The Library of Congress is launching an open-source archive of hip-hop samples dating back more than a century

Citizen DJ is the brainchild of Brian Foo, a 2020 Innovator-in-Residence Program at the U.S. Library of Congress. The goal of the project is simple: to provide free audio and video samples to encourage creativity through remixing. Or, in Foo's words:

Cultivate the creation of new and transformative music using free-to-use audio and video materials from the Library. Connect the general public with culturally significant, underutilized, and free-to-use audio and video collections available from the Library. Engage communities, such as secondary school students and amateur musicians, that may have a strong relationship with hip hop music, but little to no existing relationship with the Library or the Library’s materials. Provide the general public (in particular, those with little to no formal research training) with the tools and resources to navigate the United States copyright system in the context of sample-based music creation. Contribute to human-computer interaction research and best practices for search and discovery of large audio and video collections.

As for why, specifically, to take a DJ/hip-hop approach to this kind of project?

Today, collage-based hip hop as it existed in the golden age is largely a lost (or at best, a prohibitively expensive) artform.

I believe if there was a simple way to discover and access free-to-use audio and video material for music making, a new generation of hip hop artists and producers can maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures, and sonic history that might otherwise be hidden from public ears.

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Examining the generational loss of ancient Halloween traditions

Halloween, like many modern American holidays, is a kind of mashup of different cultural traditional traditions rooted in the autumnal harvest, and some kind of celebration or connection with the spirit world. You see it in Mexico with Dia de los Muertos; and in pre-Christian Ireland, it was Oíche Shamhna ("Shamna" being the genitive form of "Samhain," which is pronounced kind of like "SOW-un," and actually just means "November").

An episode of The Irish Passport podcast takes a close look at the roots of those Gaelic traditions, and the kind of generation loss that happened when it was exported to the United States, and then re-imported back to Ireland. The result is kind of fun-house-mirror reflection of itself—modern Irish imitating a mutated American imitation of older Irish traditions. You'll also get to learn a bit about how the faeryfolk in Ireland, the Aos Sídhe, still play an active role in modern real estate development in the Republic (yes really).

Just below the surface of modern Ireland, a parallel world exists with its roots in pre-Christian belief. Irish fairies aren’t like Tinkerbell—they’re more like a supernatural mafia. So be careful what you say, because as the story goes, they’re probably listening. Tim talks to one of Ireland’s last seanchaí or story-teller historians, who once managed to get a highway diverted to prevent the felling of a fairy bush. We also hear about modern traditions from the streets of Galway as the Celtic New Year Samhain festival is underway.

You can download the mp3, or find the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play/Spotify/etc. Read the rest

Thoughts from a Japanese Media Pirate

The following was submitted for publication by a reader who asked to remain anonymous — Rob

I just finished Pirate Cinema and felt the need to write something about it, because it concerns a cause that's near to my heart. I saw myself in protagonist Trent McCauley, who makes new movies by chopping up footage from popular films, despite the consequences of getting his Internet taken away or being fined or imprisoned in the book's near-future scenario.

This is because I do the same thing. I'm one of those people who remixes different media and posts the finished pieces online. I combine Japanese television dramas, films, PVs, and clips from variety shows with mostly American songs, however, because I like the contrast of Japanese visual media with American music. Read the rest