Transistor: Contemporary audiophile

December 31, 2011 in Culture, Music

By Erica Codey-Rucker

Without thinking, I said, “I want to write about modern music.”   Anymore, what defines modernity?   Some would argue that it is now. Others, that it was the world as it moved into a capitalist free market and still others would be very specific in limiting the idea of modernity to something that we are now moving past with the Late Modernity period ending in 1989. This means that we are somewhere, twenty-three years past what was “modern”. In fact, this puts us a generation into the “Post-Modern”. How then do we define modern music for an audience obsessed with its past, disappointed with the present and longing for an improved future?

What do we even call this listener?   Transmodern perhaps.    More and more the contemporary listener is by nature listening with an ear in the past, in the present and seeking actively sounds of the undiscovered. In fact, in many social circles the music has become a race to preserve the tribal identity. The Transmodern listener challenges this by not limiting himself to the tribe or genre in which some past generations felt most comforting. For instance, “metal” fans of the 1980s differed greatly with the “metal” fans of 1970s.  The 70s “metal-head” was interested in either Doom with its focus on the broken promises of Modern life or Glam with its focus on fun and gender play.   The 1980s “metal-head” was sold by lipstick, Aquanet, squealing singers, and formulaic guitar solos.   A Transmodern listener would be able to transverse both decades of metal and look at a newer band like Boris as a present example of the Transmodern aesthetic in that they blend the ideas of guitar rock into a contemporary pop/noise/scree blend.

The same happens throughout the Jazz community with artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk revered as prophets of a genre that has produced such banal label denizens as Kenny G.   The new Jazz listener can easily go from those Jazz greats to the Brand New Heavies of the 90s and to newer sounds like witch house which is already an aging genre.    The fact is that nearly all music listeners can be lumped into the Transmodern because most styles of music have bled into other genres and the influence of social relationships has changed the way we are all exposed to music.  We almost can’t help our exposure.

Because this is a blog/magazine, I have the liberty of opening a continuing discussion of modern music and the privilege to share music that I love and that all Transmodernists can appreciate.   This is just an appetizer for a much meatier and in-depth discussion.

Transmodern ears ready.   Old & New

Jazz: Nat King Cole
Witch House: Salem
Electro House: Emika
Hip Hop: Kreayshawn