Thursday, March 27

the middle eight, after the chorus

the bulk of my music collection, I confessed to my passengers as we embarked toward the capitol of Indiana for various conference adventures last week, was obtained primarily from boys I knew in college. my tastes have evolved some since then (more Iron & Wine, less All American Rejects please), but my actual music collection has definitely not. the twenty-eight hundred music tracks I had back then are roughly the same twenty-eight hundred tracks I at some point between 2002 and 2006 swapped or ripped from all the boys in all the dorm rooms across the hall, upstairs, around the corner, or down the street. only 1582 of those songs, however, are worthy of being carried around in my pocket. only 1582 of them were with us that morning, on the little ipod I'd hooked up to my car's barely-functional tape deck. Songs, Shuffle = a potentially bottomless basket of nostalgic surprises.

as we drove, friend Patti and I tried brainstorming ideas for a vocal duet to perform at the English department fundraising show. should we choose something funny? something awe-inspiring? I tossed dozens of silly suggestions up and down in my head as we drove, sometimes riffing off the selections my little ipod dished up, sometimes spinning ideas out of nothing. this? or this? maybe this one? or something ambitiously a propos of nothing, like this?

none of those are exactly duets, though. could we make them duets, and would it be difficult, and would it be worth doing? and even then, how would we track down instrumental versions to use for accompaniment?

to Soundcloud for answers I went. I figured they'd have plenty of instrumental versions we might borrow, and they did. I also came across a ton of other stuff.

Soundcloud is a neat place for audio-exploring. remixes of a million shapes and colors abound. and while I think the concept of remix has very intriguing implications, its very musical provenance and history isn't something I have hitherto appreciated. neither sixties dance halls nor eighties recording studios have been places I turn for good music, though I don't quite know why not. those venues were not conveniently across the hall or around the corner, I guess. and furthermore, most dance music isn't really meant to be sung, and therefore it isn't generally my kind of music.

swimming in and around and among all the techno synth lyricless-ness I found whole channels, like this one, devoted to curating mixes and mashups.

I've embedded a couple that I found disorientingly recognizable. I've got both Weezer and Simon and Garfunkel songs in my own collection, but hearing them on top of each other is... odd. it's a surprise of a puzzling and delightful kind. it felt a little like when in your dreams, all the settings are utterly familiar, while also looking nothing like the places your waking self knows they should look like.

I wonder if that disorientation only hits if you've heard the original versions of the remixed/mashed-up songs before. after all, if you don't know how they are 'supposed to' go, the remix might sound normal. if you've only heard the cover, it could become the default, the truth, even if some other iteration came first.

colleague Tony is writing interesting-sounding things about music and rhetoric and creativity. the whole metaphor of remix is becoming so pervasive now, so repurposed (itself remixed?) it hardly makes sense to link the term so closely with only audio tapes and instrumental transitions. the idea is almost everywhere now.
the conference adventures (ATTW, CCCCs) pelted me with other people's ideas. the rest of my semester--or perhaps even life--might involve my brain finding ways to make mashups and crossovers with all that information and then some. 

in the meantime, Patti and I are going to don a pair of goggles and a pair of fingerless gloves, respectively, and remix bits of this.

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