The Four-On-The-Floor Doctrine

dancing guy and some music symbols wowweee There is nothing more inoffensive than the state of the art of electronic dance music. The Adana Twins seem less made to move someone than to be incorporated into an example track on a future Korg iPad synth. Clap. Beat. Clap. Beat. Clap. Beat. Clap. Beat. etc. Don’t forget about the half-way build up to the sound of the beginning. Any movement to this music is an exercise in masochism: it is withholding, turning “fun” into a reward rather than as a dynamic element in the track. The music culture revolves around the DJ taking away rather than giving, like a God for the physical music consumer.

These points tend to characterize my want of dance music to fulfill some vague rule of instant gratification. Rather, I want to extend the asymmetrical power relation between producer and consumer outside the dance floor and on the laptop this uninspired music comes from. Attempting to leave responsibility to the producer to giveth and taketh has oppositely put more weight on the shoulders of the dancer to normalize this 130 BPM nothingness into something worth moving to. Here we find the virtuous cycle: mediocrity begets mediocrity in the guise of popular “quality”.

The normalization of second-rate dance music becomes toxic over time. Once accepted and explained away, these tracks and its authors are solidified as canonized producers of the “state of the art”. This would mean that 4Chan /mu/ graphics will become dedicated to these artists, and that music message boards will have to pay lip service to such people for a decade to come. The next generation of music consumers and dancers arrive in these vestigial discussions; they are taught that was the state of the art (SOTA), the stuff upon which we build our contemporary SOTA. And then the dance community builds the signifiers - signature sounds that harken back to a certain substandard artist. They are now a linguistic phenomenon.

And it is the seemingly necessary recognition of these signifiers that continue to perpetuate the four-on-the-floor (FOTF) doctrine. The components of dance music - just like the verb, adverb, adjective, and other components of language - are proprietary to its constructed history. Can one easily enjoy an unfamiliar language? Speedy recognition is thus the gateway to enjoyability. Innovative and new sound components are shoved to niche genres until the undiscerning dance consumer builds their language foundations to allow the inclusion of such units.

FOTF makes the statement: “My audiences want new through the familiar. My beneficiaries want innovation in regression.” A self-fulfilling prophecy that leaves unexplored the case of would-be musicians and dancers who, if enabled, could attract themselves to more irregular sounds and make produce/consume something unheard of. Why does it matter? What seems like an incisive question is answered by an optimism for the everlasting decree that “we can do better”. It’s not NECESSARY to discover innovative sounds and movements, but it surely is more agreeable than to comfortably accept that nothing should be done to forward dormant genres. In short, why not?

There is nothing concrete in this essay. To support my point, I will be writing a series on moving and making music that does more than accept the status quo.