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Re: enough about other people's loops! (LONG)

On Fri, 17 Aug 2001 00:18:21 -0400, Tom Ritchford <tom@swirly.com>

>Copyright law seems to work *fairly* well.  Individuals have actually
>used copyright laws to make money from large corporations.  Without
>SOME sort of copyright, if I made a great CD, it'd be copied and
>distributed by huge companies and I'd not make a penny.

Which is exactly why copyright can't be abolished entirely. I used to
think that would be the answer, but then I actually sat and thought
about it for like... five minutes. Copyright is *essential*. 

>If you have a good solid suggestion for changes, lay 'em on us.

The primary problem I find with copyright law is its failure to
recognise that a single broad set of guidelines won't work for all art,
and that the guidelines currently in place assume that duplication and
distribution is available only to a few entities. Different types of art
should be managed differently, not with a few minor exceptions, but with
entirely separate statutes. 

>>Now, you see, *that* is the CONCEPT of copyright. The part that's
>>"absolutely essential". There's also a valid fair use defense, but I
>>intend to challenge the whole damn system on constitutional grounds if
>>anyone's ever dumb enough to take me to court.
>You will lose.  "exclusive rights" is exactly what
>you are NOT respecting by sampling other people's works.

There's still the fair use defense, but all the same I honestly don't
care whether I win or lose. All I need is the forum. All my music is
produced and distributed rather quietly via links over three or four
mailing lists and web fora, so I don't really have anything to worry
about right now. 

>>Dumb enough? Am I that arrogant? You betcha. No matter *how* it comes
>>out, I win. Oh, I may be held responsible for infringement and told to
>>pay millions of dollars, sure -- but between the media blitz, the
>>subculture rabble-rousing, and the marketing synergy, I guarantee you
>>I'll manage to get rich off it.
>This is an interesting plan.  You get sued and you'll make
>money off it!

Not off being sued, but I can sure as hell use it as a springboard for
any number of other things. The CD's one option; a book is another; and
just plain old stirring up trouble will raise awareness. There is no
such thing as bad publicity, and with a flag I can fly, there are
effectively no limits.

>Do you have a real plan for this?

Most definitely. The worst case scenario is I go bankrupt, which isn't
exactly all THAT terrible. After all, I can still make music the same as
ever; the value of my work isn't in what I've *done*, but in what I am
*capable* of doing. (If everyone understood that, copyright would become
a lot less important to them.) By the time anyone sits up and takes
notice of anything I'm doing, though, chances are I'll be doing
something entirely different. The sampling thing is really more of a
hobby than anything, and I don't anticipate ever trying to sell anything
that's been produced in this fashion. I have plenty of stuff that isn't
sample-based at all, so if I ever feel I've gotten good enough to sell a
CD (and I ain't nowhere close yet) it probably won't even raise an

>Do you think that people will buy your non-label album just
>because you are in the news (and in the business section,
>too, not on the front page?)

Of course not. They'll buy it because it's good. They'll *hear* about it
because it's in the news. Oh, and I don't expect papers to shove me in
front page news because of the *case*... it's the press releases that
will prick their ears. I don't expect to get any further than a capsule
on the front page leading to A5 or something, and I'll be surprised if I
get that.

>>And if I tear down the whole damn thing
>>and manage to start something that at least PRETENDS to protect the
>>artist, I just *might* become the single most important figure in the
>>history of sampling.
>too late:

Oh, I know I'll never be the first, but nobody remembers Grand Wizard
Theodore either. They remember Q-Bert. Theodore may have invented
scratching in general, but Q-Bert was the one who invented most of the
techniques we see today. 

>Long in chutzpah you may be, but you need some substance to
>go with that.

Got some. Ain't showing enough of it yet, unfortunately, but at least I
realise it isn't showing. Some of my best ideas are lurking on the
sidelines waiting for a concept worthy of their glory; the
CD-in-progress "RABBAN" is going to absolutely kick ass once it makes
its way to mastering, and there won't be a single sample on it.

>Your music is perfectly competent and quite stirring... I do
>rather like that sort of thing... it's well-produced...

Really? I've always thought my production skills were pretty crap.

>but it's nothing memorable, at least if
>is any indication.  It's just regular breakbeat
>stuff, and in fact you don't really use
>the samples that well.

No excuses here. I *like* regular breakbeat stuff. It's not supposed to
take the world by storm. (The project that's expected to do *that* has
been on the drawing board for years, and I'm still not quite ready to
start actually producing it.) "Singa" was just a fun little piece. I
think I pitch-shifted the main sample down too far, in retrospect.

>Though the samples fit together neatly enough, there are
>just too many of them.  You don't seem really interested
>in any of them specifically and it becomes some sort
>of guessing game.  

Rather accurate interpretation, to be honest. I was just playing around
with some beat effects, halfway watching the first episode of "South
Park", and the "I like to singa" bit came on. So I thought "Hey, that's
funny! I should sample that!" and spent the next hour or two putting the
track together. I didn't have any particular message in mind, so it's
primarily just screwing around with samples. Hey, I could call about
half my tracks "Screwing Around With Samples, Volume XLIV" or something
similar. ;)

>Quickly the ear grows a little tired
>and wants to hear something new and memorable.

Yeah, I think the "theme" samples were too long and over-repeated. If I
were to go back and do it again, I'd probably chop the main sample after
the second measure, shorten the "take it up the ass" portion, and drop
the "Rebel Without a Pause" bit entirely. That was just something I'd
always wanted to do and I'd never gotten around to it, so when I needed
something else toward the last half of the track I thought I might as

Come to think of it, most of my work spirals into the toilet during the
last half. I'd like to get past that, eventually.

>You also use some samples that are rather, er, jejune.
>(tired, old, stale).  Give Chuck D a rest!

Never! If I like it, I'm gonna use it. I don't think any artist should
think "I want to use that, but too many other people use it so I won't".
Hell, I think only three or four tracks I've made in the last year
*don't* say "oh my God, that's the funky shit".

>And the unfamiliar samples still fall into familiar
>categories (anal sex references seem to be all
>the rage recently in hip-hop, what's with this??)

Don't know. I was making those references as far back as '93. Ahead of
my time, I suppose. :P

>(You don't fall into the third trap, predictable
>return of a previous sample after 4, 8 or 16 beats.)

I hate it when people do that. It's so annoying. It's like "I don't want
to evolve! I don't like change! I wish it was 1980 again so I could have
sex without condoms but disco would still be dead!" or something.

>It's entertaining and it's slick but it isn't going
>to make you the Great Man you are trying to set yourself
>up to be with all this blather.

If I became famous for tracks like "Singa", I'd shoot myself. It's fun,
but that's about all. It could be worse, of course; I could end up
famous for something like this:


My GOD that track was so *astonishingly* bad. I forgot all about it
until a couple weeks ago when I was converting my RealAudio files to
MP3, and I couldn't even finish listening to it. I waited for it to get
better for about thirty seconds, but it just kept getting worse so I hit
stop. What a godawful piece of crap. I produce a *lot* of crap, but this
one was just crap squared.

>Why not do something REALLY different?

Well, because I don't really *want* to be "different". What I want is
essentially seventies rock with a healthy dose of hip-hop, which a lot
of people are *almost* doing so I'll probably look like just another
rap/rock crossover. That's one of the reasons some sort of "look at me"
tactic is required; I expect most people to go "oh, shit, another one"
and not bother to check it out until someone shoves it in their face and
says "LISTEN". Then they'll realise what a fantastic godlike genius I am
and give me all their money for being such an incredibly cool guy.

But until I can effectively provide that experience, I'll settle for
doing stuff that's just plain fun. ;)

>Your comments are solicited.  Go crazy.

Hrm. Um, I don't like it. No real reason though. There are *parts* I
like, but overall it's just not my sort of thing. Not busy enough, I
suppose; the only real musical criticism I could make is that the high
frequencies seem a bit prominent, but that's strictly a nit and not even
altogether bad. Maybe it will grow on me.