Saturday 24 November 2007

BarCamp London: The Transmission of Tradition - Jeremy Keith

Slides available

Jeremy gave us a great rendition with his zouk. This blog post or the slides don’t really capture it — you need musical intermissions every few minutes :-)

John Philip Sousa hated both gramaphones & radio:

  • problem was with his business model — he sold sheet music and did live performances

Irish traditional music — no tradition of making money from writing it

  • some exceptions: people writing music to celebrate a sponsor
  • most jigs, reels, etc: nobody knows who wrote them

The music was learnt aurally — still the best way to learn (all the little phrasings, etc)

Consequently, there was an enormous amount of musical variation in Ireland

Francis O’Neill, chief of police in Chicago, started collecting tunes

  • Cliche — Irish policemen in Chicago If you could play an instrument you were guaranteed a job
  • O’Neill’s 1001: “The Book” — saved music for future generations since population of Ireland was being decimated by famine and people leaving

Sharing music moved onto the internet with mailing lists

  • no music or images, so ABC format
  • software could take this format and output sheet music
  • regional variations starting to die out, since most popular lives longer

Jeremy’s contribution:

  • now 3000-4000 tunes
  • mostly public domain — some conflicts where 20th century ideas of licensing & intellectual property
  • some people will compose a tune and not take credit — hope that it gets accepted

What’s going to happen with music in the future?

  • like irish tradition? music getting out there, variations, mutations, etc
  • or like Disney? extending copyright length each time Mickey Mouse comes up for expiry

Jeremy thinks the 20th Century might be a blip

  • had the idea of the commons for a long time
  • only been 100-120 years of having false economy of scarcity

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