"From the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor?" Kieran's 2013 honours thesis on the convergent evolution of minimal techno and American minimalist music
I graduated from a Bachelor of Music with first-class honours in 2013, with this thesis "From the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor?: the convergent evolution of minimal techno and American minimalist music". Despite many music critics drawing a line of influence from American minimalism to minimal techno, there has been very little scholarly literature concerning techno and minimal techno in the past, and as such no way to prove or disprove this assumption. However, this paper finds the evidence is strongly in favour of these shared features being a result of convergent evolution—that is, that the two fields developed similar traits independently of each other.
This paper began as a way for me to trace lines of influence from American minimalism to minimal techno in a scholarly way. However, that ended up not being possible. I found that there is no hard evidence to support this often perpetuated "line of influence". Furthermore, I found a large amount of evidence to support that minimal techno creators came up with any similar techniques (and many new and groundbreaking ones) of their own accord.
In many ways, writing this ended up kickstarting my whole musical career as it currently is. It opened my eyes to the false dichotomy of "high" and "low" art in a very visceral way, which is a theme I have since made a career on deconstructing and transcending.
However, it was written seven years ago now. There is no explicit mention of race throughout the paper, which was written largely through the prism of genre, musical techniques and classical musicology. I have since learned that race is a very important part of the discussion. House was invented by queer black people in Chicago. Techno was predominantly invented by black people in Detroit. Jungle was invented by black British communities, which leads to drum’n’bass, dubstep and so much more. Though it is not explicitly mentioned in this paper, by reading between the lines with this information in mind, this paper is a clear example not only of a false dichotomy between "high" and "low" art, but also of racism inherent in the western art music world, and the music industry at large. It's a rebuttal to a frequently perpetuated myth that black people couldn't come up with the same level of musical ingenuity that privileged white men did. Because they did. And it's the reason we have electronic dance music in any form—or jazz, or gospel, or funk...
I sign off in solidarity with black lives, black musicians, and oppressed people of colour around the world, and here in Australia.