Monday, October 31, 2011

Repetition in DJ culture and its effect on our experiences

Mixing and altering songs and sounds plays with space rather than time, allowing not only the aspects of the song to repeat, but also listeners to repeatedly listen to the performance. In fact, Brian Eno states that recording transforms transient and ephemeral sounds into repeatable and memorable songs (Cox and Warner 127). The constant repetition of the rhythm and sounds provides listeners with a memory-based interpretation of the emotion portrayed through the song, encouraging people to listen to songs multiple times in order to hear all of the sounds within the mix. One example of this idea is “Glass” by Kode9 + the Spaceape. This song uses repetition with the same sounds fading in and out throughout to create a constant rhythm, and a speaking voice seems to be the only distinct change. Consequently, it creates a tranquil effect that draws in people in order to repeatedly listen to it. Like “Glass,” “Upsetting Dub” by Lee Perry and “Dark Side” by Scientist both have a strong rhythm due to repeating soundsAfter listening to it a number of times, one may get encapsulated by the sounds, creating an environment based on memories of the old sounds in order to focus on the emotions felt in the past and present.

Paul D. Miller supports this idea in his article “Algorithms: Erasures and the Art of Memory” in Audio Culture:

“Triggered by the sensuous touch of the DJ’s hands guiding the mix, the spectral trace of sounds in your mind that existed before you heard them, telling your memory that the mixed feelings you get, the conflicting impulses you feel when you hear it are impressions – externalized thoughts that tell you you only know that you have never felt what you thought you were feeling because you have never really listened to what you were hearing."

Miller describes the listening experience as emotional and psychological because of the repeating noises and subtle differences in sounds listeners discover after numerous listens. Like with Pierre Schaeffer’s “Etude Violette,” subtle changes in the song “Glass” are only noticeable after repeating listening sessions. Although “Glass” has a stronger, more distinct rhythm, both songs provide listeners with an emotional, temporal experience.

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