June 27, 2015
The Origin Of The Species...
by Chris Randall
Steve Hamann asked an interesting pair of questions on Twitter this morning: "What is the origin of the floating hands and electronic gear music video?" And he followed that up with this: "For a lot of people it seems to have become a musical end unto itself, I wonder where/when it started?"
I am obviously a strong proponent of this particular form of expression. My first YouTube upload, in 2007, was only the first in a long string of Hands videos in my channel; roughly two thirds of my uploads fit in to this category. These sorts of videos are de rigueur these days for any aspiring synthNerd, and Audio Damage even makes a product specifically for making them with your modular synth and iPhone.
If you've been a long-time reader of this site (10 YEARS NEXT MONTH HOLY SHIT!!) I've inflicted these videos on you many times. To address the second part of Steve's musings, speaking strictly for myself, the video is absolutely the musical end, and I generally write the music specifically for the video. This started happening in the beginning of 2011; before that, I had generally done any sort of video upload as an afterthought, but this one is the first one where making the video was the goal in and of itself:
Many others followed, of course, and while the early ones were recorded and mixed, and the audio released elsewhere, I've gradually got to the point where the video is the release entire, and I don't actually include any downloadable audio content. I'll admit I hadn't actually thought about the "why" of this until today, and I don't have a good answer for it. In pondering it, I think that a lot of the reason I put up the videos (aside from demonstrating the cool shit we make) is that they show off my skill as a musician, inasmuch as I'm capable of demonstrating skill, and serve as "proof" that no trickery was involved. I think with the growing popularity of modular synths, and the dick-swinging inherent in that group of instruments, they also serve as a nice set of bona fides: "look at all this dope shit I have, and here's proof that I'm good at using it."
So, that's me. But it leaves Steve's questions sort of unanswered: where's the Ür Hands Video? And why do other people do it? I personally am curious as to why people put up so many really shitty ones. One of the groups on Facebook that I belong to, it's basically just a constant stream of really terrible sound (I won't even call it music) with cell phone mic audio. These videos are essentially worthless, whether a demonstration of prowess or a snapshot of a musical moment. Your thoughts? Can we find the first Hands video on YouTube?