A book that sheds serious light on electronic and experimental music

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I once contemplated categorising my 10,000+ CDs into genre rather than keep them in the alphabetised state they’re in (I find it easier to search for titles by artist A-Z). If I did go by genre, I then wouldn’t be sure where to put the likes of Laurie Anderson, The Orb and The Chemical Brothers. Would they go under ‘Electronic’? Or under that more elusive category of ‘Experimental’? Perhaps I’d have to have a section that combined the two?

Anyway, now that I’m making electronic music of my own, sampling footage from camp television series and lacing these over contemporary dance beats, I thought I’d get into reading the updated edition of Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture by Thom Holmes. The book refers regularly to ‘digital sampling’ and covers a gamut of special effects that can be applied that I didn’t even realise was available on the music editing software I own, so that was a bonus. Not that such music production specifics will interest everyone, but in this day and age of cut-and-paste audio and visual (who hasn’t made a clip and posted it on YouTube or Sound Cloud?) everyone ought to appreciate the basics of audio production, that is if we want to see an increase in quality on sites like YouTube and Facebook.

Despite being a great resource of production tips for music boffins – both professional and amateur – Electronic and Experimental Music reads like an encyclopedia of fascinating facts, covering everyone from The Beatles in their psychedelic phase and mainstream experimental artists like Pink Floyd, to modern acts such as Ladytron and DJ Shadow. Still, no mention of Laurie, The Orb or the Chem Brothers so I’m still not sure what category to slide them into… All up, though, a serious read on genres of music otherwise snubbed by purists.

Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture: Fourth Edition is published through Routledge and distributed through Palgrave/Macmillan.