In corpus linguistics, a corpus is a large body of text which can be taken to stand in for the language itself. A corpus is presumed to be an accurate statistical representation of the language in which it is written. As is always the case with statistics, the larger the data set (in this case, the text itself), the more accurate the predictions it produces.

When I began making pop song edits a few years ago, I had this stuff in the back of my mind. I was thinking of each song’s lyrics and even each specific recording itself, as a kind of highly biased corpus. A song’s lyrics are by definition a poor representation of ‘language in general’, in the sense that pop songs usually contain a very small selection of words which are often repeated. Lyrics are laden with colloquialisms and hinge on poetic turns of phrase. Even the most verbose pop song, something like ‘Born to Run’, could never be said to constitute an accurate representation of American English.

In terms of audio, each recording employs a specific vocabulary of recording technology and techniques, resulting in a specific sound world. An edit can draw attention to these characteristics through repetition or reordering. For example, by placing fragments of the same riff or melody from different parts of a track side by side, you might become aware of the way the reverberation has been adjusted imperceptably over its duration.

The craft of the edit, which began with disco edits, rearranges the flow of the track to emphasise certain aspects and de-emphasise others. Hypnotic passages are extended, bad verses removed, and intros and outros added or extended to improve the track’s dj-friendliness. There is an unwritten rule that prioritises imperceptable edits. For the most part, the flow should remain uninterrupted, except to create a specific effect.

Some of edits below were made specifically as ‘media-props’ for performance projects and some just ended up being included in performances. Some were made to as experiments, to see what kind of sense the song would make when it was rearranged, what kind of latent powers its lyrics might posess, what new things an existing media entity could be made to express in addition to those initially intended by its authors

Apart from the edit of Eurythmics’ ‘Love is a Stranger’, these tracks are all ‘pure edits’ in the sense that they don’t make use of any audio which wasn’t part of the original recording.

DMN. December 2017