RiP! A Remix Manifesto

We watched a great documentary called ‘RIP A Remix Manifesto’.

This documentary brings up different issues in creative media.

Copy-right has become an issue. There is a war over ideas, for example, if someone writes a song, and another person changes it, remixes it, makes it something new; Is that original or not? It doesn’t depend on who wrote it but who owns the copy-right. What do I think of this? It is difficult to say as I love remixing. In music, collage or punk fanzines. The internet has opened up a lot of ideas. Copy-right holders want the to own an idea and earn money from it. There are others who want to share ideas, and feel that we the public must have the freedom to use samples from others work.

It has become more accessible and affordable to become creators in culture since the 1960’s and 70’s. In the 80’s technology become more affordable too. Drum machines and synthesisers became popular.

In this documentary, A Remixer’s Manifesto Rules are :

  1. Culture always builds on the past.
  2. The past always tries to control the future.
  3. Our future is becoming less free.
  4. To build free societies, you must limit control of the past.

Taking the first rule,  Muddy Waters in 1934 sang a song that originally came from the cotton fields was then made into a record by Robert Johnson, and Muddy  made his own version, a new song from an old one.


Hip hop was the first to incorporate samplings from other recordings. Using samples in songs can become super expensive. This is a block for many young remix artists.

Remixing culture is what humans have done for a long time. We can also see the in the world of image. This film provides the printing press as an example and how that has changed. How many other machines have developed from it.

Photography has changed enormously, look at photo-shop  and the  endless possibilities for remixing and recreating.

Also, photography  developed  to animation and film. Pop art started as a remix of basic human products, such as a soup can. Eisenstein the metric montage film-maker, also juxtaposed images to create new meaning. Abstract expressionism can be seen as a remix of expressionism, expressing the unconscious. So, are these different interpretations of an original idea just as valid? I think so, the creation of something new from something old is just as interesting as something old. Thankfully with the creation of the photocopier we got punk/DIY/fanzine/collage culture which I love. This was a new creation but a collection of ideas, random, chaotic, anarchic and a collage of different images. We began re-interpreting visuals in a new way. Our own interpretations have become as valid as another.

Take the Amen break in music . This is the first drum beat. It is a 6 to 7 seconds drum roll, with 4 bars. It’s used in all sorts of music It crossed the Atlantic from Philidelphia in the 60’s where it became Jungle/garage and dub. The Amen break has been used from James Brown to Britney Spears. Snatched from the Winstons’ 1969 track “Amen, Brother,” the sample has appeared at various speeds in the music. It is one of music’s most beloved and essential samples. It is massively used in Jungle and techno. I love jungle music. I just learned that most beats in jungle music are from this break. That loop sure has a groove. It became public domain, by sheer use of it. It is copy-righted twice as you will see from the video at:

A corporation also owns it as well as the artists. It is well worth just looking at the controversy over copy-right with the Amen break for a feel of the far reaching effects. ‘Over protecting copyright is as dangerous as under-protecting it. Culture is impossible without a rich public domain’.

Images and music change and recontextualise. They both move back and forward in time and influence and change things. Creative expression is always making something new from old.


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