Remixes and Mashups

After reading Melanie Mcbride’s post about remixes I’m still not completely sold on them. I do agree with her that they take a lot of time and hard work to create. They also require a great deal of skill and knowledge of how to create a remix so in that case i would consider it an art. Interestingly enough I’m watching a re-run of todays Nat’s opening day game and i heard the announcer say “the art of pitching”. I would agree that pitching is an art. Personally, I believe that any skill that is refined enough to produce a creation that causes a viewer/listener to be in awe or amazement should be considered an art. However, I don’t feel like remixes are completely justified like Mcbride thinks. Mcbride says that remixes take one person’s music and change it around to give it a different meaning, so it’s not plagiarism. She’s right and wrong. She’s right that it’s not plagiarism. Let’s just say, for example, I have a homework assignment that says describe in one paragraph: an elephant, a speedboat and a church. Say I don’t know what any of these things are. What do I do? Look them up in an encyclopedia and rewrite what i read in my own words. Is it plagiarism? No, it’s written in my own words. Is it my own original thoughts and insight? No, not at all, it’s a recreation of what I absorbed from another source. What also grinds my gears a bit is that Mcbride says that the remixes change the meaning to fit the message that the artist is attempting to convey. A common misconception is that art must have a deeper meaning. This brings me back to my baseball pitcher example. The pitcher’s skill is considered the “art of pitching”, however, he’s not trying to convey some hidden message through the way he throws the ball. Some things just need to be learned to be appreciated at face value… like pitching and remixes. I like what Brian Lamb said in his article about Mashups being an Assault of Originality, I don’t think enough people consider this. But then Lamb said that you shouldn’t worry about it, learn to love the Mashup (as read in the title). I also wanted to touch on how I would feel if I were a musician and someone made a remix of my music. I’d be pissed. Sure it’s impressive and all but if someone took my hard work, my masterpiece, and just changed it around to “send the message” that fits them better. I’d tell them to screw off and make their own music! Okay, maybe I’m being kind of picky. Whatever, everyone is gonna write about how cool remixes are. Someone had to play devil’s advocate…

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  1. Jim says:

    But so much music is a remix of what’s come before, and often that is consider an homage. I’m sure if you simply paraphrase someone else’s homework it is still cheating, but if you use their example to rethink the whole assignment, and by extension their contribution to it becomes a conversation. And I think that is what is missed here a bit, all music is in conversation with other music, if it wasn’t, then how would we understand anything as a masterpiece? And this goes to the problems of originality, it is often used as a way to isolate the individual work of art from its context which more often than not pretends such things were created in a vacuum. if you were to create a masterpiece, I imagine it would owe much to those influences that informed your work. In fact, as Brian lamb noted last Thursday, perhaps the idea of a mashup itself is becoming less and less useful because it pretends to some kind of novelty in our current culture when in fact it has been around as long as art has.