This book analyzes urban citizen’s relationship with technology and cultural expression through techno electronic dance music and examines how techno has impacted everyday life. The author contends that techno artists have not properly analyzed or acknowledged the cultural impact of their work. Electronic music in particular continues to evolve with the changing times and thus continues to challenge our perceptions about the relationships between technology and society. In this multicultural urban context the author draws from her own multicultural experience to provide an interpretive Contextualizer that allows her to suggest what may be gained by acknowledging techno culture as an art form and as a repository of cultural identity.
The analysis in this book draws from three perspectives: ethnography, pop culture, and popular music analysis. These three perspectives each play a vital role in understanding techno dance music, each with differing degrees of applicability. The book as a whole, however, offers an important perspective on techno electronic dance music that can help artists and listeners alike better understand contemporary music.
Cultural ethnography is based on studying the artistic production of a given community in the context of that community’s broader context. For instance, in the hip hop community it would be to analyze the cultural construction of ghetto-dance music in the inner city. Another example would be to examine techno dance music from the perspective of women vs. men. By using ethnographic methods a greater depth of meaning can be revealed within any given music genre.
Pop culture analysis looks to analyze popular music through the lens of popular culture. By looking to popular media one hopes to get a glimpse into the social factors behind the production of a given sound. By isolating certain sound segments from the larger mass of popular music, the techno DJ can make his or her techno music more personal. This personal level of intimacy is necessary to making a personal statement in a technological medium such as the internet. By examining pop via pop culture, a greater appreciation of the human psyche can be gained.
In the field of ethnomusicology, the study of music through the lens of anthropology. A common thread that unites many ethnomusicological approaches is the question of human purpose in the production and consumption of music. Ethnographers ask “What is the purpose of music in human existence?” By considering techno music as a product, we can start to answer this question. The techno DJ needs to ask themselves these questions in order to produce art that is directly tied to the creative impulse.
By looking to ethnomusicology, the study of music through the perspective of the cultural producer. There are two basic perspectives in this particular genre of electronic music. These are native and cross culturally distributed. Each type has significant elements from the other, but each type has a definitive sound. By investigating techno from a cultural producer’s point of view the results can be amazing.
The cross culturally distributed techno music tends to be politically charged lyrics and melodies dominate the genre. Many techno artists have taken controversial stands on topics such as politics and freedom of speech in their lyrics and melodies. Some have even gone to the extent of performing politically themed shows at festivals around the world. More conservative techno artists tend to focus on traditional instruments and samples such as drums and samples from classic hip hop and rap records. All techno music has a distinctive sound that can be identified and heard by enthusiasts of the genre.
With all of the different elements that make up techno music, it can often be difficult for a non-dedicated techno fan to decipher the various genres within the larger umbrella of the electronic dance music genre. The best way to overcome this problem is to focus on one particular subgenre within the wider field of techno. From there you can gain a better understanding of the techno artists and the music that they create. Regardless of what type of music you prefer to listen to you can be sure to find a place to listen to some techno music.