The Joy of Elderly Tourette's Syndrome: Dance Music Edition
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Here are the thoughts of two Spanish brothers on the kind of music they play in the famous Ibiza disco they own:

Ricardo Urgell, the son of a Barcelona engineer, built Pacha in the early 1970s on a desolate half-acre he bought for about $14,000. After its opening in 1973 the club came to represent ultracool debauchery and an escape from the conservative moral code of Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator. Native Ibicencos mixed with artists, hippies, thieves on the lam and those whose bronzed bodies were all the clothing they required. 

But as the scene grew, the elder Urgells eventually became disenchanted by the music that made them millionaires. 

“It’s monotonous sound and volume; it’s bodies squeezed together, it’s a little masochistic,” Ricardo Urgell said in a 2011 interview. “The great defect of this music,” he added, “is that it has to be accompanied by drugs. I took Ecstasy just one time in my life and found that out for myself.” 

Electronic music, Piti Urgell said last month, “hasn’t evolved in 20 years and is for idiots.”


Elderly Tourette's Syndrome helps make family gatherings full of interest. 

Anyway, I'm struck that it's older people these days who are the ones who most object to the relative lack of change in popular music. Perhaps us old fogeys are wrong and music is changing as fast today as in, say, the mid-1960s. But, it doesn't seem that way.

My general theory of 20th Century pop music is the spectacular changes in taste in the middle decades of the century were driven less by the much discussed sociological changes (e.g., Baby Boomers, racial changes, etc.) and more by technological changes. For example, Bing Crosby was the first to figure out that the microphone meant that singing was no longer as much of an athletic feat and now a more intimate medium. Similarly, the evolution of the electric guitar from the 1930s through the 1950s had much to do with The Sixties.

In contrast, the electronic synthesizer, which began to appear on records in the 1960s, has proved (at least so far) to be the ultimate instrument. The subsequent digitalization of sound generation and recording now allows anything to be done. But this complete creative freedom has led to perhaps less creativity as musicians less often have to deal with collective challenges, such as the electric guitar and multi-track recording revolutions of the 1960s. Moreover, audiences want, and can now get, their precise subgenre of music. 

The result is a more stable popular music landscape. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of taste.

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