Re: [rumori] credit where credit is (un)due?

Tarleton Gillespie (
Thu, 01 Jul 1999 15:43:20 -0700

I find the comparison to academic citation really provocative...

Steev wrote:

> listing your sources
> is like footnotes in a paper. however, meticulous record-keeping is
> sometimes an obstacle to the creative process; i compromise sometimes by
> describing the sources in a very general way when i can't remember -
> "miscellaneous christian talk radio", or whatever.

This brings up an interesting glitch. The convention of citing your sources on an
academic paper leaves a quiet gap when it comes to citing broader sources of
inspiration that don't actually get quoted directly. (Coming at this discussion
from academia rather than music production...) I find myself struggling to
reference people that were significant to my thinking -- either by putting them
in the references anyway, or finding an often awkward justification for quoting
them. I have to imagine that the same problem arises in the art of sampling --
not only do you have a potentially massive array of samples that have been cut up
and distorted, many from now indistinguishable sources, but there are other
"sources" being "sampled" here -- previous artists doing collage, non-collage
artists important in a genre that you are working with. Every time we try to draw
a line in the sand ("don't sample", "cite your samples") we import some pretty
arbitrary categories onto a much more fluid range of activities and approaches.

That said, the other lesson from academic work might be the value of citation.

> Hmmm, there's a question -- how many of your sample sources do you have
> some [artistic/ideological/etc.] respect or appreciation for?

Respect isn't the only reason to cite. Academic work often cites someone because
they want to argue with it. Because they mark out a recognizable field. because
they provide some useful language. Because they have dominated a set of thoughts
that need expansion. Because they have a limited set of insights that help you
get to a better one. All the same, it seems like citation shows respect for the
work in general, regardless of your feelings for the particular writer/musician.
It recognizes how indebted we are to the practice of meaning-making in general,
that it is never an isolated act, that culture is profoundly social and depends
on effort being made, even effort you think is artistically worthless,
politically objectionable, misguided, whatever.

Plus, it seems like the technology is only making it easier to keep trakc of
those samples... instead of dusty tapes with labels coming off as the glue dies,
we've got a hard-drive full of sample bits that afford the possibility of keeping
track of their origins and how they've been manipulated. (This from someone who
knows little about the technology he supposes he's describing.)

--Tarleton Gillespie

(This message is indebted to Steev, The Evolution Control Committee, everyone
else who is contributing to this particular rumori discussion, everyone who has
ever experimented with sampling, everyone who has contributed to an academic
discussion of authorship and cultural expression.... damn, this is harder than I

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