Reimagining the ‘phonographic’ in sample-based hip-hop production: making records within records

Exarchos, Michail ORCID: (2022) Reimagining the ‘phonographic’ in sample-based hip-hop production: making records within records. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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‘Reimagining the ‘phonographic’ in sample-based hip-hop production: Making records within records’, deals with the poetics of hip-hop record production making use of originally constructed sample material, rather than previously released phonographic content.¹ The idea behind the research project was borne out of a practical conundrum during the author’s record-label tenure with EMI Music (Greece) as an artist/producer. The national/major-label profile highlighted issues in sample-based music-making in an acute way, illuminating a tangible gap between underground beat-making and mainstream hip-hop practice: the majority of creators who find themselves between the two extremes appear starved of access to raw phonographic sources, with some seeking innovative ways to practice the artform whilst avoiding licensing implications related to copyrighted sample use.² Inspired by the author’s parallel academic career, the examination of the phenomenon has taken the form of a practice-based doctoral research project, grounded in the musicology of record production, and accompanied by an independent instrumental album-creation process, which supplies the applied investigative context. The largely autoethnographic approach relates the personal in creative practice to the larger cultural (aesthetic) phenomenon, and the research is further supported by interviews with expert practitioners, as well as phonographic (aural) and literary analysis. The theoretical and practical findings drawn out of the research illuminate an unexamined practice with profound impact upon popular music culture.
The research narrative is therefore capable of reshaping our understanding of creative beat-making in the flux of a shifting legal and pragmatic landscape. Furthermore, the non-linear, juxtaposed, and arguably metamodern dimensions of the practice readdress current/historical debates about Hip Hop, putting sonic materiality at the forefront of the discussion, and challenging the methodological strategies deployed thus far for the study of contemporary, electronic, and Afrological music forms. As such, there is an identifiable need for a thorough exploration of, and theorising upon, this form of record production practice. From Dr. Dre, through to De La Soul, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Boards of Canada, Statik Selektah, Marco Polo, Griselda Records, and Frank Dukes, sample-based hip-hop producers have creatively renegotiated the landscape surrounding sample use through alternative production approaches. These techniques deploy the creation of interim sampling content for subsequent use in what can be described as a form of ‘meta’ phonographic process: an innovative phenomenon with important creative implications powering some of today’s biggest hits and—arguably—an evolutionary strategy facilitating the future development of the genre (and sample-based music as a whole). In the aesthetic pursuit of what makes a newly created source ‘phonographic’ in the context of sample�based Hip Hop, the project addresses the way in which we consider how the sonic past interacts with the music present, and extrapolates upon the way in which such a musical practice may mirror a metamodern zeitgeist in other arts, and culture as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: ¹ For consistency, Hip Hop will appear capitalised when used as a noun and referring to the musical genre, and hyphenated in lowercase, when used as an adjective to describe ensuing nouns (for instance, process, artist, or production). Many of the cited authors in this thesis opt for Hip-Hop with a hyphen (in lowercase or capitalised), and their chosen conventions will be respected within quotations. ² The term ‘beat-making’ will be used interchangeably with ‘sample-based hip-hop production’—'beat’, in hip-hop parlance, refers to a complete instrumental music production or backing, not just the organisation of percussive/drum elements, which highlights the genre’s rhythmic priorities. Williams (2010, p. 19) extends Schloss’s (2004/2014, p. 2) definition of ‘beat’ as a sample-based instrumental collage “composed of brief segments of recorded sound” to also include non-sample-based elements in the instrumental production.
Subjects: Music > Record production
Depositing User: Michail Exarchos
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 14:11
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 14:11


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