Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Williams, Justin A. “Theoretical Approaches to Quotation in Hip-Hop Recordings.” Contemporary Music Review 33, no. 2 (April 2014): 188-209.

Within hip-hop music and culture, there are many approaches to intertextuality and musical borrowing beyond digital sampling, the analysis of which can better situate hip-hop recordings in wider cultural contexts. Hip-hip music has openly used pre-existing material since its origins, and this practice has been linked to Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s literary concept of Signifyin(g). Intertextuality in hip-hop is generally unconcealed and is often, but not always, textually signaled, or highlighted by an element of the whole recorded text (the instrumental “beat” as well as the lyrical “flow”). One example of textual signaling is the vinyl pops and hiss audible in The Pharcyde’s Passin Me By), which show that the samples composing the beat come from older analog sources. Xzibit’s Symphony in X Major (2002), produced by Rick Rock, provides an illustrative case study of sampling from the classical music canon: Wendy Carlos’s version of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 from Switched on Bach (1968). The two samples used in Symphony in X Major are both autosonic (from an existing recording) and textually signaled with audible artifacts of sampling. One sample is used in the chorus, the other in the verses. The meaning of these samples depends on how specifically a listener identifies the source: classical music, J. S. Bach, the Brandenburg Concerto, or Carlos’s synthesizer recording. Carlos’s recording, more so than Bach’s composition, aligns with the popularity of synth-heavy beats in early 2000s hip-hop and the general practice of re-appropriation. Still, genre or stylistic topic might be more important than the specific source for interpreting a sample. Signifying “classical music” and its cultural status better fits Xzibit’s boastful lyrics. Understanding the meaning of such samples is aided by conceptualizing an imagined community of hip-hop, a particular interpretive community with generic expectations, assumptions, and historical knowledge of hip-hop.

Works: The Pharcyde: Passin Me By (193-95); Dr Dre (producer) and Snoop Doggy Dogg: Who Am I (What’s My Name?) (193-95); Rick Rock (producer) and Xzibit: Symphony in X Major (196-201).

Sources: The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? (194); Weather Report: 125th Street Congress (194); Skull Snaps: It’s a New Day (194); Quincy Jones: Summer in the City (194); Eddie Russ: Hill Where the Lord Hides (194); Tom Browne: Funkin’ for Jamaica (195); George Clinton: Atomic Dog (195); Parliament: Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) (195); Wendy Carlos (arranger), J. S. Bach (composer): Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major BWV 1048 (196-201).

Index Classifications: 1900s, 2000s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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