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Granberry 1 Ben Granberry Dr.

Erin Dietel-McLaughlin 13300-09 15 November 2013 The Rise of the Remix When I first heard remixed and electronic music, I hated it. Back in middle school I was a big fan of rock and pop music but I hated when people took music, changed it a bit, and put it out into the world as their own. I thought DJs were just lazy and unimaginative for just modifying other peoples work instead of creating their own. I remained close-minded until I met a new group of friends in high school. One of them was an aspiring DJ himself and the whole group loved the electronic and remixed music scene. I was a hesitant at first, especially when I went to my first electronic music concert with them. Eventually after opening up and really listening to the remixes and electronic music in general, I began to realize how my ignorance had blinded me. My DJ friend showed me the complexity and hard work it takes to manipulate a song well and to become a good DJ. A friend group discussed what we liked and disliked about different remixes and even went so far to remix a few of songs ourselves based on our own tastes in music. Today I remain good friends with this group and am glad they have enlightened me about what electronic and remixed music is all about. Electronic music has become very popular in todays music and media, especially amongst the younger generations. However, some people, especially older generations, often fail to recognize electronica and remixed music as real music that takes much creativity and skill to produce. I myself was among these criticizers of electronic and remixed music simply because I was ignorant of the many intricacies involved in remixing music and the hard work involved. I

Granberry 2 think many people who criticize or ignore remixed and electronic music are in similar positions as I was, just ignorant of what remixing is all about. Though I am a fan of electronic and mixed music, and according to Professor Demers, an author who claims complete objectivity and value-free neutrality is thus being disingenuous, since every observer has a point of view(11), I will attempt to be as objective as possible. I will argue that the electronic and remixed music should be recognized, appreciated, and studied just like every other form of music. Electronic music is defined by Joanna Demers, a professor at Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California, as any type of music that makes primary, if not exclusive, use of electronic instruments or equipment(5). Remixed music is much more general, and selfexplanatory. It is any music that takes a pre-existing piece and alters it in some form using electronic software and instruments. Electronic and remixed music have only recently become popular primarily because of technology restraints. Tod Machover, a composer, inventor, and a musician at the MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, explains how synthesizers, the primary instruments in electronic music, first came about in the 1960s (1185). The music created was popular because of how synthesizers reflected and reinforced cultural aspirations for transformation and transcendence, which were so prevalent in the 1960s(1185). Around 1980, electronic music becomes easily accessible as Professor Demers explains that The year 1980 is pivotal for several reasons. For most of the previous decade, synthesizers were expensive and bulky, and the few artists who had access to them were either successful rock stars or academic composers at research universities. By 1980, digitalization triggered a precipitous drop in the price of synthesizers, making them affordable for less-than-superstar working musicians, amateurs, and even children(Demers 8-9). Synthesizers are the primary instruments of electronic and remixed music, so the digitalization of this instrument was huge in providing

Granberry 3 practical access to more than the rich or professional artists. The widespread access of the synthesizer provided the medium and people quickly took to developing songs and modifying songs with the synthesizers. One possible reason why younger generations appreciate electronic music and remixed music more than older generations is because these generations have different definitions of what music is. To the older generations, music is centered on the combination of lyrics and tune or the graceful sounds of the orchestra, but with the birth of electronica in the 1960s, popular musics definition has slowly generalized to being just good-sounding noise. As Professor Demers explains, before the advent of electronic music, the sound of almost any instrument or singing voice would alert listeners within a short amount of time that they were hearing a musical sound and not, say, a sound of nature, chance, or a nonartistic machine(12). Tune, rhythm, lyrics, and other components of song have acted as a frame in which someone knows that what they are hearing is music in the same way someone who sees an image in a frame is art (12). Genres like glitch and dub step have arisen which contain little to no lyrics and contain electronic sounds that are not often heard in traditional songs. This electronic music has smashed the frame originally established for music. Older generations hear noise when they hear electronic music as it is not within the standards of the musical frame, while younger generations have no such predisposition. Music has also generally taken to a trend of being louder and more erratic. Older generations are simply accustomed to this softer music so they enjoy it more. Younger generations, being more open-minded, emotiondriven, and temperamental enjoy the new and intense beats and rhythms presented in electronic music. Therefore, older generations need to recognize that they have a definition, unconsciously or knowingly, that is outdated to todays standards. They are used to hearing specific cues that

Granberry 4 alert them that what they are hearing is a song, therefore anything not using those cues is just processed as noise. Once they realize this, they can more easily accept electronic music and remixed music as real music. Another reason why electronic music and remixed music should be recognized is because it is here to stay. Some may argue that electronic music and remixed music is just a recent fad and cool thing, and eventually the younger generations will return to lyrical music genres like rock and hip hop, however, remixed music is not an ordinary genre. Electronic music and remixed music are a unique genre not only because it doesnt require lyrics in its songs, but also because it takes parts of almost every genre of music and mixes them together to create entirely new, unique types of songs. Remixed music can combine rock songs with rap lyrics, such as the group The White Panda, or country and pop could be mixed, or any other combination of genres. Remixed music is combining the genres together showing people the connections between them and tying them together. It is breaking the barrier between country music fans, rock music fans, and every other genre fan. There are infinitely more possibilities that can accommodate everyones tastes once be break down the genre barrier and combine aspects of each. This is exactly what some remixes, specifically called mashups, do. This converging and blending of genres could be seen as the next evolutionary step in music through the converging media theory. In Henry Jenkins book Convergence Culture, he introduces this theory in which new and old media are in the process of converging together through technology, like the internet. Specifically he denotes convergence as the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want(2). This same idea can be extrapolated to the music

Granberry 5 industry as a part of todays media. Music has changed over the years to adapt to what the listeners like. Jenkins goes on to clarify that Convergence, as we can see, is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom-up consumer-driven process(18). In other words, a producer can release his product with an intended purpose or design for it, but consumers will always determine the ultimate fate of the product by using it or modifying the product in the way that best fits their needs. The same phenomenon can be seen in the music industry today. Artists and composers release their music primarily intending people to enjoy the song and listen to it as it is. However, that doesnt often satisfy every consumer. Many consumers take these works and modify the song by changing pitch, rhythm and other sonic values, to create a better sounding song in their ears. Many DJs have picked up this role and remix songs themselves and release them to the consumers for people with similar tastes in music. Some remixes by DJs can be so popular that they even rival or surpass the original song in popularity, such as the remix of Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Ray, remixed by Cedric Gervais. Many radio stations are playing this remix over the original, which shouldnt be seen as a shot at Lana Del Ray for not making the song attractive enough, but rather a compliment to the combined ingenuity of the artist and the DJ. Electronic music and remixed music are growing every day and show no signs of stopping. If that isnt proof enough, the very nature of remixed music ensures its survival as it converges the genres of music into one. Some people argue that electronic music, especially remixed music, takes no creativity and just takes previous peoples works, modifies them a little bit, and then releases them as their own work. It is possible for people to remix music this way illegally, but most people remix music legally and give proper credit. There are organizations that promote the mixing of popular music, such as, the Creative Commons (CC). As Julio dEscrivan, a Reader in Creative Music

Granberry 6 Technology at Anglia Ruskin University explains, this organization was founded in 2001 to promote interaction and exchange of ideas and artistic material by providing legal tools that allow artists, scientists and researchers in general to share and protect their work in specific ways. These legal tools are contracts: termed licenses that the user declares to any interested party(117). Composers who licenses their work through Creative Commons are ensured full credit for their work, but also allow the opportunity for people to take the work and modify it to create a new combination of sounds. Composers should consider people taking their work to remix as a compliment as the composer developed such a good song that people want to alter the rhythm and add new sounds to make a song just as good or even better. Either way, with todays technology, people will always be able to get peoples music off the internet and modify it themselves, legally or otherwise, so having a system in place that allows credit to the original creator to be portrayed should be utilized to the fullest. Online communities like ccMixter, which is backed by Creative Commons, actually foster and encourage creativity as the participants create and then share their music, and then other members can take their music, remix it and put their own spin on it, and then put it back out into the community. As Sirkka Jarvenpaa and Karl R. Lang explain that ccMixter is a site specifically designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration between musicians to stimulate creativity(446). Many artists recognize and approve of the idea of remixing and contribute to this website including artists like DJ Vadim, Calendar Girl, Brad Sucks, Black Eyed Peas, Fort Minor and Kristin Hersh (447). Websites like ccMixter are so important to remixed and electronic music because it offers a platform to (an increasing number of) interested musicians that allows them to explore and experiment with the open remix practice in a legally safe environment(449). This entire concept is completely unique to the remixing genre of music.

Granberry 7 The idea of having a community that takes work, puts their own spin and tastes into the work, and puts it back out into the community for others to view and modify is a great way to share ideas and inspire people to be creative. Therefore not only does remixed music take real creativity to produce, it also creates and nurtures creativity in group settings such as online communities. Other people argue that electronic music and remixed music take not nearly the same amount of skill and work that other types of music take. However, this idea just comes through ignorance. Chris Rojek, a Professor of Sociology and Culture at Brunel University, describes the intricacies involved in mixing music. He defines scratching, or mixing tracks, as the real-time application of direct physical labour to modify discs to produce new sonic values(185). A skilled DJ does not just pick a playlist and let the songs play, he cues the songs so that they flow together seamlessly and put in their own input by manipulating the songs with different tools. Rojek describes some of the many alterations involved in mixing tracks to be speed shifts, phasing, repetition, and simple manual manipulation to doctor recordings(185). Learning how to use these many manipulations and then using them well takes much time and effort. Everyone knows how people make other types of music using instruments like guitars, drums, and pianos. They also know how difficult it is and how much time and work it takes to master these instruments. Mastering the turntables takes much the same skill and determination. As Julio dEscrivan says, The skilled control of a music-playing machine the turntable allowed us literally to make music out of music by developing very specific skills in handling turntables. These skills are just like any musical instrument skills requiring intonation (matching of record speed), rhythm (keeping the breakbeat flowing in time) and manual dexterity (needle dropping of fragments and scratching)(104). However not only live performing as a live DJ at a

Granberry 8 concert takes skill but well remixed pieces in the studio take skill and work as well. Julio explains In the same way that virtuosity and skill can be shown on a turntable practically to the same degree as on a traditional instrument, they can be shown on controller setups. Scratching becomes digital scrubbing, needle dropping becomes transient detection, and beat matching is accomplished by time-stretching algorithms(106). Therefore, this argument is again only founded in ignorance. The instruments of electronic music are rather complex with many obscure functions to the outside viewer. Yet upon further inspection and if someone takes the time to actually learn how electronic music and remix music are produced, they would realize how much skill and effort it really takes. Overall, the aversion and dislike of electronic music and remixed music by primarily the older generations is bred simply from ignorance or by unconscious, implied definitions of what music should be. Misconceptions about the skill and creativity of mixing music cause people to dislike the genre. Once someone takes the time to learn the process of remixing and the creation of electronic music, they will realize the time and effort spent developing the skills necessary. There is also much creativity involved in developing remixes as it takes months of practice to learn how to manipulate a song so that people will like it even more. Many people of older generations are accustomed to music containing certain sonic cues, but once they break this barrier, they can accept electronic music as a legitimate form of music. It is important that older generations accept electronic music and remixed music as real music because they are here to stay and could be joining the genres of music together and become even more predominant in the future. There are also many redeemable experiences and qualities in remixing music and sharing ideas in a community as seen in the ccMixter community. There is so much to learn from electronic and remixed music and so much to appreciate if one is open to accepting it as music.

Granberry 9 Works Cited Demers, Joanna. Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music.: Oxford University Press, 2010-07-06. Oxford Scholarship Online. 2010-09-01. Web. 8 Nov. 2013. Escrivan, Rinc n Julio D . Select, Remix, Mashup. Music Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012. N. pag. Print. Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L., and Karl R. Lang. "Boundary Management in Online Communities: Case Studies of the Nine Inch Nails and CcMixter Music Remix Sites." Long Range Planning 44.5-6 (2001): 440-57. Elsevier. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. Jenkins, Henry. "Worship at the Altar of Convergence." Introduction. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York UP, 2006. N. pag. Print. Machover, Tod. "Coaxing Sounds from Circuits." Science 299.5610 (2003): 1185-86. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. Rojek, Chris. "Technology and Media." Pop Music, Pop Culture. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity, 2011. N. pag. Print.