Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
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Friday, May 17 • 17:30 - 18:00
Rebecoming Analogue: Sampling as Virtual Collaboration

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This paper focuses on music technology and production techniques that predate the Internet but which, nonetheless, have contemporary relevance. The role of digital sampling in the development of hip hop, and other subsequent genres based around the use of 'breakbeats', is widely acknowledged and has been explored from various scholarly perspectives. This paper argues that the creative interplay between the contemporary producer who samples and the instrumentalist whose performance is sampled can be read as a process of virtual collaboration in the creation of groove, albeit one which may feel somewhat imbalanced in comparison with traditional models.

To date, groovology has typically addressed the musical interaction between two or more performers playing concurrently and co-presently, dealing primarily with rhythmic aspects of this relationship. My research builds on these ideas by extending the concept in such a way that a single musician can be said to groove when playing solo, by interacting with various contextually-nuanced senses of time, a process which I call 'solo groove'. Recent research has also explored the potential for rhythmic control which music technology offers the contemporary producer, highlighting a burgeoning aspect of production wherein computer-based manipulation of microtiming contributes significantly to the listener’s perception of groove.

By considering solo groove and the use of sampled breakbeats in examples from hip hop, jungle and other breakbeat-based music, this paper argues for a contemporary, virtual manifestation of Small’s ‘musicking’ concept (1998), wherein collaboration and musical sharing become possible for performers and producers working across temporal, geographical and stylistic boundaries. Fundamental to the role of the breakbeat, here, is Shaviro’s notion of a musical environment in which the digital ‘rebecomes analogue’ (2003: 45), a characterization of sampling that is integral to a contemporary understanding of groove and collaborative music-making.

avatar for Rowan Oliver

Rowan Oliver

Lecturer in Music, University of Hull

Friday May 17, 2019 17:30 - 18:00 EDT
Classroom 411 (4th floor)