Sunday, October 24

How the tables turn: are DJs real musicians? | Music

In the weekly Resolved of the Guide! In the column, we take a crucial pop culture question you’ve been eager to know the answer to, and solve it once and for all.

You can be sure that if something exists, Noel Gallagher has an opinion on it. There has been how jazz is “garbage”, the infamous “I will not have hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong “and even a tirade against anyone who has ever had anything to do with a book:” Book sellers, book readers, book writers, book owners, screw them all. ” So when he stated in 2011 that “dance music sounds like a walk in the park now. Any son of a bitch can do it, “it seemed more of the” Old Man Shouts into the Cloud “kind of opinion we were used to, with Gallagher joining the” real music “brigade made with” real instruments “by pompously dismissing to DJs because they happen to program a drum beat instead of strumming a guitar.

In 2012, Canadian DJ and dance producer Deadmau5 seemed to agree, explaining that anyone who “gets an hour of instruction” can be a DJ, before exposing the craft as little more than “pressing play” on stage. So when a DJ also makes the same claim, should we pay attention?

In a word: no. Both Gallagher and Mr. Mau5 were referring to a specific brand of “superstar DJ.” The rise of EDM in the late 2000s propelled the likes of Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, and others to levels of dance music stardom last enjoyed by Pete Tong and Sasha in the 1990s, but it also distorted the concept of what a DJ is and does. . We’re not talking about a wedding DJ playing the YMCA here, but the vast concept and art of “DJing” that encompasses everything from turntablism and scratch DJs to those playing 10-hour techno sets in a damp and sweaty basement (? remember those?).

Of course some DJs are basically human iPods, using a pre-mixed set for their performances (the equivalent of a singer mimicking a backing track). But the best DJs have always been musicians, live remixers, and live producers too – skillfully layering and manipulating sounds and bringing different elements together in a new form of creative expression. They have to know about drum beats and bass lines. About filters and effects. And they have to keep people on the dance floor – that means thinking about beats, cuts, drops, and tempo changes. The truth is that a lot of DJing contains more sophistication than a man in a raincoat playing D, G, A on an acoustic guitar.

German lawmakers agree. Last year, a court ruled that techno is indeed a genre of music (for clubs to receive tax breaks like traditional music venues do). DJs don’t just play other people’s tracks, the court stated, “they perform their own new musical pieces using instruments in the broadest sense, to create new sound sequences that have their own character.”

And that is the point. Top DJs reinvent the music they play, using songs as instruments in an orchestra to create something unique and momentous. They can take decent records and make them sound brilliant; Grab great records and make them sound life-affirming. Last year we lost Andrew Weatherall, a man who could rightly be argued was the greatest DJ of all time. A master at his craft, he showed the transformative, captivating and creative power that a DJ can be. Even Noel would agree with that.

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