Various appropriation artists differ on whether and how carefully they should accredit or cite the source material they quote. There is especially a wide range of opinions on the subject within the sample-based music field.

In an interview included in the liner note booklet of John Oswald's new "69plunderphonic96" CD boxed set, we see this exchange:

O: some more of this stuff came out on a vinyl seven inch published by the Tape-beatles entitled 'brown out' which they also pinched, unaccredited, for a track on their most recent release.

I: Do you insist upon credit?

O: I recommend it. It's just so much more informative to label things clearly, and if you know you are copping something or you are influenced by something, say so. So if a listener is interested in that bit they can trace it to other related material. ... The Tape-beatles have historically kept closer ties with the plagiarists than I ever would. That's a whole other interesting tangent that seeks to undermine and refute the system of accreditation I'm proposing.

I used to care about this but I don't think it's important anymore. The otaku in me perhaps thinks it would be nifty-keen to track in some giant database every cultural atom nicked from some other cultural molecule. But the cultural worker in me doesn't give a hoot. The important thing is what the new piece means. Samplesleuthing for its own sake is pointless, or at best banal, like searching through bags of potato chips for the one that looks like richard nixon.

However, if it helps make the meaning more clear, get across the concept, the source should be cited. otherwise, it doesn't matter. ( for instance, Chumbawamba's song ("Stitch That") about domestic violence, on their 1992 "Shhh" album, uses a Ringo Starr drum sample that is clearly recognizable. but it becomes all the more powerful when you read their rationale in the liner notes for using it - Ringo is an alleged (or perhaps confirmed, I can't quite remember) wife-beater) And of course what follows from this is that for music that's never about anything, it never matters.

On one hand I do kind of like Oswald's strict attitude toward credits, because it short-circuits a kind of geeky sample-bloodhounding. If everything is listed you won't waste a bunch of time figuring it out for yourself. On the other hand, it perhaps encourages it as well, by perpetuating the attitude that all this trivia really matters. Too often the appreciation (and even production) of sample-based music is like shopping (Bob Ostertag mentioned this idea to me a couple years ago and I'm just lately starting to agree; he was talking about how all Otomo Yoshihide ever seemed to do when he's in town is shop for records {presumably to use for source material}. Luckily, at least in this context, Otomo has switched to using only sine tones (maybe he got tired of shopping), so that's no longer a problem. (tho there's now new problems. like that his music is less interesting.)...).

Anyway, so we have this arms-race of sample-shopping/dropping and sample-spotting and in the end who cares? I'm more interested in archetypes and general connotations, really. If someone recognizes something as "cock rock" I don't care if they know that it's from Led Zeppelin 4 and not Led Zeppelin 3. Unless, as I say above, it really matters to the detailed concept of the piece. But then we're almost getting more into conceptual art than just music. Which is fine, but let's call a spade a spade...

it's certainly not a moral thing like Oswald seems to be pretending. I mean c'mon, you can't use a word derived from theft and then invoke some kind of ethical code! There's a double standard if ever there was one. And let's be clear about the Tape-beatles, their "plagiarism(tm)" is not proof of lower moral ground. There's 2 types of plagiarism, you know. Perhaps Oswald was just admitting in a backhanded way that they're more politically committed than he's ever been.

Ac*cred`i*ta"tion (#), n.

The act of accrediting; as, letters of accreditation.


© Webster 1913.

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