Sampling vs plagarism

Reading the current flurry of comments on the blog has got me thinking about how music is shared but then I saw in the news yet another band that has been sued for sampling another’s work. Although this is a form of copying rather than redistribution I wonder whether this tight control by the original artist is a sign of a musically secure/mature artist or an insecure/greedy record company. In the past composers often lifted tunes or reworked whole works and it was often a mark of respect to the originator’s skill, now it seems to be taken as theft & an opportunity for money to be made.

To further add to the confusion artists now seem to sue if they hear something even vaguely similar to a tune they wrote. Naturally this trend only appears to be when a lesser known artist hears their motif in the song of a famous band.

This leads to wonder whether
a) composers are too precious about their music
b) If the whole motiv of writing has been taken over by the desire for fame & fortune
c) Modern composers can no longer take a compliment.
d) How many different ways can 12 notes be written to ensure originality each time
e) what’s the chance of two musicians writing similar style of music coming up with a similar tune

Published by Dancing Monk

I live on the Highland Line and would live nowhere else. I spend my days wandering around with my camera. Not much else you need to know. White, middle class, middle aged, comfortable.

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  1. Suing someone else is probably a quicker way to make money off an old tune than re-releasing it. I wonder if there is a blacklist of bands and labels who indulge in such profiteering?

  2. I guess ‘quoting’ felt like less mechanistic, artful process than repurposing ‘recordings’ – it goes back to the idea that recordings are somehow final, and as such are an ‘all rights reserved’ domain in a way that quotes in a performance-based medium feel a little more clever…

    It may also be that anyone can analyze music for sample content from a recording by playing it over and over. in earlier times, only those with access to multiple scores could ‘prove’ it, and others just enjoyed the shared material…

    or maybe not. 🙂

    Good thoughts, Tom, thanks.

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