A defining feature of “world music,” “world beat,” or “ethno pop,” as it has variously been called, is the production of recordings by well-known American and European pop musicians that include traditional musicians from other cultures performing in a back-up role, or that call attention to themselves by the use of musical exotica extracted from traditional cultures. Such recordings suggest a range of issues and questions that invite critique and debate. Some of these are listed below: 1. How do a recording’s musical arrangements, title, graphics, and accompanying notes represent the relationship between Western lead musicians and participating traditional musicians? 2. Is music on the recording attributed to an author, composer, or arranger? Who holds the copyright? What do attributions and credits suggest about rights to, and ownership of, the music? 3. Are the musical and personal relationships negotiated through the production of the album compatible with beliefs about rights to, and ownership of, music in the imported tradition represented on the recording? 4. Does the lead artist show musical respect for the imported tradition(s) represented on the recording? What is “musical respect” and how might it be shown or not shown? 5. Do artists who employ traditional musicians have obligations not only to the musicians but to the political entities or cultural traditions that they represent? What factors would determine whether they do or do not? 6. Should traditional musicians be implicated in the capitalist culture of risk that is an inherent part of the record business? That is, should traditional musicians get a fixed “session” fee for participating in a recording, or should they be paid royalties based on sales?
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