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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2

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The use of sampling through modern day technology has become one of the main features of the digital age and has influenced a wide range of different genres (REF). Sampling is a process of digitizing recorded sound and can be described as a small unit of recorded digital audio (Hugill, 2012). You can pretty much sample anything from a traditional instrument to sound created from other abstract objects. For example, two musicians stated within their podcast interviews that they often experiment with the use of non-traditional objects to create sound. Nikhil Pahwa discussed taking inspiration from random noise to create samples, such as the sound of a knife dropping. Chris Baker spoke of a very similar technique in which he gave the example of creating sounds using a shower. Composer John Cage states that methods such as these “go beyond the tonalities of standard instrumentation and engage with the infinite possibilities of sound” (Cage,2000).

For sampling, digital systems use binary to process the sound and convert it so it can be stored, processed and manipulated through the computer. Hugill (2012) describes binary as a way of representing more complex number sequences only using the numbers 1 and 0. (ibip)

Sampling can be traced back to 1936 when a radio engineer by the name of Pierre Schaeffer invented the process (Factmag, Patrick, 2016). Factmag name Schaeffer the godfather of sampling (ibid). Schaeffer would go on to found his first studio in 1942 called D'Essai, later renamed Club d'Essai, and would spend his time on a library of sounds and effects for his groundwork, that would be termed musique concrète (Mcgrath, 2009). In 1948 Schaeffer completed the first

musique concrète piece by recording, arranging and manipulating a variety of sounds produced by trains. Schaeffer asks in his journal “why shouldn't they broadcast three minutes of pure coach?”, telling people that they only need to know how to listen, and that the whole art is in hearing (Schaeffer, 2012, p.12). He would later combine his talents with Pierre Henry, a classically trained composer, in the year of 1949. Together, they produced a number of new inventions, such as a ten head delay, three track tape and a loop machine (Factmag, Patrick, 2016).

In 1956, two songwriters named Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman created a mashup song, from samples, named The Flying Saucer. They chose to splice up rock and roll hits from the era to create the track. The song told the story of a fake newscast, reporting an alien invasion from outer space, as the reporter would ask question. The answer would be reply by musical snippets of the most popular track of the era. The record made its way up to number three in the Billboard chart and hit number one in a number of local charts across America (Rebeat mag, Brandon, 2015). This became one of the first songs that was related to samples and was under lawsuit for copyright infringement, although Flying Saucer was eventually deemed an original piece, therefore not infringing on anybody's copyright (Rebeat mag, Brandon, 2015).

Sampling exploded in the late 70s and early 80's with the hip hop

One piece of equipment that was discussed by interviewees in my podcast, used to create their sound was a looping pedal. A variety of different artists, such as Ed Sheeran, use loop pedals, also known as a phrase sampler. These are real time audio samplers which will playback the musical phrase that the musicians has previously played, by pressing a button in time with the music (Lockwood, 2006). A critique of loop pedals could be that they continuously playback the same material, which could make performances monotonous and boring (Pachet et al, 2013). Ways for mitigating this challenge could include devising more creative ways to work with the equipment. Most musicians use a range of different skill to create more of a three-dimensional sound when working with loop by adding simple layer and timber qualities, for example bass line, chords, solo and polyrhythms (ibid). However, due to the nature of a loop, it could be seen as easy to become unengaging, laborious and repetitive (ibid).

Digital Culture

Human culture is constantly evolving and today musicians have to deal with ever changing environments within the digital age (Hugill, 2012). Musicians build on previous music to evolve new sounds, calling upon a wide range of different genres from all around the world, mixing across digital culture (Miller, 2008). A challenge that modern musicians face is having to adapt and grow their online presence in order to properly showcase their work in an online world full of white noise. As well the need to keep within the copyright law with sampling sound and remixing. This creates the need for a different skill set in order for musicians to survive and expand within digital culture.

Within my podcast interviews every single musician or band that I spoke with discussed having a number of online social media platforms. This conveys the importance for musicians within this current age to represent themselves online. Charlotte Lloyd Butler discussed the need for engaging visual content in order to gain interest on her music. Multiple challenges for this were highlighted within the interviews, such as constraints on being able to dedicate enough time to social media. Matthew Woolley highlights this, furthering the issue by saying that “perhaps on social media and marketing… it is that you can't be a musician, just can't just make music”. This emphasises his belief that musicians nowadays cannot simply make music in order to succeed, they must also focus their efforts on other aspects such as social media.

An example of where social media caused a negative impact on a musician's career was when there was a backlash against Ed Sheeran headlining Glastonbury festival. This was caused due to him using a looping pedal which a number of fans did not understand and expressed their disappointment online, stating he used a pre-recorded backing track.

Ed Sheeran had to explain to fans about the loop pedal appearing on The TODAY Show and tweeting to his followers saying, “never thought I'd have to explain it, but everything I do in my live show is live, it's a loop station, not a backing track…”

Lit Review

The series of podcast came before the reach of my essay. I amend my reach on what  the canderants had to said and developed deeper understanding into the content that they provided. It was based on two question, how technology changes the sound of music and how the approach the digital culture with social media. It became apparent to first set my reach on sampling and unconventional recording techniques was a key point of my research as Nikhil Pahwa and Chris Baker was quite explicit. The Digital Musician (Hugill, 2012)was the starting point and the foundation on my understanding of samples and the the fine detail on within computerlizasion but because of the formal nature of the book. I want to see evolvement of technology and how it changed music with a timeline, this lead me to the birthplace of samples, Pierre Schaeffer. Schaeffer, 2012 which is his journal of his life and he express his finding and his achievement, within the creation of musique concrète. With in his work i look at seval books and blog on this matter. Books like (Shapiro, 2000) Modulations by Peter Shapiro, Electronics in music by Judd, 1972,  

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