Jeff Mills on Audiences, Techno’s “Who Cares If You Listen”

Techno legend Jeff Mills has a beautiful quote making the rounds on social media, responding to the question of audience. He’s still making music for them, he says – but doesn’t want to get pulled into simply giving them what he knows will work. Watch from about 8:30 for the video above, in its original context (a 2010 tugobot piece). It resonates for me with the Milton Babbitt’s “Who Cares if You Listen?” (That’s a title Babbitt claimed he never used; this is a tale so familiar to contemporary music that it has its own Wikipedia entry, for those of …


Milton Babbitt Passes; Composer Had Place in Origins of Electronic Music, Musical Revolutions

Hindsight normally gives perspective to history, but in the case of the 20th Century, even looking back, it’s hard to fathom the sheer magnitude of change in human thought and technology. Composers faced the twin revolutions of electronic sound — recorded, synthesized, and eventually computerized — and new systems for organizing pitch and rhythm from the early European avant garde to access to every world music culture. One figure at the center of the academic reinvention of American music was Milton Babbitt, the experimental innovator who passed away over the weekend at the age of 94. Obituaries inevitably brought up …