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Mashed Up

Music, Technology, and the Rise of Configurable Culture
by

Aram Sinnreich

on 27 February 2014

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Transcript of Mashed Up

Mashed Up
Music, Technology & the Rise of Configurable Culture
January, 2007
PRIVATE
PUBLIC
The "Free Culture" Argument:
The "Configurability" Argument:
Introduction: The Bust
Musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited…. When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.
Plato, 360 B.C.
Xunzi, 270 B.C.
When correct sounds move a man, they cause a spirit of obedience to rise, and when such a spirit has arisen, good order results. As singers blend their voices with that of the leader, so good or evil arise in response to the force that calls them forth.
The Meanies captured everything that maketh music.
Lord Mayor, 1968 A.D.
REGULATION
RESISTANCE
INNOVATION
Legal
Ideological
Commercial
Aesthetic
Praxis
Technology
Sociology
SNA
Economics
Systems
Framework
Psych,
Neuropsych
Nested
networks
within
networks
(a/k/a
"culture")
... this is not only music's vector -- it's music's subject.
LEVELS OF MEANING
MUSIC:
cognitive-
affective
capital
DISCURSIVE FRAMEWORK
SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
Follies of 1830
"The most marvelous instrumental works ever brought forth by human genius"
"insolent modifications [by] a professor who is drunk on his own vanity"
:-(
The Modern Framework
Art vs. Craft
Artist vs. Audience
Original vs. Copy
Performance vs. Composition
Figure vs. Ground
Materials vs. Tools
Commodity fetishization
Classification, alienation
Monopolization
Division of labor

Romantic individual
Propertization of culture
Chapters 1-2: Music as a Controlled Substance
Presented by Aram Sinnreich
New School for Social Research, December 2013
University of Massachusetts Press
August, 2010
Enter Configurability
For the first time, communication is:

Instantaneous
Global
Multi-sensory
Archival
Hackable
Editable
Networked
Interoperable
Customizable
Beyond "Remix Culture"
Not continuous with traditional cultural practices
Not limited to media & communication
Not simply democratizing production or increasing consumer choice
production
production
adjacent
consumption
consumption
adjacent
Configurability Survey Data
play list
customization
mashup
remix
turntablism
full conversion mod
engineering studio
passive engagement
Art vs. Craft
Artist vs. Audience
Original vs. Copy
Performance vs. Composition
Figure vs. Ground
Materials vs. Tools
Chapter 3: Configurability and Crisis
Methodology
2006 Configurable culture survey
1,779 US adults
Includes write-in responses

60+ hours of interviews (2003-9) with:
Sample-based musicians
Music industry executives
Intellectual property attorneys

Good old-fashioned cultural exegesis
Comparisons to Warhol & Collage
“I’d have to … see if he’s putting the urinal on the wall, or just taking a leak.”- Steinski
“You might as well let a chimp play a pianno” [sic] - Respondent
“Mash-up culture is basically the new punk rock … a total DIY aesthetic.”- DJ Adrian
“There’s been a real rise of an intermediary level - the DJ…”
- TradeMark G
“I really hate the ethos of the DJ being an artist.”- GHP
Yes, But is it Art?
Some Kid in His Bedroom
GENIUS???
Something Borrowed, Something New
Every DJ has a “signature style” that’s “like their handwriting.”
- Tony Zeoli
“If you are going to create a remix, it should be better than the original.”
- Respondent
“The Puff Daddy stuff is soulless. It’s just not clever.”
- Osymyso
“it’s not a performance at all. it’s purely DJ. It’s composition.”
- GHP
“You know, now we’re just splitting hairs. F**k it. I’m all of that.”
- DJ Axel
“Performance [is] mixing one or two elements together in real time. That’s what a DJ does.”
- Osymyso
Live From a Hard Drive
Hooks and Hearts
"The Technology is the Tool"
"You’re taking a foreground from one piece and you’re putting it to a background on another piece.”
- Eric Kleptone
"What may have been just a little backing vocal may have been brought to the front.”
- Osymyso
“Depending on how deep into hip-hop you are, you may not ever need a foreground.”
- Steinski
Songs
Recordings
Elements
Samples
Software
Hardware
Instruments
Anything
The Human Mind
“The irony is that the materials are also finished products”
- DJ Earworm
Chapters 4-9: Lines in the Sand
Does Configurability = Critique?
“How important are the following reasons for creating remixes or mash-ups?”
Legal
Ideological
Commercial
Aesthetic
Praxis
Technology
...But Cooptation is Inevitable(?)
“Bootleggers will always be one step ahead.

- DJ Adrian
“The corporations are realizing, if you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em."

- Hosh Gureli (Sony/BMG VP)
Aram Sinnreich: Do you think that it is going to hold up in the age of sampled music? I mean, do you think that the industry will be able to continually –

Marc Geiger: I think I already answered it. I said the Internet blew it all apart.

Aram: Okay. So it’s over?

Marc: It’s over.
Consider This Exchange:
THE LESSONS:
1. Configurable Collectivism
2. Reunion of Labor
3. Inversion of Public & Private
4. From Linearity to Recursion
5. DJ Consciousness
Re-orientation between individual and group
Rejection of art/artist exceptionality
Acknowledging sources and commons
Death of the Romantic individual
This sh*t is not about me, it’s about all of us, ‘cause we’re the same motherf**kin’ person. So take a picture of your goddamn self, ‘cause we’re all the same dude"
Erosion of performance/ composition dichotomy
Collapsing of group into “one man band”
Equivalency of roles, network of peers
Shift from Marxian “alienation” to Castells’ “flexible labor?”
Figure/ground reorientation
“The private has become public. The music itself has become just a background.”
- Matt Wand
PC blurs line between cognition/culture
Strategies for dealing with surveillance state: the participatory panaudicon
Blurring of artist/audience and composition/performance, tools/materials undermines traditional “value chain”
Workflow becomes modular
Per Ong and Postman, linearity characterizes modern epistemology
More than just “postmodern” because it’s reflexively structural, not strategically metaphorical
Ambiguity of “bedroom producer”
DJ as strawman “other," yet often self-applied
Universal marginalization
Harbinger of a new networked consciousness/culture?
Conclusion: The Lessons
Berlioz
Fétis
Beethoven
Girl Talk
Thankyou.
Other criteria: Teachability; Creative transformation; Innovation; Authorship; Labor; Marketability
Other criteria: Creative transformation; Presence of audience; Technical and conceptual skill; Talent; “Genius moments”
Other criteria: Personal style; Audible influence; Sample size; Sonic transformation; Recognizability; Uniqueness; Scarcity; Sanctioning
Other criteria: Temporal; Sample granularity; Presence of audience; Genre (e.g. mash-up vs. turntablism); Spectacle
Other criteria: Holistic assessment; Audition context; Global/cultural dynamics; Market dynamics; Legal dynamics
Dedicated to Ariane Forster a/k/a Ari-Up
sinn@rutgers.edu
mashed-up.com
Full transcript