July 7, 2008

Matt's Music

Undoubtedly, you have come across this video of the globe-trotting, dancing machine Matt Harding:

It's one of those virals that it's hard not to smile at.  I smiled a bit more this morning with this pointer from SAI about the music playing in the background while Matt and company dance, which, surprisingly, isn't just a ripped mp3:
When Palbasha Siddique starts her senior year at Minneapolis' Southwest High School, she'll have quite a story to tell about what she did on her summer vacation.

"I was waiting for something like this to happen for a long time," said Siddique, 17, a Bangladesh native who lives in northeast Minneapolis and can now be heard singing around the globe.

Siddique owns the ethereal voice heard in a new YouTube-buoyed video clip that, as they say in these Internet-trendy times, has gone viral. It's called "Dancing" (or: "Where the Hell Is Matt?"), and it's nothing but footage of one guy randomly dancing in the streets with people all over the world.

That's all it takes nowadays. "Dancing" has now been viewed 4 million times on YouTube and is being watched (and praised) by web-surfers from all over the world.

Meanwhile, the song from the video, titled "Praan" (Bengali for "life"), has shot up to the top 10 of Amazon's soundtrack downloads over the past week and is also in the top 100 of all its MP3 downloads.

"It's up over Madonna and Mariah Carey," Siddique said with a giggle.
. . . . .
"To be honest, I didn't really see anything amazing about" the video at first, Siddique said. "It seemed kind of silly. But when it came together with the music, it does convey a message that we are all the same. That struck me, and that's what's touching so many people."

Siddique was paid a flat fee of $1,000 to sing for the clip and will not make any royalties from the Amazon sales. Schyman justified it as "good day's pay for a musician."

Said Siddique, "I'm not sad about that, because there is no other way I could have gotten this much exposure."
However, I wasn't completely surprised with the news that Matt was concerned about being above board with the intellectual property that he used in his videos.  A few days ago Ethan Zuckerman had an interesting post on Matt and his video in which he talks about the music used in Matt's first dance video:
As I started watching his original video, shot in 2005, I winced involuntarily as I realized that the soundtrack was Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby”, a piece of music I have strong feelings about.

“Sweet Lullaby” is a song based around a vocal sample misrepresented as a Pygmy song from Central Africa. Actually, the sample is from a lullaby, “Rorogwela”, sung in the Solomon Islands. The song is sung by a woman named Afunakwa, who was recorded in 1970 by the legendary ethnomusicologist, Dr. Hugo Zemp. The story of Deep Forest’s unauthorized use of the sample, their miscrediting of the sample’s origins and Zemp’s understandable anger has been brilliantly documented by Professor Steven Feld in an article called “A Sweet Lullaby for World Music” in Public Culture. Suffice to say that the guys behind Deep Forest, who portray themselves as “sound reporters”, didn’t feel compelled to properly credit the person or culture the sample came from, or the ethnomusicologist who recorded it.
However, after a little more digging, Ethan came across this video on Matt's page relating how he came to be aware of the controversy and travelled to the Solomon Islands to track down Afunakwa and try to compensate her for the use of the song:

Matt obviously has more going for him than just crazy mad dance skills.


a conversationalist said...

As a rule I try to avoid the latest video meme rolling around the tubes, but this one really is something pretty cool and fun (it is at this point, in order to avoid casting cold water upon the dancing happiness, I will refrain from wondering aloud about Matt's carbon footprint...).

Doug said...

As the video about Matt's interest in the singer Afunakwa demonstrates, Matt's kindness footprint is just the right size.

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