Posting in Science
Scientists provide evidence for why the human ear inherently dislikes drum machines.
Everyone knows that electronic music is sometimes thought of—by some—as nails scraped along a blackboard with a beat but until recently, no one knew why.
It turns out the reason is that electronic beats are too perfect.
A recent paper in the journal Public Library of Science One reveals that we prefer something called long-range correlated fluctuations in beats. We humans are actually wired to like imperfection in music.
From the paper:
…computer generated perfect beat patterns are frequently devalued by listeners due to a perceived lack of human touch.
Beat formats exist as they do because, simply put, they match our body rhythm. Our physiology. Literally the way our bodies move. It makes sense if you think about dance.
Modern audio software programs offer a “humanizing” feature which adds a slight alteration to the original machine beat. By the way, humans are extremely good at discerning a “humanized” machine beat from a real human beat. But such humanized beats are, as you might expect, uncorrelated errors that are inserted somewhat randomly. Scientists find that not only can people detect such nearly imperceptible differences, they significantly prefer the real human beat. Perhaps the machines cannot reproduced that irreplaceable and difficult-to-articulate thing that makes us swoon. What we might learn from this study is that technology cannot manufacture soul.
[Full disclosure: I was a teenager in the 1980s. And I love Kraftwerk.]
In this study scientists provide evidence that human listeners significantly prefer long-range correlated fluctuations in rhythms, which are the slightly inaccurate, slightly messy kind that only humans can create.
The 1980s brought the birth of mainstream techno with record sales of the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer. The innovative beat maker that paved the way for serious hip hop and electronica beats to let your backbone slide, but the real thing might win the in end. Sometimes technology still can't beat a human.
As Joe Stilgoe writes in his post:
It is very easy to replace a bad drummer with a machine. It’s almost impossible to replace a good one. At its best, drumming is as close as music comes to dance. It is about feel, touch, dynamics and movement. It resists automation and thankfully it will carry on doing so.
[via Responsible Innovation]
[photo credit Threadless]
Nov 16, 2011
ok, this article is wrong and innacurrate! Let me explain why. When I produce electronic music I always use swing/shuffle. This means displacing the drum elements out of phase to create a more natural feel. Every electronic producer does this, so logically it cannot be the perfect beat causing this. Instead the reason why techno is repetitive is due to the lack of chorus. The verse is the part where the emotional tension builds up and the chorus is the part where the emotional tension releases. On radio for example, there is a constant discharge with a lot of chorus, as a matter of fact they use a strong chorus to drive that into your head so that you sing it none stop even after you've turned off the radio. It's a marketing technique. The disadvantage is when there is a lot of Chorus the song becomes very loud and annoying after a while. On the other hand with techno, it's completely the opposite... There is a lot of build up that goes no where. There is a lot of verse, verse verse. Unlike trance that has a hands up in the air feeling after the build up where you can hear the loud chorus taking up the whole room, well with techno after the build up, it goes back to a very minimal beat. The advantage of techno is that you can listen to it for long periods of time as background music and you won't be annoyed like radio music. Another problem with this article is that the techno song example is actually trance. You can deduce that by hearing the loud pitch vocals and synths. Techno is very minimal sounding, and had a lot complexity in sounds, it is also much much darker with NO VOCALS (or maybe some dude talking) but no SINGING EVER!!! Because there is no melodies in Techno. This is why this example is wrong. But this brings me to the point that there is very little chorus in techno (unlike this song) the lack of release and repetitive beat makes is a good candidate for long hours of listening as background music and because of that real techno is enjoyed as a filler in the background while you're doing something else or enjoying yourself dancing to a relentless beat without stopping (if the beat is infused with high intensity sounds). You can differ techno because it only contains drum sounds and very little melodies. Proper example of techno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqP9FYyt0LU I hope my statement proves how this article is wrong in many different ways (example and statement) on how also there are different tastes for different occasions. As a matter of fact people who listen to techno/underground CANNOT get hypnotized that easily by the "RADIO CHORUS" that's heard everyday. The marketing schemes don't work on them. They are not that emotionally concerned with the song. There is a certain affinity to emotionless rhythm that conveys mental imagery and escapism while listening to a never ending verse. It is a feeling of detachement. With radio music and strong chorus driven songs, you can only listen to them a few times because they get on your nerves. Unlike this example which was trance, real Techno will reveal a new hidden sound everytime on closer inspection. It was meant to be subtle and detached for a trip to somewhere! Here's another real Techno example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWs1WPOKZqo Here is another example of Techno with plenty of movement in the drum track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwZPO-AfgYs 2 rules to Techno: 1. No melodies (chorus) 2. Strong movement in the drum track I repeat and emphasize #2: A strong drum track with lots of movement. Reason: To over-compensate for the lack of melody! WRONG WRONG WRONG... BAD ARTICLE!
I found this article really biased and offensive towards electronic music lovers. I have been listening to electronic music since I was 3 years old and I can tell for sure that you don't have the slightest idea about what true electronic music is. And the techno track attached to this article is not a good example of what techno is. This is what I would call good techno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5npqNfUB1cE PS. If you pay enough attention, most science documentaries opt for electronic music. This is the music of the future.
First off I'm a DJ/Producer Second all music derives from a very basic and simple rudimentary base. It starts with a beat typically with a four count, then the rythem and the chorus/melody depending on the Genre of music. The biggest mistake most techno and electronic music DJ's and producers make is getting stuck into one repetitive beat its not that the beat is too perfect or that it lacks talent its that the artist either forgot to create variety for there listeners by changing the beat and the mood or they plain out just don't know to due to lack of experience 9 out of 10 times don't be so quick to judge a genre that you yourself might not like not all electronic music is strictly computer generated for one and there is a very large variety of sub-genres that chances are you've never heard and if you have you weren't paying attention to it because it was clipped into a movie for background effect Techno/Electronic music is what you could classify as mood music in a sense have you ever heard of Mannheim Steamroller if not look it up I think you'll find it very surprising that it is still to this day considered the inspiration to much of the electronic music you hear all around you that you tap your toe to or bob your head to think before you criticize an entire (culture) for lack of a better word and understand beyond a shadow of a doubt everything about what you are degrading. Please people educate yourselves before you run your mouth.
I designed a few drum machines that were sold commercially, the last being in the mid '80s. What I found was that the most satisfying rhythms were those the interacted with the other instruments. Playing with other musicians is a collaborative activity. Accordingly, my machine accepted inputs from the live musician so that beats and accents could be adjusted as appropriate for accompanying the soloist. I also found that other musicians naturally sync to the drummer, so the the drums have to drive the beat always, regardless of what else they are doing.
I mean, if you're going to write about it professionally, you should at least make an attempt to get it right.
Hi, So I'm a producer of electronic music (Will Marshall on VIM). I'm also an ex-jazz musician and I have a decent classical training. I produce a style called breaks, which is not technically Techno but if you're not into Electronic Dance Music (EDM) you'd probably call it Techno anyway. Firstly, producers have known this for a long time. People no longer use step-sequencers, but program their drum beats by hand specifically to avoid them sounding robotic. You can hear extreme examples of this in the music of a producer called Flying Lotus, who produces computer jazz (and is John Coltrane's nephew), but the standard production techniques have long since moved beyond perfectly-timed beats. Secondly, you're grossly misusing the term "Techno". Techno is a niche style of EDM - the majority of what you'd hear on the radio is House. Electronic music isn't written by computers ;)
It is very easy to replace a bad drummer with a machine. It???s almost impossible to replace a good one. Levon Helm would agree. So do I.
a study I read about years ago about the old phonograph vs CD debate. It concluded that people preferred the imperfections of music played on a phonograph over the superior reproduction of the same music on a CD. (There's other factors, too) An argument that can't be settled with a double blind test since there's more, and different, random noise coming out of a phonograph than a CD player & it's easy to hear.
What a waste of time researching what kinds of drum beats humans prefer, that's like asking whether sushi chefs prefer wild tuna or farm raised tuna. Duh.
Give this a spin and then come back and tell us there is no "soul" in it - http://soundcloud.com/leeburridge/lee-burridge-live-at-lightning
Hi, willrjmarshall, I'm a Country singer, but I'd like to hear the 'real' techno that you mention, can you point me to any, on, say youtube? Regards, Ian C.
It wasn't bad Christopher, but not something I could listen to all the time. Liked the Take Five a lot. But could not listen to it all day either. I like a variety of music. Try some of the old big band, or blues.
I tried, christopher_jablonski, I really tried. Couldn't listen for more than 45 seconds though so maybe there is some soul in there somewhere later on. I have to agree with the premise of the article, with a caveat. I am a musician (guitar player) with very strong tastes acquired over 40 years of playing. Some attempts at music just must be turned off!
Look up the The Belleville Three for some of the early Techno sound. I believe the three to be known as some of the early pioneers. I can't say for sure, because I wasn't around until 1998. I'm only 30 so I caught the tail end and wasn't in Detroit. I was however, in the Midwest and Chicago. One of the plates that caught my attention was of House Music decent and not Techno. It was a 12" plate out of Olympia Fields, IL by Steve "Silk" Hurley & The Voices Of Life feat Sharron Pass- The Word Is Love (Say The Word). The record I purchased had 2 A sides and 2 B sides. I believe it to be released around 1998, because I know I could only ever get my hands on one copy while I was down there. (I still to this day would like to have dual copies. I bump this track every time I drive to Chicago. It was the first House song that I had heard so it stuck with me. You see, Garage, House, Breaks, Jungle / Drum and Bass, Techno, Trance and 100's of others are so called Genre's and Sub Genre's of Electronic Dance Music or (E.D.M.). Watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1HpY65cA If you would like to understand the History of House Music.. I personally fell in love with this particular style and still to this day play almost nothing but House and E.D.M.!!! I grew up in a very musical family... Everyone in my family still plays today! I choose E.D.M. because I could find all the elements of every rock , classical, oldie, swing, blues, or jazz band that I fell in love with and enjoyed , House was actually coined House because of it always being played at the warehouse and was naturally shortened by human language and was shortened. If you would like to understand more about EDM and Genre's this will help you learn. Iskur's guide to Electronic Music http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/ It shows the branches and has playable loops, samples, and tracks.
You listened for 45 seconds and you say you tried. I hope people trying to expand their horizons give the music you create more of an opportunity than you just did. You exemplify the attitude of music haters of all genres; you hate just because you do.
I am not a writer and I also am terrible with grammar and english. I hope you can read and understand it. I have not re-read it and I like run on sentences. haha Either way have a good day! - DJRyanPatrick Kikwear | Lepson Lasers | Weird Ass Kids