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NPR Arts & Life

Library Of Congress Unveils Open-Source Sampling Tool Called DJ Citizen

(SOUNDBITE OF BRIAN FOO'S "OLD PAL")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What you're hearing is audio from the Library of Congress remixed. Brian Foo created this new music from old sounds. Here's a recording of the original song "Old Pal," published in 1921.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BRIAN FOO: In the early days of hip-hop, the DJ would be kind of this collector of sounds who would be, like, in the back of, you know, the record stores and thrift shops, you know, digging through the crates and looking for, you know, the most obscure sounds they could find.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Brian Foo is taking part in the Innovator in Residence program at the Library of Congress. He says this sort of sound hunting does not take place much these days because of copyright issues. But the library has free audio.

FOO: You know, I was wondering, what is actually in our collective crate, so to speak, of sonic culture that anybody as a citizen of America could take from and reuse and make something new with it?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Bus going right out. Chinatown to Old New York. Greenwich Village down to the Bowery. The Empire State and Statue of Liberty. United Nations...

MARTIN: That's "A Portrait of New York City" (ph), a '60s sound collage by Tony Schwartz. It's one of the many pieces of audio you can find at a website Foo created for the Library of Congress. It's called Citizen DJ, and it lets you make your own beats.

FOO: The hope is that there'll be so many more people with so many different backgrounds and styles and aesthetics and interests that can make new work. And we would love to be able to hear what can be made using its material.

MARTIN: That was Brian Foo, innovator in residence at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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