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Playing with Something that Runs : Technology, Improvisation, and Composition in DJ and Laptop Performance - Mark J. Butler

Playing with Something that Runs

Technology, Improvisation, and Composition in DJ and Laptop Performance


Published: 15th August 2014
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Popular styles of electronic dance music are pervasively mediated by
technology, not only within production but also in performance. The most
familiar performance format in this style, the DJ set, is created with
turntables, headphones, twelve-inch vinyl records, and a mixing board.
Going beyond simply playing other people's records, DJs select, combine,
and manipulate different parts of records to form new compositions that
differ substantially from their source materials. In recent years, the
"laptop set" has become equally common; in this type of performance,
musicians use computers and specialized software to transform and
reconfigure their own precomposed sounds. Both types of
performance are largely improvised, evolving in response to the demands
of a particular situation through interaction with a dancing audience.
Within performance, musicians make numerous spontaneous decisions about
variables such as which sounds they will play, when they will play them,
and how they will be combined with other sounds. Yet the elements that
constitute these improvisations are also fixed in certain fundamental
ways: performances are fashioned from patterns or tracks recorded
beforehand, and in the case of DJ sets, these elements are also physical
objects (vinyl records). In Playing with Something that Runs,
author Mark J.
Butler explores these improvised performances, revealing the ways in
which musicians utilize seemingly invariable prerecorded elements to
create dynamic, real-time improvisations. Based on extensive interviews
with musicians in their studios, as well as in-depth studies of
particular mediums of performance, including both DJ and laptop sets,
Butler explores the ways in which technologies, both material and
musical, are used in performance and improvisation in order to make
these transformations possible. An illuminating look at the world of
popular electronic-music performance, Playing with Something that Runs is an indispensable resource for electronic dance musicians and fans as well as scholars and students of popular
music.Readership: Scholars and
students of popular music interested in contemporary electronic music,
fans of electronic dance music (EDM), and EDM DJs and musicians.

Winner of the 2015 PMIG Outstanding Publication Award from the Society of Music Theory

Introduction 1. Remixing One's Self: Ontologies of the Provisional Work 2. Performing Performance: Interface, Design, Liveness and Listener Orientation 3. Making it Up and Breaking it Down: Improvisation in EDM Performance 4. Looking for the Perfect Loop: Musical Technologies of Mediated Improvisation Appendix Works Cited

ISBN: 9780195393613
ISBN-10: 0195393619
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 296
Published: 15th August 2014
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.4 x 15.9  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.53