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
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2009 @ 6:33am

    Re: Rights

    "The whole Coldplay/Joe Satriani copyright fight is pretty silly for a a variety of reasons."

    Do you know what constitutes a musical copyright infringement?

    If you know the law, do you know if Coldplay is guilty?


    I propose that the whole Coldplay/Satriani fight can be "pretty silly" for a variety of reasons despite the law or musical similarities. Is Coldplay stealing Satriani's fans? Are Coldplay fans going to fine the rest of Satriani's music complelling because one of his songs are mechanically similar to Coldplay's? Do either of them ever even compete for attention? What benefit is there to telling musicians that they can't just be creative, that they have to be careful that they don't sound too much like someone else? Why can't they just go about their business and serve their fans?

    You're arguing for what the law does say, but here on techDirt we're almost always talking about what the law should say.

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