Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rouge Sounds David Weir Pt2

As I posted yesterday I have been reading an Exegesis by a former Southern Cross University student, David Weir. The exegesis is titled ‘Mashing Power: Music Re-imaginings of Post 9/11 Political Rhetoric.’ The exegesis is available here and the songs are available on MySpace here. This is an interesting read and worth the effort so take a look for yourself.

Political mashups build on the past
One of the points Weir makes is that political mashups grew out of changes in technology and society. He provides a solid background to protest music and acknowledges prior social movements as the basis for today’s creations. He writes:

[P]olitical mashup is a distinctly contemporary expression in terms of the technologies it deploys and the sensibilities it applies. The practice nonetheless owes much to what has gone before it. As a form of resistance to power it rests upon foundations that are deeply rooted in the soil of past struggles.[pg12]

He writes that the two main historical considerations are that of protest music and cultural activism. [pg12] A detailed discussion with respect to the history of protest music is provided in Chapter 2. Furthermore this chapter sets out the developments in technology that also form the basis for this contemporary art form – namely the use of twin turntables to effect cross fading, scratching and sampling. [pg 25]

What are political mashups?
In chapter 3 Weir discusses the present nature of political mashups, stating:

Political mashup in its post 9/11 form is an oppositional expression arising from the convergence of three separate but intermingled phenomena. First, political developments surrounding the ‘war on terror’, second the proliferation of (slanted) media coverage of the war, and third the dramatic developments in digital technologies that have led to more affordable access to computers, fast internet, peer to peer networks over which music and software can be easily shared, and vast and ever-extending global telecommunications networks.[pg 38]

He goes on to note how technology enables this practice and how it grew out of a fascination and desire to experiment with new technology. [pg 42]

Weir discuses the use of copyright to try to restrict the sampling of sounds and notes that in this instance parody is an important part of the creation of this form of music. [pg 51] He also notes that major record labels that signed rappers often projected an image of violence and sexism as part of their marketing strategy. [pg 51] This aspect was pertinent to Weirs overall goal of practising non violent protest. [pg 56]

Chapter 4 provides a meaningful discussion on how sounds and samples signify. Weir notes Leonard Meyer’s view that signification can be absolute or referential.[pg 65] As a form of quoting, samples provide direct meaning while their recontextualisation provides the new context from which inferences can be made.[pg 68 - 70]

Weir explains his motivations to create tracks that did not draw on the violence of ‘Empire’ [pg 47] nor to create personal attacks against world leaders like Bush, Blair or Howard [pg 79] but rather to create songs that imagined them in a new way.

Weir also explains his use of MySpace as his primary distribution tool and notes the importance of this as a technology platform in enabling artists such as himself to reach new audiences. [pg 177] He notes Benkler’s view that the internet has the capacity to enable the development of a ‘new folk culture’ in which individuals have a far greater opportunity to engage in the creative process. [pg 187]

Weir notes the corporate censorship that followed 9/11 with the ‘do not play lists’ circulated through radio stations as well as their consolidated ownership and control .With this he notes that the internet has been a fundamental player in the distribution of politically charged music.[pg 29]

The remainder of the exegesis is not relevant to my research but goes into detail on the source of his samples, the equipment he used, and the process he undertook in producing the works.

Further Reading
Weir, D 2010, 'Mashing power: musical re-imaginings of post-9/11 political rhetoric', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. <> at 2 February 2011

MySpace, David Weir <> at 2 February 2011

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