Review: Variations, a Podcast looking at the history of the Audio collage

Variations is one of the many Podcasts produced as part of the Barcelona Museum of Modern Art’s Radio Web Project, about which more information can be found here.

Episode #1 – Transition

Part of the Curatorial strand of Programming Variations is the work of American Experimental Musician Jon Leidecker; himself a major figure in the world of audio montage.

Originally made available in 2009 and consisting of seven instalments, the series took a brief six-year hiatus before returning in December of 2018 with part eight.

The series is chronological in form and takes Charles Ives’ 1908 Barn dance as its jumping off point; a piece that is purely orchestral in nature. Leidecker infers however that Ives’ use of overlapping quotation represents a link between the composers of the past and modern practices in cut and paste Music making.

Each episode goes on to cover major figures and movements from the next hundred years and includes many a name probably unfamiliar to many. Taking in, as it does, the ways in which musical appropriation have influenced both mainstream and underground cultures.

UK Audio Collage Artist People Like Us.

Leidecker shines a microscope on much of what he covers yet builds these vignettes into a persuasive case for Audio Collage being perhaps the defining art form of the twentieth century; representative of a kind of Post-Modern Malaise and perfectly echoic of this digital age.

Many questions are posited as moot, however, being as we are, still in this transformative period of copies with no original. In short, Leidecker asks, what is ownership when applied to Music, recorded or otherwise. And why did we for so long desire to Police it?

Variations is both brilliantly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking; it asks some vital questions about the state of modern music and presents a manifesto of sorts for the future of the appropriative audio.

The shows return from hiatus too, is indicative of just how rapidly our relationship with recorded music has changed and how important these questions of ownership are in the age of i-tunes and Spotify.

One suspects that the coming decade will provide a great deal more fodder for Mr Leidecker and his insightful Podcast.

Listen online or download episodes of Variations at the RWM website

Find more information about John Leidecker and his other many projects here

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