Monday, April 26, 2010

Critical Review #9 Feld 2000

Feld has a good example in "Rorogwela"--Deep Forests hijacking of the song comes off as objectively wretched and artistically perverse. The example does raise some important questions about artistic influence, copyright, and global copyright.

In Feld's conclusion, he states that it is unclear if Afunakwa had ever heard the Deep Forest song or its derivative versions and "Pygmy Lullaby". This makes "Sweet Lullaby's" multilocal histories and controversy one that really escaped the original source of the tune entirely and the controversy is one of "our" own making. With the Deep Forest recording especially, it seems as if their grasp of the song was utterly dislocated and disconnected--locally schizophonic--from the source at the Solomon Islands that I'm not sure whether it matters where they got that tune from or not. It is clear Deep Forest isn't concerned about their source and their listeners aren't either--it's only ethnomusicologist types who know the original field recordings. This is cynical, but in this instance, does it matter how flagrantly they used it? Maybe less so than how they incorrectly cited it as a Central African folk lullaby.

The questions Feld was raising about the "Sweet Lullaby"--one of rights, authenticity and copyright--could maybe have been brought up with an example where the power dynamics weren't so irrevocably on the side of the Westerners (Deep Forest). Mining ethnomusicological field recordings for pop-song sample content seems more a question of obtaining artistic clout via obscurity (an extended "nostalgia" for other music, perhaps).

No comments: