Clever Children: The Sons and Daughters of Experimental Music
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In the late 1990s critics, journalists and music scholars began referring to a loosely associated group of artists within Electronica who, it was claimed, represented a new breed of experimentalism predicated on the work of composers such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Steve Reich. Though anecdotal evidence exists, such claims by, or about, these ‘Clever Children’ have not been adequately substantiated and are indicative of a loss of history in relation to electronic music forms (referred to hereafter as Electronica) in popular culture. With the emergence of the Clever Children there is a pressing need to redress this loss of history through academic scholarship that seeks to document and critically reflect on the rhizomatic developments of Electronica and its place within the history of twentieth century music. Clever Children: The Sons and Daughters of Experimental Music explores the relationship between the experimental music tradition and these Clever Children through the application of a mixed method Collective Case Study examining the work of Howard Bernstein (Howie B), Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) and Paul Miller (DJ Spooky). This research utilises an analytical framework comprising interview, document review and musical analysis to explore the artist and work under discussion in order to identify areas of congruence, confluence and difference with key musical and conceptual traits derived from an historical survey of the experimental music tradition and Electronica. The key historical developments of the experimental music tradition and Electronica outlined in this research, though necessarily selective, provide an overview and context of the broad trends and concerns that have emerged in both traditions. This research identifies significant areas of confluence between the two and this suggests that some form of influence may have taken place. When examined in more detail however, this is revealed to be the result of parallel but distinct developments owing more to external factors than any direct or indirect influence. This is borne out to varying degrees within the Collective Case Study. Case Study One examines the remix of Steve Reich’s Eight Lines by Howie B as one example of the congruence, confluence and lines of influence that have been drawn between minimalism and Electronica. This Case Study concludes that, while Bernstein’s work demonstrates strong similarities with the experimental music tradition, Bernstein has not engaged with Reich’s material in a manner that is outside the scope of his usual practice. Furthermore this Case Study suggests that key similarities between Bernstein’s remix and Reich’s original conform to the overlap between Electronica and the experimental music tradition. Subsequently, this Case Study does not support assertions of direct influence by the experimental music tradition on Bernstein’s artistic practice...
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Item Access Status
Appendices A-C have been removed from the published copy. They contain interviews.