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Shout out to Stanley from Friday as in “Stay off my lawn… please!” Stanley.

I blame Angie Stone. Ok, not really, but really. I was driving into work today, listening to the as my 11 year old deems it “The old Black People Music Station” when I heard something “new” from I believe Tank. I have to be honest I really was not paying attention. That’s not a diss, I was concentrating on the road… but what did catch my ear (and the impetus for this screed) is somehow I imagined that I heard an interpolation of the bassline from The Jacksons “Heartbreak Hotel” later titled “This Place Hotel”. Maybe my ears were/are misleading me. I hope so, but probably not.

So coming off a Summer of being inundated with so many recycled grooves: “Blurred Lines”, “Get Lucky”, that Bruno Mars thingy and of course sorry Angie, but just about every hit you’ve had as a solo artist has had some recycled element.

Now granted as we’ve discussed before no one is totally completely original. There are influences. We borrow. We imitate and at some point through a combination of time and toil we innovate. But just like I have said for many years about You Tube covers and prominent samples(unlike when sampling takes on a true art form where the sample is melded into something completely new) half the battle has already been one based on the familiarity. Playing in a cover band (and I play in one) is not a risky proposition because you are dealing with the familiar and often that’s what people want but is it what they need?

I don’t want anyone to misconstrue my criticism as hate for these artists that I’ve mentioned. There’s no hate at all, I just question the reliance on the already proven? One might argue that if you create a new melody over top of a sample, or if you work in a familiar part of another tune that you’ve in essence created something new. In a way you have, but when a sample or a lick is the bedrock of your new creation what happens when it’s removed? Will it stand on its own?

Yes there are limitations based on the fact that there are not an infinite number of combinations of notes and that affects the construction of melody lines, chords etc., etc., I guess what I’m advocating for here is less recycling of what we know works and more exploration into the unknown where perhaps we will find new sounds and styles that will work also.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.