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The Death of an Author

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Uploaded on Nov 13, 2012

Baobei ("baby") is a lullaby composed by Taiwanese singer-songwriter Deserts Xuan back when she was 13 years old. This song was released ten years later with Deserts's debut album in 2006. Despite being part of a more or less conventional, commercial album marketed towards a musical audience, "Baobei", as expressed by the songwriter, will only fully realize its meaning after entering public domain, detaching itself from its original author and its nature as an "automatically copyrighted product" (here, Deserts cites "the death of the author" by Roland Barthes).

It is from here that my video montage sets off to document the process of a newly composed song going public, with much encouragement from the songwriter. Materials are solely based on Youtube videos. In particular, my selection cites "Baobei" as standard guitar lesson material (0:07-0:15), popularly covered tune by a geographically dispersed audience (0:24-0:45), text for the "Learning Chinese through Song" program (0:46 - 0:57, with "pinyin" syllable to guide pronunciation), family education source (0:58-1:05), and opening song for a children's TV show (1:06-1:21). You can also hear a remixed, edited version of "Baobei" in various places throughout the song (1:12 - 1:35). This video ends with a performance by Deserts (1:35-1:57), who joins all other interpreters in reliving "Baobei" as a text of their life, leaving the studio recording in the distant background. The "author has now died.

A potential ethical concern is my featuring of two children singing "Baobei", which is hard to avoid since this is a song written by Deserts when she was a "baby" herself. I have messaged video uploaders of both clips and provided them with a link to my video. Before hearing back, I will keep my video unlisted.

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