A Little Mashed Up and a Little Bit Tainted

3 Different Covers of TaintedLoveUntil recently I thought that a remix was just a bunch of songs that were joined to each other, and then overlaid on to some type of repetitive rhythm, such as a drum beat.  It is now 10:30 at night and I have been reading, watching and listening to remixes and mashups  most of the day and I feel as if I am very little, and trying to hold on to a giant beach ball without much success. I think that it would be possible to spend days, months perhaps a lifetime studying the myriad combinations of  remix and mashups which migrate across the many different genres. The thing that is fascinating about remix is its metamorphic nature. Often,  a sampling of music that is relatively current is mixed (usually with great care and precision) with a  sampling taken from a different musical era to create a new sound; Paul Booth describes it as “juxtapos[ing] two different time frames”. This can be called a mashup but it is also a remix!

It is quite common for a lot of these remixes to be created by remixers who are not professional musicians or composers. A pretty nifty term known as produser,  which is an adaption from the word prosumer coined by Alvin Toffler in his book, “The Third Wave” is  used to describe this creative bunch of people. Axel Bruns first used the word produser,  a portmanteau of produce and consumer, to describe what he terms “user led content creation” which has flourished since P2P (peer-to-peer file sharing networks) first came on the scene, oh and the Internet of course! The ability to access free  music (known as piracy, in case you didn’t know) fueled a desire to be creative with the stuff which in turn drove the development of improved music editing software. You know  it can’t be this easy, right? For example, John Smith downloads a song by someone who is moderately successful; John cuts the music and inserts some samples of a track that his mum used to love, adds a few quirky sounds from somewhere else and then lays the whole thing over this wild beat that just makes you want to be crazy; uploads the new song he has created with his tag DizzyBSomewhere; the next thing you know DizzyBSomewhere’s track has gone absolutely crazy and he has become famous! Stop. Press rewind. What about copyright?

COPYRIGHT! If the mouseketeers got hold of this word it would sound like this- C O P Y – Y ? because I made it! R I GG ? because- wait a minute, Yeah G is for GET LOST LOSER its mine! So DizzyBSomewhere has made money and not only that, his music is starting to be played by mainstream radio stations. The original composer of one of the songs (the other one is dead) gets upset because this guy Dizzy is now making more money than he ever did and it looks as though he may become famous. Axel Bruns points out that the Internet, other than give unlimited access to new and pre-existing media, has created a situation where individuals can collaborate online with their peers and they can market themselves without any monetary outlay. An individual, or a group who have collaborated online to produce a new piece of music, can market themselves through a social network such as facebook or upload a video to YouTube and then the power of the Internet will do the rest.

There is, however, some positive steps being taken with the Creative Commons Licence. As Lawrence Lessig points out neither the RW (stands for Read Write and applies to those who interact with digital media) nor the RO (stands for Read Only- guess what these guys don’t do?) will be productive, creative or effective without copyright. The Creative Commons tag line is Share, Remix, Reuse – Legally enabling a collaboration and sharing to occur which will hopefully foster continued creative practice.

So what do Beeto Deejay, DJ Zebra, Bob Marley and Soft Cell have in common? This isn’t a rhetoriecal question by the way.

Answer- Not a lot, apart from a remix 🙂



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