Citing Our Sources

When we attribute a quote from a person or her work, sometimes something odd happens. We quote it as if we first heard or read it from the original source. But how often does that happen? Sometimes a quote comes from someone else referencing the quip.

Yet what do we do? “As Martin Luther King Jr. said…”. We don’t put “As John Doe used in his Book, Martin Luther King Jr. said…” It seems superfluous. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he said is most important here.

Taken another way…

Are our musical tastes merely references to other people’s taste? Could we have discovered any of the music we listen to without another person’s help? Even the random find at the record store required someone to put that record into the store. Even the cool track you found online needed a person to upload the track. Even the concert, where a musician is playing to you, is brought together by so many people behind the scenes.

Does it matter to source? Could it be like our examples with quotation: is it not just the music that matters?

Is this a fair assessment though?

Go back to the Martin Luther King Jr. example. Could you have discovered the quote otherwise, without John Doe’s help? Maybe, maybe not. Either way you discovered it with the help of John Doe.

Whether we like or not, other people have an impact on what we listen to. Ornette Coleman’s music does not just sing from the Heaven’s. It is given to me by someone else. To cite our sources could be a way of admitting that music is made of a complex web of relationships.

Music is not just brought down from the magic mountain by every artist. Artists need others who will not only help them come down from the mountain but spread their message to all they can.



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