Jon Leidecker - CCRMA Colloquium - "Variations: A History of Sampling Music"
Morton Feldman's remark that "The degree to which a music's notation is responsible for much of the composition itself is one of history's best-kept secrets" referred to the medium of sheet music. But the comment is just as true now that the site of the musical composition has migrated from written notation to the captured recording. The creative process of modern music production is revealed to the listening audience in the form of collage and sampling music precisely through its use of familiar materials; through a demonstration of how known compositions and sounds can be transformed, the tools used by all sound engineers to construct modern popular music are made transparent.
Although there is nothing new at all in the practice of using pre-existing musical material as the basis for a new composition, the use of sound recordings challenge the paradigm of the individual creator which was enabled by the advent of written notation. Sound records provide a more accurate document of communal influences and multiple authorship, leading to a music with a new and audible ideology, which is increasingly in direct conflict with the concept of intellectual property. Setting examples from both formal art music practioners alongside million-selling popular music experiments with collage from novelty singles to disco and hip-hop, this lecture charts the development of a creative practice which is now so prevalent as to have become nearly invisible, even though its key messages have yet to be widely understood.
Listen to Jon Leidecker's "Variations" podcast series here.
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