Unlocking the Groove

April 25, 2006
The producer creates the records.  The DJ spins the records.  The dancer dances to the records.  Layer upon layer, song upon song, beat upon beat.  From techno music to house music to trance, electronic dance music (EDM) represents a broad range of soundscapes that have emerged during the last two decades.  With his book, Unlocking the Groove:  Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music, assistant professor of music Mark Butler “creates a space in which EDM can be discussed as music.”  He uses new and traditional approaches to explore the genre’s musical, historical and social significance.  It’s all about the experience of making and enjoying a music that’s not “locked into a single, restricted type,” he argues, but unfolds from the DJ’s deft handling of sound and beat on turntables and mixing boards.  Butler says that “the sound is the force that drives people to dance.…The sound is what producers spend their time crafting.…The sound motivates DJs to play this particular record at this particular moment.”  And the driving force in electronic dance music’s sound?  Rhythm – which is not only heard but can be seen in the uniform movements of the dancing crowd.