Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
Sunday, May 19 • 14:15 - 14:45
Autosonic Self-quotation:exploring the benefits of sampling while retaining authorial agency

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Technological tools have always informed the creative processes used in the production of recorded popular music, and the digital sampler is one such tool that introduced new forms of creative methodologies. However, the use of sampling in recorded popular music often attracts a great deal of criticism, in particular charges of thievery and inauthenticity. Some would argue that using another’s work as the foundation on which to build new musical works suggests a lack of musical creativity and originality. From a more positive viewpoint, the use of sampling affords musicians the opportunity to comment on and recontextualise the cultural and historical associations embedded within a musical work or gesture. Furthermore, the ‘lucky accidents’ that can arise when forcefully juxtaposing unrelated gestures can result in novel musical ideas that may previously have not been considered. Rather than weighing in on the debate, this paper discusses a compositional methodology that utilises the creative possibilities inherent in sampling, while also avoiding its critical accusations. Building on Lacasse’s notion of autosonic quotation, this paper introduces the term ‘autosonic self- quotation’ – the practice of sampling oneself. As a composer, drawing from one’s own library of unrelated musical gestures allows for a musical bricolage, resulting in contrasting styles, timbres, and recording and performance techniques within a single track. The use of autosonic self-quotation as a creative methodology can aid the composer in creating the eclectic, stylistic multiplicity often associated with sampling while still retaining authorial agency, therefore building on the methodology introduced by sampling while avoiding value- laden judgements of copyright violation and creativity. This paper discusses a number of works that have utilised this approach, including that of the presenters, and examines the musical conversations that can occur across time and place when a composer’s contrasting experiences meet.

avatar for Jeff Wragg

Jeff Wragg

Southern Institute of Technology