Want to learn how to make music? The Detroit Electronic Music Conference takes place next week FREE and online – and I know a local man who could benefit…

Starting from next Tuesday 27th July and running all the way until Friday 30th July is the Detroit Electronic Music Conference online event. Amongst other things being held are tutorials for those who want to start making their own music.

And when I decided to blog about this, I already had a man in mind who could benefit. A local to Detroit and a man who has always loved his city. It’s none other than so-called techno legend Derrick May!

Because believe it or not, he doesn’t know how to make music either. Several of “his” productions are actually someone else’s work. For example, “Strings Of Life” is actually based on a sample from an unnamed work by Michael James. From what I understand, the maximum May actually did was remix the work.

And I mean the old definition of remix as edit the song slightly, extend a few bits and add one or two extra elements. Not the modern interpretation of the word remix, which is typically “here’s the vocals to the song, now good luck!”. It’s the same with much of “his” work.

This is May’s chance to learn to make his own music. He doesn’t have to show his face anywhere. He can do it online, and I suspect the organisers won’t care if he uses a fake name either. And then he can surprise the world, Swedish House Mafia style, with new tunes.

Go on, Derrick. Sign up. It’s not like your diary is exactly packed with work at the moment…

5 thoughts on “Want to learn how to make music? The Detroit Electronic Music Conference takes place next week FREE and online – and I know a local man who could benefit…

  1. That composition is shit. Read the wikipedia page about strings of life. It was written as a ballad.
    Derrick may turned that chord progression into something quite different.
    Transposed Marshall Jefferson’s Piano House sound into techno.
    The production is what’s seminal.
    And the type of “remix” production you mentioned wasn’t possible then.
    There were no audio capable computers in 1987. You had to build everything from scratch on outboard gear, machines connected with wires, with tiny calculator screens.

    I hear this type of shit talk so much, were someone is supposed to be fake simply because they work with collaborators.
    Funny thing is, our culture is about producers. Arrangement. And those guys, in the beginning, just sat back and told people what to do.
    Quincy jones often never touched an instrument or button, but he made the best music of his time.
    The idea that you have to do everything all alone to be worth something is super toxic.
    Nothing wrong with getting help.
    Some people need a bass player, some people need help with hooks, arrangement, so on.
    The guy D.May “ripped off” set out to do a ballad. Strings of life is what May set out to do.
    His skill was in using drum machines and synths, recording that to tape.
    And honestly, a lot of strings of life sounds like random button pushing on the sequencer. It does not sound like parts to a ballad. It does not sound composed. It sounds raw. The drums are an equally big part of the sound.
    The italian piano thing sounds like what the collaborator must have brought, but even that really just takes a decent chord progression and then copies Marshall Jefferson.
    The drums and the weird random key solo make the track.
    The originality isn’t in the parts, its in how they come together.
    That drum sound. That slightly distorted tape recording. Where do you think daft punk got that from?
    Their worth was also in copying. Just copying a lot of stuff, and making the daft punk sound out of it.
    There is so much generic shit out there that going after originators like that just feels wrong.
    And honestly, if sampling were easy, there wouldn’t be any other music.
    Finding a cool loop is easy. Adding something to a good loop, which improves it, that’s hard. Making a track based on one loop which doesn’t get annoying after two minutes, that takes skill. Or luck.
    Believe me. I’ve spent thousands of hours. Never made a hit.
    Derrick (heh) may have been lucky. Right guy at the right time.
    But he is responsible for quite a few tracks. I love strings of life. Its so warped and chaotic.
    So if he only contributed the fact that the record exists, that’s enough. Because I am glad it exists.
    But idk. Maybe you’re leaving something out.

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  2. Ok I just discovered that this post was the tip of an iceberg. Scrolling through the volumes you’ve written, I may have to eat my words…

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    1. Yes, there’s a VERY considerable amount written about Derrick May on this blog. There’s a lot you’ve written that is correct though – but exactly how much of Strings Of Life is May’s work is a matter of debate. Not much is my suspicion.

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  3. Oh yeah I retract every last word. My lord. This is one deep well.

    I did not know.

    Go easy on the friends though. It takes time to deal with shit like this. And its painful and socially costly to brak ties publicly. I’ve done it. Don’t speak so lightly of it.

    Also, it would help the story to have an omnibus post, since it took me like two hours piecing everything together. Still haven’t seen any of the actual allegations. Not that it matters, but my idiot former self who posted that comment up there could have been saved the self-own with a link to a best-of post.

    Also, if I’d have to link to something to describe may’s reputation, it’d be good to have something concise.

    Apart from that, love your work.
    Its fun

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