From rail rhythms in rock, to drill bits in glitch hop and dub step, the use of machines to make music is not a new idea, although their influence may not always be apparent to our ears.
In one very clear link, music refers to the sound-making device itself, as when Tchaikovsky employed cannon fire in his 1812 Overture. Certainly, cannon fire can be said to be dramatic, and because of its powerful effect, it signifies a warning to potential invaders, as much as it should also produce feelings of patriotism in a loyal nationalist, as was the composer’s intent.
Tchaikovsky also chose to use an actual cannon for the sound of the cannon’s roar, rather than engage traditional instruments to mimic explosive blasts. That is to say, as with words or images, sometimes the power of abstracted sounds lies with their direct or common associations. Likewise, sometimes a sign only points in one direction.
However, also like language and imagery, and depending on context, abstracted sounds lend themselves to a variety of uses, which resonate well beyond literal interpretation... (more)
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Clicking on the 'more' link will take you to my essay on machines, music and meaning, first published March 13, 2012, by the ever brilliant semiotics site, Semionaut.
Machines, music, meaning : From orchestral cannonfire to the Countdown clock
Semionaut is an online magazine & knowledge resource offering insight into culture, media, creative industries, and brand strategy. Its publishers, editors, and contributors are professionally involved in the application of semiotic and cultural analysis to brand communication and design issues.