Category Archives: Week11

Jay-Z as a remix artist

Vittoria Somaschini

Eduardo Navas defines remix culture as “the global activity consisting of the creative and efficient exchange of information made possible by digital technologies that is supported by the practice of cut/copy and paste”. Jay-Z as an artist and as an empire can be easily linked to remix culture, as the greater part of his music embodies this concept.In an interview with MTV, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter openly acknowledged his stance by stating “I grew up around music, listening to all types of people, I used to listen to old music like Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and things like that. I’m into music that has soul in it, whether it be rap, R&B, pop music, whatever. As long as I can feel their soul through the wax, that’s what I really listen to.”


For the purpose of this analysis I would like to focus on Magna Carta, Holy Grail as well as he and Kayne’s Watch the Throne, as both have influences from all over the musical map but particularly from jazz, blues, roots, reggae, and world music. Jay-Z has deep musical style with a vast and important history particularly when examining his music within the context of Black-American music, however his lyricism is shallow, and more in line with modern artists.

This is highly interesting, as Navas claims that part of remixing music is maintaining the aura of the song, something that is difficult to do when haphazardly  putting together particular musical stylings and lyrics that do not match that cultural, and historical, moment. Jay-Z changes the aura of music when he combines such different musical stylings, however, it is not a negative change, as it creates a different experience for the audience.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Kyle. A Young Jay-Z describes his Early Influences. MTV. 2009.

Navas, Eduardo. Remix: The Bond of Repeition.

Jay-Z. Wikipedia

Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”

By: Arianna Drumond




Pink Floyd’s 1973 concept album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” explored the band’s major emotional upset following the departure of their lead singer and founding member Syd Barrett. Though Barrett left the band in 1968 due to his “deteriorating mental state,” the effects of his condition were profoundly felt and left the four remaining members eager to explore mental illness, anger, greed, and corruption as the themes for the album (Wikipedia). Though the band had discussed many of these ideas in past works, their approach for “Dark Side of the Moon” was radically different. Various members of the band’s road crew, friends from other bands such as Paul McCartney—then of Wings, and other acquaintances were asked any of a series of questions written on cue cards. Each question related to a particular theme that would be represented in the album, and the answers that were considered the most honest and spontaneous would be included in one of the songs (Brain Damage).

The band produced “The Dark Side of the Moon” at the famous Abby Road Studios in London using the newest and most expensive 16-track recording equipment available. In order to achieve some of the album’s signature songs, the band creatively employed sound effects, voice effects, and a variety of editing techniques. The sound of cash registers and coins heard at the beginning of the track “Money” was created by splicing together small sections of recorded tape, which were then hand fed into a tape machine. Though tedious, the process allowed for the creation of a complex effect loop that could be used in various ways throughout the album. In fact, the sound effect process was so complex and cutting edge, that the band along with their sound engineers worked tirelessly to generate new sounds and effects as well as new production techniques in order to create the desired tone and quality for each song (Wikipedia).

While “The Dark Side of the Moon” certainly follows within the psychedelic rock genre that made Pink Floyd so popular, the album is considered to be so significant and unique largely due to the methods used to write and record it. While Pink Floyd was of course influenced by the work of many of the contemporaries, many of the individual lyrics for their songs were generated with the help of friends and other musicians. In order to explore the themes of the album to their fullest potential, Pink Floyd worked to creatively employ technology, and effects to take an in depth look at emotion.



Wikipedia Contributors. “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. November 11, 2013. Web.

Johns, Matt. “Brain Damage- Pink Floyd News Resource.” Brain Damage. November 11, 2013. Web.

Reworking of old classical rock with postmodern Dubstep

Aena Cho

Zeds Dead is a Canadian electronic music duo from Toronto, Ontario composed of two members:  Dylan Mamid, or DC, and Zach Rapp-Rovan, or Hooks (Wikipedia).  They explore a diverse variety of genres that amalgamate aspects of electro house, hip-hop, glitch, and drum and bass into their largely dubstep platform.

In “Gimmie Shelter”, they take The Rolling Stone’s music and deconstruct and fragment it, almost beyond recognition. This mix of the two completely different genres of music, the classical rock and roll of the 60s and the complete anarchy of dubstep, is definitely unique, and a very post-modernistic way of reworking the past from a historical perspective. Zeds Dead both captures the original eeriness and seriousness of the original Rolling Stone’s music and multiplies and distorts it by incorporating the echoic, repetitive sounds of their unique Dubstep beats into it.  Many aspects of the original are kept, but the guitar, which was formerly viewed as the most important instrument to rock music, has been eliminated and replaced with computerized/digitalized basslines.  The end result is Zeds Dead’s own new, unique musical expression.  This indeed represents musical dialogic process in which a new musical expression or genre emerges from re-interpretation of old music.

Zeds Dead’s “White Satin” which is based on Moody Blues’s “Night in white satin” is another good example of such musical dialogic process.  In this piece, we first come to recognize “the basic grammar” of the piece – which is the original melody of “Night in white satin”.  But as it is combined with Zeds Dead’s dubstep beats and sounds, we come to perceive/appreciate it in the new musical context of dubstep.

Dubstep, which Zeds Dead music is based on, is a new, hybrid music genre of the postmodernism era which came out of the modern electronic dance music in the late 90s.  The style does not favor four-to-the-floor beats, instead relying on spaced, syncopated percussion that the listener typically adds their own mental metronome to (Wikipedia). It is obviously dependent upon computer technology, particularly digital sampling and distortion. It makes heavy use of other people’s work, deconstructing the traditional concept of “author” as an original creator (Less than 3). Original works obviously are influenced by previous works, and the fact that Zeds Dead does something so unique with a piece that someone else created, speaks to the possibilities of quotation as creation.


Zeds Dead. Wikipedia.

Zeds Dead. Less Than 3.

Dubstep. Wikipedia. <>

Zeds Dead. Gimmie Shelter (The Rolling Stone remixed)

Zeds Dead. White Satin. San City High, 2010


Reaching Back to the Past to Create the Future: The Archandroid and Janelle Monáe’s Hybrid Album


by Abby Bisbee

In May of 2010, artist Janelle Monáe released her debut studio album, The Archandroid. The album was created under the Bad Boy Records and produced by Monáe, Nate (Pocket) Wonder, and Chuck Lightening (“The Archandroid”). Monáe’s creative influence is prevalent throughout the entire two-suite album, integrating her narrative with a broad range of musical genres.  The second of her Metropolis concept albums, The Archandroid, continues the story of Cindi Mayweather, a “messianic android” who returns to the past to free the android community. The concept of Metropolis was influenced by a film from the 1920s that is reminiscent of the more recent film, the Matrix. Her hybridization of musical forms underscores the narrative of her Metropolis concept series by combining many genres of music and techniques to render a selection of songs that not only point to the future of records, but also to our past.


On her website, Monáe states that the making of The Archandroid pulled many of the musical themes and genre structures from music that she heard from all around the world while she was on tour (“Janelle Monáe | Biography | Info and Bio”). The tracks nod to jazz, rock, retro-pop, big band music, and even classical compositions. “Suite II” starts with an orchestra playing a classical piece that transitions from traditional to futuristic through the digital manipulation of the music, the inclusion of harp, and the distinct shift into minor cords to create a sense of unease that is associated with sci-fi themes. Each song after the opening “Suite II” addresses multiple genres of music, using hybridity (sampling, cutting, digital manipulation) to create the future of Metropolis, a blending of both past and present. Many of the songs pull from prototypical numbers from the drums of reggae, to the funk of James Brown, to Big Band brass.


While one can find traces of this hybridization in all of the tracks on Monáe’s second album, there are several in which it is most apparent. In the third track of the album, “Faster”, one can find influences from retro-pop from the 1960s, Spanish guitar solos inspired by Santana (who in turn was inspired by American blues), the bongo like drums of reggae, and the synthesizer so ever-present in the futuristic sounds of the 1980s. All of these generic techniques blend in with the theme of her futuristic Metropolis. “Locked Inside” takes the inspired guitar and Latin inspired beats to another level. The next song, “Sir Greendown” reaches back to songs of the early 1960s such as “Moon River” with its similar beat and use of guitar. Finally, after the album has taken a journey through the musical genres of the 20th and 21st centuries, it ends with the way that it started – with classical music. With “Say You’ll Go” Monáe incorporates samples of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” one of the most prolific songs of the twentieth century. As with all of her songs, even those that directly sample form pre-existing tracks, the music is redefined because of its integration with other forms of music. The layering was only possible through the manner in which the album was recorded, at Palace of the Dogs in Atlanta. A minimum of fifty-four people worked directly on the creation of the album that used instruments from the mandolin to the horn. It was only through the artist’s creative integrity and a desire to merge musical genres to create her story that the album of “The Archandroid” was able to be created.


Works Referenced:

Janelle Monáe. The Archandroid. Bad Boy Records, 2010. CD.

“Janelle Monae | Biography | Info & Bio”. Retrieved February 23, 2011.

“The ArchAndroid.” Wikipedia, 2013. Web. 11 Nov 2013. <>.

Daft Punk´s Random Access Memories: A tribute to the 70´s and 80´s.

Estefanía Tocado

According to Marc Katz, sampling is fundamentally an art of transformation in a manner that blurs the distinctions between traditional ideas and expressions (156).  Under their futuristic aesthetic, Daft Punk, the French band integrated by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, has been working on experimenting and sampling with new electronic sounds since their origins in 1993.  Their appearance and the band´s live performaces are visual components and the means by which they tell a story more than a musical performace (Wikipedia).

Their latest album, Random Access Memories, pays a tribute to disco music of the 70’s and 80’s, and it comes to the public as a collective work with other artists such as Pharrell, Neil Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Chilly Gonzales, DJ Falcon, and Todd Edwards.  The album was recorded in Los Angeles and New York City.  Their last recorded work draws from previous musical influences with a strong reminesce of disco music (Donna Summers) and 80´s music in songs such as “Get Lucky,” jazz and disco in “Motherboard,” pop of the 90´s in “Instant Crush,” rock and roll, techno, disco, and jazz.  It´s all in there with a new touch and flavor.

Daft Punk affirms that their musical influences came from Elton John, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and The Stooges.  As in their new album, the band has asserted that they wanted to claim the “west coast vibe” referencing bands such as Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, and The Eagles.  They also pointed out the influence of Jean Michel Jarre (Wikipedia).

The members of the band, who hide under their robotic attire to escape celebrity fame, rely on hardware components such as old drum machines and synthesizers to make their music rather than using computers as musical instruments (Dombal). The group also asserts that electronic music has to be about unifying and equalizing:  “It’s very strange how electronic music formatted itself and forgot that its roots are about freedom and the acceptance of every race, gender, and style of music into this big party,” says Bangalter.  “Instead, it started to become this electronic lifestyle which also involved the glorification of technology” (Dombal).

In this era of the “glorification of technology” the French band has incorporated the old and the new, the traditional and the digital, into an extraordinary album that has climbed the music charts in half of the world making their highly hybridized work a new way of understanding electronic music.


Works Cited

Dombal, Ryan. “Machine of Life.” Pitchfork Web 11 November 2013

Katz, Mark. “Music in 1s and 0s: The Art and Politics of Digital Sampling.”Capturing Sound: How Technology has changed music. Berkeley: Berkeley UP, 2010. 137-157.

Wikipedia Contributors. “Daft Punk.” Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 11 November 2013.