There's Only So Many Ways To Combine Chords...

from the so-stop-worrying-about-copying dept

The whole Coldplay/Joe Satriani copyright fight is pretty silly for a a variety of reasons. Yes, there are some similarities, but there's a ton of stuff in music that sounds the same. There's a great chapter in James Boyle's The Public Domain all about Ray Charles' song I Got A Woman, where Boyle goes back in time to show how Charles' song basically copies from a few others (in some cases rather blatantly) in order to effectively invent soul music. Then he moves forward and looks at how others have built off of Charle's song as well. You can read the whole chapter (and, indeed, the whole book) online. The chapter in question is Chapter 6: I Got a Mashup.

Then, of course, many folks have seen the comedian who points out how many songs are based on the same basic progression as Pachelbel's Canon in D:


Along those lines, reader Bill Squire has sent in this similar video about how many songs use the same basic chord progression as Journey's Don't Stop Believing:
And yet, now some people are worried that one musician has come up with a similar song?

Filed Under: chords, humor, music, similarity


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  1. identicon
    Mike, 23 Jan 2009 @ 10:37am

    melodies, not chord progressions

    Obviously, there are chord progressions that are used over and over. Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" has the same progression as The Beatles' "Let it Be." We could name songs ad nauseum.

    The issue here is not just with the chord progression, but also with the melody, rhythm, and pretty much everything else. There are infinite melodies that work with a given chord progression. Coldplay, unfortunately, chose to pick the exact same one as Joe Satriani.

    Interestingly enough, however slightly off-topic, a melody line from the John Williams inauguration song was exactly the same melody that Weezer used in a song off their new album, which was exactly the same as... an old Shaker hymn in the public domain.

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