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Ripping off songs from your favorite artists/influences.


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I'll be the first to admit that I wear my musical influences on my sleeve. However, when I write music, I try very hard to take those influences and turn them into my own thing. Every once in a while, I'll write and record a song that I think is completely mine and I haven't heard before. It gives me a huge sense of creativity and originality.

 

Then, a year later, I'll have my iPod on shuffle, going randomly through almost 6,000 songs. A song will come on I haven't heard in years, and it's the same chord progression and almost the same vocal melody as the song I wrote the year before that I thought was my original masterpiece.

 

Now, I've written songs and purposely stolen chord progressions and vocal lines on purpose before. But there's nothing more disheartening to me than writing a song and attaching a sense of pride to it, only to have it shattered when I realize that I just can't write my own music regardless of what I do.

 

Does this ever happen to anyone else?

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absolutely. i think if you are a big music lover, those musical ideas just get embeded into you. there's been a few songs that i've really ripped off - but most of the time the difference isn't palpable b/c the type of band i'm in is somewhat different from the music i listen to regularly.

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God yes. It's the single most frustrating thing that happens to me musically. I hate being between a good melody that I think I accidentally stole and something that doesn't do much for me that I'm sure is original.

 

The funny thing is, I don't sound like my influences (when writing vocal melodies anyway, my drumming and guitar playing has certainly got some stylistic influence and I'm not opposed to that at all). If I accidentally steal something, it's usually from a band I've heard once or twice, so I'm not likely to catch it.

 

I worry that maybe up to 30% of the writing I've settled on has been done before in some way or another. Though I can't be sure. I just hope I'm not stealing actual lyrics too if I do end up with someone else's melody.

 

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't stress about it. "I'm down on my knees, I'm begging you please" has been written hundreds of times. :p Take a look at some of the blues, R&B and rock & roll of the 50s and 60s. There's like 5 actual, completely original songs, with every artist just filling in the blanks as they see fit! haha

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Do you guys think it's wrong to try to steal the sound of a song on purpose, meaning the chord progression and production of the song, but twist it a bit to make it your own, when you can still obviously tell it's supposed to be another song?

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Do you guys think it's wrong to try to steal the sound of a song on purpose, meaning the chord progression and production of the song, but twist it a bit to make it your own, when you can still obviously tell it's supposed to be another song?

 

 

I don't know if I'd consider it 'wrong' to use someone else's chords or production ideas and put your own spin on them. But I certainly don't respect it nearly as much as writing something original in the first place. In the end, the song that's good and doesn't sound like anything else will get a lot more respect and attention than the song that's good and sounds like another version of something else.

 

Trying to emulate a style, as an experiment or to add it to your own personal style, however is completely different in my books. When I drum I sometimes try to think 'how would David Sandstrom or Abe Cunningham approach this?' and I can develop my own playing with that influence. Ultimately I'm interested in sounding like myself however. I also remember reading about Radiohead trying to emulate their favorite jazz artists' styles in the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions. Then of course they blended that with their own personal style and the result was hugely influential to a lot of artists!

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Do you guys think it's wrong to try to steal the sound of a song on purpose, meaning the chord progression and production of the song, but twist it a bit to make it your own, when you can still obviously tell it's supposed to be another song?

 

IMO, it's only wrong if you try to pass it off as completely your own original idea. Of course, it depends on how "obvious" it is. Specifically, I'm thinking of "Kill Surf City" by the Jesus and Mary Chain, which most definitely rips off those old Beach Boys/Jan and Dean style surf songs, but at the same time pays homage and adds something new to the style (darker lyrics and lo-fi production). Of course, legally you could still be in trouble, but artistically you're fine so long as you give credit where credit is due. :thu:

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Everyone, even the greatest songwriters, "steal" a little from their influences, on purpose (like Elliott Smith writing "Little One" based on the Beatles' "Michelle" played in reverse) or accidentally (like George Harrison subconsciously jacking the melody to The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" for "My Sweet Lord.") Harrison got sued, but MSL is still the better song, IMHO! I think having that happen is just a sign the person has absorbed music, which just happens to musicians (same with other types of artists.)

 

I sometimes take a melody I love and tweak it, changing notes, intervals, tempo, etc. Or I'll take a certain song structure and adapt it for my own purposes. Other times, songs just come straight from the Muse as a gift.

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That's always a big issue for me when I sit down to write a song. For that reason, I practically never trust the first idea that pops into my head. Melodies go through quite a few revisions before I've convinced myself they are original enough. In the past, to compensate for my insecurity on this front, I would go overboard and do things that were a little too odd and unusual, but now I've come to realize it's just as important for the melody to have a natural flow to it. So more than ever, it's a balance between originality and sounding natural, which can be a fine line to walk.

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I remember copying an Arcade Fire song note for note. It was... uh I can't remember. I don't even like them very much, just listened to their album a couple of times.

 

I'm paranoid of copying other people's music (to an extent that it becomes unoriginal), so mabye all the music I listen to often and love, I don't copy because I am subconsciously avoiding copying them, whereas, with a less familiar piece of music I will forget about it and not bother tyring to avoid copying it?

 

errrr i think that might have came out wrong, but its random and pretty pointless.

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I remember copying an Arcade Fire song note for note. It was... uh I can't remember. I don't even like them very much, just listened to their album a couple of times.


I'm paranoid of copying other people's music (to an extent that it becomes unoriginal), so mabye all the music I listen to often and love, I don't copy because I am subconsciously avoiding copying them, whereas, with a less familiar piece of music I will forget about it and not bother tyring to avoid copying it?


errrr i think that might have came out wrong, but its random and pretty pointless.

 

 

No, actually it makes a lot of sense. It's easier to identify and avoid an unoriginal idea from a song that you listen to all the time, rather than one you've heard randomly somewhere, that you'd never intentionally copy. Worse is when it's a song you absolutely hate.

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Yeah. I'll once in a while hear a vocal line or guitar line from the most obscure song I've only heard twice that I happened to steal and put into one of my own songs. It's strange how that works.

 

It's kind of funny. You can listen to the most obscure artists all the time that barely anyone else listens to, and yet you'll steal something more commercial because you think people will notice if you ripped something off from the obscure artists.

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It's pretty hard, if you are going to stay within the basic confines of western music, or the even more limited confines of blues based rock/pop music, and not reuse somebody's something in every song you do. It's all in how you mix those elements together to create some kind of different brew that's important. As I mentioned in another thread somewhere, half the songs written in the Brill Building era seem to have the almost the same chord progression. But so many of them were really great songs that no one really thought much about their similarity.

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what's this about theft? just write. if it bears similarity to something you enjoy, then that other tune really had an effect. it still has YOUR stamp on it. casual similarity is a GREAT thing. think of it as 'quoting' instead of stealing. one thing you may want to do is change some of your influences and venture into a different area. but relax. just write your tunes and smile when they have similarities to things you've liked in the past.

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I think there's a creative way to incorporate your influences directly into your music. I'll often times hear a song that has a sound I'd really like to use and maybe I'll cop an aspect of it like a rhythm or the way certain harmonies interweave, etc. I don't think there's anything bad in that, as long as you make it your own. I've written plenty of songs that were directly inspired by particular bands or songs, but an informed listener might not even make the connection immediately because it's my interpretation of it, not a direct parody. The hack way is obviously to just intentionally lift parts directly from songs you like in lieu of writing your own, I don't think many musicians would defend that.

 

There is also the flip side to that, as mentioned. There's only so many chord progressions and rhythms in music and unless you're trying to reinvent the wheel you're eventually going to end up writing something that sounds like a part in a song that already exists. I've had people bring that up about specific riffs or parts that resembled bands I'd never heard of, let alone listened to.

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I was accused by my band members (and by accused I mean they had a laugh with me) of ripping off a Mastadon riff. They swore that I lifted it directly from the song, but I wrote it completely independent of the song since I had never listened to the album and only vaguely recognized the song after hearing it. I happened to see them live ONE time, but I don't remember anything they played. Funny thing is...it was eerily similar...must of just stuck in my subconscious somewhere. What can I say, great minds think alike :thu:

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I remember copying an Arcade Fire song note for note. It was... uh I can't remember. I don't even like them very much, just listened to their album a couple of times.


I'm paranoid of copying other people's music (to an extent that it becomes unoriginal), so mabye all the music I listen to often and love, I don't copy because I am subconsciously avoiding copying them, whereas, with a less familiar piece of music I will forget about it and not bother tyring to avoid copying it?


errrr i think that might have came out wrong, but its random and pretty pointless.

 

 

smoke weed much?

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