Re: Hmmmmm

Subject: Re: Hmmmmm
From: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (
Date: Sun May 23 1999 - 12:07:12 EDT

At 14 24 05 23 1999 +0200, Alexandra Hettergott wrote:
>yet what about the _"ethical"_ point of view, and can a sense of
>(self)responsibility really be assumed as a common attitude ? And where
does the
>liberty (in integrating a given something in a new context) end ?
>An old yet always new story (as Harry Heine said...), yet what about the
>dialectics in the postmodern position, could a glorification of murder or
war or
>naziism _really_ be included (and justified) in an art context today ?

I am geting very quickly out of my depth, and may be naive in believing the
"nose" rule ... that your liberty ends only upon striking the tip of my
proboscis. But I simply don't have the tools to be articulate about the
overwhelming issues of war or murder or naziism.

It does intrigue me that Kevin's statement, which is an ethical and
respectful one, in effect collaborates with the unethical power brokers. He
does it because it's ethical; they do it because it's profitable.

But before the thread turns too philosophical, I'd like to ask about the
practical/personal, and get back to the ethics a little later:

How many of those reading this list actually post their material in full
view on the net? This list is full of the technologically ept, so who makes
their art available on their own websites (for example) or There
are a mere 80 pieces in's electronic classical area (yup, that's
what they call it); composers from this list alone could post hundreds!
Some may say that present technology doesn't give their music a proper
stage ... I can appreciate that (though I'd suggest a serious audition of
the mp3 format). If the technology were up to the task, though, would you
make your work available? Would you also adopt the intellectual property
"software locks" being proposed by Microsoft et al? If not, would you be
afraid of losing your material, or credit, or royalties? Being sampled?
Dissed in public? Misrepresented? In other words, if you could 'painlessly'
post your work today, would you? All of it?

Those questions lead me to wonder about our hope as artists. Is it to
create the *art*, or is it to be the *creator* of the art? The former, it
seems to me, does not conflict with Peter Traub's purpose (where this
thread began -- discussing, whereas
the latter might, especially where an artist internalizes the "ownership"
that is legalistically conferred upon the creator ... in other words, do
composers worry more about keeping control over their creation and its
presentation than in having it heard as widely as possible?

I'm not sure we're even immune to power issues, either. Regardless of
whether you love or hate the music, consider the Point Music recording of
Bryars' "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". Bryars and cohorts were
unethical even by my own relaxed standards. The heart of the piece, the
origin of the composition, the genesis of the whole idea, comes from the
singing voice of the "one old man" as Bryars minimally calls him. We know
nothing about this "one old man" -- not even that most cherished attribute
of personhood, the man's own name. Every instrumentalist, designer,
photographer, and sycophant seems to be credited. But that "tramp" --
Bryars calls him that, too -- is no person, except for some of the
composer's made-up claptrap in last paragraph ... and of course his voice,
which towers over Bryars' composition. Bryars' wholesale acquisition of
this man's voice reveals starkly the difference in power. Bryars, Point
Music, and cohorts were more powerful than this "one old man", and wrested
his sounds from him and eviscerated his personhood. Bryars' notes speak
about himself and his composition, not about a dedicated search for the man
who made it possible, or for his kin, or even for some organization that
the profits might be given to that stands in for the "one old man". Power

Those of you who use samples from public spaces or incorporate live sounds
in various kinds of real-time sound manipulation are, in some measure,
using the power you possess because of your technology in order to exploit
the sounds "owned" by those who don't have the technological power to stop
you from doing it. (I sometimes wish I could walk the streets with a
built-in defocuser like they use on those cop programs, denying the capture
of my image or sounds... just for the fun of it.)

When I answered Kevin by saying it wasn't as simple as he outlined, that's
what I meant -- not representations of murder or war, but how we in our own
"ethical" ways make adjustments of those ethics depending on our artistic
needs ... and our power. Sorry not to address your important questions,
Alexandra ... aside from being incapable of broader philosophy, I'm also
very focused on personal actions -- what people actually do vs. what they
say they believe.


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