In the paper, 18th century British midwives were the main characters, passing skeins of intimate medical knowledge by word of mouth, rustling up healing herbs, and bringing intention and acuity to the unbridled process of birthing. To grossly over-simplify what happened next: in the viewpoint of a world that was machining, steam-powered piston-ing, industrial weaving itself toward perfection, the midwives were seen as far from perfect. Enter the menfolk. They studied and doctored in the newly minted hospitals, and had cleanliness, regulatory credentialing, and impressive new midwifery tools in their favor.
I sampled him.
What history of science song wouldn't be more poignant with a bit of hell thumping underneath it? The loss of dominion over knowledge that feels so acutely personal is raucous enough to warrant some fire.
Those who are "sampled" experience something of that sort. Intensely personal outpourings, hard-earned creative displays of their craft, whisked off to become something else. It happens often in literature, and in music it is highly controversial.
The enterprise started out harmlessly enough - in the early history of musical sampling, genre-jumping riffs included industrial noise, radio shows being spliced together, the unbelievably funky thrumming train samples of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry's 1940's "musique concrète." Then, in 1956 Dickie Goodman and Bill Buchanan rolled out their Flying Saucer, a slapstick mashup of popular rock and roll hits with a fake news report about aliens landing on Earth. Feathers were ruffled. In 1961, James Tenney's Collage #1 clipped and re-engineered Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes. It went on, and then there was hip hop...we'll leave the entire awesome history of sampling and dispute for to you to discover, but here's a treat for the road: a DJ Shadow bit from his Endtroducing, the first album made entirely of samples.
It's late afternoon here in the Lab. We're kicking around ideas. If knowledge is all malleable and transmutable, let's have at it. What would a song sampled from the history of science sound like, one a girl might like to chuckle about, use as an ironic riff for the inevitable call-and-response sessions with social mores? Our eye swiveled first to Linnaeus' sexualized botany books, and Donna Haraway's cyborg manifestos.
For now, our preferred backbeat: the nifty Meara O'Reilly's work.
...and this month, we should add some vocals, a little #YesAllWomen hook.
We'd be glad to see what your sample list might be for this one - drop us a line.
filed under: Scream Booth, message, sampling