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
    Raybone, 17 Jun 2009 @ 10:09pm

    James, youve swallowed your own hype

    It seems that you have grown a superior opinion of your self importance in the world as displayed by comments such as

    "Do you know what constitutes a musical copyright infringement?"

    This is a trick question as no one can definitively say what constitutes infringement without looking at every case individually. It is entirely subjective and debatable. Show me a law or judge's decision where it is written that if I copy this many notes, I am infringing....I'll wait.

    You follow with this asinine statement

    "If you know the law, do you know if Coldplay is guilty? You will have to have an education in music theory to answer this."

    Really? Ive got an above average education in music theory and I'm calling bullshit on that ridiculous statement. Pray tell what aspect of music theory training gives insight to whether Coldplay is guilty? Are you saying those uneducated in music theory cannot hear or understand whether a melody is similar or not? You attempt to make an understanding of music theory more than what it is. How pompous of you. BTW does being a session drummer qualify you to know what is infringement any more than Mike? If yes, how?

    Ultimately to me, you sound elitist when you write things like

    "To express an opinion on any subject of which you have limited knowledge is to potentially tell falsehoods."

    "but to ask you and many others to think before you speak (or write)."

    "Settle down kids!"

    You, since you hold a different opinion from others, arrogantly assume that the others have limited knowledge of the subject since if they knew as much as you, you golden boy, they would totally see as you do. This is insulting to any who have a brain and you knowingly wrote these statements to be so. You are a Dick.

    As a fellow musician you embarrass me when you pretend to represent musicians as a whole with "please stay out of my business "

    Music and legalities that touch it is everyone's business.

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