Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1994.

In a broader investigation of rap music and contemporary Black American culture, sampling is discussed (pp. 73-80 and 88-93). Rappers utilize sampling technology not as a shortcut to copy pre-existing music but rather as a means to achieve unique creative objectives. Often, the sonic qualities sought after by rap artists and producers can only be created through sampling, not through live performance or digital synthesized sound such as drum machines. The way in which digital samples are used by rap DJs is in line with what Walter Ong has identified in oral traditions as "narrative originality." According to Ong, narrative originality is achieved not through the creation of new material but through the "reshuffling" of the pre-existing material. However, in addition to this, use of sampling technology by rap artists can also be seen to constitute a means of composition. Samples in a rap song generate meaning through complex intertextual references, as does the process of "versioning," the reworking of an entire song so that it takes on new meaning in a new context. The use of sampling and versioning has generated conflict with existing copyright laws, and rap artists are often accused of stealing musical material. This problem arises partially because current copyright laws originated in the nineteenth century and were originally intended to protect musical scores. Sampling technology allows access to sounds that were previously "uncopiable" and therefore unprotected.

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Sarah Florini

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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