Thursday, July 14, 2005

Windowlickin' good!


Boston seems to be exploding with Mass -hit fever. Being that I am just recovering from a discectomy (caveat emptor: icky/funny image here) and will have to sit out all these windowlickin' good performances by Jake and Wayne, I could not resist weighing in from the sidelines. Also, some dudes came to wash the windows at my house today, which made me think of that Aphex Twin video. (No kidding.)

Wayne makes some great points on his recent post on mashup culture. I wanted to add weight to his observtion that mashups are just the most recent example of a long tradition of reuse and recycling in recorded music . Second, academics aside, it's just plain fun to juxtapose things that didn't originally go together. Third, as a long standing fan of cut ups, plunderphonics and creative recycling in general, I could not resist throwing out a few musical ruinations of my own. Finally, all of t his will provide a nice segue into some dissertation related postings coming up. But first, the music.

OneTingDat is a mashup of the Amerie One Thing (2-3) Instrumental (which itself flipped the Meters Oh Calcutta break) with the future Boston classic A It Dat (acapella).

The inspiration for the track came about in the winter of '05 when Wayne was asked to start a new night at a large college oriented dance club in town. I did the first two nights with him, the second of which, I did with Tony and Jake while Wayne was off galavanting in Jamaica. There were some interesting e-mails that went around back then about how to get college kids essentially dancing to mashups. The idea was to play the instrumental of a familiar "club banger" and layer on some ragamuffin vocals, or an old classic break, or some other madness we might think up. An alternate strategy was to play the instrumental of some lesser known track and layer over a contemporary top 40 vocal. The goal in this was to blend the familiar with the unfamiliar in just the right proportions.

What was even more surprising was that my preliminary dissertation results seemed to be shedding light on some related issues (e.g., rules about competition and reuse can vary from market to market as can norms about interactions among performers and nightclubs). I'll be sharing more of that soon, as I am finalizing some presentations I am doing at the Academy of Management in August.

The second (first chronologically) of my A It Dat mashups, Dolbywaxdat (2) is a mostly live mashup of Thomas Dolby's Dissidents the Search for Truth -- Pt. 1 and Wayne & Wax's DJ C It Dat and acapella, Mashit 005. This track came out just after the release of A It Dat. It was my reaction to the '04 election and an homage to one of my favorite Thomas Dolby tracks of all time. It also affirms my sense that beat research can have political implications (as well as legal and ethical ones).

Note that both tracks have numbers after them signifying how many breaks in the timeline there are in them -- e.g., how edited the original live performance is. While there are lots of ways to make this kind of music, one way is to do it live with two records. This demands lots of attention to microscopic variations in tempos as the two records drift out of time. Given advances in digital sound editing and the frequent intermingling of edited and live performances (e.g., in mixtapes), it seems reasonable to start labeling our tracks so others can know how to read them.

In both of the cases above, the mixes were basicallly created live in several chunks (e.g., part1/cuts/part 2). I think the little errors in my mostly live mashups are nice little artifacts of the technology they were created on. I sometimes leave the super aliased sound of an overly pitched sample in Live tracks for the same reason - so its not some vinyl snobbery. More likely, I am just lazy.

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