Amherst on Appropriation
Musical appropriation is when musicians borrow musical elements from outside their own culture to create new music. Musical appropriation has a long history, with composers like Mozart borrowing from Turkish music and popular artists like Elvis Presley, Eminem, and, more recently, Sam Smith, who have capitalized on black American music and culture. For some, musical appropriation enables music's diversity and evolution. Others see it as dis-empowering, offensive to, or stealing from the owners of the music being appropriated.
What do you think about musicians and composers appropriating music from cultures other than their own?
Downtown Amherst on Musical Appropriation
TH = Tomal Hossain: (Fade in “Derya TÃ¼rkan - Nikriz PeÅ” and hold under narration) Musical appropriation has a long history. Mozart drew on Turkish music. Popular artists like Elvis Presley and more recently, Miley Cyrus, have capitalized on black American music and culture. Some people believe appropriation drives music’s evolution and diversity. Others see it as disempowering, offensive, or even theft. I’m Tomal Hossain. I asked people in Amherst, MA what their thoughts were on musical appropriation.(Crossfade between “Derya TÃ¼rkan - Nikriz PeÅ” and ambient sound of interview site and hold under all actualities)
Bite 1 Male; White; American; (30+); Townsperson
Anonymous Interviewee: [00:33] I think it’s great that Franz Liszt made famous music out of folk music. I think it’s not so great that Johnny Rivers stole music from blacks and recorded it and made lot of money and didn’t pay a nickel.
Bite 2 Female; Black; American; (~21 yrs old); AC student
Sophie Delfeus: [00:47] Other musicians taking other musical styles from other cultures - it’s kind of a lack of authenticity there, because those original artists can speak to that history. So, I think there is a contradiction and that’s something we must be wary of.
Bite 3 Female; White; American; (30+); Townsperson
Anonymous Interviewee: [01:00]…Maybe people outside of their own culture wouldn’t be familiar with, certain rhythm or certain types of instruments, and it gives a chance for those sounds to be heard.
Bite 4 Male; Black; Jamaican;(~20-21); AC student
Marvin: [01:14] Oftentimes it’s people already marginalized who are being appropriated…like, Drake most recently, his whole entire album “Views” is very, very like dance hall inspired, reggae inspired. And he’s profiting off of that, but Jamaica isn’t.
Bite 5 White; Male; Latvian; (~18-19 yrs old); AC student
Jacobs: [1:25] (Crossfade ambient sound and “Es Nocirtu Melnu” and hold under outro narration) Sometimes the people whose music is being appropriated might be okay with it and might consider it as normal. Like if I as Latvian heard some Americans trying to do Latvian folk music, I’d be like, “Well that’s really cool and interesting.”
TH: [1:37] Listeners’ opinions on musical appropriation range anywhere between being all for it and being completely against the idea altogether. With such varying responses from listeners, perhaps it’s really up to the musicians whose music is being appropriated to take a stance on the issue. [silence] In Amherst, MA, I’m Tomal Hossain. (Fade out “Es Nocirtu Melnu”)