Remarks on “Authenticity” in Music

10 September 2015

Only a few terms have been so “over-used” during the last decades. Its original meanings have become quite unclear and confusing if not forgotten. “Authenticity” is one of these unique words. Originating in Greek language the term was meant as the acting by a “leading executive” or a “creator”, if we connect it more to arts. In former English, French and Spanish languages the word was connected with authoritarian behavior or authorizing something. 

Today, and almost like a fashion, authenticity is extensively misused as a sign for quality in the advertising industry. As a basic aesthetically term, “authenticity” apparently denotes two dimensions which is first authentication/attribution. Secondly the term includes something moralizing leading to normative categories. And how about a “subjective authenticity” as it was coined by the writer Christa Wolf as a term for justifying a personal expression outside any normative limits (provided that no one else is hurt)? 

And finally, how can we deal with musical hybridity which is perhaps more common practice as one might imagine? The paper tries to clarify and also discuss the different meanings of the word and hopes to contribute for a more specific understanding, especially in music.