within this remit…

    71. Jaqz said

      merci

    72. Photeyn Trekkard said

      A&D sucks
      a&d rules
      ;-)

    73. turbophace said

      very good article. i am studying electronic engineering now. takin’ after my dad. electronic music for teh win.

    74. Pete 92 said

      ta!! great artists here!!

    75. Bishop said

      electronic music
      analogue & digital

    76. Nick said

      Enough with the introduction. Let’s make this an actual blog. I’ll contribute posts.

    77. Miss treated Cunt said

      http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_ST

      A&D

    78. Miss treated Cunt said

      LOL =)

    79. Tiger Tiger Tiger said

      this is
      the shit!!!

      a&d

    80. Noids said

      a&d

    81. The Berk Phaseder said

      Hi,

      At first I were thinking that this were the biggest lumps of shit I have ever been seen. Actually I were wrong. a&d is a fucking awesome. Thank you. Thank you. You do NOT know how much you have learned me.

      Köszönöm.

    82. well done… reading through this site now

    83. tim said

      a&d kick fucking ass
      electronic music!!

    84. surata-chan said

      んじゃ!!!

    85. takashi said

      すげぇ a&d

    86. Pev said

      thank you for introduce impakt to me
      that is a genius music

    87. Techno Metropolis said

      a&d

    88. Michael Jackson rebirht as robotor said

      Hello! =)

    89. junko said

      omoshiroi!!!

    90. Anonymous said

      mirko man!

    91. Porni said

      a&d
      the best music
      dziekuje
      **Porni

    92. hello said

      complete bullshit

    93. [...] a&d [...]

    94. the Editor said

      Fuck motherfucker!

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