Incorporating Electronic Music in Your Classical Practice

Incorporating Electronic Music in Your Classical Practice

I am a classically-trained pianist currently studying at St. Petersburg Conservatory, however, I am hugely interested in electronic music

Christopher Steller
Melbourne, Australia

Incorporating Electronic Music in Your Classical Practice

I am a classically-trained pianist currently studying at St. Petersburg Conservatory, however, I am hugely interested in electronic music

Question:

Dear Christopher,

I am a classically-trained pianist currently studying at St. Petersburg Conservatory, however, I am hugely interested in electronic music - especially with lots of friends (who are also classically-trained musicians) in Germany and England as well as in Australia who are currently creating there own music from their laptops with Logic and a few samples of real instruments.

I wanted to ask:

  1. Your opinion on recent developments in electronic music as a genre - dance music as well as more experimental 'sound design' projects?
  2. The best way you think it would be for me to integrate my classical music experience with my passion and interest for the genre. The teachers at the conservatory are, as I'm sure you can imagine, very conservative and traditional as far as classical music goes so I haven't found much space for my passion for electronic music.
  3. The best way to learn more about sound production in general?

Answer:

Hi there!

Electronic music is an extremely diverse genre. Modern electronic, which would include producers using Maschine, Ableton, etc, I would categorise as EDM. Software based loops and beats are accessible to the masses and the music created is indicative, in my opinion. It is difficult to find something really outstanding. For me, Tipper is a genuine standout: creative rhythmically. 

Old school electronic, which began with Kraftwerk (the fathers of EDM), Tangerine Dream, Roger Powell (synthesist for Todd Rundgren, demonstrator for Moog and ARP), Larry Fast (synthesist for Peter Gabriel and Synergy), and their like, were the pioneers of electronic, working as experimenters and clinicians for the main manufacturers, and pushing the instruments to their limits in performance, soundtrack work, etc. The resurgence of modular synthesisers has been responsible for the return of this style. 

Sound design style audio experiments amount to personal taste - I hear a lot of synthesiser pieces, and they can leave me cold, whereas others that blend sounds musically stay in my mind long after the performance has ended. 

My advice is to get a feel for the styles that excite you the most, and listen to how other classically trained musicians have broken out of the traditional mindset. I love to hear the blending of genres, and I admire those composers the most - listen to the music coming out of Iceland, such as Bjork (amazing productions), or more importantly, Olafur Arnalds. His blend of traditional and electronic, for me, is perfect. Piano, voice, violin, cello, synthesiser and drum machine/loops. Very clever and very beautiful. In YouTube search this clip:Ólafur Arnalds - Old Skin (Buzzsession) 

Reading on-line blogs from CDM (create digital music), watching YouTube 'how-to' videos by SFLOGICNINJA (San Francisco Logic Ninja) or others (just google Logic videos) and experimenting with sounds, samples, loops. These experts show some great techniques, which I find a real inspiration to get the ideas rolling. I often learn a ’new trick’, then build an entire piece around it, making it my own. 

I would like to work more with vocalists, sampling and manipulating words and syllables into new ideas. 

The most important thing to remember is apply your own knowledge and experience to the projects you take on. Don't just be another “producer”."