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Innovation Through Music – How Production Tech Is Expanding Genres

Electronic music has touched nearly every other sound genre and is seeing yet more interest in even less predictable corners. MixMag has reported that hip hop/rock star Denzel Curry is now looking into experimenting with electronic music, a far cry from his roots in rap with a sprinkling of hardcore punk, rock, and metal. Part of the reason that electronic music remains so appealing is the low barrier of entry and yet almost unsurpassed field of opportunity. It’s perhaps the easiest genre to start playing in, and yet also a genre in which the envelope can be fully pushed.

Starting out

Tools used in the electronic industry, such as Ableton and FruityLoops, have occasionally been derided as amateur tools – fun games for use to play around with, and not professional tools. Despite this, their affordability and ease of access have cemented them as a quick way to start getting started in electronic music production. However, just as with the wider theme of the genre, the simplicity of these programs has not been a barrier to success.

A profile of FL Studio-inspired beats published by Red Bull raises one interesting comment by producer Hudson Mohawke; “if you were to look at the actual Top 10 Billboard songs, I guarantee eight of them were probably made on [FL Studio].” Put simply, these simple music production tools have a massive ceiling, and have now led to some of the biggest hits on the planet. Post Malone’s Rockstar, much of Avicii’s work, Gasoline by Daddy Yanky, and God’s Plan by Drake were all produced on the enterprising platform, displaying the potential benefits of the simple and accessible way of working.

Old with new

One advantage of ever-advancing musical tech is the potential it has to resurrect sounds of the old. This has most clearly been seen in the standout track of 2022, Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon’s Step by Step. As Pitchfork highlights, the track uses cutting-edge multitrack electronic music production but uses a set of layered strings and choir that sound more like they’re emerging from an AM radio.

This sort of technique isn’t new in music, of course; retro and vintage vibes are the foundation of French house, which Alan Braxe belongs to the tradition of. However, the quality of production, blending these classic elements with what sound like real-life instruments and varied instrumentation, is a significant achievement. Of course, the building blocks underpinning these songs remain the software and DAWs such as FruityLoops Studio and Ableton. It’s only through sophisticated programming, a mind for innovation, and the persistence to really fine-tune these tools that old can be melded so seamlessly with new.

The impact of AI

A buzzword in the world of technology is AI – artificial intelligence. The use of these advanced algorithms is being integrated into every single industry, seemingly, with private and public bodies struggling to keep up with the rate of innovation. AI will now start having an impact in music production, according to TechRound.

There have been questions of ethics in deploying AI to replicate the vocals of deceased singers and rappers. Moving away from that and instead looking at how AI can help to round off and complete the songs that provide the foundations to hit tracks, however, is less ethically questionable and has greater potential. By training an algorithm to ‘listen’ to a broad range of tracks and train it to help complete tracks, providing inspiration. There are already astonishingly well-detailed AI-generated tracks out there on the internet; they will provide color to the next generation of electronic releases.

Electronic music is envelope-pushing. It embraces new technology, but also ensures that those older techniques which have lasted the test of time are used and integrated into the making of new music. Now, electronic music will sit at the precipice of an entirely new musical trend – the use of AI to complete and inspire tracks. There are few genres that are quite as well placed to make use of these developments in technology, and the music that comes out of this innovation will be so idiosyncratic within the electronic genre that it will be hard for other genres to replicate the same feel.

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