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Friday, September 12, 2008

Technics Techniques

After I put up a post on the subject, Judd Greenstein pointed me to this excellent collection of hip-hop analyses from floodwatchmusic dot com. An embarrassing omission, because I'd already read the dang thing, since Judd had linked to it on his own blog, which I visit on a regular basis, and in fact I'm certain this was all in the back of my mind when I did my little song-n-dance. I have no idea why I forgot to mention or link to it in my own post. And then! NewMusicBox ran this delightful piece by... er... "renegade doctor of music from Harvard University, Erik Spangler (a.k.a. DJ Dubble8)," which not only gives a brief history of turntablism AND a primer on scratch technique AND some tips on how to compose music for DJ, it accidentally illustrates the weird tensions between the angle (academic-style music theory & composition) and the subject matter (hip-hop, the most disreputable of all vernacular musics) with little nuggets like,

To prevent other DJs from copying (or "biting") their personal sound, labels on records would often be covered up to disguise the sample sources. In order to win battles, one had to be original.
Oh, did one!

It might be worth pointing out, too, that by the time mainstream theorists and composers catch up to a trend or technology in popular music, it's probably already gone out of style. Analog DJing, as Spangler notes, is on the wane. In fact by now, the use of actual record scratching in a piece of music is going to be an exercise in nostalgia as much as anything else—not that such an exercise couldn't be richly rewarding, I'm just sayin'.

Okay, enough of this talking out of my butt. At this point I think the only way I could prove myself more out of touch with popular music is if I were to upload a picture of myself kissing a photo of Barry Manilow. Which, hell, while I'm at it:

And there we go.

2 comments:

Marcus said...

I would suggest that your barry manilow photo be your main profile foto on your manhunt account.

Dan Johnson said...

What makes you think it isn't?