techno music is like classical music

2011-12-09

I'm a really big fan of Tron: Legacy. In some ways, I feel like that movie was made just for me. In the first few minutes, you see a board meeting with some executives talking about the latest version of their operating system they're about to release. When the topic of new features comes up, the CEO remarks that "This year, we put a 10 on the box", intimating a madden-esque style of iterating for the sake of iterating. Shortly thereafter, the main character breaks into a server room and uploads a copy of the OS to the web. I was absolutely delighted by this; the movie just gave big software companies like Microsoft and Apple a big middle finger.

Take that Corporate America!

The movie is set inside a computer, and has a fantastic visual style. Most memorable though was the Electronic/Orchestral score by Daft Punk I listen to the soundtrack a lot of the time I'm writing code, and recently I was struck by an interesting thought while listening, that techno music sure seems an awful lot like classical. I happen to prefer instrumental music, and find words can get in the way of my enjoyment and interpretation of a song.

While pondering that fact, I found a number of other comparisons between techno and classical: Classical and techno are both primarily instrumental, sometimes adding a choir for epicness. They both use a lot of repetition. Not just repetition, but they both have themes that weave in and out, and then come back later louder and stronger. Many songs in both genres use a kind of layering, starting out soft and easy, then gradually adding voices and counter-melodies until all the instruments are playing together. Tempo may also increase, as well as pitch and volume. Composers of both forms borrow heavily from their contemporaries, not only in style but sometimes whole melodies and phrases.

For a couple of good examples, compare Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix) with something like In the Hall of the Mountain King and Beethoven Symphony 7 Mvt. 2 . Stylistically, these songs are all very similar. The techno songs are more upbeat, definitely. But the spirit is similar, the kind of -- rising, flowing, blossoming quality about them. It's beautiful.