Forensic musicology and a ponderance on cowbell

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Last we checked, forensic musicology was not high on the lists of Best Career Options for 2018, and it probably won’t be anytime soon. But the field, if it can be called that, has been getting more and more lucrative since the Marvin Gaye estate’s $7.4 million judgment against “Blurred Lines” songwriters Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.

Not everyone is happy about this. A recent Rolling Stone article cites one unnamed legal observer’s contention that the similarities between “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” come down to the "look and feel and cowbells," rather than lyrics, melody and the like. The article also notes that “forensic musicology isn’t all that sexy.”

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before forensic musicologists are replaced by Pandora’s "music genome project," the algorithm that has consistently proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there are very few degrees of separation between your favorite artist and Ed Sheeran.



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