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Accidental Plagiarism #3001518 08/02/19 02:05 PM
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samuelblupowitz Offline OP
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I remember reading once that Ringo Starr would often bring original songs into Beatles sessions, only to be laughed at mercilessly when they realized he had rewritten some classic Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis song.

I imagine we all have stories about discovering, to our horror, that our brilliant new composition bears more than a passing resemblance to some other tune bouncing in the recesses of our mind. I'd love to hear some of the forum's more entertaining stories about it.

I'll start:

Back in my late teens/early twenties, I wrote a musical, a sort of Jesus Christ Superstar-style rock opera about John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination. It started as a 45-minute concept album in high school, then I spent a good chunk of my first year at college writing more songs to fill it out for a stage production. It was a lot of work, so I was trying to crank out material between classes and assignments. I'd demo stuff up in Garageband in my dorm room, then send it to some of my musician friends for feedback.

There was one new piece I was really proud of, a frantic, multi-sectioned group number following the shooting in Ford's Theater. At one point, it turns into a group of Union soldiers interrogating witnesses. I had written it as a sort of escalating call-and-response between the soldiers and the ensemble, with the soldiers' initial statement answered by the crowd on a higher chord tone, with the chord sequence moving upward, i, iii, iv, i.

I sent my demo to the drummer who had worked with me on the concept album, and with barely-contained glee, he wrote back, "Nice rewrite of Smooth Criminal."

It was true: in my haste and excitement, I had completely overlooked the fact that the melody and chord progression of the interrogation section sounded a hell of a lot like Michael Jackson's hit dance-rock song about home invasion. Oops. Out that section went. My drummer didn't let me live that one down for YEARS.

Who's next?


Samuel B. Lupowitz
Composer. Arranger. Musician. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.
Re: Accidental Plagiarism [Re: samuelblupowitz] #3001527 08/02/19 03:12 PM
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marino Offline
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Yes. I once wrote a nice ballad with a kind of Brazilian accent to the melody and harmony. When a sax player friend of mine heard it, he said, "Mmm, that's "Minha", by Francis Hime". I said, "What?! I don't know that song". Turned out I did: I had heard it on an old Bill Evans album. And my song was very, very similar. The weird part was that I had not listened to that album for maybe 10 years! So it seems that some kind of retroactive memory was at work there; I thought it was inspiration, but I was just recalling something that I had heard many years before.

Btw there was an happy ending: I changed a few bits of the melody and also some other aspects, and so I was able to save that song. Later I put lyrics to it, and even recorded it for one of my albums.


Re: Accidental Plagiarism [Re: marino] #3002026 08/06/19 05:14 PM
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Tedster Offline
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I'm a bit of a sucker for those jazz/easy listening descending chord patterns ... that's really nice...


"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
Re: Accidental Plagiarism [Re: samuelblupowitz] #3002852 08/12/19 02:56 AM
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J. Dan Offline
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In the late 90s in the run-up to Y2K there was a lot of talk about it being the end of the world, the apocalypse, etc. for any number of reasons. So I decided to write a song called "The End" about it. Laid down a scratch drum track from a sequencer then recorded Bass, clean guitar, and a roaring synth line running through a Line 6 Pod for distortion. The patch had a little filter sweep on the attack with some resonance, so it resembled a wah effect on a guitar. I recorded a spoken word part that sounded like a preacher through a bullhorn echoing off the buildings warning about the apocalypse. That's about as far I got and I let it sit for a little while. When I came back to it, I immediately realized it was Electric Funeral by Black Sabath. My synth part had a bit of the character of the wah guitar only higher, and was playing almost the exact melody that Ozzy sings in the verses....and subject matter was the same. I didn't bother going any further at that point. Easy to see how it could happen....I had an idea for subject matter in my head and my choices naturally drew in what I had heard in the past to "sound like" that subject.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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