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
    Sam, 23 Jan 2009 @ 10:39am

    I guess this is why it's subjective...

    Jeff and Anon2 say that the songs "are note-for-note exact for bar after bar" and "but pretty much every aspect of the song, from the rhythm, bass line and time signature to the lead guitar lines."

    I've listened to the Satriani song, and apart from the one melody that's referenced in the popular YouTube comparison, "If I Could Fly" doesn't sound anything like "Viva La Vida" to me. The melody in reference does, sure, but it's maybe 20 seconds out of the Satriani song. Does that mean Coldplay *stole* it? On purpose? No, I don't think so, and I think that's Mike's point. It's similar but not the same, but you can show that many songs over the years are similar - but not the same. "My Sweet Lord", while again probably unintentional, is, to me, a direct rip-off of "He's So Fine". "If I Could Fly" *as a whole* isn't anything like "VLV" - to me. :)

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