There has been a major movement in the last 30 years to pursue authentic performance practice of classical music. Also known as historically-informed-performance (HIP), musicians have sought to use scholarship on historical performances and original instruments so that they can perform baroque- and classical-era musical works in an authentic manner. Moreover, some go so far as to argue that it is incorrect to play such music inauthentically, or even that we have an artistic duty to seek authenticity in performance, or that authentic performances will be aesthetically superior to inauthentic ones. The philosophical discussions of authenticity in musical performance have also centered on classical music, whether in performing music 200 or 300 years old we ought to seek to play in an ‘authentic’ way, as one might have heard in Bach’s, Handel’s, or Mozart’s time.
This context makes it appear as if the authenticity debate depends on old music, for which we have written scores but no original recordings. I argue that this is not the case, and that authenticity is not a mere historical problem – it revolves around musical styles and genres. Authenticity is a stylistic and aesthetic problem that potentially can arise in any genre of music, from any era. With examples from Be-Bop, R&B, Blues, Country/Western and Rock-and-Roll we can see that certain styles are ‘authentic’ in a genre, and others are not. With musical examples from Elvis to Ray Charles to The Blues Brothers, I will show how the same kinds of authenticity questions that arise with baroque and classical music arise in contemporary pop music. I will use this phenomenon to shed some light on the issue of musicians’ obligation to play music authentically, or at least to strive to do so, and whether authenticity automatically yields aesthetically superior performances.
|Keywords:||Aesthetics, Music, Performance, Authenticity, Style, Genre, Classical|
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon, USA
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