Musical morality in a global culture (repost from Annika/Diatonic Hydrogen)

As artists working with musical tools that were born in the wombs of various cultures, and as creative musicians in general, we often mull over what exactly we are doing, what is moral, what is honest, what are our obligations as artists and what we have to contribute of ourselves. This wonderful blog post by our friend Annika addresses some of those questions, raises some more questions, and proposes some very interesting thoughts, so we thought we’d share it with you!

Diatonic Hydrogen

We all come to music with a unique mindset, feet planted firmly (or loosely) in various traditions, tastes ranging from Beyoncé to Québecois field recordings, and ears that are sensitive to radically different elements of the music we are making. However, with this uniqueness, with the melding of influences—across ensembles and within musicians themselves—comes a duty to respect the traditions and the people who have guided us to this moment. For example, who am I, a Scottish-born atheist, to perform a song about the loss of the Muslim faith while punctuating it with Yiddish vocal ornamentation? What entitles me to usurp these sacred musics and declare their cohabitation? What right do I have to appropriate these traditions and texts to which I have no blood claim?

This last question is a question that, over the last few decades, has risen to the forefront of the fields of composition and ethnomusicology. It’s…

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