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date: 12 November 2019


  • Melissa Hok Cee Wong


A 21st-century popular music genre in which musical works are created by overlaying, juxtaposing, and digitally manipulating samples of two or more preexisting recordings, most commonly by combining the vocal tracks of one song with the instrumental tracks of another. The term is also used to refer to an instance of the genre. Mash-up culture, which rose in prominence at the start of the 21st century, has aesthetic and technological precedents in musique concrète, Canadian composer john Oswald ’s concept of plunderphonics, and San Francisco band Negativland’s sound Collage in American music style. Fans of the style praise its ability to deliver new interpretations of familiar musical works by bringing them together in unexpected combinations, while critics dismiss it as a gimmick requiring minimal skill and lacking in originality.

The growth of mash-up culture has been aided by the rise of high-speed internet and the use of online peer-to-peer file sharing networks, which together allow practitioners to quickly and easily trade not only the recordings that serve as raw materials for their musical output but also the software applications used to manipulate these recordings. Although mash-ups may be created by using digital audio workstation platforms such as Cubase and Pro Tools, they are more commonly produced on loop-based music sequencers such as Sony ACID Pro and Ableton Live, which allow artists to match up tracks more easily through features such as beat- and key-matching. Given the availability and relative user-friendliness of these technologies, mash-ups are often created by novices with no formal musical training. The results are typically distributed online, sometimes anonymously and generally are available for free or by donation....

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