Cultural transmission modes of music sampling traditions remain stable despite delocalization in the digital age

Mason Youngblood

Music sampling is a common practice among hip-hop and electronic producers that has played a critical role in the development of particular subgenres. Artists preferentially sample drum breaks, and previous studies have suggested that these may be culturally transmitted. With the advent of digital sampling technologies and social media the modes of cultural transmission may have shifted, and music communities may have become decoupled from geography. The aim of the current study was to determine whether drum breaks are culturally transmitted through musical collaboration networks, and to identify the factors driving the evolution of these networks. Using network-based diffusion analysis we found strong evidence for the cultural transmission of drum breaks via collaboration between artists, and identified several demographic variables that bias transmission. Additionally, using network evolution methods we found evidence that the structure of the collaboration network is no longer biased by geographic proximity after the year 2000, and that gender disparity has relaxed over the same period. Despite the delocalization of communities by the internet, collaboration remains a key transmission mode of music sampling traditions. The results of this study provide valuable insight into how demographic biases shape cultural transmission in complex networks, and how the evolution of these networks has shifted in the digital age.

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