It’s been a blast to recreate Dua Lipa’s Don’t stop now. It’s such a danceable song with a wicked bass line. During my process of recreating the song in Ableton Live I’ve noticed that there is a difference in my response to and my relation towards the song as I delved deeper into the mechanics of the work. As a classical pianist my interactions with pieces are always limited in the sense I am consuming it, interpreting it but not altering it – I stand as the beholder or its mouthpiece. Imagine changing a bar here and there in a Chopin Ballade to make it more in line with today’s musical styles, maybe adding a beat drop? It would be unthinkable. But why don’t we?
Even though I’ve merely been transcribing Dua Lipa but there has been a noticeable difference in being a consumer to a co-creator. By trying to engineer the sounds of the original song in my own way, I have been imbuing my creativity and discoveries into the reproduction and subsequently made it my own. I think there is something special about playing God and making something out of nothing, and we feel a sense of filial affection to the things we create.
That’s why I still remember the HSC composition piece that I did more than a decade ago whereas music exams, not so. The composition was heavily influenced by other songs to a point where you could argue that it was a rip-off but I remember it vividly because it was mine – I birthed it. To that end, now that I think about it, I can remember many details about the creations that I made at school – the short stories, paintings and drawings, even that stop motion animation of ‘Where the wild things are’ that I did in primary in NZ – that’s twenty years ago (we used Smashmouth Allstars for the background music.)
Maybe we should be using imitation and reproduction as a starting point to develop existing ideas into our own image, jazz artists and sampling musicians do it all the time, maybe we should stop worrying so much about desecrating masterpieces. The memorability and fun aspect of these kinds of teaching methods have may be profound for students.