CCTP725: Week 11


Yoko K: Performance at TEDx Potomac


I feel as if music is the easiest medium for allowing us to conceptualize the ReMIX. Last semester, taking the Remix Culture course with Prof. Osborn demonstrated to me all the place s that the remix can go, but in our very first class session, music examples were the most readily available in all of our minds. I remember growing up and seeing the word attached to singles by Puff Daddy and Missy Elliot. More artists were always featured on the remixed song than the original. The beats were usually faster. There was marked difference. And it was this difference that came through in sound that I have since attributed to the remix. And there was usually a rap verse or two.

This is probably not the best example, but it's a music remix that was fresh on my mind:

Here's the original:

Hearing Yoko K.’s lecture/performance at the TED talk was interesting to use as a springboard for this week's discussion. Her description of her work seems to rely heavily on added value through synthesis. The idea of hardware and humans combining to make these haunting sounds. These amalgamations of audio. Very calculated, but very natural at the same time.

I can appreciate the exploration of that dichotomy on Rip! A Remix ManifestoI think that some degree of oversight might be useful to manage all the digital era reproductions and appropriations going on, but standardization sounds harsh and impractical. How can erratic cultural ruminations like these be regulated in way that doesn't limit users to only being consumers?

Theremin Remix

The Electronic Music Foundation’s (EMF) mission statement is to encourage the, “convergence of music, sound, technology, and science”. While thinking about this statement, it struck me that the Theremin, created in 1920 by Russian scientist Professor Leo Theremin of the Physicotechnical Institute of Leningrad, might be a good example of a music technology that has converged in the ways described. It is an instrument that has been remixed and reinterpreted into a number of different musical genres, from classical to hip hop to rock and orchestral. There are many material variations of the Theremin, not to mention its incorporation into digital sound libraries.

The Theremin sound can be recreated without the instrument itself. Or, it can be recreated so that 5th graders have another annoying activity to engage in during class:

Then you have the Theremin being put to good old fashioned use, similar to the intention of its inventor:

But you also have amateur adaptations of hip hop tracks using the Theremin, such as this one:

And, of course, The Beach Boy's "Good Vibrations" features a Theremin. Or does it? In fact, they're using a Tannerin, but it sounds very similar to the Theremin and most people think it's the latter:


Lian Han external image artworks-000001198160-aw7b1o-original.jpg?5fb6c47 Remix and mashup are both enormous as the genres begin to expand with technology and more and more artists enter the genre. I spoke to a remix/mashup artist a few months ago about his musical inclinations and background, and honestly it's almost a completely different skillset than just technological mastery. Creating a good remix or mash up is very difficult these days, but it's a genre that moves much faster than the natural progression, as there is a novelty and freshness that comes with innovative methodology, rather than "sounding good." Case in point would be the plethora of Charlie Sheen remixes in the past wee

Post-Post Modernism in DJ Spooky

Jessica Gesund

(discussion about Yoko K's music added at the bottom of this first response)

Going through Dj Spooky’s interviews and essays it became clear how his music and the music field of sampling emerges as a kind of post-post modernism, magnifying and summarizing several of the aspects that have come to define post-modernism but at the same time being nurtured by the new metaphors that the increasing role of computation and the internet in life has left us with.
Dj Spooky has have to face the same dichotomy before “high-low art/music”, and his work reflects exactly the rejection of this distinction which characterized other pop-artist before him, arguing that this dichotomy has been the result of an “artificial social hierarchy of tastes”(Becker, 84). This is particularly relevant in music like his which incorporates the music of the marginalized.


But what is even more notable is his discussion of intertextuality in the digital age and the way in which sampling and music genres like hip-hop and electronic music emerge as a kind of culmination of this intertextuality, which makes their statements precisely by openly acknowledging that intertextuality that has existed in all forms of art and experience in a more dormant way. As DJ Shadow states about hip hop “cutting and pasting is the essence of what hip-hop culture is all about for me. It’s about drawing from what’s around you and subverting it and decontextualizing it”(Wikipedia). DJ Spooky continues with this dialogue of intertextuality, which we’ve seen in previous class’ texts, by acknowledging that we are the result of our multiple experiences with other texts. He explores Baudrillard’s idea of the simulacrum by stating that everything we are, hear, smell, taste is already mediated by civilization and thus already produced, and he places art in this context.


However he goes beyond this. He gives the example of Netochka to show how in this media age, the sampling and morphing of other previous references can take place at a simultaneous level. In fact what allows him to take postmodernism to a next level is the way he links this theory of multiple levels of experience to the cybernetic world, talking about the information that lies in the conceptual map of our mind in terms of a code that has to be translated into high language in order for other people to understand it, to be able to be used at “a mind-brain interface level”. And discussing an interior content of our mind which is so conditioned by the media and so emerged in this network system that allows us to share information with one another, that it “expresses itself in a way that in the real world can be changed”, like the case of Netochka illustrates and that “when its recorded, adapted, remixed, and uploaded, becomes a stream unit of value in a fixed and remixed currency of the ever shifting current streams of information running through the networks we use to talk with one another”(Miller). It is the way in which he meshes this concept of intertextuality and simulacrum with cybernetic theory which most notoriously takes his ideas and work a step beyond post-modernism.

The music of our guest from last week allows me to continue to add to my discussion of Dj Spooky. I was really captivated with her music. It has a kind of beauty, which is perhaps not a good thing to say about anything that fits under the category of postmodernism, but that for me arises precisely because of this juxtaposition that Yoko K highlights when she speaks about her music. It is this juxtaposition that we can find in her music that allows us to connect her music back to Dj Spooky’s discussion of music sampling and the cybernetic world. Although Yoko admits that she does not really sample from other artists, that the different sounds that she incorporates have been produced by herself or by musicians that compose for her, she is constantly sampling and morphing the pieces that were previously performed and/or recorded by her, while adding new sounds and new voice inputs, thus she continues with the idea of that the sampling and morphing of other previous references can take place at a simultaneous level during the digital world. It appears to me, that because her own real voice,is not only morphed by her equipment but at times camouflaged with her previous recordings she further illustrates the previously mentioned Dj Spooky’s quote of how the information and art that we express through the modern media “expresses itself in a way that in the real world can be changed”. We are way beyond the concept of mass reproduction, and rather part of that cybernetic flow that has taken over our age.

Finally for this week's assignment I immediately thought of this reggae remix version of Radio Head's karma police done by Easy Star and although we've been asked to try to choose sources that are not that commercial I couldn't help to think of some of Radio Head's latests albums like KidA. Edward Maya's Stereo love is specially a good example of sampling, not only is he introducing a variety of sounds into his music and working along with DJ Vika Jigulina, but he is borrowing from the work from Eldar Mansurov, thing which actually earned him a law suit in 2009.

I downloaded the Karma Police version of Easy Star by mistake but I like it , because I feel that this reggae mix manages to capture the essence of this song, and actually strengthens it.

Here is the link to a page where you can hear this song and some of the other songs from the Radio Head "OK Computer" album, which have been remixed by Easy Star.

Music as Mediator
Music has been democratized through technology. You no longer need to own an instrument to be musically creative. You no longer need to read notes to be a musician, and you definitely don’t have to be an Ivy League professor to get your hands on the latest music technology—as in the days of //musique concrete//.
Digital media and the Internet have become mediums, which cut across cultures, and allow for a global conversation and exchange of ideas. Electronic music is one of the best examples of how this dialogue evolves through time—one person in Germany samples a song from a musician in South Africa, and clubs play a speeded up version in Buenos Aires. Such a conversation allows not only for a hybridization of the music genre—reggae turned rap turned techno club hit—but also for a hybridization of cultures. Digital media and electronic music have facilitated the blurring of national boundaries and geographically specific cultural identities.
Take Yoko K, for instance. She is a classically trained Japanese musician living in the US, playing ‘organic electronic music’ which combines her love of technology and nature. If music was once believed to be the most heavenly of the art forms—consisting only of air, a glimpse of the gods—then her music would be the transference of the spirit from the body to the machine. Her project of recording as many different languages saying “We are the proof that love does exist across ethnic divisions” is the synthesis, not only of musical genres, but also of cultures. Electronic music can therefore serve as a meeting ground for the technological and organic, mediating not only between genres, but also peoples.

by Alicia Dillon

In the past sound was unrecordable. Then, with the first recording technologies, analog sound was stored and shared. Now with the advent of the digital sound is both instantaneously sharable, downloadable, and moreover, remixable. This move towards the democratization of sound, and the increased technicality of cultural artifacts, has dramatically increased the turnover of cultural production. Moreover, it is these very forces which have made this turn all the more present, all the more visible.

Amon Tobin is a great example of someone engaged with digital media.

As a practitioner of sound art, in both his recordings and performances Amon Tobin recalls the fact that the act of listening to found, remixed, sound, "diminishes the dividing line between reception and practice, producing new cartographies of knowledge. This recycling of sounds, images, and forms implies incessant navigation within the meanderings of cultural history, navigation which itself becomes the subject of artistic practice" (Bourriaud, 2002). His selection of sounds which might most often be described as wonderful 'noises,' Tobin creates complex and accomplished musical synthesis of the everyday. Moreover his works support the fact that, "with music derived from sampling, the sample no longer represents anything more than a salient point in a shifting cartography (Bourriaud, 2002)," in other words, a global mapping of sound, tagged and indexed by it's source and the source's category, along with historical and physical location.