Title: 'Breakbeat science: groove as rhythm and sound, from funk to footwork'
Speaker: Dr Rowan Oliver, Lecturer in Music, University of Hull.
Originally emerging as a fundamental process within hip hop production during the mid-1980s, the practice of digitally sampling extracts of solo drumming (or ‘breakbeats’) from 1970s funk records and then re-contextualizing these rhythmic fragments in different stylistic settings has become widespread across a range of genres in contemporary popular music. As a result, the groove that is encapsulated in each breakbeat has continued to provide the rhythmic backbone for numerous subsequent recordings, and whilst producers will typically manipulate the sampled audio using techniques that range from the subtle to the extreme, a breakbeat’s inherent groove nevertheless seems able to survive such transformative processes.
A breakbeat can therefore be thought of as a time capsule that represents an ongoing link between Black Atlantic music of the past and present, and which enables collaboration and musical sharing between performers and producers across temporal, geographical and stylistic boundaries. Today, music producers working in a variety of underground genres continued to exploit the rhythmic power of breakbeats, frequently re-using the same funk source material as their hip hop forerunners but creatively altering it in increasingly inventive ways.
Building on my research into groove, breakbeats and sampling, this talk will explore the way that hip hop producers – and others working in such post-hip hop genres as jungle and footwork – have opened various breakbeat time capsules in order to engage with the groove that they contain. The focus will be on the transformative effect that different producers’ approaches have had on the way in which the breakbeats are heard. In contrast with traditional approaches to groove, however, which prioritize rhythm and timing as being its most significant defining factors, I will argue that in order to engage fully with the concept, it is essential to acknowledge the equally relevant (though less frequently discussed) role of timbre.
Link to Dr Oliver's academic profile:
Fan of the band @goldfrapp? Rowan spent years touring internationally with #Goldfrapp before teaching @UniOfHull
@FACEHull @artsathull @HullMusicHub @WEAREHUMS
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