Ownership of music is a legal question, one that is increasingly contentious in a time when cyberspace is challenging copyright laws. It is also an ethical and even philosophical question, which Smithsonian Folkways Recordings must wrestle with as it gathers the music of cultures around the world. Folkways’ D. A. Sonneborn tells stories of the music makers he’s met—including truck drivers in Ghana playing on hubcaps, air pumps, and their trucks’ horns—in a session that considers the idea of ownership in its largest sense.
This session was illustrated in real time. Click the thumbnail image to the left for an illustrated summary of this session.
As associate director of the Smithsonian’s nonprofit record label and archival audio collection, D.A. Sonneborn, Ph.D., has been executive co-producer of two hundred CDs. His research interests include community cultural representation, best ethical practices in fieldwork, music in Sufism, and intellectual property rights in intangible cultural heritage. Sonneborn belongs to the UNESCO-advisory International Council for Traditional Music and the advisory board of the Al Ain Centre for Music in the World of Islam in Abu Dhabi. He co-authored Planet Drum (Harper San Francisco, 1991), has written new music for theater, film, and dance productions, and has produced traditional world-music concerts and theater festivals.