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The Technique of Sampling in Music and Notions of Authorship - Essay Example

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The Technique of Sampling in Music and Notions of Authorship

The credit for having composed the piece of music that was borrowed may or may not be explicitly given to the person who had originally composed it. This technique offends the sacrosanct position that music is given in the lives of many. Issues of plagiarism arise and royalties are almost never offered to the composer of the original tune. This leads to many problems within the music industry as well. Sampling is a technique whereby a part of a certain recording is used as a part of another song that may be the composition of an entirely different person who is then the ‘author’ of that particular song. The extensive use of this song and the attitude of its author shall also form a part of the analysis in this paper that shall attempt to dissect the issues of ownership that this song and the technique of sampling destabilize. The metaphorical death of the author that Roland Barthes talks of in his essay, The Death of the Author is one that can be seen in the extensive use of the technique of sampling in the music of today. A particular portion of a song may be used in another as a part of it. The now ubiquitous discotheque where tunes and songs are mixed and remixed are places that question the notions of ownership that artists may raise when their tunes are being reworked. In today’s world, however, exclusive ownership of a work of art is impractical and is not enjoyed by anybody. A shared ownership of the music or any other work of art that is all that an artist can expect. This is tied in with several notions of authorship that have emerged in the modern world. In his seminal essay that was referred to earlier, Barthes talks of how the interpretation that a reader provides a text is what provides the text with its meaning (2004). The meaning that the author intended for a text only forms one of the many meanings that may be attributed to a text. The creation of meaning and essence, the till then inalienable right of the author and owner of a text, thus passed on to the person who received the text. A piece of music is according to modern theorists, a cultural text that allows for multiple interpretations. The theory that applied to traditional texts, that is, books, would thus be applicable also to music. Music videos and recordings are thus texts that are able to elicit multiple interpretations from its audience. The destabilization of the roles of authors thus extends also to the authors of these cultural texts, musicians. The creation of these new roles for the audience and the artists is a modern phenomenon. The modern age is characterized by the rise of science and technology and it is widely agreed upon that technology has had a great part to play in the way the modern age functions. The technique of sampling is a very good example to prove this point. The technique of sampling makes the ‘primary text’, the original recording, available to the world to twist into any shape that it wants to. Each version or song that features a portion of the original song can then be considered to be an interpretation of the original by the person who creates the new version. As Andrew Goodwin puts it, in “an age of electronic reproduction” ...Show more
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This paper shall however, focus on how this technique affects the aspects of authorship that are associated with music. The paper shall look into the history of the song called Amen Brother and the ‘Amen Break’, a portion of this song that was used in the beginning of several other genres of music. …
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