Synth sonics as stylistic signifiers in sample-based hip-hop: synthetic aesthetics from ‘old-school’ to trap

Exarchos, Michail ORCID: (2020) Synth sonics as stylistic signifiers in sample-based hip-hop: synthetic aesthetics from ‘old-school’ to trap. In: Synthesisers: Meaning though Sonics. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, pp. 36-68. ISBN 9781527550025

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The literature on synthesisers ranges from textbooks on usage and historiography to scholarly analysis of their technological development under musicological and sociotechnical perspectives. Most of these approaches, in one form or another, acknowledge the impact of synthesisers on musical culture, either by celebrating their role in powering avant-garde epochs of sonic experimentation, or by mapping the relationship between respective manufacturing trends and stylistic divergences. The availability of affordable, portable and approachable synthesiser designs has been identified as a key catalyst in their crossover from academic to popular spheres, while a number of authors have dealt with the transition from analogue to digital technologies, and their effect on the stylisation of performance and production approaches. Furthermore, popular music styles such as Disco, New wave and the many forms of electronic dance music (EDM) have been linked to the use—and abuse—of particular types of synthesiser, and authors have noted the effect of subculture aesthetics on industry trends and technological development. Trade journals and music technology magazines celebrate popular synthesiser designs as pivotal to the practices and sonic aesthetics of particular artists or genres, while it has been demonstrated that—at given periods in time—a reverse dynamic can characterise the priorities of press and manufacturers on one side, and users and consumers on the other. Particular manifestations of synthesiser technology receive special attention in the literature, highlighting their unique relationship to specific musical styles (e.g. the Roland TR-808 and Hip-Hop) or a notable sonic footprint on the work of celebrated artists (such as the vocoder in works by Beastie Boys, Daft Punk, Herbie Hancock or Dr. Dre). A distinction is often made between drum machines with synthesising capability and those that primarily promote a sampling methodology; this area becomes the subject of focused examination in this paper, as it is pertinent to the sampled—synthetic polarities that formed within Hip-Hop, and the spectrum of meanings and production approaches these convey.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Synthesisers, aesthetics, sample-based hip-hop, style.
Subjects: Music
Music > Musicology
Music > Record production
Depositing User: Michail Exarchos
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 10:45
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:10

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