|Cultural origins||1990s, United Kingdom, Japan|
Glitch is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the 1990s. It has been described as having an "aesthetic of failure" distinguished by the deliberate use of glitch-based audio media and other sonic artifacts.
The glitching sounds featured in glitch tracks usually come from audio recording device or digital electronics malfunctions, such as CD skipping, electric hum, digital or analog distortion, circuit bending, bit-rate reduction, hardware noise, software bugs, computer crashes, vinyl record hiss or scratches, and system errors. Sometimes devices that were already broken are used, and sometimes devices are broken expressly for this purpose. In Computer Music Journal, composer and writer Kim Cascone classified glitch as a subgenre of electronica and used the term post-digital to describe the glitch aesthetic.
The origins of the glitch aesthetic can be traced to the early 20th century with Luigi Russolo's Futurist manifesto L'arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises) (1913), the basis of noise music. He constructed mechanical noise generators, which he named intonarumori, and wrote multiple compositions to be played by them, including Risveglio di una città (Awakening of a City) and Convegno di automobili e aeroplani (The Meeting of Automobiles and Airplanes). In 1914, a riot broke out at one of his performances in Milan, Italy. Later musicians and composers who made use of malfunctioning technology include Michael Pinder of The Moody Blues in "The Best Way to Travel" (1968) and Christian Marclay, who used mutilated vinyl records to create sound collages beginning in 1979. Yasunao Tone used damaged CDs in his Techno Eden performance of 1985, while Nicolas Collins's 1992 album It Was a Dark and Stormy Night included a composition featuring a string quartet playing alongside the stuttering sound of skipping CDs. Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's electronic soundtrack for the 1994 video game Streets of Rage 3 used automatically randomized sequences to generate "unexpected and odd" experimental sounds.
Glitch originated as a distinct movement in Germany and Japan during the 1990s, with the musical work and labels (especially Mille Plateaux) of Achim Szepanski in Germany, and the work of Ryoji Ikeda in Japan.
In the later half of the 20th century, the experimental music that served as the precursor to glitch contained distortions that were often produced by manual manipulation of audio media. This came in the form of Yasunao Tone's "wounded" CDs; small bits of semi-transparent tape were placed on the CD to interrupt the reading of the audio information. Other examples of this manual tampering include Nicholas Collins' modification of an electric guitar to act as a resonator for electrical signals, and his adaption of a CD player to allow recordings played on it to be altered during live performance. Skipping CDs, scratched vinyl records, circuit bending, and other distortions resembling electronic noise figure prominently into the creation of rhythm and feeling in glitch; it is from the use of these digital artifacts that the genre derives its name. However, glitch today is often produced on computers using digital production software to splice together small "cuts" (samples) of music from previously recorded works. These cuts are then integrated with the signature of glitch music: beats made up of glitches, clicks, scratches, and otherwise erroneous-sounding noise. The glitches are often very short, and are typically used in place of traditional percussion or instrumentation. Popular software for creating glitch music includes trackers like Jeskola Buzz and Renoise, as well as modular software like Reaktor, Ableton Live, Reason, AudioMulch, Bidule, SuperCollider, FLStudio, Max/MSP, Pure Data, and ChucK. Some artists also use digital synthesizers like the Clavia Nord Modular G2 and Elektron's Machinedrum and Monomachine.
- Circuit bending
- Clicks & Cuts Series
- Drill 'n' bass
- Experimental pop
- Generative music
- Noise music
- "The glitch genre arrived on the back of the electronica movement, an umbrella term for alternative, largely dance-based electronic music (including house, techno, electro, drum'n'bass, and ambient) that has come into vogue in the past five years. Most of the work in this area is released on labels peripherally associated with the dance music market and is, therefore, removed from the contexts of academic consideration and acceptability that it might otherwise earn. Still, in spite of this odd pairing of fashion and art music, the composers of glitch often draw their inspiration from the masters of 20th century music who they feel best describe its lineage." THE AESTHETICS OF FAILURE: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music, Kim Cascone, Computer Music Journal 24:4 Winter 2000 (MIT Press)
- Cox, Christoph and Warner, Daniel, eds. (2004). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. Continuum Books. pp. 392–398.
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- Flora Dennis. "Russolo, Luigi." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web.
- 1995 Interview with Nicolas Collins, by Brian Duguid
- Horowitz, Ken (February 5, 2008). "Interview: Yuzo Koshiro". Sega-16. Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Christoph Cox & Daniel Warner (2004), Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, page 396, A&C Black
- "First championed by the ideological German techno figure Achim Szepanski and his stable of record labels—Force Inc, Mille Plateaux, Force Tracks, Ritornell—this tight-knit scene of experimental artists creating cerebral hybrids of experimental techno, minimalism, digital collage, and noise glitches soon found themselves being assembled into a community."Allmusic
- "Random Inc.", "Allmusic"
- "Although Oval are perhaps more well-known for how they make their music than for the music they actually make, the German experimental electronic trio have provided an intriguing update of some elements of avant-garde composition in combination with techniques of digital sound design.[...]" Allmusic
- Stuart, Caleb. “Damaged Sound: Glitching and Skipping Compact Discs in the Audio of Yasunao Tone, Nicolas Collins and Oval”. Leonardo Music Journal 13 (2003): 47–52. Web.
- Kyle Gann. "Collins, Nicolas." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web.
- Andrews, Ian, Post-digital Aesthetics and the return to Modernism, MAP-uts lecture, 2000, available at author's website.
- Bijsterveld, Karin and Trevor J. Pinch. "'Should One Applaud?': Breaches and Boundaries in the Reception of New Technology in Music." Technology and Culture. Ed. 44.3, pp. 536–559. 2003.
- Byrne, David. "What is Blip Hop?" Luakabop, 2002. Available here. Archived 2014-10-28 at the Wayback Machine
- Collins, Adam, "Sounds of the system: the emancipation of noise in the music of Carsten Nicolai", Organised Sound, 13(1): 31–39. 2008. Cambridge University Press.
- Collins, Nicolas. Editor. "Composers inside Electronics: Music after David Tudor." Leonardo Music Journal. Vol. 14, pp. 1–3. 2004.
- Krapp, Peter, Noise Channels: Glitch and Error in Digital Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2011.
- Prior, Nick, "Putting a Glitch in the Field: Bourdieu, Actor Network Theory and Contemporary Music", Cultural Sociology, 2: 3, 2008: pp. 301–319.
- Thomson, Phil, "Atoms and errors: towards a history and aesthetics of microsound", Organised Sound, 9(2): 207–218. 2004. Cambridge University Press.
- Sangild, Torben: "Glitch—The Beauty of Malfunction" in Bad Music. Routledge (2004, ISBN 0-415-94365-5) 
- Young, Rob: "Worship the Glitch", The Wire 190/191 (2000)
- Noah Zimmerman, "Dusted Reviews, 2002"