• Markdavin Obenza

Musical Appropriation



Issues of musical appropriation are shaping the musical landscape, and not for the better. Cultural appropriation is the norm. Humanity *is* an exchange of culture across all mediums. This is not to say that there aren't sinister actors that profit unfairly from oppressed cultures, but that there is, and should be, a huge gray area on what we consider a 'foul' and should consider these fouls on a case by case basis.


The problem is that progressive activists (who are ironically *overwhelmingly* white) have no gray area and are too quick to call out a privileged person playing music from an oppressed group. Our collective fear of discreditation prevents us from pushing back on a single dubious claim and we are quick to buckle under pressure. For as we all have seen, social media is very good at snowballing one to fame or defamation. The real loser is the very culture these activists claim to support and the rest of us can watch the richness of their musical offering fade away in the background while we continue to get our overdose of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach (whom I love btw).


If we continue to let this small group of people dictate what is culturally acceptable, the end game is a less diverse musical world. If we open this identity-colored pandora's box, who is to say it won't backfire from the other side and put me on trial as a filipino 'profiting' on European early music.


POCs need to think hard about this problem. If we want a more diverse musical world, it's up to us to push back against this small group of people dictating what is culturally acceptable on our behalf. And the rest of us need to think twice before crying foul.


And to the POCs that disagree, still love you.

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