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Plagiarism? I’ve heard that one before – Telegraph

20 Jan

More on one of our favorite topics from Christopher Howse in The Telegraph (found at Expectingrain):

So Bob Dylan stood out from his contemporaries as a song-writer because he stole more boldly and with more imagination. He had hardly heard someone sing Scarborough Fair when he cannibalised it for Girl from the North Country, apparently mistaking the word fair for an adjective. As a privateer of song, no wonder Captain Kidd the pirate was his hero. They both spotted other people’s treasure and brought it home as their own.

That’s the faculty teenagers lack when they copy over chunks of the internet into their homework. The crime is lack of discrimination.

via Plagiarism? I’ve heard that one before – Telegraph.

More on this topic here.

Inspiration or Plagiarism?

8 Jul

by Spencer Leigh at the Independent (via Expecting Rain):

Far safer, perhaps, to plagiarise the classics as so much is out of copyright – and look at the success of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Bach), “I Should Be So Lucky” (Pachelbel) and “You Spin Me Round” (Wagner). Myleene Klass, once in Hear’Say, says, “A lot of rock music plagiarises classical music, but those classical musicians often took things from each other anyway. It used to be a compliment to write variations on a theme.”

In 2002 John Cage’s publishers claimed that his silent piece from 1952, “4’33”, had been plagiarised by Mike Batt on his album Classical Graffiti. Batt maintained that his silence was not the same as Cage’s, but nevertheless paid £100,000 to his publishers.

The article gives many examples of “inspirations.” For instance, can you hear Paul McCartney’s “All My Loving” in Dave Brubeck’s “Kathy’s Waltz”?

(The Brubeck song was recorded first.)

Once again, all of this is more fodder for the If I Was a Master Thief, Perhaps I’d Rob Them series.

Read the article

Hear “All My Loving” after the jump:

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Something Borrowed, Something New

1 Jun

From poet and classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz of UMass-Boston on Fresh Air :

For more than 50 years Pierre Boulez has been at the forefront of classical music as a composer, conductor and radical thinker. He turned 85 years old in March and shows little sign of slowing down, with a continuing flow of CDs and DVDs to his credit.

One of the newest, a CD of music by Igor Stravinsky is one of Boulez’s best.

* * * *

The disc also includes Stravinsky’s complete Pulcinella, not just the abbreviated Suite, which leaves out the charming, sexy songs. Stravinsky composed this scintillating commedia dell’arte ballet for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Stravinsky himself regarded Pulcinella as his first neo-classical work, both his discovery of the past, and his transformation of it. He boldly borrowed themes he thought were all by the 18th-century Italian composer Pergolesi, though it turned out some of them were actually by a number of other minor composers. But even though the tunes themselves aren’t by Stravinsky, his syncopated rhythms and dazzling, even hilarious combinations of instruments make Pulcinella one of his most original, most modern, most ‘Stravinskyan’ scores. And in the hands of Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, one of his most sparkling.

On a new DVD, Inheriting the Future of Music, you can watch Boulez working on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with young conductors and players at the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland. They adore him because he doesn’t condescend to them. And not a note escapes his attention.

Listen here.

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The Coyote’s Call and the Bulldog’s Bark

2 Jun

dylan-cafe-wha

What about the tomcat’s meow an’ milk cow’s moo

An’ the train whistle’s moan . . .

Here is a slideshow of “Dylan’s Village” from The Telegraph. These are the places where he immersed himself in the ecstacy of influence, where he honed his skills in the fine art of the intertext, a staple of the blues/folk traditions.

This post contains (mostly) Dylan “intertexts”––lines from his songs (some slightly altered) used in this blog’s  If I Was a Master Thief series. (click below)

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Tom Lehrer: “Lobachevsky” (a delightful song about plagiarism, plus a bibliography of sorts)

1 Jun

Here is Tom Lehrer‘s song about Nikolai Lobachevsky, an inventor of non-Euclidean geometry and an accused plagiarist.

Click below for a  list of sources (with links) used in the “If I Was a Master Thief” three-part series.

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If I Was a Master Thief III

24 May

dylanwoody (In Part I, instances of plagiarism in Dylan’s most recent works were discussed, plus the common practice of appropriation in the blues, folk, and jazz traditions, along with findings of similar thefts in the literary tradition. With help from Richard F. Thomas, Jonathan Lethem, and Lawrence Lessig, an examination of appropriation’s crucial role in creativity was introduced, preparing for later explorations of how to reconcile these methods with the ways writing is taught.Part II looked what Lessig calls “remix” in more detail, extending the principles into the business world, the sciences, and to Paulo Freire’s ideas on education, setting the stage for rethinking approaches in writing instruction.)

I Try My Best To Be Just Like I Am

But Everybody Wants You To Be Just Like Them

All this knowledge about how artists, musicians, lawyers, and writers really get things done fills this lowly comp teacher with acute anxiety. How can I deny my students the same methods and still claim to be teaching writing? Like Disney, shall I proclaim from on high unto to my students, “Do as I say, not as I do”? And if I say that, then what the hell am I teaching? Tidiness? I suppose I could rationalize and say English papers aren’t works of art anyway. Few would dispute me on this. And, of course, my students are not Bob Dylan. But neither was Bob Dylan at their age. And yet, even the young Bobby Zimmerman was a college freshman once. Imagine that––he was in someone’s English class. How annoying would that be? (D+. Please follow Chicago-Style documentation. Mississippi-Style is not accepted here. And quit dropping your G’s! You sound like some lonesome hobo!)

Story has it, Bobby Zimmerman rarely went to class. Thank God. Wait––did I just say that? Yet, I wonder. Are we not making room for creative types in higher education? Must they all drop out and hitch to Greenwich Village in the dead of winter? And if more of them stayed, what would they teach us? Continue reading

If I Was a Master Thief, Perhaps I’d Rob Them (part II)

23 May

dylan-fairey-warhol-obama

(In Part I, instances of plagiarism in Bob Dylan’s most recent works were discussed, plus the common practice of appropriation in the blues, folk, and jazz traditions, along with findings of similar thefts in the literary tradition.)

To Live Outside the Law, You Must Be Honest

Jonathan Lethem’s study of Bob Dylan’s appropriations, “The Ecstasy of Influence” (a play on Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence), includes the subtitle “A Plagiarism.” Turns out, the article is a string of thefts lovingly tied together to show the crucial role of borrowing in creativity. Lawrence Lessig, one of those appropriated heavily in the article, told Washington Post writer Bob Thomson the piece is “beautifully crafted” and it “teaches more about the importance of what I call ‘remix’ than any other work I’ve read.” (Citing Lethem’s piece, however, is a Dylanesque experience, as you will see. Think of any quotes from him here as something more akin to a wink.)

Appropriately, the first section of Lethem’s piece is called Love and Theft (no quotation marks this time), acknowledging that the title comes from Dylan by way of Eric Lott’s “study of minstrelsy” and that Lott’s own use of the title “is a riff on Leslie Fielder’s Love and Death in the American Novel.”  Lethem uses such examples to show that “Appropriation has always played a key role in Dylan’s music.” Most importantly, he says, “Dylan’s originality and his appropriations are as one.”

And he doesn’t stop there. “The same might be said of all art,” he claims.

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