[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Alternative (culture)

Related: subculture - underground


Alternative culture is a catch-all phrase used to describe a variety of seperate loosely related or completely unrelated cultures and sub-cultures that are outside of the mainstream culture or are percieved as being such. Despite popular belief, there is no singular "Alternative Culture". While the media and popular belief have made the concept common, the differences between the various "sub-cultures" make many of them incompatible with each other or simply show no logical connection that gives reason to believe that there is a single culture using these aspects. On top of this, youth cultures are often confused with being alternative cultures, only further complicating the difficulty in defining what an alternative culture is.

A true definition for an alternative culture is thus debatable, and sometimes a culture mistaken for an alternative culture may not truely be such. The interests and concepts used in defining them vary greatly. Still, concepts of being outside the mainstream and adventurousness tend to be the most common concepts used in defining it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_culture [Oct 2004]

Alternative music

The term alternative music was coined in the early 1980s to describe bands which didn't fit into the mainstream genres of the time. A catch-all phrase for rock and similar genres, it includes indie, hardcore punk, Gothic rock, college rock and New Wave bands. However, most alternative bands were unified by their collective debt to punk, which laid the groundwork for underground and alternative music in the 1970s. Notable alternative bands of the 1980s include Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, the Replacements and Husker Du.

In 1982, only a handful of college radio stations, like Danbury, Connecticut's WXCI, broadcast alternative music. Commercial stations completely ignored the genre. As alternative rock became more popular in the mid-1980s, it spread widely to other college radio stations, leading to the name "college rock." Finally, in the late 1980s, a few commercial stations such as Boston, Massachusetts's WFNX adopted the format.

Although these groups never generated spectacular album sales, they exerted a considerable influence on the generation of musicians who came of age in the 80s. Alternative music and the rebellious, DIY ethic it espoused became the inspiration for grunge, an early 90s movement lead by Nirvana which, paradoxically, took alternative rock into the mainstream. While previously "alternative" was simply an umbrella term for a diverse collection of underground rock bands, Nirvana and similar groups fashioned it into a distinct style of guitar based rock which combined elements of punk and metal; their creation met with considerable commercial success.

By the mid-90s, alternative was synonymous with grunge in the eyes of the mass media and the general public. By this time, however, alternative bands who were leary of broad commercial success had developed indie rock, a new genre that espoused a return to the original ethos of alternative music. Modern, mainstream alternative rock has continued to evolve beyond its 80s roots. Today's most popular alternative music acts, typified by youth oriented groups such as Linkin Park, owe a heavy debt to metal and grunge. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_music

What is alternative cinema?

The vague concept of alternative cinema may be near impossible to define, and because of that many shy away from researching it, looking instead for the safe comfort of well-accepted categories like mainstream cinema, auteur cinema, genre cinema, or national cinema. Yet, many films exist that challenge these categories, voluntarily or by accident, simply by not conforming to their characteristics. This is alternative cinema. I am interested in how cultural norms and conventions of practice and expectation are challenged and infected by alternative cinema, and in how these challenges are addressed by critics, audiences, and cultures.

Almost all aspects of my film research deal with alternative cinema. My research of the reception of David Cronenberg's films investigates how an alternative reputation has been created for him, allowing him to transgress both genre cinema and auteur cinema. In other research I ask how films falling outside the accepted cultural and political norms of Low Countries Cinema conventions portray local cultural identities.

Alternative cinema also informs my teaching. I currently teach a module called 'Alternative Cinema' (in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Television Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. It is a module whose aim it is to introduce students to film outside what they usually see in their local cinema, multiplex, or video shop. As a third-year undergraduate module, the course tries both to map alternative cinema in a broad sense, and to focus on one particular element of interest within alternative cinema studies.

The broad map deals with a brief history of alternative cinema, singling out 1920s and 30s European avant-garde cinema, US avant-garde, rive gauche cinema, structural film, European exploitation and art-house cinema, digital cinema, underground cinema, extreme cinema, cult cinema, and a general overview of 'Indie Cinema' today. The module points to how these examples of alternative cinema challenge expectations and invite "reading against the grain". --Ernest Mathijs in http://users.aber.ac.uk/eem/alter%20page%20body.htm

Alternative music (2)

[...] it has become customary to separate "mainstream" music and "alternative" music. If you do what I did (listen to the music without being conditioned by marketing and sales), it is very unlikely that you will end up selecting the musicians who topped the charts, very likely that you will be impressed with countless obscure recordings that were twenty years ahead of their time even though nobody heard them.


From this "alternative" point of view (one that puts creativity before sales) there were three watershed years in the history of rock music: 1955, when Chuck Berry invented rock and roll; 1966, when Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, the Doors, the Velvet Underground and others caused a massive revolution in a slumbering music scene; 1976, when the "new wave" and punk-rock caused a similar revolution in a similarly slumbering scene. Each of these golden ages was followed by an era of "re-alignment" in which creativity was replaced by sell-out, as the record industry (and commercial bands) capitalized on the innovations of the previous years.

One could also add 1987-88, the years when Pixies, Fugazi, etc invented indie-pop, and 1996, the year of post-rock, although they are not as clearly marked as the previous ones. -- piero scaruffi

  • http://www.scaruffi.com/history/cpt0.html


    1. The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock: The All-New Fifth Edition of the Trouser Press Record Guide [1 book, Amazon US]
      You won't find Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston in The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock, but you will find thoughtful, informative entries on P. J. Harvey, Sugar, Ani DiFranco, and many other talented, vital artists. Best of all, Ira Robbins, founder of the original Trouser Press magazine eschews the callow "more alternative than thou" attitude that sinks so much criticism of new music. The entries have an edge, but when they're smart-ass, which they often are, they are also intelligent. This is an indispensable addition to the bookshelf of every fan of alternative music.

    2. Adventures: The Wire - 20 Years, 1982 - 2002 [BOX SET] - Various Artists [1 CD, Amazon US]
      Disc: 1 1. The Wire - Steve Lacy 2. Seguita - Ennio Morricone (with Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza) 3. Wrong Eye - Coil 4. Egress (excerpt) - Hands To 5. Buried Dreams - David Toop & Max Eastley 6. Tubby's Vengeance - Vivian Jackson & King Tubby 7. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) - Fennesz 8. M 5 - Derek Bailey 9. Cockfight - Trance In Paksabali And Kesiman - Traditional Musicians, Bali 10. Pygmäen - Einstürzende Neubauten 11. After Rapidly Circling The Plaza (excerpt) - AMM 12. 11,000 Volts - Mars 13. Breathe Deep - Cabaret Voltaire 14. The Death Of The Composer Was In 1962 - Tony Conrad With Faust 15. Vandal - Designer 16. Soaking Bodies In Dub - Torture 17. Shenshema - Fela Kuti Disc: 2 1. Illistrum - Art Ensemble of Chicago 2. Expressway To Yr Skull - Sonic Youth 3. Salt - Spring Heel Jack / The Blue Series Continuum 4. Paper Hats - This Heat 5. Simple Headphone Mind - Stereolab & Nurse With Wound 6. Rock 'N' Roll Station - Jac Berrocal 7. Ancient Ethiopia - Sun Ra & His Solar - Myth Arkestra 8. Jukebox Capriccio - Christian Marclay 9. Williams Mix - John Cage 10. Cathode #4: Soundcheck Version - Yoshihide Otomo 11. Headphones - Björk 12. I (excerpt) - Pauline Oliveros Disc: 3 1. Satan Side - Keith Hudson 2. Music For The Gift Part 1 - Terry Riley 3. Silver Smoke Of Dreams - William S Burroughs (with Ian Sommerville) 4. Rocket USA - Suicide 5. 4.2 - Supersilent 6. Vaihe (Fön) - Pan Sonic 7. Kebabträume - Deutsch - Amerikanische Freundschaft 8. Khalid of Space Part 2 - Welcome - Larry Young 9. Players With Circuits - David Behrman (with Gordon Mumma) 10. The Caution Appears Part 5 - Fushitsusha 11. Living Space - John Coltrane (with Alice Coltrane) 12. Some Summer Day - John Fahey 13. 25 Minutes To Go - Diamanda Galás

      The Wire Magazine first appeared on news stands in 1982 and over the last 20 years it has developed from a quarterly fanzine specializing in avant garde jazz and modern composition into an award-winning and widely influential monthly that covers a vast array of underground, experimental and alternative music and culture. This 3 CD box set is the Audio Edition and spans the magazine's 20-year history. Artists include Ennio Morricone, Coil, David Toop & Max Eastley, Fela Kuti, Pan Sonic, AMM, Derek Bailey, John Cage, Diamanda Galas and more. Slipcases housed in a slimline box embossed with the word Adventures. Mute. 2002. [...]

    your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

    Managed Hosting by NG Communications