|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
The ethics of 'borrowing' in the Japanese pop industry
Is stealing acceptable?
The answer seems definitely no in all places except the world of Japanese pop, where stolen ideas have produced little controversy.
Bart tries to understand why Japan's pop composers show no qualms about copying or borrowing from their resourceful Western counterparts.
At the beginning of the article,the magazine reminds the naive reader that recent hits by Mr.Children and Kenji Ozawa sound suspiciously similar to compositions by Elvis Costello and Eric Claption,respectively.
According to Bart,there are some shameless Japanese rock artists who copy a whole tune, make small changes and call the result their originals.
But others are less conscious.
They end up sounding like The Kinks or Paul McCartney because they love and listen to these idols again and again.
Hip hop artists are more open about their sampling habit.
In fact, they "quote" rather than steal.
"Hip hop is a kind of music which is equipped with a system for showing respect for sampling sources," explains Seiko Ito,one of Japan's oldest rappers.
"Some(Japanese) rock musicians,on the other hand,steal the essence and atmosphere of songs they like to duplicate.
I don't think they are creative."
Ito tells Bart that hip hop artists steal ideas they like and say so,instead of hiding the fact.
Ito suggests that sampling is so easy that musicians are beginning to feel it is useless to work hard to compose new melodies that often do not compare with existing masterpieces.
"There is no musical genius in our age," Ito points out.
"So,it's best for us to enjoy the work of ace stealers."
Bart agrees with Ito.
The magazine goes on to suggest that decoding of sampled phrases and rhythm patterns gives listeners the fundamental human pleasure of calling something back from the remotest corners of memory.
But most Westerners are not as forgiving as Bart or Ito.
To illustrate this, the magazine listens to the opinion of Peter Barakan,a broadcaster-music journalist living in Tokyo.
He feels that stealing constitutes a crime.
He also observes that Japanese musicians seem to feel it is OK for them to steal ideas because "everyone is doing it" and "most listeners will never find it out."
Barakan says that he has always been aware of those Japanese songs that sound dubiously familiar to his English ears since he arrived here 20 years ago.
The Briton,who is no more taken by surprise by such songs,feels that the growing practice of sampling is a contributing factor,but more significantly stealing continues unabated because both creators and listeners consider stealing normal and don't attach high value to originality.(TI)