INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL MUSIC (Electronic Keyboard Instrumentals)
Altogether I amassed some 210 volumes of digital music compositions in the wma and/or mp3 format over a six-year period (1999-2005) with the help of two different Casio electronic keyboards, the first of which I gave away when I bought the second, which happened to be a CTK-651 and therefore probably a slight improvement on the one with a song-bank (I think it was a 630 or 605).
I would compose these compositions, if 'compose' is not too grand a word, during a fifty-sixty minute session between five and six every afternoon, following the termination of more pressing cultural commitments, i.e. poetical and philosophical works of one sort or another, and have always regarded them as a sort of hobby-like aside to my literary work. Naturally, even though I hadn’t touched a keyboard in over twenty-five years (I had piano lessons as a boy and have one or two music qualifications, including a GCE O’ Level and a Grade 4 Merit ABRSM piano certificate at the Royal College of Music), I got better at it as time went on; but I was always someone who dabbled in music rather than spent all day at it or regarded myself as embarking on a musical career with the intention of becoming a professional composer or performer. Frankly, I have no such ambitions! Making music is a pastime for me, and if the compositions (often improvisations on a theme) are usually less than technically perfect, that is no great concern for regret. The important thing was that I enjoyed doing them, that I learnt as I went along, gradually developing an idea to its logical conclusion, and that I eventually became more adept in playing at music and sort of flying on a wing of improvisational zeal on instrumental tones that permitted and, indeed, encouraged one to do so.
Frankly, some of the early compositions are horrendous, not only technically but conceptually and instrumentally (or in relation to the choice and application of samples), but that was partly down to the limitations of my equipment (not to mention my own want of knowledge as to how to manage and rectify a variety of technical problems), both with regard to the types of keyboard and, more especially, the PC and program involved with the process of recording to hard disc and, subsequently, to CD. From there the music was eventually copied onto my laptop and thence to the internet.
Whether people like them or not, most if not all of these volumes of digital electronic compositions are now on the internet and freely available for people to listen to. What mattered to me, in compiling this and similar projects, was that I extended my own compositional flair beyond the song-based parameters of contemporary music into a kind of avant-garde realm of instrumental experimentation and thereby arrived at something the far side of rock; call it post-contemporary rather than contemporary. That way I would be achieving the direction in which I thought music should go if it was to escape the confining clutches of commerce and become something akin to an exemplification of a new cultural and religious orientation, one much less extrovert than introvert, less vocal than instrumental, less staccato than legato, less external than internal, less objective than subjective, less particle than wavicle, less sensual than sensible, less natural than synthetic, and so on.
To me, the best of my digital compositions, like the best of my digital paintings, do just this, and it makes them all the more interesting in that they were not just created in a vacuum, but as the product of someone with a deeply-held philosophical conviction as to the justification of composing in a certain way if a specific type of cultural ideal was to be granted musical articulation.
Copyright © 1999-2012 John O’Loughlin