The constraints that shaped grime

It’s interesting to read about how art is created in spite of—or perhaps because of—constraints and limitations. This tale of the tools used to make early grime singles is fascinating:

London’s unique, lickety-split digital version of rap was built by teenagers with little-to-no formal musical training, taking whatever cheap (or free, illegally “cracked” and downloaded) software they had to hand, creating strange, glowing, sci-fi sounds from whatever tools they could find.

Grime’s early-2000s pioneers like JME, Skepta, Wiley, and So Solid Crew broke the mold with none of the synths, samplers, and drum machines that had been vital to hip-hop production, instead doing much of their world-building on basic PC software like FruityLoops Studio. Inevitably, the sound was determined by the technology itself.

One of grime’s only consistent formal attributes is that, like its sibling genre dubstep, it runs at around 140 beats per minute — the consistency is important for DJs to be able to mix records seamlessly. Producer Plastician is not the only one to have observed that FruityLoops’ default tempo is set to 140bpm, which “may have a lot to answer for.”

Source: UK grime couldn’t exist without ringtones, Playstations, and other low-fi tech

I’m a big fan of Alan Jacobs, despite some ideological differences. But to use this mathematical phrasing in Q3 kinda defeats the answer to Q4, no? There’s “so much of it”, yet it must also be infinitesimally small…

After what felt like decades of unbearable heat, we finally got some rain and hail. It’s at least 10°C cooler than yesterday, which makes playtime a bit more comfortable.

The sound of failure

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit—all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

—Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices

For easy flatbreads that go with anything, combine:

  • 100g self-raising brown flour
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • optional: a pinch of poppy seeds, herbs or spices

Split in two then roll to 2-3 mm thick. Cook in a dry pan over high heat for a minute or so on each side.

No-one cares about the alt-right’s opinion on music education 

Ethan Hein writes about, among other things, cultural bias in Western music education. While hardly alone in his opinion, by writing about it in a public arena he often faces (mostly constructive) criticism—which of course helps him develop and evolve his argument.

Less helpful are the opinions of the moronic, racist alt-right, who recently blundered their way across his blog and, well, you can guess what happened next.

I’m used to cultural conservatives calling me racist for talking about racism. But I wasn’t sure why this guy was harping on the word “postmodernist.” It’s an accurate description of my scholarly approach, but it also describes everyone I know. It would be like disparaging me by calling me an American. This is before I found out that “postmodernism” is a Jordan Peterson buzzword.

Then, a couple of weeks later, the real excitement began.

Source: My adventures among the alt-right | The Ethan Hein Blog

How to treat Morrissey? Stop listening to him

Stewart Lee:

This isn’t the time for ambiguity, or irony, or publicity-seeking controversy. Those days are gone, and I miss them, as I am part of a generation that profiteered from the assumption that political correctness was a done deal, and now we could have fun jumping in and out of its boundaries, like street kids round a spurting water main. But the Nazi-saluting pug bloke has just joined Ukip so his racist dog doesn’t seem remotely funny any more.

If Breitbart or Spiked can roll out your comments approvingly online you have fucked up. Nowadays, your true intentions have to be written through every inch of your content, like the word Blackpool through a stick of rock, so at any point the useful idiots of the hipster “alt-right” and their fellow travellers in the opinion industry chose to snap it, it still can’t be repurposed. The trouble is, there’s no longer any way to make the case that Morrissey ever meant anything other than what he says.