Tracing A Sample To Its Source, Halfway Around The World

Travel blogger Matt Harding (Where the Hell is Matt) traced a sample around the world to its origin:

I went to the Solomon Islands to research the origins of Rorogwela, a traditional folk song that was sampled in Sweet Lullaby by Deep Forest and reused in my dancing videos.

In the years 1969/1970, the ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp made recordings on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. These included a lullaby sung by a member of the Baegu tribe called Afunakwa.

The vocal sample, reissued in 1990 on a UNESCO CD, found its way into the studio of Deep Forest, among others. Enswathed in sugary synthesizer sounds and provided with a leisurely swaying dance beat, the a-cappella piece mutated into Sweet Lullaby, Deep Forest’s first big world hit and subsequently the background music for countless advertisements.

Zemp, who had been the first to bring this recording within the audio horizon of the West, raised an objection to the use of this and other samples. Here, too, a long debate ensued about the legitimate usage of ethnic sound material, a debate that has not yet led to any unanimous solution.

Do electronic musicians have a responsibility to pay money, or at least respect, to the native musicians whose work they sample?

It’ an interesting controversy.

via magnet, music of sound

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