Doctoral Colloquium (Music) | Jeremy Tatar

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 16:30to18:00
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building A-832, 527 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 1E3, CA
Free Admission

The Doctoral Colloquium is open to all.

Doctoral ColloquiumJeremy Tatar, PhD candidate in Music Theory, McGill University

Title: Hip-Hop Sampling as Analytic Act

Abstract: Sampling is, by now, a ubiquitous feature of our contemporary musical landscape. Of all the songs to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout 2022, for example, nearly one in five sampled other music in some way. Drawing on concepts established in the field of performance analysis, this paper explores the potential for sample-based beats in hip hop to function as a form of musical analysis. I argue that, just as with other analytic acts, sample-based beats are a) products of skilled, close listening informed by expert knowledge; and b) commentaries with the potential to shape how a body of music is heard and interpreted. In many respects, producers face methodological, aesthetic, expressive questions not unlike those encountered by performers, who, as Edward T. Cone (1968, 34) wrote, must always make “a choice: which of the relationships implicit in this piece are to be emphasized, to be made explicit?”

Focusing particularly on issues of meter and phrasing, my analyses consider issues such as: How do producers interpret a metrically ambiguous or multi-valent source? How do they recontextualize material from one meter into another? And, most importantly, how might attending to these choices inform—and transform—our interpretations of these source materials? Through close readings of songs by Usher (“Lil’ Freak,” 2010), Slum Village (“Raise it Up,” 2000), and Nas (“I Can,” 2002), I demonstrate how sampling creates a living archive that documents the listening practices of an expert musical community.

Bio: Jeremy Tatar is a PhD candidate in Music Theory at McGill University, where he is supervised by Jon Wild and Nicole Biamonte. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Jeremy’s current research focuses on meter, form, and phrase in sample-based hip hop. His work has been published in Music Theory Online and the Journal of Music Theory.

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