Ok, how do you know when you make a riff whether it's original or not?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by JP Bassman, Dec 5, 2001.

  1. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    Ok, how do you know when you make a riff whether it's original or not? I've come up with some pretty good riffs in my humble opinion, and my friend/guitarist swears that none of them are original. :rolleyes:

    Also, what are the rules for this kinda stuff? Like, if I honestly don't know that's its not an original riff can I get like sued and stuff? Geez, I hope not. :eek:
  2. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    As far as I've known, you can't get sued for using someone's line, as long as you don't use their song.

    Considering all the musicians out there, you're bound to use atleast one thing in your life, unintentionally, that's already been done before. :)

    I'd avoid it, though, if you're aware it's in use, that's what I generally do.

    I used to have this one line, a few years back, when I was in a ska/punk band... My guitarist (at the time) swore on his life that it was a part of a Green Day song (the one line). I didn't really change it, I just stopped playing the whole thing, since I was dumbfound on what else to use...
  3. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    Hmm.....the thing is one or two of our songs are based on these "stolen riffs." Even though I think they're original anyway. So, I guess the best thing is to scrap the songs? or at least limit their use?

    Anyway, thanks for the advice.
  4. As someone once observed, "all the great literature has already been written and all the great music has already been played."

    What they were referring to is the fact that we are all the product of what has preceded us.

    If the riff is new to you, that's all that matters.

    The killer is that when you get to be an older guy, like me, you realize that something you thought was original is often a copy of something you almost forgot about.

    Either way, if it's new to your ears and to your audience's ears, that's all that matters.

    The difference between "ripoff" and "influence" is usually subjective or convenient.
  5. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    There are a lot of bassists out there writing a lot of riffs. They are bound to sound similar or even be the same as parts of other songs. Take a step further, musicians have been writing music for more than a thousand years.

    I don't think it would be easy to write anything that was 100% original.
  6. said the beastie boys back in '89, "only twelve notes that a man can play."

    i've written pieces that unintentionally had chord changes vaguely resemble other things... i just consider it to be an influence.

    at the same time, don't forget that the anal-retentive composers of the chiffons' "he's so fine" accused george harrison (r.i.p.) of stealing part of the melody for "my sweet lord". george pleaded coincidence (from the heart) but a court said the two songs sounded similar and found for the "he's so fine" guys.
  7. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    What all of you have said is true. There are only 12 notes. And yes I guees it can be written off as an influence. Thanks all you guys for your help :)
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    In western music anyway.
  9. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    come again...?

    (yes, I'm ignorant, I admit it :))
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    The first song that I ever wrote had a I-V-minIII-IV progression for the verses, and Imin-bVI-bVII-V for the chorus and guitar solo.

    I am heavily influenced by Rush, but didn't realize that the verse chord progression was just like Spirit of Radio.

    So, I brought the song to practice, and demoed the chord progression on guitar, and the guitarist and drummer are both like 'That sounds like Spirit of Radio, dude!'

    I was totally bummed out. I thought that I written a really cool song with a fairly complex chord progression for a first time writer(especially for a 16 year old), and it sounded like a Rush song.:(

    That's OK, over the years it has gotten more complex rhythmically, and while the chord progression might sound like Spirit of Radio, the feel is like Rush's more complex stuff, so the Spirit influence isn't as noticeable. Good song though. I can't wait to get a new copy of that studio session, I'll have some really cool mp3's to share.:cool:
  11. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    It's nice to know I'm not alone in this. Most of the riffs I've "stolen" I've ended up scrapping anyway, or at least put them away for now.

    Thanks for the help guys.
  12. Cambass


    Jan 25, 2001
    This is something that I try to avoid when writing songs, lines etc. I once came up with a bassline that was exactly the same as the chorus bass line from The Police's 'Spirits in a Material World'. I heard the song on TV about 2 months after I wrote it and thought 'Bugger!'.

    Like has been said, it's very easy to write something that has already been written, especially with chord progressions. Sometimes when I hear a new song on the radio I cringe because the chord progression has been written a thousand times before. It's just a matter of writing what you feel I guess.
  13. Well, this thread reminds me of something that happened to me a while back.. I just wrote a song, and I was really happy because it was probably the best thing I had ever written. All day I was humming the melody in my head. Got home, turned on my CD player..
    The melody was nearly the same as an AFI song.
    But the chord progression sounded completely different. Just to be nice, I changed the melody a little so it's not exact.. Still sounds like it though. It's ok. I call it influence. That's what you get for listening to the same music all the time.
  14. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    Non-western music uses different scales. I'm not sure of any types other than Indian music which uses microtonal scales that can have much more that 12 notes per octave. I'm sure if you do a search you will find much information on this on the web.

    Also if you listen to reggae very much, you will hear the same bass lines (riddims) over and over. There are some riddims (like Ring the Alarm and Sleng Teng) that have 300+ versions each. Check out www.reggae-riddims.com for a list of popular riddims.
  15. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Yes, our guitarist spent some time in South America, and while he was there, he bought an unusual instrument, (at least to us). I forget what it's called, but the sound would make you think of a sitar if you heard it. It has whole steps, half steps, and get this, quarter steps. The quarter steps sound really cool. (they would probaly sound dissonant to an untrained ear, I would guess)
  16. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    thats really cool about the quarter steps and stuff

    quick question though - cant that be done on a fretless instrument as well?
  17. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    The first bassline I ever "wrote" turned out to be Clapton's Cocaine. God I thought I was cool, then....busted.
  19. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    cool :cool:
  20. JP Bassman

    JP Bassman

    Jun 18, 2001
    ouch that sucks
    great song though! :)