Saturday, December 5, 2009


In my paper, I plan to discuss how remixing and sampling has affected the music industry today. In particular, I want to discuss how it impacts and basically shapes the hip-hop community in several ways. I will use quotes from the very insightful DJ Spooky about how the 20th century was such a defining time period in remixability and mash-ups, because of how media changed.
A large aspect to my paper will be based on how well I can highlight the contrast in how music absorption by the public changed from the 19th to 20th century. Such events as the invention of the radio and record player made music more readily available over a large area. For the first time in history, music didn’t just have to be heard live; Rather, it could be listened to multiple times, and more importantly, at the will of the listener. This change is so important today because the vast availability of different music is the fundam ental element that sparked the birth of remixing and sampling. By being able to hear music over and over, people began to have the idea of instead of starting from scratch (or simply creating music based on genres they heard in their town or village), they could take the completed work of another person and alter it in a way to make it unique and unique sounding to that individual. In a way, by remixing, it became possible to define one’s own music vicariously through the work of another.
Also I will have to talk about the negative backlash of remixing and sampling. So often today people consider those who sample the work of other artists to have a lack of creativity; that they are using the work of another person as a crutch. In my paper I will counter act this point by explaining the certain level of homage that is automatically delivered to the original piece by altering it. It is not an insult, rather, it is a compliment [to the original] that the artist was so inspired by the music that they thought they needed to make their own song using it; that they believed in the piece so much as to make it an integral part of their own original song. I will cite the work of such producers as Kanye West, who seem to constantly sample, and how a whole new meaning can be given to a song by utilizing the sample as a jumping off point for creativity, not a hindrance to it.
Also, a key point to this will be being able to define what exactly a sample is. In this day and age, when one has the ability to listen to thousands of songs by simply clicking a mouse, it is impossible to say that every artist in some way “samples” the work of another previous work, simply by being inspired by it. By listening to a song we enjoy we are given ideas about several things. For the musician, even subconsciously it is possible that they receive ideas about a song of their own because of something they heard. In this sense, it is fair to say all work today is a remix of several thousands of songs, because artists/musicians always affect other artists, which is reflected in their work.

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