Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Popular Music and Culture


Dr. Norma Coates


This thesis re-situates sampling and the mashup in a broader tradition of musical borrowing and oral practice. Musical creators in the West borrowed throughout history; the variety and quantity of this borrowing remains dependent on the proprietary status of music. Copyright was first applied to music to protect printed scores, and is thus ill equipped to accommodate works that borrow recorded elements. Taking Ong’s concept of “secondary orality” as applied to hip hop by Tricia Rose, this thesis connects techniques of musical borrowing in the Middle Ages with those in the late-20th and 21st centuries through several close readings of representative works. By necessity, these orally circulating works are shared within a knowing community, one that understands the references and values continuing dialogue more than the contributions of individuals. Finally, this thesis makes recommendations for copyright reform, seeking to ensure that music with borrowed parts can continue to circulate in both commercial and non-commercial spheres.

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