Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Schumacher, Thomas G. "This Is a Sampling Sport: Digital Sampling, Pop Music, and the Law in Cultural Production." Media, Culture, and Society 17 (April 1995): 253-73.

The invention of digital sampling and its pervasive use in rap music creates problems regarding concepts of authenticity, originality, and ownership that manifest themselves as conflicts with copyright law. The prevailing legal attitude towards sampling considers it to be intellectual thievery as well as simply lacking in artistic merit due to the absence of creative "originality." However, according to the theories of Walter Benjamin, in the age of modern reproduction there exist no originals, only a "plurality of copies." This, in conjunction with the fact that all popular music is a product of technological alteration and production, makes the concept of "authentic music" that exists in a pure, unaltered form an illusion. This illusive concept is widely accepted in western Anglo society and forms the basis of current copyright laws. However, it stands in stark contrast to the practice of "Signifyin(g)" that forms the basis of Black discourse in which meaning largely depends on the "intertextual referencing of previous texts." This institutionalized belief in the illusion of "authentic" and "original" music helps to perpetuate the use of authorial designations to reinforce positions of social power as described by Foucault. In addition, control of capital is affected by this concept as the legal system relies heavily on profitability in making decisions of copyright violation.

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Sarah Florini

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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