Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010


So much of what's great about this sample is how it takes a transition from one song and makes it the core of the second.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Some responses are purely musical. Apparently, a certain back-and-forth played out between New Order and the Cure in the pages of NME through the '80s.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Response songs appear at first to be a different type of doubling than covers. The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man" and the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" seem to have little in common other than the circumstances under which the later song was written. Still, like covers, the force of the response requires something extra from the listener, who, I suppose, misses the point, if the original is unknown. Moreover it reminds us of the importance of musicians as not only performers, but listeners.

Here's Camera Obscura responding to Lloyd Cole.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Super Black Markets

Yesterday the Onion AV Club posted this article about indispensible B-side collections. Not surprisingly, lots of covers, versions, mixes, etc. turn up on these kinds of comps. [SftD covered some of the Nirvana covers from Incesticide last month.]

Here are two tracks from one of the AV Club picks—the Clash's Super Black Market Clash: one cover and one dub remix.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The New Yorker's Alex Ross has a great post today about the influence of Xenakis and Stockhausen on the Beatles.

Monday, February 22, 2010


With so much talk recently about John Oswald's writing about music, how about the music itself. Here is the defining Plunderphonics track. A thorough and multi-faceted recombination of Michael Jackson.

[This is on the compilation Plunderphonics 69/96. The whole thing is incredible—exhausting, but incredible.]

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Samplers, synthesizers and drum machines sampling samplers, synthesizers and drum machines.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blue Suedes

Oswald's "Plunderphonics" essay is full of all sorts of interesting details that I've been chasing all week.

Here's a piece by James Tenney from 1961 called "Collage #1," a deconstruction of Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes." Oswald uses it as a defense of the cut and paste—in this case, literally, as Tenney worked with tape and razors—invoking Milton, Stravinsky and the moral and legal high road:

"Piracy or plagiarism of a work occur, according to Milton, 'if it is not bettered by the borrower'. Stravinsky added the right of possession to Milton's distinction when he said, 'A good composer does not imitate; he steals.' ...My observation is that Tenney's "Blue Suede" fulfills Milton's stipulation; is supported by Stravinsky's aphorism; and does not contravene Elvis' morality or Section 17(2)(b) of the Copyright Act."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Something fun for the morning...

As always the sample hunters have compiled a nice list of sources for us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today's the 20th anniversary of John Zorn's wild Naked City. Every aspect of the album defies simple description, no less its covers like the Mancini below.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Down Unders

"Lets be perfectly clear that artistic practice is not on trial here in the M@W case. Only the good fortune to have made large sums of money from a song is. Whether deliberate or accidental, collage is, in a moral sense, totally legitimate. Some of humanity’s greatest artists have practiced it to telling effect as I hope this blog has shown. And they gain their artistic legitimacy by dint of the fact that their borrowed materials creates something new, works that do not attempt to pass themselves off as someone else’s work. On this basis the decision in the M@W case flies in the face of common sense and history and points to a world full of lawyers and devoid of musicians." —Graeme Downes

Men At Work lost a copyright suit this week for replaying part of the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Graeme Downes of the Verlaines lays out a fine defense here (via Unquiet Thoughts).

It strikes me as particularly odd in cases like this that judges fashion themselves art critics, musicologists, basically experts on where ideas come from, when the basis for the modern legal system is precedent. Should the judge feel compelled to offer a part of his earnings to previous judges whose ideas have shaped the current copyright law? Why do we privilege the integrity of some creative acts, binding them inseparably to the right to earn money (and continue to earn money in the future), and admit that for the benefit of everyone other creative acts fall away from authorship and become part of a larger network of ideas?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The Who managed to play three (CBS-aired) CSI theme songs in 15 minutes during their (CBS-aired) Super Bowl halftime performance. A nice coincidence for a band with a deep catalog spanning about 45 years. It made me think about theme songs, specifically ones based on existing recordings, and the relationship between the music and the show. Rather than think of the Who as shills for the network, I'll instead take their CSI-heavy set as a reminder of the people behind the music, a defense against people calling a certain song "That song from CSI" rather than "Who Are You".

The Who is in some ways a bad example. Classic rock radio has driven "Who Are You", "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Rielly" deep into our heads. We know the Who, we know their songs.

A better case is Massive Attack's "Teardrop", or as it is undoubtedly better known, the theme to House. The split is wider by far on this one, especially considering that far more people will see the next episode of House than heard Mezzanine.

Monday, February 8, 2010


"Musical instruments produce sounds. Composers produce music. Musical instruments reproduce music. Tape recorders, radios, disc players, etc., reproduce sound. A device such as a wind-up music box produces sound and reproduces music. A phonograph in the hands of a hip hop/scratch artist who plays a record like an electronic washboard with a phonographic needle as a plectrum, produces sounds which are unique and not reproduced—the record player becomes a musical instrument. A sampler, in essence a recording, transforming instrument, is simultaneously a documenting device and a creative device, in effect reducing a distinction manifested by copyright." —John Oswald, "Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative"

Today's required reading.