MUSICAL RECYCLING: MASHUP AESTHETICS AND AUTHORSHIP

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen

Abstract


The new user-generated media distribution platforms of the Internet have fostered a “participatory culture” (Jenkins 2006) as the result of a new generation of consumers who embrace their newfound (digital) technological power to actively contribute to culture. While the bottom-up model of Web 2.0 encourages a diversity of cultural expression and new forms of creative engagement, it also threatens established copyright practices. The friction between a rapidly evolving participatory culture and long-established copyright practices is made more complex by the fact that user-generated content encompasses not only straightforward uploads of otherwise accessible cultural expressions and media content but also derivative remixes of this content. This paper will focus on one particularly vibrant manifestation of the power struggle between participatory culture and copyright—namely the emerging musical forms that go under the umbrella term “mashups.” It will provide a nuanced and detailed understanding of the multifaceted character of the aesthetics of musical mashups by exploring the different ways in which the mashed samples of one selected musical mashup are transformed. This paper argues that a shift of focus toward mashup music’s aesthetics represents a critical resource for understanding the cultural value of mashup music, and of participatory culture more generally. It further argues that mashup music can be understood as representing a new social space for public debate and sociocritical and political engagement, and, moreover, that this music provides a functional point of departure for examining the current incarnation of the “shape-shifting” author.

Keywords


Musical Mashups, aesthetics, cultural value, participatory culture, authorship

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