Digging In Our Collective Crate of Sounds
In hip hop there is a term called “crate digging” where DJs and producers “dig” through stacks of crates in the basements of record shops and thrift stores searching for the most obscure and rare sonic gems. The DJ’s reputation and craft are built on how large and diverse their library of sounds are and how adeptly they can recall the right palette of sounds to mix together in the right moment. ”Citizen DJ” is an experimental web browser application that was designed to build on the feeling and function of crate digging at scale using hundreds of hours of free–to-use sounds from Library of Congress. By embedding these historic materials in new hip hop music, users are encouraged to generatively and critically engage with A/V archives. Brian Foo, data artist, former b-boy, and a 2020 Library of Congress Innovator in Residence will discuss the philosophy of Citizen DJ, the challenges of rights clearance of audio for explicit commercial use at scale, and the development of an open source tool that uses machine learning to automatically generate sonically diverse samples from hundreds of hours of material.