The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Writing = Quotation 

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Milady, who is Wise in these matters, comments below to inform me that it's Barthes who wrote about all writing being quotation. To wit:
The intertextual in which every text is held, it itself being the text-between of another text, is not to be confused with some origin of the text: to try to find the 'sources', the 'influences' of a work, is to fall into the myth of filiation; the citations which go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read: they are quotations without inverted commas.

Which come to think of it is not quite what I was talking about below - but I stand by what I said there. Sounds are nothing without context; with context they become music, just as context turns words, phrases and sentences into Eliot. And by sounds, I mean not just isolated clicks and beeps: I mean the complete envelope of a Funkadelic riff, a Miles Davis epigram, the opening of Tristan, the ending of Pärt's St John Passion, 10 bars of Mozart, half a second of Ligeti. All of these - isolated, sampled, transcribed, decontextualised, constitute musical material for someone to work with. Collecting sounds, rhythms, chords, intervals, melodic gestures, and then organising them into some new and beautiful - this is called making music, and trying to enforce copyright over its atomistic components is very inadvisable.

Incidentally, Alex Ross is kind enough to link to this post, and has some more observations to make.

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