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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Re: Re: The Idea of New Music In Time

posted by on January 27 at 17:32 PM

Charles, “experiment” is a word often fired at musicians by baffled critics who do not understand what is new in music. Countless 20th century masters, including Stravinsky, Harry Partch, Julian Carrillo, Toru Takemitsu, Cecil Taylor, and yes, our mutually beloved Charles Mingus had their work denigrated as experiments rather than heard as music.

To dismiss a work as an “experiment” without any clarification is useless for all concerned, however the reckless statement “With hiphop, the experimentation ends and sampling becomes a practice,” is utterly false and rudely ignores history. Sampling was a practice long before hiphop records hit the shelves.

Enough composers - many more than I cited in my previous post - employed sampling to make it a “practice” and did so decades before sampling appeared in any kind of popular music. The granddaddy is John Cage, whose Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (1952) calls for 42 LPs. Starting in the early 1970s, John Oswald, who coined the term plunderphonics, made plundering samples of commercial pop music an essential component of his work. Apart from the three Johns (Cage, Oswald, and Wall), add Tenney, Stockhausen (the immortal Hymnen!), Appleton, Antunes, Riley, Parmegiani, Trythall, Ferrari to the list.

But is sampling central to hiphop?

I never owned “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” CD nor did I need to, for until a few years ago most of the original 12-inch singles sat on my shelf. (I kick myself for parting with those Treacherous Three discs, too.)

Owning records does not automatically confer expertise, yet I suspect the voice, the words, and the beat (e.g., from a drum machine not a slip cue) seem more central than sampling to hiphop (Last Poets anyone?). I can imagine a hiphop track without any kind of sampling, but without the voice, the words, and a beat?

By contrast, in all the pieces (Tenney, Appelton, Trythall et al.) I cited earlier, samples of pop music constitute the fundamental and entire substance of the music, which is why I deliberately omitted The Beatles’ Revolution No. 9. Your claim of a meta-music is tardily misplaced - have you read Xenakis’ 1967 “Towards a Metamusic”? - and unfounded.

Charles, I’m surprised you didn’t turn your philosophy towards my proposed definition of music as a way of listening. And what about the new musicianship required by electronic-based music (house, techno, musique acousmatique, hiphop, etc.) I outlined earlier?

Anyway, listeners can set aside specious labels and judge for themselves this Sunday: I will broadcast the pieces I cited (Tenney, Appleton, Trythall et al.) on Floatation Device on KBCS 91.3 FM. The show runs from 10 pm to midnight and I’ll spin ‘em as a set sometime in the first hour.

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Another enlightening post, Chris. I was shocked by Charles' marginalizing of rapping in hiphop. I'm more of a production guy myself, but there's no denying the MC's integral role in hiphop. Said Mr. Obvious...

Also, if you record your radio show this Sunday and burn it to CD-R, I will buy it off you for a negotiable sum.

Posted by segal | January 27, 2007 8:12 PM

For another example, is this Rahzel clip:
(a) sampling via meat?
(b) not hip-hop?
(c) a musician?

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