June, 2010

Not Completely My Own Composition

Over the weekend I read a really good piece in the new issue of Word magazine written by Eamonn Forde that detailed some of the more famed musical “squabbles” when it’s discovered that an artist has “ripped off” another artist, usually by sampling them without permission. The most recent example mentioned in the piece was a supposed Eddy Grant sample to be found in the recent Gorillaz single Stylo.

Other examples include Enya who was famously sampled by The Fugees, and of course The Verve’s use of a Rolling Stones piece.

But the article was mostly about the compensation that artists can and do demand, with the preference being for song writing credits as opposed to a lump sum.

I was thinking again about this when I was reading today about the story behind the new Shakira song that’s been adopted by FIFA as the official anthem of World Cup in South Africa. As this piece explains – along with a whole series of other similar tales – the song is “derived” from a Cameroonian song popular in the army, but recorded in the 80s by a band made up of military members. It was enormously popular. Indeed, as this piece explains, it’s been used a lot in both Africa and Latin America.

Now I may be late to the game here (I had no idea until last night that 1. James Corden has recorded a World Cup song and 2. it’s reached number one. I should say in my defence that it was simply a case of not reaching the remote control fast enough after last night’s game between Germany and Australia) but this was all news to me.

Anyway, it’s all well and good hearing about these, but something nobody’s yet explained to me is this:

Why do artists continue to do it?

With the internet, iTunes, YouTube, sites like whosampled.com, and anybody being just an email away from spilling the beans, you simply can’t get away with sampling or re-recording someone else’s work without being caught. Did Shakira’s people really think nobody in Cameroon would notice? The song’s been very popular across the whole continent by all accounts.

To be honest, the Eddy Grant question is a little more interesting as to my non-musicologist’s ears, it’s the same four or five notes in both songs and not a direct sample as such. I’m not sure where a song is unique or is just a collection of different notes. But nonetheless, if I was Gorillaz, I’d still expect Eddy Grant to ask the question. He’s not a musical “nobody”.

Landscape Photography

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I spent today at Capel Manor on a Landscape Photography course, organised by Going Digital. Despite the fact that the course mostly took place in the middle of the day – just about the worst time to take landscape photos – I’m pretty pleased with my day’s pictures.
Next I need to get myself some graduated and neutral density filters because, although I can add a certain amount in post using packages like Lightroom and Photoshop, some things aren’t easily doable without using filters.
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More pictures over on Flickr. Incidentally, Capel Manor seem pretty relaxed about photographers wandering around with tripods – something that some gardens are less happy about.
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Dropping The Ball

I know that a million and one other people have already talked about ITV’s nightmare last night (yes – I’m conveniently overlooking Robert Green’s one), but it really is worth saying a little more.
ITV1’s HD channel managed to miss Gerard’s 4th minute goal by playing a sponsorship credit for Hyundai (not an advert), followed by a few moments of blackness before we returned to a celebrating England team.
What has been less-reported is that apart from a period during the first path, following the mix-up, ITV1 HD dropped back to an SD picture. Was this something they could have fixed at half-time? Perhaps, but they didn’t. The whole of the second half was also broadcast in SD.
Every time the BBC goes to a major sporting event, the Daily Mail loves to give the BBC a kicking about the number of staff they’re sending, but I think that a belt and braces approach to technicalities is the right one to avoid technical mishaps on this scale.
ITV, of course, memorably missed a goal last year in an FA Cup fixture between Everton and Liverpool, when a scheduled ad-break started during extra-time. Again a goal was missed. At that time, Michael Grade personally apologised.
Last night, Adrian Chiles, in his first big ITV outing mumbled something about an “interruption” that we may have suffered, while the commentary team were left out in the cold and either not told anything or not saying anything.
A mistake is a mistake, but this is really bad news for ITV. World Cups come around every four years, and ITV always makes a play to get two of the three group games it shares with the BBC because that gives them some guaranteed advertising income. Those spots were sold long ago.
Indeed Hyundai, one of ITV’s match sponsors, won’t be happy either, as they’ve been drawn into something that wasn’t of their making. What’s more advertisers like Sony, Samsung and the big TV retailers won’t be happy. They’ve been busily persuading us to upgrade to HD for the World Cup and many will have. An irate editor of the Jewish Chronicle was in the same situation as my good friend James Cridland in buying a new Freeview HD box to watch the World Cup fixtures in HD.
In 2008 during the Germany v Turkey Euro 2008 semi-final in Basel, lightning at the broadcast centre in Vienna caused coverage to cease on several occasions during the game. That was at least, a large scale technical problem (one that shouldn’t have happened as I understand it, with fail-safes failing), with some clever workarounds being quickly found by utilising a Swiss feed and rebroadcasting that on another satellite channel. This was different, and no other country had the same problems.
Perhaps, like Robert Green, it was World Cup nerves. A few weeks ago, there was a massive drop in the New York Stock Exchange – something that still hasn’t been fully explained. One excuse laid on it was “fat finger” syndrome. In other words, someone pressed the wrong button. I suspect that this was what happened at ITV.