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Glitch is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the 1990s. It has been described as a genre that adheres to an "aesthetic of failure," where the deliberate use of glitch-based audio media, and other sonic artifacts, is a central concern.
|Cultural origins||1990s, United Kingdom, Japan|
Sources of glitch sound material are usually malfunctioning or abused audio recording devices or digital electronics, such as CD skipping, electric hum, digital or analog distortion, circuit bent electronics, bit-rate reduction, hardware noise, software bugs, crashes, vinyl record hiss or scratches, and system errors. In a Computer Music Journal article published in 2000, composer and writer Kim Cascone classifies 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) published in 1913, the basis of noise music. He constructed mechanical noise generators, which he named intonarumori, and wrote multiple compositions to be played by them; two of which were 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 made use of malfunctioning technology, such as Michael Pinder of The Moody Blues in 1968's "The Best Way to Travel," 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 in 1985, while Nicolas Collins's 1992 album It Was a Dark and Stormy Night included a composition that featured 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.
One of the earliest uses of the term glitch as related to music is from the name of an album by the English experimental electronic group Coil, under their alias ELpH, titled Worship the Glitch (1995). An additional example would be track "Glitch" from album Amber (1994) by electronic duo Autechre.
In the later half of the 20th century before the 1990s, the experimental music that was the precursor to glitch contained distortions that were often produced using manual manipulation of the 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. Another example of this manual tampering is Nicholas Collins' modification of an electric guitar to act as a resonator for electrical signals and the adaption of a CD player so recordings played on it could be altered in live performance. Today, glitch is often produced on computers using modern 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 "erroneously" produced or sounding noise. These glitches are often very short, and are typically used in place of traditional percussion or instrumentation. Skipping CDs, scratched vinyl records, circuit bending, and other noise-like distortions 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, not all artists of the genre are working with erroneously produced sounds or are even using digital sounds. Some artists also use digital synthesizer such as the Clavia Nord Modular G2 and Elektron Machinedrum and Monomachine.
Popular software for creating glitch 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. Circuit bending, the intentional modification of low power electronic devices to create new musical devices, also plays a significant role on the hardware end of glitch music and its creation.
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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. The genre took shape around the year 1997 from the early works of Push Button Objects on 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 music 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 America. 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 the new genre that had been created, 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. Even with 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, Mr. Bill, TheFatRat, JPEGMafia, Hefe Heetroc, Mouldy Soul, WolfsOnbience, Volant, Opiuo, Jersus, Ametsub, Sybyr, Ghostie, Eric North & Jimmy V, and Emancipator.
Artists associated with the growth of the genre in the mid to late 1990s:
- "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)
- Cox, Christoph and Warner, Daniel, eds. (2004). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. Continuum Books. pp. 392–398.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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- 1995 Interview with Nicolas Collins, by Brian Duguid
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- "First championed by the ideological German techno figure Achim Szepanski and his stable of record labels—Force Inc, Mille Plateaux, Force Tracks, Ritornell—this tight-knit scene of experimental artists creating cerebral hybrids of experimental techno, minimalism, digital collage, and noise glitches soon found themselves being assembled into a community."Allmusic
- "Random Inc.", "Allmusic"
- "Although Oval are perhaps more well-known for how they make their music than for the music they actually make, the German experimental electronic trio have provided an intriguing update of some elements of avant-garde composition in combination with techniques of digital sound design.[...]" Allmusic
- Stuart, Caleb. “Damaged Sound: Glitching and Skipping Compact Discs in the Audio of Yasunao Tone, Nicolas Collins and Oval”. Leonardo Music Journal 13 (2003): 47–52. Web.
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- Byrne, David. "What is Blip Hop?" Luakabop, 2002. Available here.
- Collins, Adam, "Sounds of the system: the emancipation of noise in the music of Carsten Nicolai", Organised Sound, 13(1): 31–39. 2008. Cambridge University Press.
- Collins, Nicolas. Editor. "Composers inside Electronics: Music after David Tudor." Leonardo Music Journal. Vol. 14, pp. 1–3. 2004.
- Krapp, Peter, Noise Channels: Glitch and Error in Digital Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2011.
- Prior, Nick, "Putting a Glitch in the Field: Bourdieu, Actor Network Theory and Contemporary Music", Cultural Sociology, 2: 3, 2008: pp. 301–319.
- Thomson, Phil, "Atoms and errors: towards a history and aesthetics of microsound", Organised Sound, 9(2): 207–218. 2004. Cambridge University Press.
- Sangild, Torben: "Glitch—The Beauty of Malfunction" in Bad Music. Routledge (2004, ISBN 0-415-94365-5) 
- Young, Rob: "Worship the Glitch", The Wire 190/191 (2000)
- Noah Zimmerman, "Dusted Reviews, 2002"