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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

So here's an intriguing case study in how musical works are affected by the nature of their creation. There is a composer from Japan named Mamoru Samurgoch, whose work has been highly regarded for a number of years. He's done a lot of very high-profile concert works, as well as provided scores to some highly popular videogames. The quality of his music seems all the more impressive because, like Beethoven, he has been deaf for a number of years.

Here's is his Symphony No. 1, titled "Hiroshima":

Last week, though...it turned out that the whole thing is a fraud. Samuragoch revealed that he has been using a ghost composer for years, and that ghost composer has speculated that Samuragoch may not be deaf at all. The whole thing is a mess.

But here's the question: Do you think this has any effect on the works themselves? This seems to me a different kind of case than, say, my decision to never read Orson Scott Card again because of that author's odious beliefs. Here, the works themselves are inexorably tied in with the very controversy about them. So what should our reaction be? Forget the works and move on? Scratch Samuragoch's name off them, relabel them as the work of Takashi Niigaki, and keep on listening?

To me it's kind of like the old Milli Vanilli controversy. Sure, those two guys were fakes -- but somebody had to record that music that a lot of people liked, so should the works themselves just disappear down the scandal memory hole?

What say you?


SK Waller said...

Bring the actual composer forward and let him receive his due!

Roger Owen Green said...

Interesting question. If one discovered a Mozart was actually someone else (and to a degree his last work was), should it be reattributed? Should a painting not by a "master"? I'm inclined to relabel and listen.

And speaking of relabeling, I'm RIGHT NOW listening to the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange, one of my favorite STs (though not one of my favorite films). The liner notes refers to Walter Carlos, who in fact composed it. But when I stick it into my iTunes to play, it's attributed to Wendy Carlos, who she is now. What does do with THAT?