Thursday, January 23, 2014

Genre research project 24/1359: Experimental Rock

The Velvet Underground - "Run Run Run" (The Velvet Underground & Nico)

Experimental rock or avant-garde rock is a type of music based on rock which experiments with the basic elements of the genre, or which pushes the boundaries of common composition and performance technique.

Performers may also attempt to individualize their music with unconventional time signatures, instrumental tunings, unusual harmony and key signatures, compositional styles, lyrical techniques, elements of other musical genres, singing styles, instrumental effects or custom-made experimental musical instruments.

Some of the more common techniques include:
  • Extended techniques: Any of a number of methods of performing with voice or a musical instrument that are unique, innovative, and sometimes regarded as improper.
    • Prepared instruments—ordinary instruments modified in their tuning or sound-producing characteristics. For example, guitar strings can have a weight attached at a certain point, changing their harmonic characteristics. Alternatively, the string may be divided in two with a third bridge and the inverse side played, causing resonating bell-like harmonic tones on the pick-up side.
    • Unconventional playing techniques—for example, the tuning pegs on a guitar can be rotated while a note sounds (called a "tuner glissando").
    • Extended vocal techniques — any vocalized sounds that are not normally utiliized in classical or popular music, such as moaning, screaming, using death growls, howling or making a clicking noise.
  • Incorporation of instruments, tunings, rhythms or scales from non-Western musical traditions.
  • Use of sound sources other than conventional musical instruments such as trash cans, telephone ringers, and doors slamming.
  • Playing with deliberate disregard for the ordinary musical controls (pitch, duration, volume).
  • Creating experimental musical instruments for enhancing the timbre of compositions and exploring new techniques or possibilities.
  • Use of dissonance, atonality and noise
  • Use of electronic devices, digital manipulations and modular synthesizers.
  • Experimental rock is also very often influenced by 20th century classical music


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