Igor Got Game: A Musical and Legal Comparison of The Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” (1918) drew heavily upon music composed by Giovanni Pergolesi and others in the early 18th century. The Beastie Boys, an extremely popular rap/hip hop music group since the mid-1980’s, in their best-selling CD, Hello Nasty (1999) drew upon the music of Stravinsky by means of the digital sampling of Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” Both of these “borrowings” share important similarities and differences. Furthermore, these borrowings shed light on several seemingly unrelated disciplines and fields of study. These include music composition and the nature of creativity and originality, the intellectual property law of different times and societies created to protect authors from appropriations of their original works, the means by which borrowed music may be used and transmitted (sampling, digital streaming, MP3, etc.), and the business (financial, licensing, retail, broadcast, etc.) considerations involved in such borrowings.