Perspective - Techno

All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open-hearted.
Not so coldly charted, it's really just a question
Of your honesty, yeah, your honesty. - Rush

Techno is a genre of music that is still an infant as far as music styles go. It was founded in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1980's, but has become very popular in a short period of time. Techno is so named because it is made mostly with technology (computers and synthesizers) unlike traditional music. Techno is mostly known for its constant repetitious beat.

Although constant monotonous music has been around since Paleolithic times, it has never been made using computers like it is now. I see techno as almost a step back in the evolution of music, as though we are returning to smashing stone against stone over and over.

Techno is not respected very much by the overall music community for several reasons. It rarely contains disciplined vocals, it rarely uses conventional instruments, and its main target audience is teenagers.

Techno is certainly a niche type music. The major use of it is in dance clubs and similar institutions (another reason why it gets little respect). Its trance inducing beat certainly gets your adrenaline pumping and makes you want to dance. Techno also works well in the movie and videogame industry as background music for action sequences.

Techno usually remains in dance clubs because its format doesn't lend very well to traditional theaters. When the ability to dance is removed from techno it loses a lot of its appeal, and trying to dance in a row of bolted down metal chairs is very difficult.

Because techno is generated more by the computer than the artist using the computer, it becomes difficult to place as much respect on the artist who made the music. Most of techno comes from sampling, which is taking someone else's ability to play an instrument, and then using what they played to create new music. This can be done at a grand level of using entire songs or refrains, but it can also be done at the individual note level. This can make you wonder who is really the one who created the music in the first place.

Another problem with techno music, is that the instrument used for creating the 'music' is the same throughout. A synthesizer or computer is used for nearly every kind of techno. This means that the person making the 'music' doesn't even need to know how to play a conventional instrument to make techno (although it certainly helps). Instead of instruments that vary in how they are played and the sound they make, techno uses a computer to get a soulless replica of a real instrument.

Synthesizers have always been the poor step-child in the music industry ever since their introduction in rock 'n roll. When used properly, they can help by adding a different sound that cannot be obtained through conventional means. When used to replicate an instrument that can be played conventionally, it takes away from the true sound of the instrument, and with it its soul. Punching away on a computer program that somebody else wrote and calling the output 'music', is showing lack of respect for musicians who have spent their lives perfecting their craft.

However, even with all the bad mouthing I say about techno, one thing I must admit is that it is good for where it is used. It works well in dance clubs and it can be very useful in videogames. It really is just a matter of discipline and whether or not the artist really puts their soul into their work or not.