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When you worry that the song you are writing has already been written ...


RABid

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What do you do?

 

I started a song Sunday morning that I like very much but I cannot help thinking that I may be playing something I have heard. It is still sitting in Orion Pro at a very raw stage and I am not sure if I sould continue with development.

 

Robert

 

Edit for typo.

This post edited for speling.
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My advice: bounce it off a trusted friend or fellow musician and ask them if they hear the same thing that you do.

 

Almost EVERY time I write a song, I realize it's similar to something else that has already been written. But much, much more often than not, I'm being too self-critical and others can't hear the similarity to the already written song.

 

I say continue. You'll unavoidably stamp the song with your own individual style, and I bet that no one will think it's a copy of anything.

 

Good luck!

 

Ben

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I'm having this experience presently. I realized that a part of the deja vu was that a segment of the vocal melody is much like the the first notes of the Stones' "She's a Rainbow." If so, not so bad. Very different context. But I keep feeling there's something else I'm missing, something right under my nose...
Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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I did a subliminal lifting of Quincy Jones' Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. I didn't find out for years - it's something I had listened to regularly for a while, then went 3-4 years without hearing.

 

When I bought the tape and popped it in, you can imagine the chill that came over me as I heard the opening notes.

 

Gotta wonder how many other times I've done that.

 

BTW, I eventually decided to leave my piece intact - it's rhythmically identical for the first 3 phrases, but only the first 3 notes match before mine veers off to its own melody. And it may never see the light of day anyhow - 8 years old already, it's still never been performed.

 

Daf

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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Originally posted by mojazz:

Well, it hasn't bothered Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. ;)

...and I've inadvertently lifted a riff from ELP for one of our best songs :)

But once again, when I pointed it out to friends, no one heard a strong connection, and they thought I was worrying too much! Unless you consciously copy sections of an entire song, you inevitably go in a new direction to make the song unique.

 

I think it's a "writer" vs "editor" thing going on, at least with me. My inner "writer" is the free-flowing creative part that is completely nonjudgmental and just plays what sounds good. My inner "editor" is the one that tries to organize and polish the song. It's the editor that points out to me when one part of a song was unconsciously lifted or inspired by another song.

 

Don't let the editor take over too early in the songwriting process!

 

Ben

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Originally posted by AgentCooper:

Add extensions and tritone substitutions, take away the vocals, and sell it as jazzlite.

LOL. I have no vocals in the song and the chord progression is made up of 7th's, minor 7'th's and inversions. Guess I'm already there. :D

 

Robert

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Originally posted by AgentCooper:

Isn't that the first few notes of "How Dry I Am?"

 

Why - someone ought to sue them Stones!

Well, not exactly. I haven't heard the Stones song in years, but the notes that are evoking it are D-E-F-G-A-C-B over a Gmaj, so you got the 4th and thre 6th in there. It's a pretty recognizable melodic shape, though it took me a while to see the Stones in it because the overall context is very different. Anyway, it's just a small part of my tune, so I'm perfectly willing to call it a veiled reference... ;)
Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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Andrew Lloyd Webber to his Dad while playing him the tune that would eventually become Memory from Cats:

 

"I'm afraid that this song I'm working on is drawing on some other song that's been written. But I can't place it. What does this sound like to you?"

 

Dad: "Sounds like ... five million dollars?"

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