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Re: Basic intro (OT)

At 01:11 AM 8/14/01 -0700, you wrote:
>>but when you talk about
>>lifting entire verses wholesale from other artists' music, to what extent
>>can you really say it's your *own* work?  
>My opinion? To the extent that the whole is greater than the sum of its

Hmmmm, maybe, but here's an analogy: Restaurant A makes a fine artichoke
appetizer. Restaurant B is famous for its rich, chocolatey Black Forest
Torte. Restaurant C has had rave reviews for its pesto tortellini.
Restaurant McD is well known for a burger with two all-beef patties,
special sauce, et cetera, and has sold them in figures that would make Carl
Sagan look like an understater.

Now along comes a conceptual chef; let's call him Caligula Tiberius
Whiplash. He opens a new, artsy eatery right there in the same neighborhood
as restaurants A, B, C and McD. Now Caligula himself doesn't prepare
anything from scratch. Tonight's special is a dish consisting of the
aforementioned foods obtained by unspecified means from the neighboring
restaurants and presented together on one big plate. It's bold and daring,
and is artfully presented with an attractive cilantro and watercress
garnish (that came from the tortellini place, but has been moved to the
other side of the platter to be *creative*). Caligula's new place is unlike
any other in town. It's kind of pricy, but the contrasts in tastes on that
plate are unexpected and thought provoking. It can't be denied that
Caligula is good at what he does, and he's looking forward to basing a
career on similar combo plates of other cooks' cooking.

But is he a chef? (How do you spell R-E-T-A-I-L?)

>Ice-T over Lynyrd Skynyrd is much more than just rap with guitar. It's
>urban with rural, black with white, rebellion with loyalty (etc)

Yeah, I *got* that.
>that's where I draw my line on creativity: does the new recording say
>something the original recordings didn't? The answer here is clearly

Sure. Just as when a curator puts together an exhibit at an art museum, the
way the works are juxtaposed can have a LOT to do with the way they're
perceived by the viewer. But the curator, skilled as he may be, did not
create the art. The presentation skills involved in putting together such a
show do indeed call for a refined artistic sensibility and certainly
manifest a high degree of talent (assuming the curator did a good job), but
the works on exhibit are not themselves examples of the curator's
creativity, and without the original creative impulses that resulted in
these works, there would be no show. 
>Now, whether that makes it "art" is something we could argue about for

Nooooo! :-)

>Whether it's a viable strategy on which to found an entire
>musical career is another long argument. But as a tool in the toolbox, I
>think it's certainly something worth carrying around.

I think there's some validity to that last part, but to me it's a matter of
degree. John Coltrane soloing over the changes of 'My Favorite Things' is a
very different animal than if he'd stood there and held up two boom boxes
playing the soundtrack from 'The Sound of Music' and the theme from
'Rawhide' simultaneously. (Not that boom boxes had been invented yet, but
>> Remember "Stairway to Gilligan's Island"?
>No, but I remember "House of Amazing Grace".... I suspect you're
>mentioning something similar.

Chet Atkins (RIP) used to do 'Yankee Doodle' and 'Dixie' at the same time
in fingerstyle counterpoint, which is a little closer to the cultural
contrasts in your Skynyrd example, but we're not talking about the same
thing... My point in mentioning 'Stairway to Gilligan's Island' (a setting
of the Gilligan lyrics to the ubiquitous Zeppelin tune, for which there was
an inevitable lawsuit) is that while parody may certainly be entertaining,
it's ultimately not as satisfying as an honest, original artistic
expression, and doesn't stand up to repeated listening. And anything that
uses recognisable, unauthorized Beavis & Butthead samples, no matter how
tongue-in-cheek, is IMO dangerously close to getting caught in that

>My take: it doesn't matter how
>long the sample is. It matters what you DID with it. If you didn't do
>anything, it's theft. If you did something interesting and unusual, it's

But a whole VERSE?!

>Oh, yeah, I *love* to stir up trouble. It's one of my favorite pastimes.