Bytes and Backbeats: Repurposing Music in the Digital Age

by Steve Savage
Tracking Pop
University of Michigan Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-0-472-02773-6, OA eISBN: 9780472901180, Cloth: 978-0-472-11785-7, Paper: 978-0-472-03553-3


From Attali's "cold social silence" to Baudrillard's hallucinatory reality, reproduced music has long been the target of critical attack. In Bytes and Backbeats, however, Steve Savage deploys an innovative combination of designed recording projects, ethnographic studies of contemporary music practice, and critical analysis to challenge many of these traditional attitudes about the creation and reception of music. Savage adopts the notion of "repurposing" as central to understanding how every aspect of musical activity, from creation to reception, has been transformed, arguing that the tension within production between a naturalizing "art" and a self-conscious "artifice" reflects and feeds into our evolving notions of creativity, authenticity, and community.

At the core of the book are three original audio projects, drawing from rock & roll, jazz, and traditional African music, through which Savage is able to target areas of contemporary practice that are particularly significant in the cultural evolution of the musical experience. Each audio project includes a studio study providing context for the social and cultural analysis that follows. This work stems from Savage's experience as a professional recording engineer and record producer.  


Steve Savage teaches musicology in the humanities department at San Francisco State University and is an active record producer and recording engineer.

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