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“The Sound of the Past: Analog Tape Distortion in Golden Era Hip Hop,” Dr. Zed Adams (The New School For Social Research)

Date: 3:30pm PDT September 14, 2018 Location: J.R. Howard Hall 102

  • Dr. Zed Adams, The New School for Social  Research
    Dr. Zed Adams, The New School for Social  Research

J.R. Howard Hall 102

Public Enemy’s 1990 track “B-Side Wins Again” prominently features heavily distorted vocals, vocals that the have the characteristic sound of live hip hop recordings from the 1970s. In this talk, I offer a general account of what is aesthetically interesting about the perception of such sounds, and how hip hop producers such as the Bomb Squad took advantage of this interest in the recordings they produced. My account draws heavily upon the work of the aesthetician Richard Wollheim, especially his notion of “seeing-in,” which he introduced to elucidate what fuels our interest in looking at a scene through looking at a picture of it (as opposed to merely looking at the scene itself). I end by discussing the aesthetic significance of distortion in general, for both auditory and visual artworks.  


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