Throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, technology kept making it easier for bands to make music. But it was the home computer that finally gave artists the ability to fully write, play, record and even distribute music entirely from their bedroom.
In this final part, Andrew Collins talks to the bands, including Air, Radiohead and The Chemical Brothers, who used the computer’s power to go beyond human capabilities and free themselves from the pression of the studio and the record labels. They discuss what technology changed in the bands’ relationship with their audience, the return to low-fi analog and the synthpop revival.
Like the declining cost of synthesizers in the late 70s early 80s lead to a new era in popular music, the introduction of the microchip offered bands a whole new way to make music. As their equipment became more and more sophisticated and cheap, they mastered the art of sampling. Making music became so much easier that soon they didn’t need studios anymore. In fact they didn’t need musicians either, starting with the drummer, so easily replaced by the lastest drumbox.
All this pushed people to make sounds that had never been heard before, bringing us the Dance Music revolution with the advent of Chicago House and Detroit Techno.
This is the second part of The Great Bleep Forward, a BBC 6 documentary series about the history of electronic music. Listen to the previous part here: Part 1: The Pioneers.
In the late 70s, the punk revolution showed everyone that you didn’t need to be a great musician to make great music. But technology pushed things even further. As synthesizers were becoming more advanced and finally affordable, many bands started using them to create new sounds. People didn’t need musical training to use them, and it allowed them to liberate their ideas in a way that those using conventional instruments couldn’t.
Andrew Collins recalls the ups and downs of this exciting era through its influencial people including Brian Eno, David Bowie, bands from the New Romantics scene like The Human League and Ultravox, Depeche Mode, and New Order.
In this second documentary on WHA, we explore the history and development of electronic music through the ages, from the very first experiments to its democratisation and evolution towards more complex techniques. Andrew Collins introduces the people, not only musicians, who chose to break away from rock traditions, changing the way we make music for ever.
We start with the birth of electronic music and the invention of the first electronic instruments in the 19th and early 20th century. After being used and improved during decades by a handful of DIYers, they were progressively employed in pop music, notably by the Beatles, Pink Floyd or even Stevie Wonder. But while for these bands electronic music was just a novelty element to add to a song, one act in Germany chose to get rid of all the traditional instruments and reinvent the way popular music was conceived: Kraftwerk.