All Mixed Up at ccMixter

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Virtually Real

One of my friends from ccMixter died last week. His name is Joe Lincoln and he shared his music as Fireproof Babies (“FPB”). I was deeply saddened by his death.. Surprised by how sad. I had never personally met Joe, but I did interact with him. We reviewed each other’s music, leaving supportive comments for each other. I used sonic samples he freely shared in music I created. And there were times when we corresponded with each other outside of ccMixter to offer each other support and encouragement during tough times.

I notified the ccMixter community of Joe's death by posting an announcement on the site forum. I also created a tribute remix for him. The sadness and grief experienced by the community was deep, palpable, real. Many community members knew Joe solely through his music, not having had occasion or opportunity to know him more personally through collaboration or correspondence. For several days, all of the remix uploads to the site were tributes to Joe, utilizing FPB source material. For several days all of the activity on the site was dedicated to Joe.

I believe Joe had no idea how much he was appreciated by us. And if he did, he was unable to internalize it.

I was struck by the depth of feeling that was stirred by Joe’s death. Community members came together in this virtual forum to share feelings that were very real. While I have always felt strongly connected to ccMixter and community members, what became apparent during this time was how vital these relationships truly are. Through music, we make relationships that have emotional impact. The experience of sitting with someone’s music in headphones during the process of making a song is uniquely intimate. You hear their breath. You feel their rhythms. You learn about their creative choices. You incorporate that bit of the other that was freely shared into a bit of yourself that you intend to share. You may know nothing else about the artist you sample but you do come to know the artist through the sample -- even if it is just an isolated aspect of the artist.

The loss of one of our community members, and the way in which we communicated to each other around the loss -- our feelings about this loss -- demonstrated how real our care for one another is. The significance of on-line communities cannot be ignored. (A google search for “study virtual communities” resulting in over 28 million results -- clearly this is a hot topic). In this instance, the value of the ccMixter on-line community cannot be diminished. The care, the concern, the love -- these are among the reasons why I engage with ccMixter in the way that I do. I love ccMixter for how it provides the space for me to know others, and for others to know me, in this unique way that is inimitably vital.

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