Glitch is a genre of electronic music that first appeared in the 1990s. As its name suggests, it is unique for its intentional usage of sonic distortions and glitch-based audio material. The glitching sounds in these tracks typically result from flaws in audio recording equipment or digital electronics. Electric hum, CD skipping, digital or analog distortion, bit-rate reduction, circuit bending, hardware noise, computer crashes, software bugs, computer system error sounds, and vinyl record hiss or scratches are some contributors to this sound.

Musicians sometimes damage devices specifically to create Glitch music. Composer and author Kim Cascone categorized Glitch as an electronic subgenre in Computer Music Journal and referred to the glitch aesthetic as post-digital.

The Glitch Origins

Glitch music’s origins date back to the early 20th century. The Futurist manifesto L’arte dei rumori (The Art of Noises) by Luigi Russolo (1913) is the foundation of glitch music. He created mechanical noise generators, which he called intonarumori. He then composed several pieces that used those generators, including Risveglio di una città and Convegno di automobili e aeroplani. A fight broke out in 1914 during one of his performances in Milan, Italy. Michael Pinder of The Moody Blues also used malfunctioning technology in “The Best Way to Travel” (1968). Christian Marclay equally used damaged vinyl records to produce sound compositions starting in 1979.

Yasunao Tone utilized defective CDs in his 1985 Techno Eden performance. Nicolas Collins’ 1992 album “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” contained a string quartet composition and skipping CDs. The electronic soundtrack of the 1994 video game Streets of Rage 3 by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima utilized random sequences to produce “unexpected and odd” experimental noises.

Glitch later started as an independent genre in Germany and Japan in the 1990s. It began with Achim Szepanski’s auditory work and labels (particularly Mille Plateaux) in Germany and Ryoji Ikeda’s work in Japan. The 1988 album Plux Quba by Nuno Canavarro featured electroacoustic sounds that referred to early Glitch. 1993’s Wohnton by Oval helped define the genre by incorporating ambient aesthetics. Electronic duo Autechre’s 1994 composition “Glitch” and experimental electronic group ELpH’s 1994 album Worship the Glitch are among the earliest musical references to this genre.

How Some of the Greats Produced in This Style

Earlier in the 2nd part of the twentieth century, innovative music that served as the predecessor to Glitch featured distortions frequently resulting from manual manipulation of auditory media. These manipulations were found in the “Wounded” CDs by Yasunao Tone. On these CDs, they affixed tiny pieces of semi-transparent tape to interrupt the reading of the aural data.

Nicholas Collins altered some components of an electric guitar to function as a resonator for electrical signals. Another example of manual tampering is his adaptation of a CD player to slightly distort records played during the live performance. Nevertheless, the Glitch is frequently created on computers via digital production software to combine short “cuts” (samples) of music from previously produced works.

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