How do aesthetics and technology relate to and influence each other in contemporary music production? We will analyze those aspects based on the examples of hard- and software produced in Berlin, the capital of techno. During the workshop, you will get to know the world-leading companies and small manufacturers that develop tools for special musical phenomena.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this course will be facilitated online using a mixture of daily live-sessions and guided tasks to be completed.
Berlin became the center of the worldwide techno scene not only because of its club landscape but also thanks to the creative economy in which the music technology develops. New tools that expand the potential of electronic music are constantly created as a result of a close exchange with DJs and musicians.
Our workshop explores the current state of music production. We will sharpen the distinction between analog and digital signal paths and our understanding of analog-digital hybrids. Furthermore, we will critically question the diverse aesthetic discourses associated with certain notions of “analog” and “digital”.
Based on practical experience, we will discuss the following questions:
— DAY 1 —
Overview of the course content. Getting to know each other. Discussion of special interests or preferences that should be considered in the course (see day 3).
PART A. Distinction between analog and digital in both technical and aesthetic terms.
Following an introduction by the lecturer, we will review some concise text excerpts. In the subsequent joint discussion, the participants are invited to contribute their previous practical experience (in music soft/hardware as well as aesthetic or popular discourses). However, no special previous knowledge is required.
PART B. Hands-on workshop with a free modular online synthesizer program.
The instructor will use the software to introduce the functions of synthesizers and sequencers. Depending on their level of knowledge, the participants will be individually instructed on how to use the software. (Beginners and advanced users are welcome.)
— DAY 2 —
PART A. Workshop with a representative of an ambitious music hardware manufacturer.
A representative of a small Berlin-based company that develops special hardware devices for music production (e.g. KOMA Elektronik) will participate in the online course as an external expert. He will introduce some of the company’s devices and not only talk about their technical functions, but about their development history. It will become evident how closely aesthetic-musical and technical developments are interwoven, especially in Berlin.
PART B. Distinctive features of the Berlin city as the center of club culture and music technology.
The lecturer will give an introduction to the connection between urban development, gentrification, and the creative industries, focusing on the situation in Berlin. Subsequently, all participants will be asked to report on the situation in their respective home cities and countries. The specific similarities and differences will be discussed in order to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between global trends and local conditions.
— DAY 3 —
PART A. Special interests of the participants.
Considering the interests and preferences of the participants, individuals can present their own hardware or software and discuss its special features against the background of the previous course experience. It is also possible to present their own musical projects. Likewise, special aesthetic aspects can also be explored in greater depth.
PART B. In-depth final discussion.
We discuss the mutual relationship between technical modes of operation and musical paradigms. How does the interface, in particular, suggest specific musical actions to the users? We discuss this both on a concrete example (hardware "Push" and software "Live" by the Berlin company Ableton) and on a more abstract general level.
Kim Feser is a musicologist, philosopher, and sociologist, whose research and teaching activities focus on electronic music, new music, and the blurring boundaries of pop and avant-garde. He is particularly interested in the relationship between aesthetic, technological, and social aspects. Kim Feser is the co-editor of Techno Studies (Berlin 2016), a book about the aesthetics and history of electronic dance music. In recent years, he has published texts on the musical use of synthesizers and sequencers and lectured not only in Germany but also in the USA and Japan (2017), as well as in China (2018) and Lebanon (2019). From 2011 to 2017, he was a research assistant at the Berlin University of the Arts. Since 2018, he has been teaching at the Berlin University of the Arts and the Freie Universität.