This course will consider a diverse variety of musical styles by following how musical ideas get re-used. Sometimes these re-uses are considered theft but other times they are regarded as an homage or borrowing. Using as our central text a recent graphic novel written by law professors called Theft! A History of Music, this course will look at the issues surrounding musical borrowing, alluding, quoting, sampling, and stealing. Poet and literary critic T.S. Eliot posited that "immature poets imitate; mature poets steal," and a similar sentiment has been attributed to the composer Igor Stravinsky. But is it really a question of maturity and artistic development? Who gets to own music, and how? What rights do creators have to use the music of others? How has copyright law developed and how does it balance questions of freedom and control? Our case studies will include works of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, rap, and film music.
Satisfies the Visual and Performing Arts distribution requirement.
Repeatable for credit.