Friday, October 3, 2014

Welcome 2 Funktopia - Is This Original?

This week in my Fundamentals of Digital Media class, we had to create a mashup using the online Digital Audio Workstation, Soundation. The site, much like DAW software for computers, is built up of hundreds of loops for the user to click into the different audio tracks, add effects, and it even comes with a few virtual instruments for those of us that like working with them. Being a little knowledgeable on digital audio from previous classes and experimentation with writing my own music, (the best teacher) I opted to use a few loops from Soundation and import them into Acoustica Mixcraft 6 (which is installed on my system) to add a wider variety of loops and some virtual instruments. My intent was to only use one or two loops, and play the other instruments myself. However, this has been one of the most stressful weeks I've had this semester, so I didn't have time to go in the direction I wanted to. This mashup was arranged over the course of one night. The only instrument I played myself is 4 notes on a polysynth played via MIDI that is looped throughout various parts of the song. For the time that I had to complete it, I'd say it came out pretty well. Feel free to leave feedback and suggestions! I'll likely be working on this further in the future, since we will be using our songs in upcoming projects for the class.

Completing this project really opened my eyes to many different things. Generally, I do not consider mashups original music. Sampling a song and adding your own additional instrumentation and lyrics is a bit different. In that case, the artist is bringing something completely new and original to the work. However, using a computer to take various different songs, rearrange them, and mesh them together is not really original. In that case, the person did not compose an original song. They simply reconstructed other people's songs. This week, we also had to watch a documentary by Brett Gaylor titled RiP: A Remix Manifesto. In the film, the themes of copyright infringement, remixing, and creating mashups are discussed throughout. The film, in part, argues that mashups are in fact creative and original works. After all, the inspiration for a lot of modern music had to come from somewhere, right? The film also says that everything created today has been built from works of the past. This made me think a lot about my views on mashups. It's very true that in almost all aspects of art, we are building on prior art. This, in addition to arranging a mashup myself this week, has forced me to rethink how I look at mashup artists. Though it does not take as much time as composing and recording an original song does, the process itself is quite time consuming. There are decisions made. The person working on the song makes the choice of which sounds go where, even though they did not create the sounds themselves. In spite of all this, it remains difficult for me to see mashups as original pieces of work. After all, someone had to learn to play the sound that is being remixed and that same someone had to come up with the idea in their head, then transfer the sound to the instrument and record it. It takes a lot to do all of that. This week has given me lots to think about on this subject matter. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot more research on it, and hopefully it will shape my views to be more open minded. It will be difficult, seeing as though my all of my favorite artists and bands are actual musicians that compose songs and play instruments. I look up to that. But if it's easier to click a mouse than to fret an F chord, (which it is) then maybe those that like to click shouldn't be totally left out of the overwhelming joy creating music entails.

What do you think? Can mashups really be considered original art? Why or why not? I'd love to have some feedback!

Until next time, Peace & B Wild.

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