isn’t the SAMPLING of music a kind of non-mediated (i.e. we don’t copy the sounds with our instruments, we copy the very sounds themselves with our computers) hyper-orthopraxical musical technique insofar as it is a modification of the audio-cultural meme (as opposed to the mythical ex nihilo creation of original musical ‘substance’)?
My initial feeling was — yes, sampling is hyper-orthopraxical — but then I reconsidered: Isn’t sampling just a production technique? One of the earliest samplers — the mellotron — is used on “Strawberry Fields Forever” to replicate flute sounds. If sampling stays at the level of “production technique” and not “total creative outlook,” then we can very easily say: No, it doesn’t have much to do with orthopraxy or orthodoxy any more than a guitar does.
Orthopraxy/orthodoxy come into play in two areas: creative intent/direction and critical judgment. With Shibuya-kei, the fundamental desire was to mimic the sound of the artists’ favorite records down to the melodic range and stereo panning. The creative impulse did not come into any kind of conflict with the idea of “sticking to a script” because the artists decided they were supposed to stick to a script.
From a Bourdieuian perspective, we can probably argue that “good” musical taste is dependent upon prior access to cultural and educational capital: i.e., even the orthodoxical Western musician is ripping off something he’s heard and just rearranging it. Musical ideas are not completely sui generis.
However, the ideal in the West has always been about original creation — not sticking to the script. And while we have bands like Jet who are as into pastiche as any of the Shibuya-kei bands, they get slammed in the press for “ripping off” Iggy Pop. Franz Ferdinand et al. prove that sounding like the past is fine as long as you obey the 25 Year Rule.
Armed with a heart towards orthopraxy and a highly artisanal skill in imitation, Japanese end artists up making a lot of very, clearly imitative works. Those in the West that aim to imitate are so clumsy with their imitation that original works often just happen. The Beatles just happened to have a new sound because their imitation of American R&B didn’t sound “right.”
Meanwhile, the Japanese philosophical and artistic tradition rarely distinguishes between content and form, and therefore, every single part of a influential work ends up available for imitation and analysis. In the past, Japanese dramatists put on fake Western-looking noses when doing Shakespeare. They did not understand that the incidental “form” of being European had nothing to do with the performance content of the play. When all culture is imported, everything is up for breakdown and research. This in turn creates a script of conventions, and within an orthopraxical value system, that script is to be followed.
Back to sampling, Cornelius’ Fantasma seems to be post-orthopraxical in that he creates a highly original sound through the intention of curated imitation. Plus-Tech Squeeze Box is hyper-post-orthopraxy in that Hayashibe cuts up the sampling/imitation into such small units that it takes much original work to put them back together. Unlike Flipper’s Guitar, he doesn’t “do” My Bloody Valentine for a whole song: He just does it for ten seconds before moving on to country rock or something completely unrelated. I don’t think that orthopraxy has much to do with his creative intent, but I do think that Plus-Tech Squeeze Box’s bending of lines between pop (with sugar sweet melodies) and electronic (sampling mayhem) hasn’t won him any fans with the older generation.