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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Man and Deck - Are Dj Decks instruments or just scratchie noise things?

Good Morning!
        Ok so this is a pretty controversial topic, something I've heard discussed occasionally between musicians and Dj's that tends to end in tears.

"Mixing isn't making music it's fucking about with someone elses music!"
"Decks are the future maan!  Guitars and shit are a dieing breed."

Neither of these are my opinions it's just sort of basically the stereotypical views I've heard on the subject.  So to settle this shit, let's have a look at the definition of a musical instrument.

"Any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds." - Google, provider of answers and most of my coursework.

So according to the definition of a musical instrument, the Dj deck would be considered a musical instrument, it produces sound. But under this logic we could also call a kettle a musical instrument, or a toaster or a vibrator, you get the idea. But who's to say those things aren't musical instruments? I'm pretty sure whoever made this video would call them instruments:

That shit gave me a bit of a rhythm boner.  It may not be an orchestra, but there's a solid beat right there that you can move to, there's structure, there's a song right there made with nothing but power tools and kitchen stuffs.

This leads on to one of my favorite arguments, can silence be counted as music?  I mean it's silence right?  No noise, no tune, no melody, no... well.. anything.  But it's a very important part of some songs, some songs have musical breaks to bring on suspense and seech, so in some cases, silence can be just as important and effective as a full on melody.

Once upon a time there was a dude called John Cage who was a pioneer of experimental music.  One of his most famous pieces though is called "4'33", it's been performed by many orchestras and musicians, it's 4 minutes and 33 seconds long and contains 3 different movements.  But here's the thing, it's all complete silence.  The point of it is to allow the listener(s) to experience the sounds around them as a musical piece making the piece different every time.  And for your... erm.. listening pleasure?  There's a video below of the piece performed by an orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster which was aired live on TV in all seriousness, I shit you not, it's an interesting concept but you'll notice some of the members of the orchestra with rather large smiles.

I reckon they've got the treble a bit too high in the mix. HAHAHA I'm so funny.  Moving the fuck on.

Another argument is the feel of it all, people say that acoustic instruments like guitars and piano give off a sound that decks cannot, and they allow you to create feel through how hard or soft you play, how you strike the notes.  I can sort of agree with this, I mean music to me is about communication, a song that makes you feel something as you play it or as someone listens to it.

Now personally I think you can do this equally well with decks, basically I see decks as a way of manipulating other sounds and feels and changing them in to completely different feels.  Here's one example of a dude doing a deck cover of the star wars theme, he runs with and follows the original feel of it all but then totally changes that shit up at about 49 seconds in.  Check this shit oot:


And now to demonstrate communication between man and deck, I will once again seek the help of my chocolate daddy Mr. Watkin Tudor Jones, I may have previously mentioned how much I love his music.  Have I mentioned how much I love his music?  Anyway, I won't show you the whole track (although it's worth checking out) I'll just skip to the important bit.  Basically this is one of my favorite recordings of man and deck, Watkin starts to impersonate a deck and the Dj starts to follow Watkin with the deck, simple concept but it's so impressive, like a dueling banjo's between dude and Dj.  Sounds like he's summoning a tiny creature from the turntable, truly awesome.

Skip to 3:43 for Man VS Deck


Now that's some pretty good communication right there, but if that isn't a good enough example of musical communication between decks for you, lets bring it to a larger scale.

Just when I thought I lost my FIRST musical chubby..

Now the skill these guys are displaying is pretty immense, this is a beat you can blody move to.  They are controlling the entire feel of this track with their hands, kind of like finger painting a beat all in perfect time with each other, the tiniest of fuckups could send this performance spiraling to the worst sounding shit ever, but these guys keep it all tight together, on the mark consistently, full of feel, vibrancy and awesomeness.

In conclusion I believe that anything can be an instrument, if it can make you move, if you can communicate musically with it and if it can communicate with other instruments and melodies.  That is what defines an instrument for me.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Am I missing something?  Perhaps I should stop writing get the fuck off the internet and go play football?  Let me know, drop a comment in there yo, all arguments and opinions welcome.

Ciao for now my lovelies,

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