Wednesday News: Law, music, race, and gender
Jay Z, Timbaland Win ‘Big Pimpin” Sample Trial – Timbaland was sued for sampling some flute music from the Egyptian song, “Khosara, Khosara,” by the composer’s nephew. The lawyer for the defense argued that Baligh Hamdi, the song’s composer, sold his rights, before he died, to his record company. That company, in turn, sold the rights to EMI, which ultimately licensed the music to Timbaland when it became clear that the song’s hook was not public domain, as he originally believed. the Jay Z produced song is called “Big Pimpin,” and the composer’s nephew sued for a violation of “moral rights.” However, due to the fact that the rights had already been sold by the uncle, the judge held that the nephew had no legal standing to sue, meaning that he did not have the right to bring a cause of action. So the court never actually had to rule on the legitimacy of the song’s use of the flute hook, although the standing issue is also important because it highlights the extent to which selling one’s IP rights can have unforeseen consequences.
The composer’s nephew filed the lawsuit in 2007. Although Timbaland, who used the hook believing it to be public domain, paid $100,000 to EMI when he learned that the hook originated in the tune – itself a song in the 1960 Egyptian film Fata ahlami – to continue using it, Fahmy sued the producer, rapper and several other associated music companies for violating moral rights. Those rights govern how a work can be altered with respect to an author, who, in this case, died in 1993. – Rolling Stone
The Neuroscience of Bass: New Study Explains Why Bass Instruments Are Fundamental to Music – Speaking of music, it is apparently the case that bass instruments play a critical role in keeping time in songs, in part because of the way the human ear (and body) respond to the register at which they play. When combined with higher pitch instruments, there is a balance between pitch and rhythm that structures our ability to comprehend, experience, and enjoy music.
Trainor and her colleagues have recently published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggesting that perceptions of time are much more acute at lower registers, while our ability to distinguish changes in pitch gets much better in the upper ranges, which is why, writes Nature, “saxophonists and lead guitarists often have solos at a squealing register,” and why bassists tend to play fewer notes.. . .
The study’s title perfectly summarizes the team’s findings: “Superior time perception for lower musical pitch explains why bass-ranged instruments lay down musical rhythms.” In other words, “there is a psychological basis,” says Trainor, “for why we create music the way we do. Virtually all people will respond more to the beat when it is carried by lower-pitched instruments.” University of Vienna cognitive scientist Tecumseh Fitch has pronounced Trainor and her co-authors’ study a “plausible hypothesis for why bass parts play such a crucial role in rhythm perception.” – Open Culture
Zen Cho: Tackling questions of race, gender and social justice in fantasy fiction – I missed this interview with Zen Cho when it came out, so perhaps you did, too. I like the way Cho talks about her book, Sorcerer to the Crown, and her decision to write it as a Regency Fantasy. Cho is very interested in all of the underpinnings of the Regency period we don’t often see in historical Romances set in that period, and yet she is also well read in Austen and other authors of the period, so she is working from within a complex fictional paradigm. I also appreciate her willingness to discuss and tackle these issues without wanting to make her fiction merely a vehicle for their delivery. And the interview definitely had me thinking about literary sampling:
“Zacharias isn’t just a metaphor,” she says. “He’s a character. The same for Prunella. But obviously I wanted to write about the centrality of the colonial territories to the British at that time. Colonialism was fundamental to the way Britain worked. London was built on slavery and imperialism, and I wanted to explore how that worked through a fantastical Regency romance.” . . .
“I do enjoy pastiche,” she says. “I started writing fan-fiction. I’d do Discworld [Terry Pratchett] and Good Omens [Pratchett and Neil Gaiman] fanfic. Then I would do mash-ups of books and styles – I wrote Good Omens stories in the style of Rudyard Kipling.” She pauses, then says, “Kipling used to do pastiches of Robert Browning poems, you know.” — The Independent
Gloria Steinem: On her life on the road, Donald Trump, and how she got her feminist mojo – It’s interesting that Steinem talks about how she was inspired by her “dreamer” father, as well as the limitations of her mother’s life. At 81, Steinem belongs to a generation of feminists that are remembered, in turn, as both “radical” and, “conservative.” It’s indicative of how complicated and multi-layered feminist theory and politics are that these perceptions can exist together. At any rate, Katie Couric’s interview with Steinem is interesting as both a personal narrative (her remarks about what her mother could have accomplished had she not married Steinem’s father are poignant) and an oral history. And her comment about how Donald Trump “was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run,” ignoring the fact that he had a rich father, is an acute critique of bootstrap Republicanism.
Couric asked Steinem what she thought about prominent women from Lady Gaga to Madonna not wanting to be called feminists. Her answer: “People don’t know what it means. So I would first send them to the dictionary and then challenge them, male or female, to say if they are or are not a feminist.”
On the biggest advancements for women today, compared to when Steinem first began her career, she told Couric: “We know we’re not crazy. We know that we could be in a world in which men and women are allowed to be unique individuals, who are also equal to each other. We know it’s possible.“ – Yahoo News