Collage, cut up and pop mantra: Post-digital approaches to songwriting

Busby, Lisa. 2017. Collage, cut up and pop mantra: Post-digital approaches to songwriting. In: Justin Williams and Katherine Williams, eds. The Singer Songwriter Handbook. Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 113-133. ISBN 9781628920291 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter explores the role that sampling and sequencing technologies have played in the evolution of songwriting, providing points of reference and practical strategies for the contemporary songwriter working in our post-digital landscape. I assert that the techniques pioneered in the formative years of hip-hop and underground dance musics have proliferated into the wider pool of popular music compositional strategies – mutated, evolved, and customised. Through numerous case studies that include Portishead, Burial, Animal Collective, FKA Twigs and Sufjan Stevens, I highlight four key contemporary songwriting techniques including performing the sample, melodic assemblage, the use of the repeating mantra, and 'cut and paste' structures. Four sets of practical exercises are provided to empower the reader to work beyond the confines of a traditional musical skillset; to open up post-digital frameworks for songwriting by approaching instruments and recording technologies as compositional tools in new ways.

Item Type:

Book Section


songwriting, sampling, sequencing, post-digital

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Popular Music Research Unit


23 February 2017Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Apr 2017 14:46

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:26


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