VARIATIONS #6 The Library
Curated by Jon Leidecker
We encounter the establishment of sound libraries, collections explicitly curated for further use: sound objects presented as authorless, unfinished ingredients. Though some libraries contain newly commissioned generic sounds, specifically designed for maximum flexibility, the most widely used sounds are often sourced from commercial recordings, freed from their original context to propagate across dozens to hundreds of songs.
From presets for digital samplers to data CD ROMs to hip-hop battle records, sounds increasingly detach from their sources, used less as references to any original moment, and more as objects in a continuous public domain.
As hip-hop undergoes a conservative retrenchment in the wake of the early 90's sampling lawsuits, a widening variety of composers and groups expand the practice of appropriative audio collage as a formal discipline. The aesthetic of the sound libraries gives rise to recombinant genres like drum and bass, the use of sampling as romanticized representation leads to the first quadruple platinum World Music collage, and we encounter a novelty single that quietly heralds a musical form that would soon become known as the mashup.