This book is at the opposite end of the spectrum, so to speak, from the previously-mentioned source. In this book, Williamson and the other authors discuss music from an expertise on the art itself. There is no mention of digital music, sampling, file-sharing, or other similar topics to be found anywhere in the book. In their places are excerpts from sheet music and examples of lyrics. They offer their expert commentary on subjects ranging from Chopin to Snoop Dogg, from Dante to the Beatles, and each is approached with the same level of intellect and scholarship. Multiple chapters cover the creation of music from scratch – as told from the songwriter’s point of view, and it is this unique perspective that offers a new form of insight into the practice of digital sampling.
Another important factor in this work is the chapter entitled “Mimesis, Gesture, and Parody in Musical Word-Setting.” This chapter not only explores the implications that a parody has on an original work but sets the framework for parody with an historical narrative about its origins. At first, this seemed to be irrelevant to the topic of digital sampling and copyright law, but after further inspection, it became apparent that this knowledge is very important to the understanding of parody and its stance in copyright law.
Words and Music discusses at length many different styles and genres of modern music, primarily “gangsta,” or hardcore, rap. This genre is a unique example because not only is it arguably the heaviest on lyrical content out of all kinds of music, but also because it is notorious for its sampling practices and is quite possibly the realm in which the most copyright infringement cases take place. Reading a scholarly assessment on such genres is especially helpful for this topic seeing as it provides a critical, but not condemning eye on the subject. This is all-to-rare in today’s academic and scholarly publications, and to have a source such as this is very useful in the terms of this research paper.
One look at the pages of this book and it is immediately known that it is unlike any other sources to be used for this essay. The pages are printed with a hole in the center and the outline of a CD on each one – clearly a modern work by a modern author. This is the argument for all of the merits of sampling and Dj-ing music for a crowd as told from the perspective of an established DJ, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky). Despite its casual tone and appearance, however, this book is filled with intellectual commentary on the state of music and the art of remixing today.
Quoting anyone from Woodrow Wilson to George Clinton, Miller offers a wide range of examples to support his stance on the art of Dj-ing. He believes that sampling music is a form of creation, putting a musical piece of work together in a different way in order to achieve what DJs refer to as “flow.” He asserts that sampling is both the result and catalyst for new music. “You can never play a record the same way for the same crowd,” he writes, calling the digital sample a “recycling” of sorts, a “repurposing” of an old melody or riff.
Miller’s unique stance as a DJ himself, combined with the casual tone of this narrative offer the reader a conversation with a man deeply involved in the digital music industry. As mentioned above, he does indeed advocate the benefits of the art, but he also recognizes the dangers of “taking sampling too far.” Seeing the digital music industry from his eyes in this way is a welcome insight into yet another point of view on this topic. This will only add to the complex standpoint that I will be able to take in writing this essay.