Saturday, June 21, 2008

Detroit: Myth Hating, Myth Creating [Part III of III] {Detroit Techno City}

Still with us? As a quick recap, this is the third part of a three part series on Detroit: the music, the myth, and, in Thomas' case, the place itself first and foremost. For this third post, Chris and I sent Thomas (Pipecock) Cox our draft posts in order to elicit a reply. The result is less a response and more of an affirmation of love. In any case, here it is, the Detroit of a Detroit lover...

Pipecock's piece:


When I was first introduced to techno music, it was during the heyday of hard, banging techno in the early summer of 1998, almost exactly 10 years ago. I went to an all techno party in my hometown of Pittsburgh to hand out flyers for an event I was throwing with the intention of sticking around for just a short while and then checking out some other things going on that night. As I wandered outside into the already bright day around 8am the next day, I realised that techno music was not what I had previously thought. Seeing artists like Vapourspace, Christian Smith, John Selway, Alexi Delano and others made me realise how ridiculously diverse a night of one genre of music could be. Techno never really took hold in Pittsburgh in the 80s, so there was no independent scene based around it. It was always in the context of raving that it was presented. Seeing a party based around the genre alone, it became obvious to me that this style was beyond simple rave music. I began buying mixes and a few vinyls here and there from artists like Thomas Krome, Ben Sims, Chris Liebing, and Surgeon. This variety of techno was right up my alley as I was mainly into harder dance music like drum and bass, hardcore, and early breakcore. Due to my new affinity for techno, I volunteered to drive up to Cleveland a few months later to hand out flyers at an event called "Phunktion" which featured deejays Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch, Joel Mull, and Christian Smith over two nights. Little did I know that they would all pale in comparison to one of the greatest deejay sets I have ever seen. On the first night around 3am, a black man dressed in all white hit the decks like a whirling dervish, playing music like I had never heard and mixing it fast and furious. The music was not techno like I was used to, the sounds were electronic but far more elegant and beautiful than hard and pounding. I swear he never let a single record play for more than 30 seconds. The man was Derrick May.

After watching him play for hours with smooth intensity like I had not previously witnessed, my idea of techno changed. I still liked the harder stuff, but I began seeking out records like Derrick played. This led me to "Nude Photo", Basic Channel, Shake, Laurent Garnier, Drexciya, Underground Resistance, Recloose, Dan Bell, and Aril Brikha. As I grew increasingly disillusioned with the constant "progression" of UK dance music, I found comfort in the references to all the other music I liked in techno. Jazz, reggae, soul, funk, pop, it was all in there but twisted up into a cohesive sound that still sounded more fresh than the music that sold itself as being "futuristic". I began exploring other sounds like broken beats and house, and I continually noticed many references to Detroit music. My mind was being twisted by Marc Mac, Titonton, John Tejada, and many others all of whom were clear about the influence of Detroit music on their own. The discovery of Theo Parrish in particular really helped me to understand the importance of Detroit as he played music from all over the map, much of which came from the 313.

I missed the first three because of my crappy job that required working weekends, but when the opportunity finally arose for me to attend DEMF in 2003 I jumped on it despite being almost completely broke. This was my first chance to witness a celebration of the music I was increasingly in love with in the place where it came from, and it affected me deeply. Seeing the reaction of the hometown crowd to the 3 Chairs set in the tent on Sunday night was especially intense, it was not anything like what I was used to seeing. Every subsequent trip to Detroit has revealed more and more about the city and the people who live there, each bit another piece of the puzzle of techno music. At some point I realized why Detroit was so important to dance music: techno culture IS Detroit culture.

If you read mainstream dance music media, it will tell you that techno is about hedonistic Berlin nights, hyper-intellectual futurism, wild drug binges on Ibiza, glowing blue cubes, the newest production software, and a plethora of other scenarios. None of this is true in the least. Techno is DIY electronic punk soul music, nothing more and nothing less. It is made mostly by black people living inside the city of Detroit, people who have been influenced by the culture that exists in that forgotten void.

The stories about Electrifyin' Mojo are almost stereotypical at this point, but to truly understand what that means to the music one needs only to visit the city. One Sunday morning while I was eating breakfast at the Clique restaurant on Jefferson Ave. downtown (the best breakfast spot I've ever been to!), I found myself tapping my foot along to an odd choice of Muzak. It took a second to recognize due to the lack of context: it was Paul Hardcastle's "Rainforest"! This was followed up by choice disco-funk jams by Rick James and others. This constant influence can even be heard in the music of hip-hop producers like Jay Dee whose tracks were chosen by Laurent Garnier for his "Detroit Perspective" mix for the Kings of Techno compilation and Waajeed whose mix CD for 555 Soul included "techno-influenced geek music" as he calls it in the liner notes. Regarding the famous Derrick May quote about techno's origins "it's like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company", people forget that it is as much George Clinton as it is Kraftwerk. Each was equally important to techno music, the electronics without the funk is not techno music. The history of Detroit music before Mojo is no less important, some of the most intense jazz, funk, soul, and even rock music recorded has its roots in the seventh city and can be heard in the music of musicians like Carl Craig, Moodymann, and Anthony Shakir.

Mojo certainly influenced the selection of music, but it was Jeff Mills aka the Wizard whose mixing style has defined techno deejaying techniques. His quick mixing and cutting on the radio in the 80s influenced nearly every producer and deejay who would go on to invent techno music. Mills' style is also what influenced many deejays outside of Detroit like Richie Hawtin and Surgeon. This has been a constant through over 20 years of techno no matter what the subgenre of the week is. The futurism of Juan Atkins and Jeff Mills, while different even from each other, is often confused with being the essence of techno music. In reality, those are just the distinct visions of two of the most prolific and popular Detroit artists which have been ripped off and

Car culture is techno culture. Detroit is huge, due to it being home of the US auto industry. The factory jobs and pride in their own work led to everyone owning a car. This is reflected in the earliest Detroit records, from the catalogue number on "Sharevari", Cybotron's "Cosmic Cars", Model 500's "Night Drive Through Babylon" to Mad Mike financing Underground Resistance through his street racing and Omar-S' well publicised love of racing. Derrick May, DJ Assault, Theo Parrish, and many more have a widely known love of automobiles, which influences them and also their music. Driving in Detroit is not like driving anywhere else, possibly the only comparable place I have driven are Germany's Autobahns which were influential to Kraftwerk, yet another connection between the 313 and the robots.

Detroit's economic conditions since the race riots in the late 60s have a huge impact on the sound of techno. Aside from the auto factories obvious influence, the exodus of businesses and white people to the suburbs left the inner city to fend for itself. A drive through Detroit's business districts reveals countless thousands of independent black owned businsses. Combined with the musical legacy, the founding of labels, distributors, clubs, and record shops by the techno artists themselves had a fertile ground in which to grow. In Detroit, it is never expected that someone else will do something for you. No wonder the artists from the city have such a fiercely independent streak! It is also obvious why Detroit artists take offense to the watering down of their music: in a city where you have to fend for yourself to make ends meet, seeing people cashing in on a weaker version of your creation is seeing people take food out of your family's mouths.

To assume that techno could have been created anywhere else on the planet is erroneous. It almost seems like techno exploded out of nowhere in the mid-80s, years after the records by Cybotron and A Number of Names that predicted the sound. What really happened was that the artists involved simply distilled their experiences and influences of living in Detroit into music, and not surprisingly it came out sounding like a cohesive whole. The personalities of each artist gave them a special sound, while the overall culture made those sounds work together. Sure, a debt is owed to many artists outside of the city, especially Kraftwerk and the early Chicago house producers, but props and respect is always given to those who deserve it. Sadly, those props are not always returned by those who should! Notably though, Kraftwerk performs the Underground Resistance mix of their song "Expo 2000" in their live sets, giving love to Detroit even though it was they who influenced Detroit, not the other way around.

Techno no longer belongs exclusively to Detroit, but the people who make real techno music all have some understanding of how to properly combine funk and electronics. From popular artists like 4 Hero through to the underground cats at Delsin, the Detroit aesthetic lives many places. A huge number of artists rip off the sounds, but miss the feeling. I know some people look down so-called "ghetto tech", but really it is techno music much more so than 99% of what is out there calling itself techno.

Every trend in techno has roots in Detroit music, even acts such as BT and Deep Dish were involved with Carl Craig before setting off down the progressive house and trance paths. The harder end of techno was all based on the music of Jeff Mills and Robert Hood. Electroclash leaned heavily on Detroit artists like Adult and Dopplereffekt because Detroit is one place where electro never went away. Whether you attribute the current trend of mnml to Basic Channel, Richie Hawtin, or whomever else, they all owe their sounds to Detroit. These fads come and go, but there is always Detroit right smack in the middle of each one. And when they go away, Detroit remains. Just like it always does.

56 comments:

  1. much thanks + respect to pipecock for taking the time to contribute. a really excellent read...

    now, discuss!

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  2. Interesting reads, all three pieces. I especially thought Pete nailed the myth on the head.

    While techno might have never developed quite the way it did without the groundbreaking works of the Detroit scene, I think assertions that techno would not exist without Detroit are overblown at best.

    Germany had a long tradition of electronic music -- Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel/Manuel Göttsching, all the EBM artists like Liaisons Dangereuses and DAF, Kraftwerk, et al. -- before Detroit before the Belleville Three laid eyes on synthesizers. That doesn't make them better or necessarily the inventors, but their existence is essential to the history of techno.

    Perhaps techno would have a different sort of soul without the influence of Detroit's futurism as means of escapism M.O. (Although I'm sure there were plenty of Germans with something to want to mentally escape from.) Luckily, that's not the way things worked out.

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  3. Also, I have to add that I hear Detroit influences in a TON of contemporary techno artists, and Detroit's influence on techno's development is immense. I absolutely love Detroit techno, regardless of the diatribes and myths.

    I think people take the Detroit claim to fame rhetoric too seriously and defensively, though, which is perhaps worse than the myth itself.

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  4. @ Pipecock:

    "To assume that techno could have been created anywhere else on the planet is erroneous. It almost seems like techno exploded out of nowhere in the mid-80s, years after the records by Cybotron and A Number of Names that predicted the sound. What really happened was that the artists involved simply distilled their experiences and influences of living in Detroit into music, and not surprisingly it came out sounding like a cohesive whole."

    Could you explain what you mean by this?

    It sounds very much like a creation myth, especially where you assert that it "exploded out of nowhere" and that it "came out sounding like a cohesive whole."

    And you say "To assume that techno could have been created anywhere else on the planet is erroneous."

    How do you square that with the fact that techno was, has been and is created all over the world, often by people who have no knowledge of Detroit. Did Roland corp. know about Detroit before they made the 808 and 909?

    Kraftwerk began work on the 'Techno Pop' album in 1982. 'Computer World' contains at least three tracks which aren't even proto-techno, they're fully-formed techno. YMO released 'Technodelic' in 1981. Neither group is either from Detroit. Moroder and Summer did 'I Feel Love' in 1977... not from Detroit, no knowledge of Detroit techno.

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  5. So, let's add to the previous comment. Let's just say, you've heard disco, you've heard Kraftwerk, you've heard YMO, you've heard Moroder. Then you listen to these albums:

    John Foxx – Metamatic (1980)

    Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle (1979)

    Depeche Mode – Speak and Spell (1981)

    Yello – Solid Pleasure (1981)

    The Normal – TV OD/Warm Leatherette 7” (1978)

    Cabaret Voltaire – Mix Up (1978)

    Telex – Looking for St. Tropez (1979)

    Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – Sound on Sound (1979)

    Severed Heads – Since the Accident (1983)

    And you've just bought a drum machine and a synth... maybe you've been listening to ESG and Liquid Liquid, too. And probably Talking Heads.

    To wit, you have the above influences under your belt and you have drums and synths...

    What kind of music would you make?

    I mention this because it gives you:

    - means/motive

    - material/technology

    - imagination/aesthetic

    What else was necessary? And/or if you have any combination of the things mentioned, how is Detroit necessary in any way?

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  6. Oh yeah, and what about Herbie Hancock? And the Egyptian Lover? And Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster D ST, Grandmaster Flash etc.... I'm saying, you'd probably heard 'em all. And even Eddy Grant's 'Electric Avenue'...then by 85 you've got Wrecking Cru, by 87 you've got NWA and PE.... there was techno in any of that, and for a lot of producers these dudes were their first inspiration.

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  7. In fact (and sorry for the rolling posts) I think that H Hancock is a really under-recognised influence on a lot of electronic music... and Sly and Robbie, too. Okay, enough from me for the time being...

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  8. PC, you seem to think that Detroit had no role in techno at all! Yet just as much as the influences you mention the sounds created in Detroit are as common place in modern techno (can we call it that anymore, no?) as any of the artists you mentioned. Techno as it is today would not sound like it would if not for Detroit. I don't think that fact can be denied. It's all hearsay "if things hadn't happened that did in Detroit it would have happened anyways", we don't and can't know that for sure, but thats the way it stands,it DID happen in Detroit. If it could have happened anywhere why didn't it?

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  9. "Could you explain what you mean by this?

    It sounds very much like a creation myth, especially where you assert that it "exploded out of nowhere" and that it "came out sounding like a cohesive whole.""

    i didnt assert that it "exploded out of nowhere", i said that "It almost seems like techno exploded out of nowhere", a key difference. the idea is that it was a result of a sum of influences that were just not possible anywhere else. all the small bits of Detroit culture influenced the sound to the point where the players all had similar reference points without a single club as a focal point like there was in Chicago or New York. it was not just a subculture that created techno, it was mainstream Detroit culture.

    "How do you square that with the fact that techno was, has been and is created all over the world, often by people who have no knowledge of Detroit. Did Roland corp. know about Detroit before they made the 808 and 909?"

    all those tools had been out and in use for years before techno was created in Detroit. those were not special to any one place. plenty of electronic music was made with those tools, but electronic music is not the same as techno. i think that is pretty basic 90's genre stuff right there ;)

    "Kraftwerk began work on the 'Techno Pop' album in 1982. 'Computer World' contains at least three tracks which aren't even proto-techno, they're fully-formed techno."

    absolute nonsense. as important as Kraftwerk is, even they will admit themselves that they were not making techno as it was born in Detroit. Kraftwerk had nothing to do with deejay culture, while techno music did. Kraftwerk were funky, but didn't have the overt funk sound like techno did.

    "YMO released 'Technodelic' in 1981. Neither group is either from Detroit. Moroder and Summer did 'I Feel Love' in 1977... not from Detroit, no knowledge of Detroit techno."

    and none of that is techno. records that were influential to techno are not the same as techno. is "Good Times" by Chic a hiphop song because its break was what was replayed for "Rapper's Delight"? quite obviously not.

    "So, let's add to the previous comment. Let's just say, you've heard disco, you've heard Kraftwerk, you've heard YMO, you've heard Moroder. Then you listen to these albums:

    ............

    And you've just bought a drum machine and a synth... maybe you've been listening to ESG and Liquid Liquid, too. And probably Talking Heads.

    To wit, you have the above influences under your belt and you have drums and synths...

    What kind of music would you make?"

    the exact same kind of music that people all over the world who were listening to those records and not inventing techno were making. synth pop, new wave, etc. whatever you want to call it. you have to look to american cities and the influence of black music and culture to see how electro was birthed from Kraftwerk and how techno was birthed from those same records.

    "I mention this because it gives you:

    - means/motive

    - material/technology

    - imagination/aesthetic

    What else was necessary? And/or if you have any combination of the things mentioned, how is Detroit necessary in any way?"

    every person on the planet had these things, yet they didn't make techno music. what it lacked was Detroit's musical heritage which includes heavy does of black music, Detroit's post-industrial aura, Detroit's underground party culture (which is covered extensively in Sicko's "Techno Rebels" book which is why i didn't get into those in my piece), etc.

    "Oh yeah, and what about Herbie Hancock? And the Egyptian Lover? And Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster D ST, Grandmaster Flash etc.... I'm saying, you'd probably heard 'em all. And even Eddy Grant's 'Electric Avenue'...then by 85 you've got Wrecking Cru, by 87 you've got NWA and PE.... there was techno in any of that, and for a lot of producers these dudes were their first inspiration."

    what i find interesting is that none of this music stands up as sounding anything similar to say "nude photo" or "no UFOs" in structure or feeling. it continues to prove that while artists all over the place were making all sorts of electronic music, none of them was making techno.

    "In fact (and sorry for the rolling posts) I think that H Hancock is a really under-recognised influence on a lot of electronic music... and Sly and Robbie, too. Okay, enough from me for the time being..."

    i don't know who is under-recognizing herbie or sly and robbie. their music was played by the deejays in many dance scenes from electro to hiphop to house to techno.

    the main point that i think should be more obvious to people is that techno is much more like a provincial type of music, not dissimilar to Miami Bass or Baltimore Club music. it is a highly localized music that has its values set in local cultures. Miami bass was not the same as New York City's electro hiphop and garage, Detroit's techno, Chicago's house, or even the west coast's electro scene. all these musics shared huge sets of influences, but they are all stylistically distinct. none of these groups had any advantages over each other outside of their local cultures, that is what makes each one a different form of music despite similar gear, influential records, etc.

    this is not unlike the origins of reggae music. the cats on jamaica were trying to play music like they heard from US radio stations that they could hear. when they added their local flavor (based of course on Jamaican culture) that is when Ska was born. the first ska record is NOT the records that influenced the ska bands, it was the first shit done locally.

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  10. I thought the High Tech Soul documentary was aimed specifically at addressing the claim that Techno couldn't have come out of anywhere else but Detroit. Have any of you seen it?

    The section with the academic is probably the highlight (and Derrick May's fart joke). The professor postulates that there wasn't any white flight as such so at least part of it is a new take on the old myth.

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  11. @ Anonymous: no, it's not a matter of denying the influence of Detroit. It's a matter of displacing or denaturing the myth of origins.

    I'm happy to concede that 'Detroit techno developed in Detroit.'

    ...that is to say, there is a specific style of electronic music called Detroit techno, with its own ethos, its own genealogy etc...

    But when you claim that techno was invented in Detroit...?! you can claim that, but only by actively forgetting certain things and tirelessly repeating others.

    Pipecock's position seems to amount to saying that 'Detroit techno is the true techno', and rhetorically this gives you a device which you can match and fit against any counter-claims in order to legitimate your truth and negate someone else's. In this schema, non-Detroit techno is then seen as illegitimate (as opposed to legitimate), imitative (as opposed to innovative) and inauthentic (as opposed to authentic).

    This claim is made because the person involved (in this case, Pipecock) 'believes' in their point of view. Like most acts of faith, it requires that you avow and repeat some things, and disavow and negate/repudiate those others that don't match your myth...

    ...hence the reason why Pipecock can't imagine either 'I feel Love' or Kraftwerk's 'Numbers' are techno, even though they could be.

    Nobody ever knows what they're involved with while they're creating it. It's only retrospectively (and selectively) that people come and do their 'category clean up', write the legitimate history, claim that history as THEE history, and then seek to de-legitimate, marginalise or otherwise negate the other possibilities, or, as I said in my piece, to 'seal the myth and man the barricades.'

    Why is this so strong with Detroit? This is my broader question. You never get Larry Heard running around claiming to have invented house – the full story is always far more complex, fraught and engtangled, and simplifying 'what happened' down to a self-serving crude hagiography which is intended to give you some kind of unassailable claim to a legitimate truth gives me the willies.

    ...and it's crap, anyway. As soon as you have people using synths and drum machines making records for disco play, and these people have been listening to all the influences I listed, you have techno – that is, if you define techno as a structure or style of music, not as 'Detroit techno'. If you do the latter, well... you have Pipecock's argument, which ends up just becoming an homage to place and personality.

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  12. "I'm happy to concede that 'Detroit techno developed in Detroit.'

    ...that is to say, there is a specific style of electronic music called Detroit techno, with its own ethos, its own genealogy etc...

    But when you claim that techno was invented in Detroit...?! you can claim that, but only by actively forgetting certain things and tirelessly repeating others."

    that is just ridiculous. there was nothing like techno before it happened in detroit. if you pick apart it's defining features, you will find each one in different places: they didn't invent repetition, they didn't invent drum machines and synthesizers, they didn't invent funk, they didn't invent deejaying. but none of those things on their own *IS* techno. to try and act as if any one of those criteria defines techno is ridiculous.

    "Pipecock's position seems to amount to saying that 'Detroit techno is the true techno', and rhetorically this gives you a device which you can match and fit against any counter-claims in order to legitimate your truth and negate someone else's. In this schema, non-Detroit techno is then seen as illegitimate (as opposed to legitimate), imitative (as opposed to innovative) and inauthentic (as opposed to authentic)."

    this sounds awfully close to some Ronan arguments. of course, i agree these things are all 100% true.

    i am going to keep coming back to my reggae comparison because i think it is a nearly perfect way to look at it. reggae music can be made outside of jamaica, and it can be made outside of jamaican culture. however, that doesn't stop reggae music from being jamaican music. the UK has a very healthy reggae scene and has had one for a very long time. this is because of the cultural influence of all the ex-islanders who moved there. but this does not make reggae British music.

    "This claim is made because the person involved (in this case, Pipecock) 'believes' in their point of view. Like most acts of faith, it requires that you avow and repeat some things, and disavow and negate/repudiate those others that don't match your myth..."

    acts of faith. "believes". the only person who is relying on beliefs that cannot be proved historically is you. you are attempting to retroactively define techno as something it NEVER WAS AT THE TIME. before the name "techno" was assigned to what happened in Detroit in the 80's, it already existed as its own thing. that was the whole point of my post. it was separate from everything else that came before it in sound.

    "...hence the reason why Pipecock can't imagine either 'I feel Love' or Kraftwerk's 'Numbers' are techno, even though they could be."

    they "could" be? "i feel love" is a disco song. 100% pure disco. nothing more, nothing less. its sound palette and structure were obviously important to house and techno, but it is neither a house song nor a techno song. "numbers" is probably much closer to techno, but by that time there were already other precursors being made in detroit that were much closer to how techno turned out, "sharevari" and "alleys of your mind".

    "Nobody ever knows what they're involved with while they're creating it. It's only retrospectively (and selectively) that people come and do their 'category clean up', write the legitimate history, claim that history as THEE history, and then seek to de-legitimate, marginalise or otherwise negate the other possibilities, or, as I said in my piece, to 'seal the myth and man the barricades.'"



    "Why is this so strong with Detroit? This is my broader question. You never get Larry Heard running around claiming to have invented house – the full story is always far more complex, fraught and engtangled, and simplifying 'what happened' down to a self-serving crude hagiography which is intended to give you some kind of unassailable claim to a legitimate truth gives me the willies."

    Larry Heard didn't invent house music, that is why he isn't taking credit for it. the people most involved with it are either dead (Ron Hardy) or widely known to be the creators of the music (Jesse Saunders, etc.). no one is claiming that the disco records played by Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse which coined the term "house music" were the first house records. it doesn't make any sense that that standard would be held to techno either.

    "...and it's crap, anyway. As soon as you have people using synths and drum machines making records for disco play, and these people have been listening to all the influences I listed, you have techno – that is, if you define techno as a structure or style of music"

    that is such a ridiculously revisionist argument that i don't even know where to start with it. none of those synthpop artists you seem so obsessed with (interesting of course is that they are all white guys outside of YMO) would even begin to say that they invented techno, and for good reason: they didn't. i know many of them are aware of the influence they had (Depeche Mode visited the Music Institute, i mentioned Kraftwerk using UR's remix of their tune in their live shows, etc) but they are all aware that culturally what they were doing was very far from what techno is. and techno culture was defined by Detroit culture.

    "not as 'Detroit techno'. If you do the latter, well... you have Pipecock's argument, which ends up just becoming an homage to place and personality."

    no, it is a direct referral to the culture that birthed techno, which is what gave it most of its important characteristics that separated it from those records that came before it. that is what my piece was about, and that is the most important way to define the music. lots of different people were listening to those records, and not making or doing anything like techno. it was Detroit culture that made the important step.

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  13. Could Chris, PC and Pipecock each provide a defintion of techno?

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  14. RE: anonymous

    Could you please provide a definition of rock 'n roll?

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  15. @pipecock:... the reggae argument is bogus. Reggae has a 30-40 year distinct history which can be totally told through Jamaica: an aesthetic, a rhythm and a whole series of technical, cultural and musical developments which occurred there. I don't think we would be even having this discussion on a reggae blog, and I think the fact that we are having this discussion on an electronic music blog demonstrates that 'it's not as simple as that.'

    So my question/position:

    Is techno defined by

    - history

    - sound/style

    - structure

    - technology

    If it's the first two, then who gets to say what 'proper techno' is?

    Or if 'proper techno' is just 'Detroit techno', then what is everything else?

    @pipecock:

    "techno culture was defined by Detroit culture."

    ...so the position is that:

    1)'Techno is Detroit techno; Detroit techno is techno'

    2) 'People who make Detroit techno (including their fans) get to decide what is(n't) techno, because they believe 1)

    The subscriber gets to become the decider, basically.

    I define by technology (primary), then by structure (secondary), then by aesthetic (tertiary).

    Basically, groove-based music made using drum machines, synthesizers and samplers can be techno, which is a form of house music... which is a form of disco music...

    What's the difference between house and disco?

    Answer: drum machines (only affordable from 1980, 909 released in 1983)

    What's the difference between house and acid?

    Answer: 303s (made between 1982 & 1984)

    What's the difference between house and techno?

    Techno is just a form of house with a cold/minimalist/modernist/futurist aesthetic...

    Its structure comes from disco via house, the aesthetic comes from synth pop and new wave, ALL of which disco (then house) DJs were playing in discos all through the late 70s and early 80s.

    The catalyst for house, then disco, then techno (all across the world) was an underground gay scene, which is a byproduct of modern life in big cities (breakdown of tradition, increased tolerance, disposable income, drug availability, cheap warehouse space, etc...)...

    ...but talking about the aesthetic will then bring you back to the assertion of that being a Detroit hallmark...

    which means either

    ONLY house with that 'sovereign' aesthetic is techno, and everything else is something else... (how can Ricardo be fitted in, just to give one example)

    or

    cold/minimalist/modernist/futurist is said in many ways, with many emphases.

    It's the former proposition that I'm unwilling to accept... and then there's this dodgy and underhanded race issue, which creeps in with comments like this:

    "(interesting of course is that they are all white guys outside of YMO) would even begin to say that they invented techno, and for good reason: they didn't."

    Yes but, as I keep saying noBODY "invented" techno. You have a confluence, a tangle of factors and influences (technological, cultural, aesthetic) that come together to produce something. When it is produced, usually people aren't at all sure what the fuck they're doing. It's only after the fact that people come back and posit some kind of neat, clear, simple history, full of 'It WAS' 'There WERE' etc... hence the repeated idea of 'techno was birthed in Detroit...'

    ...which gets back to Pipecock's belief in the black innovator, the only figure capable of 'birthing' such a culture. This is actually a proposition which is contains encrypted racism, because it essentialises black people as inherently/essentially rhythmic and soulful. I take exception to that.

    Techno (house, really) is an inclusive, hybridised (and hybridised) form of music... it's all about people feeding off each other's influence, listening back in time, and developing new sounds, always mediated by technology. When many people use the word 'techno', their meaning is not exhausted by 'Detroit techno', yet Detroit techno fans insist that this be the true techno, in order to re-authenticate the music they love.

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  16. @PC - the reggae argument is not bogus, it holds. follow the logic:

    if YMO, synthpop, kraftwerk, et al, are Techno, then jump blues, rock & roll, r&b, et al (those styles which influenced jamaican musicians in the 60s to create reggae) are all, in effect, reggae. I'm certain nobody would agree with that, therefore YMO, synthpop, kraftwerk, et al are NOT techno. In face, the term "techno" only became bigger (more widely used) than Techno when it left Detroit. Techno is, by definition, a distinct genre that applies only to a particular sound made by Detroit producers and the Detroit diaspora.

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  17. @ CZ: If you're happy with that limited definition, then that's fine and it holds – but how do you deal with the remainder, or with people's distinctive/idiosyncratic understandings of 'their techno'?

    Also, it's interesting you use the word diaspora... this suggests a people, perhaps unified by a book or a prophet, forced to roam the world in search of gigs, I suppose... until such time as... the holy trinity return in the form of... well, what, precisely?

    ...and maybe Pipecock, CZ etc can give me their five 'moment of creation' techno records, records that showed a distinct break with everything else, "almost as if it appeared from nowhere" or whatever, along with a short description as to how/why they're distinct or even non-relational to all surrounding precedents/antecedents.

    Puppet in the voice of Berlinda Carlisle: 'Show me techno (cover me)/leave me breathless (whoah whoah)/show me techno...'

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  18. "@pipecock:... the reggae argument is bogus. Reggae has a 30-40 year distinct history which can be totally told through Jamaica: an aesthetic, a rhythm and a whole series of technical, cultural and musical developments which occurred there. I don't think we would be even having this discussion on a reggae blog, and I think the fact that we are having this discussion on an electronic music blog demonstrates that 'it's not as simple as that.'"

    we wouldn't be having this discussion on a reggae blog because it would be ridiculous. and your position is exactly as ridiculous. i dont know what else to say about it, by your definition all music is the same. it is not, it may be interrelated and sounds influence across many other sounds, but there are undoubtedly certain genres that contain a specific aesthetic that was not previously in existance. techno is one of those cases.

    "So my question/position:

    Is techno defined by

    - history

    - sound/style

    - structure

    - technology

    If it's the first two, then who gets to say what 'proper techno' is?"

    it is none of those. by those definitions, all electronic music is exactly the same. this is obviously not true, Squarepusher has nearly nothing to do with Enya. this should be painfully obvious to anyone with ears.

    "Or if 'proper techno' is just 'Detroit techno', then what is everything else?"

    now that is an interesting question. i am all for different genre names. it works for rock: punk is quite obviously not the same as progressive rock even though they both have roots back into the same music. the problems i have with newer soulless offshoots of techno and house are that they try to keep the names that mean something else already: "progressive house", "minimal", etc. i like "trance" much better because it is obviously far from its techno and house roots and the name reflects that. i wish it could all be so easily segregated, i hate telling people i listen to "techno", "house", or "electro" because what they think of when they hear those words has nothing at all to do with any of the music i like.

    "...so the position is that:

    1)'Techno is Detroit techno; Detroit techno is techno'

    2) 'People who make Detroit techno (including their fans) get to decide what is(n't) techno, because they believe 1)"

    "believing" has nothing to do with anything. if it comes from the same culture, it is going to be techno. techno culture as it exists in detroit is quite prevalent, but there are people who live in other places who can participate in very similar cultural patterns and come up with music that is closely related but different because of their cultural differences. Basic Channel is obviously one of the best examples of this. there are plenty of cats who arent just copying the sounds of techno, they have the influence of detroit music but also many other things that add up to new sounds.

    my problem with a lot of the bad knock off techno trends is that the producers seem to be knocking off sounds of already second and third removed knockoffs. it is like photocopying a photocopy of a photocopy. sure, what you see has *some* relation to the original, but it is so distorted and cloudy that it is unrecognizable. the same thing applies to these techno knock offs. some european techno and house has become part of Detroit's techno culture, most has not.

    "The subscriber gets to become the decider, basically."

    no, the participants in the culture decide based on their set of culturally defined parameters. it is as simple as an "i know it when i hear it" kind of thing.

    "I define by technology (primary), then by structure (secondary), then by aesthetic (tertiary).

    Basically, groove-based music made using drum machines, synthesizers and samplers can be techno, which is a form of house music... which is a form of disco music..."

    i love techno, house, and disco music. they are NOT the same thing. they are all interrelated, especially in the manner in which they were all played together at the inceptions of house and techno, but they are not the same.

    "What's the difference between house and disco?

    Answer: drum machines (only affordable from 1980, 909 released in 1983)"

    wrong, so much disco was made with drum machines before house music was born that it is ridiculous.

    "What's the difference between house and acid?

    Answer: 303s (made between 1982 & 1984)"

    so "Problems D'Amour" is an acid record? absolutely not. your argument is so flawed it is silly.

    "What's the difference between house and techno?

    Techno is just a form of house with a cold/minimalist/modernist/futurist aesthetic..."

    those are not even the same kind of thing. by that definition, acid would be techno. so would a large portion of early house which shared a bunch of those aesthetics. they were very different from techno. in fact, which of those aesthetics does Derrick May's music have? it is not cold, minimal, or overtly futuristic. what exactly does "modern" mean in this case? it seems like anything made with synths could be terms modern, which is just going back to your flawed definition.

    "Its structure comes from disco via house, the aesthetic comes from synth pop and new wave, ALL of which disco (then house) DJs were playing in discos all through the late 70s and early 80s."

    but techno also has deep funk influences which house did not have, and was many times too "straight" to be played in gay discos.

    "The catalyst for house, then disco, then techno (all across the world) was an underground gay scene, which is a byproduct of modern life in big cities (breakdown of tradition, increased tolerance, disposable income, drug availability, cheap warehouse space, etc...)..."

    it was a byproduct of mostly black gay scenes in a few specific cities. san francisco's "high energy" scene for example has very little to do with house or techno, despite coming from the same origins.

    "...but talking about the aesthetic will then bring you back to the assertion of that being a Detroit hallmark...

    which means either

    ONLY house with that 'sovereign' aesthetic is techno, and everything else is something else... (how can Ricardo be fitted in, just to give one example)"

    this is entirely possible, as i said before. i know some people are afraid of genres especially in electronic music where to the uninitiated they can seem so arbitrary. but to someone with experience listening to it, those differences are huge. house and techno are 100% closer to jazz and soul music than they are to much of what is being called house and techno today.

    "cold/minimalist/modernist/futurist is said in many ways, with many emphases."

    as i said in my original piece, the "future" thing is definitely a misconception about techno taken directly from the styles of juan and mills. derrick may, eddie fowlkes, and many others never shared that aesthetic in their music.

    "It's the former proposition that I'm unwilling to accept..."

    that sounds like your problem, not Detroit's.

    "and then there's this dodgy and underhanded race issue, which creeps in with comments like this:

    "(interesting of course is that they are all white guys outside of YMO) would even begin to say that they invented techno, and for good reason: they didn't."

    Yes but, as I keep saying noBODY "invented" techno. You have a confluence, a tangle of factors and influences (technological, cultural, aesthetic) that come together to produce something."

    it just so happens to negate a cultural touchstone of an african american origin. by chance, i guess.

    "When it is produced, usually people aren't at all sure what the fuck they're doing. It's only after the fact that people come back and posit some kind of neat, clear, simple history, full of 'It WAS' 'There WERE' etc... hence the repeated idea of 'techno was birthed in Detroit...'"

    i dont think that is true at all. people know they are doing something different and new, even if the name is not there yet. the name is almost irrelevent.

    "...which gets back to Pipecock's belief in the black innovator, the only figure capable of 'birthing' such a culture. This is actually a proposition which is contains encrypted racism, because it essentialises black people as inherently/essentially rhythmic and soulful. I take exception to that."

    soul music comes from black culture. i do not know how it is racist to say this, it is just the truth. white people can make soul music, they just seem to generally not do so without influence from black culture, even if it just records of black artists.

    "Techno (house, really) is an inclusive, hybridised (and hybridised) form of music... it's all about people feeding off each other's influence, listening back in time, and developing new sounds, always mediated by technology."

    nah, those the feelings of the people who want the sound for themselves without living the culture. that is not the reality of the music.

    "When many people use the word 'techno', their meaning is not exhausted by 'Detroit techno', yet Detroit techno fans insist that this be the true techno, in order to re-authenticate the music they love."

    plenty of people used the term "techno" in the 90's to mean anything electronic. that was erroneous then, it is erroneous now.

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  19. @PC - I think you're taking the term diaspora to some strange extreme that I didn't mean. What I meant was "the forcing of any people or ethnic population to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture" sort of like how many of the UR guys live in New York now, or how Dan Bell moved to Berlin, or the like. Pretty straightforward. Maybe a better word would be expatriates.

    I'm not really sure what you mean by "the remainder" or "their techno" - reggae is reggae, techno is techno. That was your comparison that I was correcting, since your argument didn't hold water.

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  20. @PC

    Why do you want to expand the defintion of techno beyond Detroit?

    @Pipecock

    Why do you want to restrict the defintion of techno to Detroit?

    By the way, great debate. It's like Jacques Derrida and Thomas Kuhn are stuck in an elevator with only Derrick May to keep them company.

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  21. @ anon...

    for three reasons, really:

    1) because the claim for an orthodox definition is also a claim for authority over the topic covered by that word

    2) because my techno, my history through techno, and many musics commonly understood as techno are excluded by the narrow definition

    3) because I think that the history of techno is far more fraught, entangled and complex than this crude, reductionist and exclusionary account gives credit to/for, ie 'it's really not that simple'.

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  22. PC and Pipecock both seem to be fighting over the rights to use the Techno label.

    PC seems to want to restrict the definition of techno to Detroit to preserve its place in music history (running the risk of turning Techno into a puritanical museum piece) while PC wants to expand the definition beyond Detroit to make Techno inclusive and progressive (running the risk of watering the definition of Techno down so much that it becomes vacuous, ignoring the important role Detroit has played in the evolution of this genre).

    The odd thing being that despite PC's protestations to the contrary both PC and Pipecock place a lot of value on the Techno label, fetishes (sic) it and demand to claim it for their own.

    Hence Pipecock doesn't like a lot of artists who go under the name of techno and clearly loves Detroit Techno so would like to restrict the definition to Detroit, while PC....

    '2) because my techno, my history through techno, and many musics commonly understood as techno are excluded by the narrow definition'

    The question being why does the Techno label have so much value to you two?

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  23. cheers to pipey for the final part on this. All in all very interesting debate. I tend to lean towards Pipey argument, especially when he says that "you'll know it when you hear it", something that I find very true. While I agree that it is important to hightlight the undeniable fact that Techno was developed in Detroit I don't find it superior to any other similar genre like chicago house or uk jungle or UK electronica...they are all developements of electronic experimental music to me...they all are equally valid as long as they are genuine and not commercial, as pipey said, you'll know it when you hear it.

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  24. The question is, why should Detroit have ownership to the word "techno"? Because they used it first? Well, you see, they didn't. Throughout the eighties the germans - oblivious to the Detroit development - were calling a combination of EBM, synth pop, electro and italo disco - and later, through New Beat, also house - for techno. There was a club called Techno Club in Frankfurt as early as 1984!
    And when techno exploded in the early nineties in Europe it was build on this scene, not on Detroit at all, and we all knew it was techno back then, before purist reactionarys came and started to talk about how important this detroit stuff no one had ever heard about were, despite the fact that it sounded much more dated and dull and un-techno than what was coming out of Belgium and Germany and Italy at the time. I also know techno when I hear it, and I don't hear much of it in Detroit.

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  25. Here's my take on the subject:

    I don't see Detroit Techno as techno coming necessarily from Detroit. To me it's more a synonym for "Soulful Techno" with great aesthetics, and simply the will to make music that does a bit more than another random track. Would Soulful techno have existed without Detroit ? Hell yes probably. It could have come from the UK (which btw influence and contribution to techno is almost a huge as the one from Detroit, IMHO, see early Warp stuff). Did Detroit had a huge influence on artist's inspiration worldwide, at the time ? No doubt about it. In Laurent Garnier' book, he talks about this influence but I don't remember the specifics, I'll have to reread it.

    Techno is really a combination of hardware and people willing to get something from it at a specific time when it was not common (and required a huge commitment!). If not from Detroit it would have been done elsewhere. What could have changed the course of the history of techno is if you had the Internet and music software we have now, back in 1985: then you would jump straight to mnml, and we would be discussing something else :).

    Detroit is not the pinnacle of everything: in the end there's only good and bad music. But Detroit certainly raised the bar to encourage producers to make better music.

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  26. "@Pipecock

    Why do you want to restrict the defintion of techno to Detroit?"

    i don't restrict it to only music that comes from Detroit, but i do restrict it to music that is part of the same lineage as the Detroit music. i hate to get into the "soul" debate since that seems to get people all irritated, but so much "techno" these days is soulless mechanical nonsense. that is NOT what techno is about based on its founding principles. let's face it, i don't expect much european music to be soulful and funky, that just isn't part of the overall culture like it is in the US, especially in the inner cities. that doesn't preclude any European producers from making soulful music, i can list many who do: Basic Channel, Aril Brikha (well, on his first album), Wild Planet, A Guy Called Gerald, Orlando Voorn, etc etc. i think the legitmacy of these artists in terms of Detroit music is evident in the fact that many of them have tunes that have been being played in Detroit since the moment they came out, even in more mainstream places. despite some arguments to the contrary, Detroit has never been about excluding European and UK producers. many of them have released things on Detroit labels and have their music played by Detroit deejays. the culture only embraces that music that retains the soul, that is a very important part of it.

    -----------------------------

    "The question being why does the Techno label have so much value to you two?"

    i am not really sure that the name is all that important, it is the distinction. as i mentioned in another reply, i think that genre names in electronic music that can seem superfluous to many people are actually very important. "progressive house" is so dissimilar to "deep house" that they are not even close to each other at all despite both being "house" music (at least in name). seeing people getting recognition as "techno" artists despite making music that hardly even resembles techno is very frustrating. especially when there are still many people making great techno music all around the world, yet they get no love whatsoever partially because of the fact that they are competing for a name with cheeseball rave music. the fact that the name "techno" applies to such music inhibits techno (and house music, which can suffer from the same problem) from being embraced by soul, hiphop, funk, and jazz heads despite the fact that both are from that same lineage. i have personally been on a mission to enlighten people to techno's origins and bloodlines so that they can see it for what it really is, not for what the dance media has made it out to be.

    ------------------------------

    "The question is, why should Detroit have ownership to the word "techno"? Because they used it first? Well, you see, they didn't. Throughout the eighties the germans - oblivious to the Detroit development - were calling a combination of EBM, synth pop, electro and italo disco - and later, through New Beat, also house - for techno. There was a club called Techno Club in Frankfurt as early as 1984!"

    this may be true, though i am not so sure the name was so ubiquitous for that style. "techno" was obviously already being used by YMO, Kraftwerk, Cybotron, and Techno Hop Records already by 1984, none of which defined their own musical style.

    "And when techno exploded in the early nineties in Europe it was build on this scene, not on Detroit at all, and we all knew it was techno back then, before purist reactionarys came and started to talk about how important this detroit stuff no one had ever heard about were, despite the fact that it sounded much more dated and dull and un-techno than what was coming out of Belgium and Germany and Italy at the time. I also know techno when I hear it, and I don't hear much of it in Detroit."

    this i am not so sure of. i think the guys at Hard Wax and Tresor (as well as others) would beg to differ.

    -------------------------------

    "Would Soulful techno have existed without Detroit ? Hell yes probably. It could have come from the UK (which btw influence and contribution to techno is almost a huge as the one from Detroit, IMHO, see early Warp stuff)."

    whoa there, buddy boy. i think if you look at the tracklisting for Warp's "Influences" compilation you will see many Detroit records, as well as many Chicago records:

    http://www.discogs.com/release/10194

    in fact, i would bet that the artists on that comp who were not from Detroit or Chicago were also influenced by Detroit and Chicago (we can say it definitively for 808 State and AGCG). without those guys, there is no Warp records. that argument is not going to hold up, sorry.

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  27. I feel like I’ve been overcommenting, so I’ll just flag a few of pipecock’s comments and say that I think there is some really, really dodgy stuff being said here, and it appears to be more like the deeper sentiment behind the mask, eg:

    “i hate to get into the "soul" debate since that seems to get people all irritated, but so much "techno" these days is soulless mechanical nonsense. that is NOT what techno is about based on its founding principles. let's face it, i don't expect much european music to be soulful and funky, that just isn't part of the overall culture like it is in the US, especially in the inner cities.”

    “the culture only embraces that music that retains the soul, that is a very important part of it.”

    “seeing people getting recognition as "techno" artists despite making music that hardly even resembles techno is very frustrating. especially when there are still many people making great techno music all around the world, yet they get no love whatsoever partially because of the fact that they are competing for a name with cheeseball rave music.”

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  28. uh...editors?

    "In reality, those are just the distinct visions of two
    of the most prolific and popular Detroit artists which have been ripped off and"

    and what???

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  29. I've been sitting here on the sidelines, really enjoying the posts and comments everyone has been making. Huge thanks to everyone for chiming in and adding to the debate, and thanks to Pipecock for being a guest-ssg.

    I've been mulling things over, and I've got a few questions for Pipecock ... but first three quotes from his piece:

    > At some point I realized why Detroit was so important to dance music: techno culture IS Detroit culture.

    > Techno is DIY electronic punk soul music, nothing more and nothing less. It is made mostly by black people living inside the city of Detroit, people who have been influenced by the culture that exists in that forgotten void.

    > It is also obvious why Detroit artists take offense to the watering down of their music: in a city where you have to fend for yourself to make ends meet, seeing people cashing in on a weaker version of your creation is seeing people take food out of your family's mouths.

    The use of present tense in the second quote is really interesting ("Techno ... is made mostly by black people living inside the city of Detroit").

    Pipecock, correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I'm reading this strongly suggests that for you "Techno = Detroit Techno."

    If so, what about techno that is "mostly" produced in other parts of the world? By people who are "mostly" not from Detroit and not African-American? Or is that not techno, but a weak watered down cash-in? (The language that you use in the third quote comes very close to suggesting that this is cultural theft ... )

    For me, when I hear the word "techno" many places, artists and labels flash through my mind. Sure, Detroit is one of those places, but it's most certainly not the only one, nor the first one. I think about Cologne, Wolfgang Voigt and the Kompakt Boys. I think about Frankfurt, Roman Flugel and Klang. I think about Berlin, Berghain, Hardwax, Villalobos, Dettmann, Klock ...

    But it seems that, according to Pipecock's view of Techno (which equals Detroit Techno), the above artists, labels and scenes do *not* produce Techno. In fact, what they *are* doing is watering down and stealing Detroit's cultural legacy.

    Pipecock, have I been reading you right here?

    Later on in your piece, however, you say that there are indeed non-Detroit artists who are producing Detroit Techno. I'd like to know what differentiates these artists from those who are cashing-in. Does one need to grow up in a cultural environment similar to Detroit? (Your piece strongly suggests that place/culture is hugely important.) Or is it the sound which is important ... does one need to replicate the Detroit Techno sound, injecting the "soul" into the machine?

    (And what is this "soul"? Where does it come from? How do you get it? Is it a sound, or a feeling?)

    To be completely honest, I actually feel a little uncomfortable with this. In a comment in response to Chris you said that there is no future without a past. But (again, if I'm reading you right) what comes through here is an insistence that artists continually look back, repeat, replicate, copy ...

    But is this *really* giving respect to Detroit? It seems to me that attempting to constantly reproduce a sound/feeling runs "the risk of turning Techno into a puritanical museum piece" (to quote the everpresent Anonymous at 9:49pm). Doesn't this insistence on giving props and respect actually strangle creativity?

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  30. I want to write a longer response to these pieces but for the moment I'll just deal with the back and forth about the actual word "techno". While I would agree that Derrick May can talk a lot of nonsense sometimes, I think he said something particularly apt in an interview from a couple of years ago in relation to the actual word "techno";

    “The word ‘techno’ was something that Juan Atkins thought out aloud…… the purpose was to capture and define this hot-red, soulfully thought out music that was coming from the black urban mind. I never wanted to call it techno, I knew it would backfire and I knew there would be repercussions, I knew that we’d one day regret it, believe me….. I felt that to call it techno was too generic. I also felt that techno was a term that had been partially used and could easily be discounted, as far as a real high-bred form of music was concerned, because at the time there were other people trying to call their music techno.”

    So, in other words, the term techno was already being used in music (though not so much in terms of a style or genre of music more as a future/technology concept). That does not make that music techno in regards to the genre that techno became. It also explains his and others desire to call it Hi-Tek Soul.

    I look at it this way; there most certainly was a distinct form of music created and defined in Detroit in the early 80's to early 90's, it was distinct enough to be considered a new genre. But it wasn't magicked out of nowhere by the "mythical" Belleville Three, rather it took an extremely wide range of influences and electronic instruments and it was developed and defined first by Juan Atkins and then by a whole host of other artists, not just May and Saunderson, but Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, the Burden Brothers, Thomas Barnett, Anthony Shakir and later James Pennington, Carl Craig, Mad Mike, Rob Hood, Jeff Mills, Drexciya and so on. The only possible myth in all this is that it was invented by just 3 people in a short space of time, it seems to me that it was (as Tom mentions) a communal cultural movement by Detroit youth that was defined over a number of years in a localised environment, hence the importance of the cultural, social and economic climate of Detroit.

    I do have a problem with the word "invent", though, as I don't really think music is invented, all music is built on what has gone before and is a fusion of past and present. "Create" is perhaps a better word, as you need existing elements to create something.

    I'd also like to point out to Chris who wrote the first piece and mentioned Tresor, that the majority of early Tresor releases were by Detroit artists.

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  31. @ PC, I have to take issue with your debating style, quoting pipecock and stating, "I think there is some really, really dodgy stuff being said here, and it appears to be more like the deeper sentiment behind the mask", yet you don't actually say what your problem is, making it difficult for the accused to defend from vague implied accusations.

    I'm wondering if you have a problem with the assertion that soulful and funky elements don't have the same place in European music culture as in the US? Are you thinking this is somehow racist? Well, I'm European and to me this is patently obvious, I don't see this as opinion but as cultural history, it's just how things developed over time.

    Maybe I misinterpreted your point but that only illustrates why you shouldn't make vague accusations.

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  32. @ gmos: yeah, lazy on my behalf. I'm just getting tired of commenting is all, and I want other people to have the floor. 'I grow hoarse', if you will.

    If you've been reading my posts or my many extensive comments, you'd probably say (maybe) that this is not my debating style.

    I've said all I want to; I want other people to talk. Your sentiments and voice in this is interesting – I'd rather hear what you and others have to say.

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  33. Jusr cus something electonic or has synths doesnt mean its techno, dotn get me wrong i own plenty of tangerine dream, ymo etc etc pipecock made a very important statement which you all seemed to have missed, black funk + white electronics = techno you remove either that means its not techno anymore its trance or some shit, most new minimal records are sounding more and more liek trance, and as for the parties, its all starting to look like ibiza in 1997 with sasha at the decks(along with 100 hangers on in the booth)

    Imo the real genesis was electro from 79-82 while most went more into rap other like juan and other dj's in detroit kept there sound more electonic based, with out the fusion of black american music and european music you would not of had techno

    FUNK + ELECTRONICS = TECHNO

    No detroit techno just techno, doesnt matter wher eyou are in the world you can make techno, you dont even have to be directly influnced by a dtown artist to make techno, just like rock band now days dont have be be directly influnced by blues, but theres certain elements you must keep true to.

    You can say most new techno producers are influnced by say basic channel & richie hawtin ye? well both will be the first to tell them that they were mostly influnced by detroit techno.

    I think the main myth thats not discussed here is artist from detroit only produce this soulful electronic music, this is true but most of the 2nd wave made some hard even sometimes ugly music yet they always kept it funky, go listen to those first minimal records by rob hood & jeff mills, they maybe hard, they maybe minimal but they still hard that tight funk sound between the drums and the bass, it has that certain swing to it thats lacking in other forms of dance music out there ie trance.

    Im not sur ehow long you guys have been into techno but even during the big uk boom of the 90s, you had guys coming from an industrial background yet they all kept the funk in there music which kept it being techno not coil or whatever.

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  34. "The use of present tense in the second quote is really interesting ("Techno ... is made mostly by black people living inside the city of Detroit").

    Pipecock, correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I'm reading this strongly suggests that for you "Techno = Detroit Techno.""

    i am repeating myself from an earlier comment, but techno = music that remains connected to the style of music that originated in Detroit. there are other people making it all over the world, but still the majority of it comes from Detroit artists (including those who have since moved elsewhere).

    "If so, what about techno that is "mostly" produced in other parts of the world? By people who are "mostly" not from Detroit and not African-American? Or is that not techno, but a weak watered down cash-in? (The language that you use in the third quote comes very close to suggesting that this is cultural theft ... )"

    i feel as if a lot of "techno" these days is not purposely watered down by artists, moreso it is watered down by the artists only being influenced by a very small crop of music that was already watered down. and that continues, you see these guys listening to and playing music that is only from a very recent time period and that music has no history, and as such almost no connection to detroit even in theory much less sound. there are of course some cats from europe and elsewhere who despite not being favorite artists of mine at least legitimately are connected to the real meaning of techno (John Tejada springs to mind amongst others). but most of it is just so far removed due to a series of waves of dance music that increasingly took funk and "soul" out of techno to the point where you have to either be actively listening to Detroit music or be a techno historian to hear techno that is funky the way it is supposed to be. now that there seems to be a bit of a "revival" of detroit and chicago sounds in the mnml world, maybe that will change up a bit.

    "For me, when I hear the word "techno" many places, artists and labels flash through my mind. Sure, Detroit is one of those places, but it's most certainly not the only one, nor the first one. I think about Cologne, Wolfgang Voigt and the Kompakt Boys. I think about Frankfurt, Roman Flugel and Klang. I think about Berlin, Berghain, Hardwax, Villalobos, Dettmann, Klock ..."

    some of those things are legitimately connected to Detroit music in heritage and sound. Wolfgang Voigt, Hard Wax, some Klang, and even early Kompakt records are/were all part of the lineage of detroit music.

    "Later on in your piece, however, you say that there are indeed non-Detroit artists who are producing Detroit Techno. I'd like to know what differentiates these artists from those who are cashing-in. Does one need to grow up in a cultural environment similar to Detroit? (Your piece strongly suggests that place/culture is hugely important.)"



    "Or is it the sound which is important ... does one need to replicate the Detroit Techno sound, injecting the "soul" into the machine?"

    i think there are many guys who try to just straight up take the Detroit sound, some of whom are successful (Arne Weinberg and Chymera come to mind) some of whom are not (i would rather not name names here). but there are plenty of people who make their own music and do it successfully with sounds that have almost nothing to do with Detroit. Pepe Bradock is obviously influenced by Detroit, but his sound is very distinctively his. Redshape is another. etc etc.

    "To be completely honest, I actually feel a little uncomfortable with this. In a comment in response to Chris you said that there is no future without a past. But (again, if I'm reading you right) what comes through here is an insistence that artists continually look back, repeat, replicate, copy ..."

    how does that come through? only if you insisnt on reading something into my comments that was not in there. house and techno both came up in cultures that put a high prioity on crate digging. each style mixed music from the 70's and 80's as well as the newest records made as "house" and "techno" records. never at any point was it strictly about playing records that all sound exactly alike. right now, so many people have lost that historic perspective that listening to techno sets becomes extremely boring. the artists and deejays should be constantly looking back, looking around, and looking forward. right now we have an excess of "looking around" it seems.

    "But is this *really* giving respect to Detroit? It seems to me that attempting to constantly reproduce a sound/feeling runs "the risk of turning Techno into a puritanical museum piece" (to quote the everpresent Anonymous at 9:49pm). Doesn't this insistence on giving props and respect actually strangle creativity?"

    replicating a sound can be boring, though it can also be useful (seems like everyone but me likes that Prosumer album) to help regain awareness of certain older sounds. but the feeling is the defining feature of the music, and there are just about an infinite number of ways to skin that cat.

    techno gives you the basic tools necessary: electronics and soul. what is up to artists now is to come up with a personal sound, something that uses those very wide open "limitations" but is distinctive. techno is not unlike jazz, there are so many possible combinations of sounds and structures that it is probably impossible to exhaust them all in even a couple decades. but what i hear today is people taking a computer and making random bleeps and bloops and saying "ah yes, i too am a techno producer". and the results are pretty terrible.

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  35. @PC you need to lay the fuck off man, go play your bunk ass washed out bullshit in a club full of rich coke heads.

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  36. following on from tom and chris's comments/analysis on the characterstics that define techno from detroit vs. rest of the world:

    I happen to think that while, yes, detroit techno emerged as a cultural phenemenon that was based on regional and sociological influences that only existed in this time and place, the idea that only techno from detroit is inherently imbued with soul is a fallacy. sure, having grown up in an inner city may fire imaginations into searching for an outlet that exists in their own imagination but it cannot be the only defining factor that allows artists to create music that is soulful, beautiful and funky. there is something very special in the sounds that have emanated from detroit and inspire people who are exposed to believe that 'techno' is so much more than what has been fed to us by the press, major labels, radio stations, etc. it may have been true at the start but there have been too many artists that have and are producing funky, soulful techno in other places outside detroit. for me these artists include vince watson, steve rachmad, joris voorn, quince, kirk degiorgio, peel seamus, orlando voorn, and on....
    surely not all of these artists have had to come from poor, meager beginning to be able to produce emotional music. I would also add that from all I have read over the years, both Derrick and Kevin didn't exactly get raised in the roughest section of Detroit either.
    that said, I am a huge fan of Detroit techno and have been since I first heard UR's "Hi-Tech Jazz," my first real exposure to the power of Detroit Techno. And for me this song represents something that could only have come out of Detroit because of what UR/Made Mike represents in terms of the cultural connection of music and the environement is comes from.

    I realize that my post comes off as contradictory to my own point but that shows my personal struggle with this 'myth' and what it represents to me as a believer in techno, detroit and beyond.

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  37. "this may be true, though i am not so sure the name was so ubiquitous for that style. "techno" was obviously already being used by YMO, Kraftwerk, Cybotron, and Techno Hop Records already by 1984, none of which defined their own musical style. "

    Well, first of all, how much did the early detroit artists really define a clearly distinctive sound? To me, Atkins and May seem as far apart as Chris & Cosey and Ryuichi Sakamoto. When I hear Model 500s classics, I hear very forward thinking electro, and when I hear Mays greatest hits I hear a kind of abstract house music. They don't resemble each other that much.

    But if we, for the sake of argument, accept that detroit defined its own musical style, then it still doesn't give them any ownership to the name. On the contrary, I'd say that the germans, by finding a brilliant, fitting umbrella name for a lot of different things that clearly were connected, made techno a big and powerful force to be reconed with, and with much greater potentials for further mutation than the insular, isolationist Detroit movement.

    The early german techno scene was open and inclusive, kind of like when a lot of different strands of music were suddenly seen as a collective thing a hundred years ago and was called "jazz", or when something similar happened with "rock" in the fifties. The german techno scene even had room for Detroit when it discovered it, as with Tresor and Hard Wax. To say that Detroit techno = techno is a bit like saying ragtime = jazz.

    " i hate to get into the "soul" debate since that seems to get people all irritated, but so much "techno" these days is soulless mechanical nonsense. that is NOT what techno is about based on its founding principles."

    Wrong, it's what techno is not about based on detroits founding principles. If we have to get into the soul thing, I would say that techno is exactly about extracting soul from music, the less soul the better, which is also why detroit techno is a REGRESSIVE form of techno IMO.

    "seeing people getting recognition as "techno" artists despite making music that hardly even resembles techno is very frustrating."

    Indeed. That's exactly how I felt the first time I heard detroit techno.

    "especially when there are still many people making great techno music all around the world, yet they get no love whatsoever partially because of the fact that they are competing for a name with cheeseball rave music. the fact that the name "techno" applies to such music inhibits techno"

    On the contrary, that a genre is able to contain a lot of cheap crap is actually a sign that it's in good health - that it's big and open enough to have both a pop side and an experimental underground. I'm grateful for the existence of cheeseball rave and the fact that everything isn't as tasteful, dull and self-dignified as detroit techno.

    "i have personally been on a mission to enlighten people to techno's origins and bloodlines so that they can see it for what it really is, not for what the dance media has made it out to be."

    And I'm on a mission to enlighten people to techno's origins and bloodlines so that they can see it for what it really is, not for what the detroit purists has made it out to be.

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  38. @low-tech reality: you need to lay the fuck off man, go play your bunk ass washed out bullshit in a club full of rich coke heads.

    Thank you low-tech. I think we all learnt something there. I especially like the way you tell me to 'back off' by using an empty threat.

    It's great when somebody really bares their soul in a post: not only does it advance the debate in interesting directions, but it shows a level of good faith and respect to others. Good job!

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  39. @gmos: "“The word ‘techno’ was something that Juan Atkins thought out aloud……"

    Yes, and where might he have pulled such a word? From nowhere? Out of a hat? Or because he was reading Alvin Toffler and listening to techno-pop at the time, and was influenced by it?

    @ X: "Jusr cus something electonic or has synths doesnt mean its techno"

    Sure, there are other structural 'rules', too. Like, if the rhythms were 3/4, and the pattern cycled at 180 bpm, it probably wouldn't be techno. And or if it were 4/4 and 90-110bpm... not techno to most ears, probably early hip-hop or some kinds of electro.

    But if you make a track on a drum machine (lets just say a 909) in 4/4 between 120-140bpm, with a kick drum on every beat (ie 'doof doof doof')... this already sounds a lot like techno.... in fact, this is arguably the 'essential convention'.

    If you then fill the other rhythmic parts surrounding the kick with snares, hats etc from the 909... that complement and build on the groove made from the 'doof doof doof'...wow, this is starting to sound *a lot* like techno...(NB if you're good at programming the beats, you can even make these kinds of patterns funky, even if you're not black/from Detroit... this is usually called 'house music').

    But you're here to make techno. So you don't make it swing *too much*. Leave the beats a bit stiff, and now, add a synth... but instead of playing an emotive 'ditty' ('cos this might start to sound a bit like trance), you use the synth to add mood and atmosphere, just drones, stabs, and washes (maybe you modulate the sound by tweaking the tone pots or something). Okay... now just add some reverb here and there... my gosh, this sounds a lot like techno.

    Also to X-101: funk + electronics = many, many, many different things, but probably most people insisting on a narrow definition would sooner identify this with g-funk, some kinds of hip-hop and R&B (Timbaland is funk + electronics) and house than they would with techno... funk would not be funk if it weren't funky – techno can still be techno. Whether that 'funkless' techno is good or not is just between you and your aesthetic prejudices.

    Also (as a general thing) to the Detroit fans commenting: let's just say I'm 18 years old and I'm from France. I grow up listening to a lot of hip-hop, pop and rock, but on my eighteenth birthday I go to a club and hear a DJ playing these crazy, mind-bending, incessant grooves made with electronic equipment. They never stop! They just keep hitting! Oh my god, what the fuck is this music? How the fuck do I make this music?!

    I'm so excited by what I've hear that the next day I cop a crack of Ableton off a mate, and within six months I'm making tracks. I start downloading lots of different music, (lets just say) but I hear this guy called 'Gaiser' and I start biting his style ('cos I think it's funky)... two years later I've got my shit together and am playing out... then somebody tells me the style I play is techno... (I guess, I 'spose, I'd never thought about it). I roll with this definition, which seems right when I hear other records described as 'techno'. But a few months later, I tell someone my set is 'techno', and I'm then told I owe dues to Detroit, a place I only know about from listening to Eminem... how would I/should I feel? And is it my duty to then learn the 'orthodox history' and bring my style 'into line', or else risk being called imitative and inauthentic?

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  40. "If we have to get into the soul thing, I would say that techno is exactly about extracting soul from music, the less soul the better, which is also why detroit techno is a REGRESSIVE form of techno IMO."

    I am a massive fan of Detroit techno, no doubt, but I don't stick strictly to it, but when listening to ANY music, I want to hear human soul, feeling and emotion. I actually want to connect to the music, you don't? What you said there is a ridiculous statement.

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  41. "when listening to ANY music, I want to hear human soul, feeling and emotion. I actually want to connect to the music, you don't? What you said there is a ridiculous statement."

    Not ridiculous at all, Kenny. YOU want to hear soul, but soul has hardly been the utmost in all electronic music. Rising High's Caspar Pound said in 1991, to i-D magazine, "The best thing about hardcore is all the soul’s been taken out. We’ve had 200 years of the human element in music and it’s about time for a change." Whether you care for it or not, there was a deliberate movement to strip the soul from the music.

    Even Kodwo Eshun talks about "the artificiality that all humans crave." He also likes a lot of music that would be called "soulful"; I don't think that has to be a contradiction. That's part of the beauty of techno; that it can contain these kind of contradictions.

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  42. @PC -
    are you being sarcastic with this line of definition: "But if you make a track on a drum machine (lets just say a 909) in 4/4 between 120-140bpm, with a kick drum on every beat (ie 'doof doof doof')... this already sounds a lot like techno.... in fact, this is arguably the 'essential convention'." ?

    if serious, man, you have absolutely NO IDEA what techno really is, and your definition is even more limiting than pipecock's, and it would explain why you're so confused.

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  43. philip sherburneJune 25, 2008 at 1:24 PM

    CZ, every genre has rules, or if we want to put it slightly less dogmatically, governing conventions. can they be discarded occasionally? sure, and often are to positive effect. but those are all pretty solid criteria for what makes much techno, at the very least, not something else. and i'm pretty sure PC is talking about techno as a sort of "umbrella" genre that encompasses others, though i realize that pipecock's view would seem to be the opposite -- that techno is one among many electronic-music genres that (to his mind) has unjustifiably been saddled with the responsibility for encompassing the others -- hence his preference to call minimal (minimal house, minimal techno, whatever) trace. that's how i parse it, anyway.

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  44. @CZ... I mean no offense – I wasn't being sarcastic, and I'm not confused. I can give you short, simple, and durable definitions of what *I* think techno is. Another one on a broader, related concept...

    Electronic music: music that is primarily made/generated using electronic equipment.

    They're definitions that anyone can hear, not just some kind of 'you just know it when you feel it, trust me' kinds of things.

    Or/so: what is techno if not the straight bass drum (doof doof doof), in modulating patterns built in 4/4, on drum machines and computers? Of course, techno is not exhausted by this definition and we then have to talk more subjectively about the stances and aesthetics of the arrangements, but can you remove more than one of these elements and still have something that sounds like techno, eg:

    - is there a techno track that is not made with electronic equipment?

    - is there a techno track that does not use a drum machine (or a computer simulating one) to generate its beat/structure?

    Or, as a counter-proposition: what is techno for you, from a structural point of view? The fact that you say *I'm* confused makes me feel/think that you've got some clarity to lay on us. Please give us your definition so we can all examine the claim. Or is techno just a 'feeling', a secret to be grasped by the anointed/initiated, or something arbitrarily defined by groups of fans whose privilege comes from an association to a style of techno that they consider orthodox?

    Or we could do it 'case by case', in which case, please give me some examples of tracks which are (not) techno with a descriptive example that explains why they can or can't be allowed to shelter beneath the umbrella definition...

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  45. is everyone able to comment? i've had a report maybe the comments arent working properly. if so, please send us an email: mnmlssg@gmail.com

    we are going to keep it free for people to post anonymously, but we'd prefer it if you did identify yourself, as i've lost track of how many different anonymous voices there are. and if you are going to comment, please make it (vaguely) constructive. the whole point of this is for it to be a discussion. if you think we are completely wrong or misguided, at least tell us why...

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  46. sorry, i should add - i'll make some more substantial comments and replies later. flat out with work at the moment. but for the most, i've found this discussion very interesting. definitely discovered a few things...

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  47. "I am a massive fan of Detroit techno, no doubt, but I don't stick strictly to it, but when listening to ANY music, I want to hear human soul, feeling and emotion. I actually want to connect to the music, you don't? What you said there is a ridiculous statement."

    I didn't say I didn't want to connect with the music, or that I didn't want it to have feeling or emotion. What I don't want it to have is human feelig or emotion - which is what I take "soul" to mean here. Why use radical new tools to go back to where we allready have been for so long? The great thing about coming into the early, detroit-ignorant techno scene for me was exactly the way it went consequently into the unknown, inhuman and artificial!

    If I want to hear music filled with the human soul, I'll listen to jazz or folk, which are much better at it than any kind of techno will ever be.

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  48. Great feature...

    Personally I don't have any particular genre agenda with respect to dance music criticism.

    But I do have a structural agenda which I think is relevant to this debate.

    Dance music exists for people to enjoy dancing to. There are lots of ways to enjoy dancing - there's a sexual one where the music taps into those sorts of feelings, and the social environment is treated as a place of sexual opportunity. Or there's a social one where the joy comes from the observation and interaction with other people. There's a creative, visual mode which is about constructing a fabulous identity for yourself and expressing it through clothing and dance. All of these things can and do make nightclubs and dance music great, but in different ways.

    However critics nearly always tend to prioritise one mode over all these and that's the introspective intellectual mode - getting 'lost in music' going to a 'higher place' or 'on a journey'.

    Techno isn't and wasn't just about music and it's certainly never been just about getting lost inside your own head. It's about dancing and nightclubs, and that involves fashion and sex and above all else, people.

    So lets not peddle this horrible, boring, un-fun idea that techno is serious business. There aren't rules and it's not okay to tell people that they musn't dress up the way they want to or that they musn't be from a certain place or that they have to interpret the music the way you tell them to. If people had done all that back in the 1980s we wouldn't HAVE the techno that we're all debating about in the first place.

    It's pretty well documented that Derrick May started out playing European electronic music at preppie parties that considered new wave and italo-disco to be more 'sophisticated' than US R&B and everyone's probably seen the clothes in those youtube clips of Sharevari etc.

    I'm dead certain that the 80s media influenced the development of techno because that's where the idea that Coogie sweaters and European music were 'sophisticated' came from. I think I'm right in saying that Share Vari was the name of a clothing store in Detroit... In other words this all started with fashion, with influences from overseas and with people 'getting it wrong'.

    So we can all acknowledge that Detroit artists have made a huge and lasting impact on music and have created works of great art. But you'd be doing them and the processes that influenced them a disservice if you use their example as a way to constrain, stultify and tone down the free expression of creativity in every form that's valid in nightclubs. 'Your' definition can't be forced on other people and nobody can 'own' techno no matter how loud or cogently they argue about it online...

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  49. @ Jacob: very interesting points and well taken, but "There aren't rules and it's not okay to tell people that they musn't dress up the way they want to or that they musn't be from a certain place or that they have to interpret the music the way you tell them to."

    Dude, there *are* rules... ever tried to get into a nightclub nude, wearing the wrong sweaters, being Turkish, black, old, young... I take your point about clubs/clubbing, but the overwhelming # of clubs are some of the most repressive places around. Your behaviour is under constant surveillance, and if you don't behave as you should, you'll be bum-rushed outta there.

    There are explicit rules; there are also tacit norms. Dance music and the cultures that it's a part of are always expressed through these. Richie Hawtin could start dropping the odd waltz into his sets, but he's unlikely to... Sven Vath could play Diamanda Galas or Mayhem to the punters at Cocoon, but if he did it every week, how long would Cocoon stay open?

    Third thing: I don't go out clubbing much anymore, but I listen to techno everyday, for hours, usually while I'm doing research and also when I walk (for reflection and exercise) and also at the gym. This is my listening environment, no less legitimate and no less shaping. I wouldn't say that there's a proper space of techno or a proper use of techno.

    I'd also say that techno is very commonly made by a geeks who prefers staying at home in their studios to socialising with 'people' – many of them prefer the company of their pets and machines.

    In any case, most people prefer dancing to R&B, at least if every house party I've ever been to is an indication. Timbaland/Timberlake/Madonna is the most popular. Mos people are alienated by music without vocals that has no hooks and/or a melody they've never heard before. The power of identification/recognition is massive in music. A lot of people only like to hear something they've heard before, and that they can sing along to.

    Techno is a pretty minor music in most places in the world. A Dutch example: Joris Voorn comes to Melbourne and plays a big pub; Tiesto packs out the tennis centre.

    ...but yeah, you're right, maybe a lot of it comes back to sex? I mean, would the Panoramabar exist without Berghain? And would Berghain exist without gay men wanting to fuck each other? I'm not 100% sure...

    ...any thoughts?

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  50. I'd also say that techno is very commonly made by a geeks who prefers staying at home in their studios to socialising with 'people'

    I think this is very interesting. I'm wary of theories about 'what's wrong with music today' but I do think this isn't healthy. Dance music needs to have a strong connection to the dancefloor - to make (and indeed comment on) dance music well I think you have to love dancing and to do it fairly often.

    New sounds often seem to emerge from that feedback loop of producers and DJs seeing what crowds respond to and then catering to that and evolving new sounds in the process. And there's a certain immediacy and intuitiveness about tracks that come from this process, to my ears. Think of Ron Hardy edits or early drum and bass and you've got that real sense that the musicians were building on what they'd seen happen on the dancefloor the week before, or indeed the way Larry Levan reportedly spent years tweaking 'Don't make me wait' to get it just right, trying out each new iteration at the garage to see how it worked on the floor.

    I think there's a reference to this in the 'part 4' piece talking about the way that the detroit scene has changed from one in which people regularly played to a hometown crowd versus where it is now which I'm guessing is much more 'export-oriented'...

    As to the point about clubs being exclusionary I'd say, some clubs are, but if you look at clubs in totality I think there's pretty much a place for everyone. Straight people may be excluded from gay clubs and vice versa but both do exist and have a place they can go. And new things spring up all the time. Look at the way rave clubs in UK in the 80s were reacting against dress codes versus the way Boombox could be categorised as a reaction against the prevailing LACK of dress codes in the 2000s London.

    The sex point to me is a big one. As Sherburne points out a lot of 90s techno was a deliberate reaction against sex in music, but we've now got this weird situation where techno is sexless and hip-hop is heavily sexualised. House is a more mixed bag, obviously, but there does seem to be this subconscious idea in a lot of critics' heads that 'serious' dance music shouldn't be sexy which is really bullshit.

    One of the things I love about golden age detroit is the way that some of those tracks make machines feel sexy - Blake Baxter and K Alexi are the most obvious examples. As contrasted with ghettotech which is sexual but not sexy (subjectivity alert). But yes I think you're right because there is a sexual undercurrent in some of the current berghain stuff but it's a kind of meth-ed up impersonal sexuality (which is fine, no criticism of that and it makes for an interesting aesthetic). Versus London Funky House which is a much wetter, messier more teenage sexiness and much more overt about it too...

    But coming back to detroit - the best in detroit techno has all of the above - the intimate connection between musician and dancer, the sex and the tension with the lack of sex. But then so does the best in d&b or 2step or italo (and I'd argue, maybe funky house has this right now too).

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  51. All interesting points, for real.

    ...so what if I don't frame techno as 'dance music' but as 'electronic music'? Do I recover my right to comment as a legitimate user of the music?

    The common factor in all of this is 'electronics'. If you remove that, it's not electronic music. The dancing is only one possible headspace.

    The dance moves I pull look like walking - because I'm listening to a techno mix while walking through the city. What could be healthier than that?

    Meanwhile, there's a lot of morbidity to many of the club scenes. Yes, there are lots of different kinds of spaces, but they're increasingly securitised (in Melbourne at least).

    If you don't mind my playing doctor, I would diagnose private listening as being in rude health; clubbing has a facelift, and is addicted to ice and snow.

    Meanwhile, electronic music is constitutively mediated by electronics, and increasingly this means we're just swapping files made on Ableton and recoded as mp3s. If you ignore what the content is and look at the materials, what people are actually doing, there is very little difference between electronic music and a massive multiplayer game like Warcrack. Just different codes, and geeks swapping desireable files in order to generate sociability and vying for prestige and legitimacy.

    ...but maybe I need to lighten up and just go dancing. I hope the bouncer lets me in.

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  52. Am probably talking to the walls now, but anyhow...

    what if I don't frame techno as 'dance music' but as 'electronic music'?

    I know you know better than this - 'electronic music' in 2008 means virtually everything except hoary old guitar bands and scene/emo nonsense. If 'electronic-ness' is the key factor Timbaland id more techno than Moodymann because he uses less samples...

    geeks swapping desireable files in order to generate sociability and vying for prestige and legitimacy

    Seriously, if musical experience has devolved to the level that its only purpose is to facilitate forum dick-measuring, why bother? I would genuinely rather play Warcraft!

    I'd still hang on to the idea that there is something special and essential about the club experience that makes 'techno' what it is. It's that juxtaposition of the sweatiest, most human elements with something somewhat cold and mechanical that makes it tick.

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  53. for my own two cents, i liked this series. went over some stuff i knew, enlightened me on some i didn't, and made me think about a few in new ways. i fail to see what some people got so worked up over about it. at the end of the day, it's your take on a part of history. every bit of history in every medium throughout the world is different, even the supposed "authoritative" ones. you take and learn what you can from each. well i don't feel like dragging myself into that whole thing, but nice work. keep it up.

    b]

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  54. "it's your take on a part of history."

    but history is not a matter of opinion, history is what actually happened. coming up with a different version of events that sounds more interesting or suits your current tastes better has nothing to do with history, it's story-telling, fiction, big difference.

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  55. of course history is what happened, but DOCUMENTING history involves your own take to some extent. everyone takes what information they find relevant, and leave some behind. history itself is set in stone, but every record of every event since the dawn of time has varying facts, depending on who wrote it. that's because in the end, each is written by an individual or group of people with their own knowledge, experiences, and biases woven in, consciously or not. i'm just saying you can't take any one "history" as fact. just like you can't this one either. but i don't think that was ever his intention.

    and really, unless you or i were there to actually see what happened at any given time, any account, whether it calls itself historical or not, is merely hearsay. even in the case of the most widely-accepted "history," there will always be some who disagree, which means no specific one can ever be fully correct or universal. on top of that, if you look up the definition of "history," it doesn't say anything about a history being the end-all account... it is merely a chronicle, narrative, or account of past events. so your account, mine, or someone else's can easily be a bit different. personally i wasn't there for all the things talked about in the series, so i wouldn't know. but unless someone else was there living every minute, i don't think they can either. haha at the end of the day, it's an article in a blog. take it or leave it. :)

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Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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