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"Subconscious Plagiarism"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by The Golden Boy, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. Have you guys ever been writing parts of songs and ended up re-writing a 'famous' song? Last nite the guitarist presented an idea that had a few parts. The keyboard player remarked he didn't like a section- I agreed, so I changed a couple notes and it fit great and sounded cool. We then turned our attention to another section and I, again rewrote the passage, and it flowed better. As we're playing I realize the first part is nearly exactly the 'riff' section of Gerry Rafferty's Baker street, the second section is a bit from Night Ranger's When You Close Your Eyes- right before the "I remember what we learned about love in the back of a Chevrolet" bridge.

    Does anyone else go through this?

    I hate it when I do that.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's a great story about Benny Golson, every night when he's asleep, he hears the most beautiful thing in the world playing. But in the morning he never can remember it. So finally he puts a pencil and staff paper by the bed and is determined that as soon as he 'dreams' the music, he's gonna wake himself up and write it down. Sure enough, the music comes, he rouses himself, writes it out and goes back to sleep, confident that he's got a new masterpiece.
    Next mornin he wakes up and takes the manuscript over to the piano to find that he's written out the verse from Hoagy Carmichael's STARDUST....
  3. Speaking of hearing songs in your sleep... There was a story that Keith Richards awoke hearing a riff in his head, he grabbed a guitar, recorded it and fell asleep. In the morning he was rewarded with the "Satisfaction" riff and 45 minutes of snoring. :p
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I remember a story that Black Sabbath did this in the studio once. They spent a few hours writing and recording a song, only to discover the next day they had written an Aerosmith song. D'oh!
  5. I always worry that I'm doing this. Hopefully I'm not.
  6. Yah, I catch either myself or my bandmates doing this all the time. It's usually something obscure though rather than a famous song.

    The problem comes with deciding how similar you can be and still get away with it - I mean when it all comes down to it there's only so many progressions and melodies possible, pretty much everything has been done before by someone.
  7. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah, I wrote something recently that sounds like it should be on Rush's Hemispheres album. Some parts sound too much like the lead-off intro to the album. :scowl: I like what I did, though now I need to de-Rushify it and rearrange it (and probably scrap/replace the Taurus pedal and minimoog parts, heh.)
  8. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    you're absolutely right Nicoli, every set of notes has already been taken and so we all kind of plagerise something, it's how we change it.I think 4 consecutive notes was the limit you could actually pinch legally at one time, I'm not sure if that has changed, but you obviously can change rhythms, and go back and change a note here and there if you find you have been too blatant.There are an awful lot of songs out there that are pretty darn close, and you can use any emminent domain tune you would like to.(Pre-copyright days, or out of copyright material).
  9. _Unregistered_


    Nov 3, 2004
    A quote by Picasso goes something like this: "A good artist borrows, a truly great artist steals".

    We are all just the sum of our influences, and yes, of course; it's all been done before. It's only 11 notes, it's bound to happen.

    Hey.. it happens to the best, even. George Harrison wrote "My Sweet Lord" only to find out that it was The Chiffon's "He's So Fine" when they sued his a$$.

    No one really means to do it, but I suppose it's being a truly great artist that allows you to do it without a) anyone actually realizing it and b) anyone suing you. I guess that's what Pablo was getting at...
  10. More than likely, a great artist is able to snag whatever they want, incorporate it into their art and no one knows the difference. The not-so-great artists get caught! :p

    I also wrote Urge Overkill's "Sister Havana" many years ago. I think it was even before they wrote it.
  11. Brat


    Jun 4, 2004
    NW Indiana.
    I usually write songs and then later on, foind out the tune is already taken.