March 05, 2008
Forking in Music
As I have previously mentioned, one of the things that I enjoy most is the expression of art in the form of music. I have a feeling that this fascination may have begun with my parents exposing me to so much music at such a young age. Although I have don't remember a large amount from my childhood, one thing that I always remember is a song that I've heard before. Anytime I find myself listening to a station that plays music from the 70s and 80s, there are always certain songs that I know I have heard before, and can usually recognize who/what from my previously having listened to the song.
I love all different kinds of music, but I definitely have a preference toward rock and industrial type music. This previous summer, I got to see my favorite band, Incubus, in concert. Not only was the experience of getting to see a band whose music I've admired a great experience from the standpoint of seeing how good of a band they were confirmed in person, but also their acknowledgment of their work beyond music.
Their most recent album was titled 'Light Grenades' and the show that they put on was certainly filled with 'light grenades.' Going to the concert only expecting to hear music and getting such an enhanced experience was an amazing thing. I'd also like to mention that the friend that went to the concert with me insisted that we push to the front of the crowd, and being in the midst of the mosh pit, being so close to the band, and seeing such an amazing light show was almost overwhelming. Indeed, the 'emotion' of the crowd, or what it took of them pushing back and forth truly was too much to take after several songs, and we had to retreat to the back. But at the beginning was one of the best parts.
Quicksand + A Kiss to Send Us Off
I certainly don't know if their intention to perform these two songs in such a way was thought of when creating the songs, but I know that having listened to the songs for some time before I went to this concert I had never imagined these two songs being put together like this. The band took advantage of the ups and downs of the song; the slow parts to the parts that were rocking to use as a part to enhance with a light show. The crowd was literally shown how to feel. I think that this was truly an amazing feat to control the entire crowd's reaction through a visual display. When the slow part of the song started off everyone was excited, but contained. Once the lights started their show, the crowd knew that it was time for the release, and everyone went crazy. I applaud this as a utilization of more than just their forte, more than using the music alone to excite the crowd, but to also incorporate the light show.
This being listed above was mostly to share one of my favorite bands and how much I enjoy their music. Hopefully though my description I have shown not only how much I like their music but also how much I pay attnetion to music in general. Now back to Limited Fork.
Incubus plays mostly rock, with some of their earlier music being more of a rock/punk blend. But one of the other genre's of music that I really enjoy is Industrial music. Of the various bands that have one time or another fit into this category, the most well known and also my favorite is Nine Inch Nails. They have produced many songs, with some of the more famous ones being only instrumental tracks. Their songs have also been featured in many movies: the track to the trailer for the movie 300 is a song of theirs, check it out.
To get back to the point, one of the things that Nine Inch Nails has encouraged as a band is the remixing of their songs. I first came across this when I downloaded 'The Limitless Potential,' which was a fan remix of Year Zero, off of BitTorrent last year. Although this remixing was not sponsored by the band, it was not discouraged. Not until the fall of this past year did the band finally directly sponsor this.
In November Nine Inch Nails released an album with the title listed above, maybe its more obvious to you than it was to me, but it took me several weeks before I was actually able to notice and recognize what this meant. Look at the title this way: YEAR/ZERO/REMIXED. But also include in the package was a 2nd CD, one that provided the fans and purchasers of the CD the content from the original Year Zero CD. But it wasn't just a CD of this information, it was a CD, with a disclosure asking for all people with the CD to play with the music. What they provided was a garage band compatible version of the CD (and also a PC compatible version with software within that works similar to garage band that could be used to modify the music) with the instruction to change the music. They have even set up a website where the remixes can be uploaded and voted upon by fans. If this sharing of their music and their PLEA for fans to change it wasn't enough, they even provided a website for which to fans can upload the changed music. Prof. Moss and I were able to talk about this, and the two biggest questions that were brought up were:
1) How does one claim ownership for any of this work?
2) What risk is being taken by Nine Inch Nails by providing this music?
The first question is the more difficult of the two, in my opinion. Obviously the band did this with the consent of the record label, but who is to say if the music that was provided is ever the property of the customer? And what amount of changes, if any, make it the property of the customer? The thought of Prof. Moss almost going to court to determine what amount of modifications link two pieces of work comes to mind.
The second question, I think, is much easier to tackle. The band has established that they encourage remixing music. They do run the risk that possibly the music that is produced by the remixers would be better than their own, but since music is a subjective thing and likes and dislikes are hard to determine, most people know where the music comes from. A good analogy for this would be comparing a farmer and a chef. A farmer cooks the corn, but the chef has the ability to modify it. The farmer isn't looked at any differently if corn is just boiled to cook or if it is prepared lavishly in a special dish. OBVIOUSLY this analogy is taken to the extreme, but hopefully it gets the point across.
The main point here is that the band went out on a limb, and did something TOTALLY unusual which ended up being trying to provide as much information as possible to people. Instead of restrictions, which it seems as though record companies like to impose, they were trying to provide as much for consumption as possible.
Posted by ndjames at March 5, 2008 07:57 PM