Singing a borrowed song: appropriation and authority in changing media

Wiffen, C (2004) Singing a borrowed song: appropriation and authority in changing media. In: Music and its Media Conference, Harvard University.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)

The conference was split into three sections - Transcriptions, Spaces, and Remixes. This paper was scheduled in the last of these sections and focused on the potential generic fluidity of musical works and the relationship of this to the concept of postmodernism. Specifically, the paper sought to examine whether acts of transcription and appropriation exemplify the postmodernist condition. The paper takes case studies within the solo piano transcription repertoire and within contemporary dance culture and questions the status of the composer or originator and the transforming party, as well as examining the ontology of the work. Firstly, virtuoso piano transcriptions by Earl Wild and Michael Finnissy of Gershwin's Embraceable You are considered with reference to their source. Although the origin of the material is clearly acknowledged in each case both within the work title and melodic contour, the song is radically transformed, re-constituted and re-contextualised in both examples. These models are then juxtaposed with Norman Cook's 2002 remix of Leftfield's Phat Planet. The position of the musical product on the scale of trans-stylisation is examined in relation to media, technology and cultural expectation. Issues of authenticity and authority in these versions are considered in light of postmodernist views. In particular, postmodernism's concerns with consumption and reception are addressed in both genres: this paper suggests that it is the audience that authorises the act of transformation and that each genre creates its own authenticity through performance and reproduction.

Divisions: Chancelry and Research Management
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2012 04:45
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:32
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)