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Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1200 20211111T1250 America/Chicago Forgery and Deception AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
#NOTGARTH: Garth Brooks Sound-alikes, Online Deceptions, and Recording Authority
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

Country musician Garth Brooks (b. 1962) has long resisted placing his music on streaming platforms like Spotify, and his legal team vigorously polices sites like YouTube to discourage unauthorized uploads of his recordings. Although intended to increase sales of more lucrative media such as CDs and mp3s, this artificial scarcity has led many online users to settle for virtually identical recordings performed by Garth Brooks cover bands. Known as "sound-alikes," these recordings garner millions of streams on YouTube by delivering a similar listening experience via a no-cost, frictionless interface. Seldom posted by the musicians themselves, these recordings are often willfully misidentified as the original Brooks recordings by uploaders, who stand to profit from the deception. Sound-alikes thus invite a broad array of questions about the aesthetic and ethical ramifications of the streaming era.


This paper uses text data mining to examine online reception for three Garth Brooks songs: "The Dance," "The Thunder Rolls," and "Friends in Low Places." Analyzing over 18,000 YouTube comments, I argue that online sound-alikes challenge the textual authority of recordings and their musicians, destabilizing historical notions of authenticity in country and pop music. Online audiences disagree about whether sound-alikes can deliver the desired listening experience of the Brooks originals. For some, unmasking deception demonstrates a discerning ear and a more sincere, sophisticated fandom. Comparative listening reveals that stylistic disparities between original and sound-alike are indeed easily detected. Yet many others, unwittingly or not, enjoy sound-alikes as sufficient and admirable alternatives, thereby denying authenticity as inherently desirable or necessary. More fundamentally, the debate around Brooks sound-alikes conveys ambivalence toward streaming media's false promise of free, ubiquitous, and comprehensive listening access. Joining recent scholarship on musical forgery by Chris Atton and Frederick Reece, this paper questions how listeners and musicologists should adapt our assumptions of recording authority as audio deepfakes, re-recordings, and other sound-alikes continue to proliferate online.

Presenters
SP
Samuel Parler
Baylor University
“Albinoni’s” Adagio, Compositional Forgery, and the Test of Time
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

The Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751) is one of the most enduringly popular "baroque" compositions in the repertory. Shunned by most music history textbooks, it nonetheless appears regularly on anthology discs with titles like _Baroque Masterpieces_ (Sony Classics, 2002) and _Essential Baroque_ (EMI Classics, 2009), and has become so ubiquitous in cinema that Anthony Lane suggested, in a 2016 review, that the time has come for the piece to be "banned onscreen." Culturally omnipresent though it remains, this most famous of Albinoni's compositions is not, in fact, by Albinoni at all. As the Saxon State Library began clarifying in private communications to researchers dating back to the 1980s, the piece is a twentieth-century "forgery" [Fälschung]-i.e., a newly composed work deliberately misattributed to a figure from the historical past. Despite Remo Giazotto's claims (1958) to have adapted it from a "figured bass…and two first violin fragments…sent [to him] by the State Library of Dresden," the Sächsische Landesbibliothek has always maintained that no such transaction occurred, and that "The Adagio is from A to Z his [Giazotto's] original creation."


Musicology has no established vocabulary for addressing pieces such as this on their own terms. In the first major English-language study of Albinoni, Michael Talbot (1990) adopts the usual approach, understandably dismissing the Adagio in G minor as a composition whose style is "so totally unlike Albinoni's that it invites us to explore his music under false premises." This paper respectfully takes the opposite tack, asking what can be learned about postmodern classical-music culture by subjecting an exposed compositional forgery to in-depth stylistic and historical analysis. Adopting philosophical and art-historical writing on forgery to music suggests that works such as this often succeed, in Max Friedländer's words (1942), because "the forger has understood, and misunderstood, the old master in the same way as ourselves." A hypothesis of transhistorical mishearing in this mould gives the Adagio's astonishing montage of archaic descending-tetrachord suspension patterns and abrupt chromatic-tertian modulations rich new meaning as a cultural document not of the eighteenth century, but of the twentieth.

Presenters
FR
Frederick Reece
Preserving Authenticity and Exposing Forgery in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

In his 1760 anthology Cathedral Music, editor William Boyce emphasized his use of historical sources and stated that his goal was to provide "a correct collection of our old English Cathedral Music." Similar statements continue to appear in antiquarian music anthologies through the early-nineteenth century. Editors paired two related claims: first, that their works were based on carefully transcribed original sources; second, that their work protects the repertory and reverses corruption ranging from copying errors to the inclusion of fraudulent sources. 


Boyce completed Cathedral Music after the death of Maurice Greene, who originally funded, compiled sources, and edited works for the publication. Greene began the project to promote authentic sources of old church music, but he also had a reputation to repair. His former efforts to promote old music were in the Academy of Vocal Music where he became embroiled in a major musical plagiarism controversy: the Bononcini-Lotti affair. Greene's involvement led to his departure from the academy. Reception of Greene throughout the eighteenth century focused on these two events related to his antiquarianism: his involvement in the plagiarism scandal and the creation of his seminal anthology. Greene's connection to plagiarism and his editorial work were known to many later anthology editors who sought to preserve the authenticity of their repertory and confronted any potentially fraudulent materials they encountered. 


This paper explores the relationship between the search to preserve musical works of the past and the efforts to denounce musical corruptions and forgeries in antiquarian anthologies starting with Cathedral Music and continuing in publications by Joseph Ritson, Edward Jones, and others in the late-eighteenth century. It argues that an emphasis on authenticity was fueled by the uncovering of forgeries in antiquarian works about music and on other topics. British antiquarians interested in music were exposed to both musical and non-musical forgeries. The rhetoric in musical antiquarian writings was closely related to that in writings about authenticity and forgery in literature, art, and archaeology. Antiquarian music anthologists combined these issues with larger eighteenth-century discussions about musical taste, the cultivation of fake-old musical styles, and performance.

Presenters
DN
Devon Nelson
Indiana University
Indiana University
Baylor University
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