Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Poetry & Techno: May Their Futures Meet at the Beat? (Part 2 of 3)

With electronic music’s meteoric rise over the past decade, the culture infiltrated the mainstream conscious, which came with its faults but ultimately benefited the culture as a whole. Techno became a cultural force taking over the lifestyles of the party demographics all over the continent. This, of course, created a backlash from the people that had cherished this subculture prior to its rise in popularity; and there has been an ongoing discourse for the last several years discussing the pros and cons of this rise in popularity. The purists felt like what they had so close to their hearts for so long was being mass-marketed and bastardized to inflate the bank account of a plutocrat. However, the people that actively listen to and study the music of this culture would never let themselves be dissuaded from it due to a couple of muscles bulging through neon tank tops who seem like they may be inauthentic. If anything, a presence of a culture in the mainstream conscious acts as a gateway to the heart of that culture. The cherished ‘underground’ scenes in places like Toronto swelled with popularity due to the mainstream success of ‘electro.’ A wider audience for a culture that you love feeds into the future of that culture.

Techno’s mainstage appearance provides an opportunity for poetry to marry into a wealthy family, and when the two are to meet, it will be a match of symphonic proportions. In a techno piece, there is a complex sonic narrative made from layering of sounds to create a general tone. These sounds are repetitive and build on each other, replaying in your mind like a Zen coan as you are left to ride the groove set out for you and ponder whatever comes to your mind in the process. The experience of discovering how a complex sound structure affects your thought can truly be a mind-freeing, meditative experience. This is similar to how I read the poetry that I love: You read the rhythm of the lines, you fully grasp the images and thoughts that are put on the page, accented by the tone and the rhythm of the language, and you then take those evoked emotions with you; they become a part of your mind as you then perceive the world in a different way.

The way a techno song is constructed is similar to that of a poem. A music producer sits down with his computer and produces a certain emotion, or state of mind, and he constructs a sequence of evocative emotions that will get his listener to a state of complete inexplicable realization. At times, certain sounds, or ‘samples’—auditory allusions—are used, though they are not always overt and recognizable (which would make any modernist proud). Techno is also true to its form, or the ‘groove,’ a traditional four-four (four-on-the-floor) beat that governs every track, a blank page, left for creative minds to accent with rhythms and make their own. What other medium is so intertwined with rhythm, form, and musicality? Poetry does much the same thing to the human mind. It is a carefully constructed mix of sounds and images sparking up in the readers mind in order to create an emotion. Poetry, even in it’s freest of forms, is a slave to its rhythm and its musicality.

However, there is one main difference between the two: Techno songs are created to be mixed into each other. A professional techno DJ’s craft is focused on creating an unbroken, cohesive atmosphere throughout an entire evening. There are highs and lows, and changes of tempo, but the music doesn’t stop.

Steven Suntres is The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant, a member of QWERTY's editoral board, and a UNB graduate student.