Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's soundtrack

Riot in the Commons
is a chaotic mash-up of public domain recordings found on archive.org. Played at random, five at a time, these create a constantly changing cloud of sounds from all over the world. Anything less just can't hold my fractured attention these days...
It is also a hint of all the horrible/wonderful things that would be possible in a culture without copyrights. I would like to have artists make a living with their work, but even today very few truly original artists can do that while ruthless opportunists and their lawyers/managers/distributors make millions. So what is the point?
Meanwhile copyrights prevent the kind of free discourse, the exchange of material that made classics like Homer's works immortal. Hundreds of singers made improvements to the Illiad before it was written down. That is how Jamaican dancehall works. A good riddim will receive dozens or hundreds of interpretations until the perfect version that cannot be topped crystallizes. Then everybody moves on. And the white man in Europe is left behind to tend the archives and make sense of this galloping history...

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