Arvo Pärt in Digital Culture

 Jeffers Engelhardt (Amherst College)

This talk examines the digital circulation of Pärt’s work in sample-based musics, remixes, and other forms of musical repurposing. In documenting how artists like Lupe Fiasco, Sigur Rós, Mogwai, Murcof, Ricardo Villalobos, Björk, The Arcade Fire, Nick Cave, and Radiohead draw upon and invoke Pärt’s music, I draw attention to the discrete sonic qualities of Pärt’s tintinnabuli music that inspire these kinds of genre-crossing translations. The qualities of tonality, temporality, vocality, form, and expressive discipline that these artists hear in Pärt’s music resonate with the values and aesthetics of post-rock, hip-hop, minimalist electronica, glitch beats, post-punk, and indie rock. That Pärt has such pride of place in these milieux points to the extensive range of ways musical producers and consumers relate to the sound of Pärt’s music per se, apart from its ambiguous yet widely touted genre associations and discursive connections to place, history, religion, and biography. Ultimately, the sounds of Pärt’s digital circulation illustrate how global technocultures and trans-local music scenes can attenuate (as much as they intensify) the significance of place or region.

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