Glitch is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the 1990s. It has been described as having an "aesthetic of failure" distinguished by the deliberate use of glitch-based audio media and other sonic artifacts.
|Cultural origins||1990s, United Kingdom, Japan|
The glitching sounds featured in glitch tracks usually come from audio recording device or digital electronics malfunctions, such as CD skipping, electric hum, digital or analog distortion, circuit bending, bit-rate reduction, hardware noise, software bugs, computer crashes, vinyl record hiss or scratches, and system errors. Sometimes devices that were already broken are used, and sometimes devices are broken expressly for this purpose. In Computer Music Journal, composer and writer Kim Cascone classified glitch as a subgenre of electronica and used the term post-digital to describe the glitch aesthetic.
The origins of the glitch aesthetic can be traced to the early 20th century with Luigi Russolo's Futurist manifesto L'arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises) (1913), the basis of noise music. He constructed mechanical noise generators, which he named intonarumori, and wrote multiple compositions to be played by them, including Risveglio di una città (Awakening of a City) and Convegno di automobili e aeroplani (The Meeting of Automobiles and Airplanes). In 1914, a riot broke out at one of his performances in Milan, Italy. Later musicians and composers who made use of malfunctioning technology include Michael Pinder of The Moody Blues in "The Best Way to Travel" (1968) and Christian Marclay, who used mutilated vinyl records to create sound collages beginning in 1979. Yasunao Tone used damaged CDs in his Techno Eden performance of 1985, while Nicolas Collins's 1992 album It Was a Dark and Stormy Night included a composition featuring a string quartet playing alongside the stuttering sound of skipping CDs. Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's electronic soundtrack for the 1994 video game Streets of Rage 3 used automatically randomized sequences to generate "unexpected and odd" experimental sounds.
Glitch originated as a distinct movement in Germany and Japan during the 1990s, with the musical work and labels (especially Mille Plateaux) of Achim Szepanski in Germany, and the work of Ryoji Ikeda in Japan.
In the later half of the 20th century, the experimental music that served as the precursor to glitch contained distortions that were often produced by manual manipulation of audio media. This came in the form of Yasunao Tone's "wounded" CDs; small bits of semi-transparent tape were placed on the CD to interrupt the reading of the audio information. Other examples of this manual tampering include Nicholas Collins' modification of an electric guitar to act as a resonator for electrical signals, and his adaption of a CD player to allow recordings played on it to be altered during live performance. Skipping CDs, scratched vinyl records, circuit bending, and other distortions resembling electronic noise figure prominently into the creation of rhythm and feeling in glitch; it is from the use of these digital artifacts that the genre derives its name. However, glitch today is often produced on computers using digital production software to splice together small "cuts" (samples) of music from previously recorded works. These cuts are then integrated with the signature of glitch music: beats made up of glitches, clicks, scratches, and otherwise erroneous-sounding noise. The glitches are often very short, and are typically used in place of traditional percussion or instrumentation. Popular software for creating glitch music includes trackers like Jeskola Buzz and Renoise, as well as modular software like Reaktor, Ableton Live, Reason, AudioMulch, Bidule, SuperCollider, FLStudio, Max/MSP, Pure Data, and ChucK. Some artists also use digital synthesizers like the Clavia Nord Modular G2 and Elektron's Machinedrum and Monomachine.
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|Cultural origins||1997, United States|
Glitch hop is a sub-genre of glitch music. The genre typically embodies the same aesthetic as glitch music, but with a more urban approach. Glitch hop took shape around the year 1997 from the early works of Push Button Objects at the label Chocolate Industries. In 2001 the genre gained popularity thanks to labels like Merck Records, Warp Records, and Ghostly International. Notable glitch hop artists include Machinedrum, Dabrye, Prefuse 73, edit, Jimmy Edgar, Lackluster, and Proswell. In the late 2000s, glitch hop experienced a massive decline in content creation as practitioners of the genre began branching out into other genres. During this time, dubstep was arguably the most profitable EDM genre in the United States. Hence, many glitch hop artists began making a new style of electronic music that used the same aesthetic as dubstep, while incorporating some elements of glitch music (low fidelity manipulation, stutters, beat repeat, pitched reverses, and cuts). Instead of renaming their new genre, the artists kept the name glitch hop. Modern glitch hop artists routinely receive criticism for using the term glitch hop when the current style of the musical genre does not sound like a glitch or instrumental hip hop. Despite the criticism received from traditional glitch hop fans, many glitch hop artists have had profitable careers. Popular modern glitch hop artists include David Tipper, The Glitch Mob, KOAN Sound, Pegboard Nerds, Pretty Lights, GRiZ, TheFatRat, JPEGMAFIA, Jersus, Wolfsonbience, and Hefe Heetroc.
- "The glitch genre arrived on the back of the electronica movement, an umbrella term for alternative, largely dance-based electronic music (including house, techno, electro, drum'n'bass, and ambient) that has come into vogue in the past five years. Most of the work in this area is released on labels peripherally associated with the dance music market and is, therefore, removed from the contexts of academic consideration and acceptability that it might otherwise earn. Still, in spite of this odd pairing of fashion and art music, the composers of glitch often draw their inspiration from the masters of 20th century music who they feel best describe its lineage." THE AESTHETICS OF FAILURE: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music, Kim Cascone, Computer Music Journal 24:4 Winter 2000 (MIT Press)
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