Synth Sonics as Stylistic Signifiers in Sample-Based Hip-Hop: Synthetic Aesthetics from ‘Old-Skool’ to Trap

Exarchos, M. 2016. Synth Sonics as Stylistic Signifiers in Sample-Based Hip-Hop: Synthetic Aesthetics from ‘Old-Skool’ to Trap. 2nd Annual Synthposium. Melbourne, Australia 14 Nov 2016

TitleSynth Sonics as Stylistic Signifiers in Sample-Based Hip-Hop: Synthetic Aesthetics from ‘Old-Skool’ to Trap
AuthorsExarchos, M.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The use of synthesisers in Hip-Hop has ranged from sonic emulation, to sample augmentation, to original creation (arguably, of timbres and sub-genres alike). From the referential use of analogue synth leads in ‘G-funk’, to the EDM-inspired layers of ‘Crunk', to the subtle use of sub-synthesis in ‘Boom-Bap’, a reciprocal dynamic can be observed between the types of synthesisers deployed and the aesthetic context expressed by Rap sub-genres. In an age of exponential stylistic morphing - particularly noticeable within electronic music forms - the relationship between synthesised sonic signatures and genre transformation necessitates closer investigation. Furthermore, the use of synthesis in sample-based Hip-Hop challenges the purist focus on phonographic sampling as the sole route towards stylistic legitimacy. What are the sonic factors that render synthetic timbres acceptable, appropriate or authentic? The paper aims to examine how synthesisers contribute to the stylisation of Hip-Hop sub-genres, and investigate how the relationship between synthesis and the sample-based process has evolved throughout the style’s trajectory. The methodology fuses (auto)ethnography, aural and intertextual analysis, to theorise on synthesiser usage against a Rap typology, before putting the findings to the test within a creative practice context.

KeywordsSynthesisers, Hip-Hop, Genre, Sampling, Aesthetics, Authenticity
Year2016
Conference2nd Annual Synthposium
Accepted author manuscript

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