Who owns the music?
1 | 2 | 3
| 4 |
5 | 6 |
7 | 8
problems predate the global reach of the Internet, of course. Seeger
cites Paul Simon's phenomenally successful Graceland album,
which came out in 1986 with an infectious mix of rhythms and melodies
from South Africa's townships combined with traditional pop, as
a watershed that catapulted these issues to a new level. While
Graceland didn't make use of actual traditional music recordings,
it inspired imitators who, in some cases, have expropriated the
real thing, earning vast sums of money for themselves from music
that's not their own while putting nothing into the pockets of the
I started out making field recordings 30 years ago, there wasn't
a world-music industry," says Professor Timothy Rice, chair
of the Department of Ethnomusicology. "But now, a recording
can be unscrupulously 'sampled' by commercial artists and mixed
in with their synthesizers and their drumbeats and all of a sudden
there's a product worth millions of dollars."
even when traditional music isn't stolen outright, it can be misappropriated,
says Rice, who is an authority on Bulgarian and Macedonian music
a passion that evolved from his love of international folk
dancing. In 1990, a recording of Bulgarian choral music hit the
international world-music charts and won a Grammy for best traditional
music. Trouble was, Rice says, the recording was rife with misrepresentations,
including the fact that the music had been modernized and was not
really a true version of traditional music.
insult to injury, an Italian music producer in 1993 put out an industrial-dance-music
version titled From Bulgaria with Love. Rice was not amused:
"It's one thing to make a semi-serious recording, which at
least shows that you somehow respect and love the music. It is another
to take the music and laugh at it."