TED Talks was visited by the multiple Grammy winner Mark Ronson a couple months ago for an excursion through the history of “La Di Da Di.” Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s record has been sampled 547 (known) times since its release in 1984; that timeline was used to express the fact that sampling has turned music on its head. How sampling Transformed Music happened to be one of my favorite TED Talks because it contested the way we really think about music.
With creative works in general and the term “originality” there is a strange and profound dichotomy presented which Mark picks at for close to seventeen minutes. Quentin Tarantino has talked about the art of “stealing” and musically, Pretty Lights has been an advocate for a more free-form use of samples. Samples of which let the snippet evolve and extend its life through to a new generation of ears to enjoy. After Mark extends the life of several other musical TED Talks in a live mashup, he guides us from the original hip-hop hit to another in “Hypnotize” by Biggie Smalls and then to the Miley Cyrus song “We Like To Party.” All of which contain some form of sampling. I’ve pondered this question more than I can recall, but given this breach into the grey area by Mark Ronson, I feel the need to ask you: what is originality?
Watch the video, leave a comment. If you haven’t seen some of the other TED Talks that Mark features, I suggest you go watch those too!