Kutiman Continues To Make Amazing New Music Via Musical Collage

from the who-owns-the-copyright? dept

We've written a few times in the past about the brilliant musician, Kutiman, who creates astounding musical works through what might be called musical collage -- taking bits and pieces he finds on YouTube and mixing them into something amazing and wonderful. From a copyright standpoint, what he's doing is almost certainly infringement, in some sense, under today's laws, though thankfully no one is challenging him on that (and Israel, where he's from, has decent fair use protections). He's now released his latest work, and while it's also a musical collage, it's quite different in nature. Rather than just pull clips from YouTube, he spent a couple months going around Jerusalem, interviewing various local musicians and asking them all to just improvise some music (all around the key of D), and then mixed it together into this amazing sounding song (and wonderful video), called Thru Jerusalem:
I think we can safely say that this (as with his previous works) is really quite an incredible piece of musicianship -- but his works are created in a world that copyright law can't even comprehend, let alone predict. Can you even imagine trying to untangle the "copyright" question on such a song? Thankfully, it seems unlikely that such a question will directly come up with Kutiman's work, but it very well might come up with other musicians who do something similar or something else new and creative. And do we really want that? Do we want musicians having to worry about "the copyright question" as they create beautiful works such as this?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Kutimans' work is is without doubt a mash-up, yet also without doubt something new and original. This is not a contradiction, it simply reveals what has always been true:

    Every creation is a mash-up of other creations we've experienced. Originality, inspiration, invention, those are just the creations we, often including the creator, can't dissect.

     

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    Jackn, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Do we want musicians having to worry about "the copyright question" as they create beautiful works such as this?

    Yes, I would want that.

    If the person is such a brilliant musician, why do they need to copy the works of others?

     

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    Glen, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Somewhere...

    a lawyer just fell flat from an aneurism.

     

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    Huph, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    Musicians are Separate from Composers and Songwriters

    Do we want musicians having to worry about "the copyright question" as they create beautiful works such as this?


    You and "Jackn" are making a common mistake. Musicians don't "create", they perform. Composers, songwriters, arrangers (and producers in hip hop) are the people who craft songs. These positions are legally defined differently. They're not interchangeable.

    Kutiman is definitely the arranger in this instance. Whether he would be considered the composer is subjective, I guess. However, unless he's playing one of the instruments, he's not technically a musician (meaning that he would not be legally entitled to that pay-scale; but that's good because he would avoid a forced controlled-composition clause). I'm not diminishing his role, just trying to clear up misconceptions that spin out into massive confusion down the line. I'm sure he is a musician who can play an instrument, since he seems to have a firm grasp on the principles of arrangement.

    For that matter, "Mash Up" is different than sample-based works, which are different from Remixes. Musical Collage is also it's own thing (musique concrete). This isn't semantics, these are defined differently for payment and artistic purposes.

    Sorry, I'm just kind of a stickler for this stuff. I'm a huge proponent of sample-based art, but there is a lot of confusion surrounding it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 2:52pm

      Re: Musicians are Separate from Composers and Songwriters

      This is part of what's killing corporate music. Carefully defined nitpicky boxes to put people in for the purposes of corporate management and legalisms.

      It's all a bit arbitrary. Composers don't "make music," they make instructions. Arrangers don't "make music," they reorder the instructions. Performers don't even "make music," their instruments do. Or, equally, they all make music just using different methods and materials.

      Feh. If what a person has done creates music that did not exist before, then they're a musician regardless of how they got there.

      The guy made music, so he's a musician.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

        Re: Re: Musicians are Separate from Composers and Songwriters

        You're both right, and both uses are fair in context. There is absolutely a time and place for clear and rigorous definitions, even within the arts, both for criticism and business reasons (is it wrong for an opera company or a large commercial studio to have positions and a pay scale?) It is also perfectly fine to use "musician" in the more general sense, to mean anyone who creates or contributes to the creation of music. I don't agree with Huph that the more specific distinctions are always important - but his comment was informative!

        To Huph I ask: what do I call the many people I have known throughout my life who compose, write, arrange, perform and record? I figured "musician" was a pretty good term...

         

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      Cynyr (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 7:55pm

      Re: Musicians are Separate from Composers and Songwriters

      so a controller/mixer is not an instrument?

      so this guy isn't a musician? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O31fAYdjdVU

      I'd argue he is choosing which sounds play when, no differently than a person playing a guitar.

      Also what is stopping a Musician from being the composer/songwriter/arranger as well? So you are saying that if there is no payment structure for something it shouldn't exist? Hmm, see Http://www.kernel.org/ it seems like it could use your help getting a payment system setup. or maybe http://www.mozilla.org/ .

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Ask for permission.

    It's not complicated.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Ask for permission.

      But it is complicated. So complicated and expensive that this kind of music can't legally exist, despite the fact that it harms no one and has thousands of years of tradition and culture behind it.

      This issue is the one that opened my eyes to the fact that our current copyright laws are absurd and harmful both to individuals and society at large. This issue is why I consider copyright as it currently exists to be immoral and fully worthy of ignoring.

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Ask for permission.

      No.

       

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 7:53pm

      Re: Ask for permission.

      Techdirt has exposed an excellent rule of thumb when it comes to copyright debates: you can immediately spot the people who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about by looking for the ones who suggest anything about copyright is simple.

       

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      Jay (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

      Re: Ask for permission.

      "Ask for permission."

      *facepalm*

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Musicians are Separate from Composers and Songwriters

    only if you play the instrument you're a musician?!

    and arrangers are not musicians?!

    yeah, keep pulling things out of your ass.

    [facepalm]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 6:25pm

    Welcome to the wonderful of how to do it right.

    This video is a perfect example of what can be done when you ask rather than take. It allowed the individual artists involved to contribute their work as they saw fit, and the mashup guy worked with that product to produce a final edited piece.

    No copyright issues, no problems.

    The usual Techdirt crew (like you Marcus) could learn a lot from this process.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 7:04pm

      Re:

      Wow. Way to miss the point.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

      Re:

      That's why I always try to ask dead artists if I can use their old material in my collages.

      Someday they'll answer my pleas, I'm sure of it.

       

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      Jay (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 8:09pm

      *Listens to Bach as he plays the smallest violin*

      "This video is a perfect example of what can be done when you ask rather than take. It allowed the individual artists involved to contribute their work as they saw fit, and the mashup guy worked with that product to produce a final edited piece"

      Do you really, really, REALLY think that he asked each of those people involved in his work for permission?

      Or did he create by the thumb of fair use and you're just being inflammatory?

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 8:51pm

        Re: *Listens to Bach as he plays the smallest violin*

        Actually I believe the AC was saying that this is the only one of Kutiman's videos that "counts", the others being full of dastardly appropriation art.

        I am beginning to suspect he has no soul.

         

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          The eejit (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 3:53am

          Re: Re: *Listens to Bach as he plays the smallest violin*

          *crunching sounds*...Sorry. That was me. I like souls with a side of English mustard - rings out the essence much better.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 6:34am

        Re: *Listens to Bach as he plays the smallest violin*

        Jay, read the story:

        "he spent a couple months going around Jerusalem, interviewing various local musicians and asking them all to just improvise some music (all around the key of D), and then mixed it together into this amazing sounding song"

        There you go.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 6:59am

          Re: Re: *Listens to Bach as he plays the smallest violin*

          Haha, do you think that means there is no copyright issue here?

          Unless he had a team of lawyers with him on the trip, then the copyright status of this work is still very much in question. It's only not an issue because nobody has chosen to make it one.

          And I guess you are asserting that he shouldn't have done any of the youtube mashups that made him famous and let him fund a project like this? Because art should only be for the rich, right? Like I said: no soul.

           

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      Prisoner 201, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:17pm

      Re:

      If these people had all been signed with various major labels, the legal work involved to make this piece would take years and cost more in lawyer fees than the production cost of Lady Gaga's latest album.

      And he would certainly not be allowed to use it for free.

      In summary, it would never have been done. Which is fine by Big Content, because thats less competition.

       

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    snidely (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 4:13am

    Seeing $$$$

    I wonder who owns the copyright on the muazzin's call to prayer? Could you imagine the "public performance" licensing fees? 5 x per day from every mosque in the world...I am shocked Big Content hasn't tried to lock this up.

     

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    Ruth, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    this guys is amazing

    he invented a new artform and it gets better everytime.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 20th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Reverse Music Video

    What I find so cool about this is that it is the exact inverse of a typical Tourism Board collage, music video, or film.

    Usually, the music is written first, then created in a studio. ONLY THEN do the film directors go out on location and film violinists next to wailing walls, or what have you. Those musicians/actors (milli vanilli) on location just "dub" or lip sync the music to create the film. Nothing wrong with this, and it is the easier way to do a video.

    But here, Kutiman does the opposite. He films and records artists riffing ex tempore in the field, then actually uses those field recordings to splice/overlay the music. The riffs become his instrument. The music is written, if 'written' is even the word, ex post facto.

    It sounds and looks great. How can we stop this madman?

     

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