In the piece, the 808 becomes the prime metaphor for the complex forces of appropriation in popular culture. The rhythmic symbolism inherent in the piece stems from the device: 8 popular dance rhythms over 8 decades, and how this relates to the proliferated use, and wide-spread appropriation, of “the 808 sound” in contemporary pop and dance music. The piece is structured around the abstract presentation of 8 distinct rhythms: the march, waltz, tango, bossa nova, swing, as well as a rock, punk and hip hop beat. The rhythms are initially presented chronologically: scaled and juxtaposed accordingly. The scaled temporality of my materials (80%... 80%... 80% and so on...) assumes some notion of hierarchal design, however in a cascading system of ‘rhythm to instrument’ assignments the piece achieves a more balanced state of material interaction. In this presentation, rhythmic materials emerge from punctuating impulses or silence, and through different scalings suggest, through each repetition, ever-changing material associations. By composing in this structure I hope to encourage a dialogue between the emergence of cultural forms without privileging any one in particular.
“The so-called ‘unity’ of a discourse is really the articulation of different, distinct elements which can be re-articulated in different ways because they have no necessary ‘belongingness’... The unity formed by this combination or articulation, is always, necessarily, a ‘complex structure’: a structure in which things are related, as much through their differences as through their similarities. This requires that the mechanisms which connect dissimilar features must be shown—since no ‘necessary correspondence’ or expressive homology can be assumed as given."
Performed by Christian Smith and Chris Goddard
May 2nd, 2014 in Pollack Hall, McGill University
(Stuart Hall : Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London ; New York: Routledge. pp. 115)