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May 20, 2010

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E. Michael Harrington

David - you make some excellent points here. I agree that nothing is so original as to seemingly come out of nowhere and every musical artist and songwriter/composer sounds like someone else. Patent law has it right. When one applies for a patent, one has to list the "prior art" - you have to list prior inventions which your invention has built upon and/or is related. It's just a fact. If some music, for example, was completely original, or "novel" (a word that can get complicated in a legal sense...), than there would likely be no audience and it would be not be understandable or comprehensible.

I also agree that one should always acknowledge one's influences - all of the greats did (note Beatles' comments throughout their careers on who influenced them, and how meticulously carefully they imitated the artists they covered - Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, etc. They were paying tribute and acknowledging their debt.

If a scientist as brilliant as Sir Isaac Newton can state, "if I have seen so far it because I stand on the shoulders of giants," then surely songwriters can give pay homage to their influences.

Thanks for a very well written piece, Dave.

Noel Gallagher

Hey David,

Be aware of getting people sued for plagerism after reading and reacting to this article.

David Hooper

It's something to think about... Just recorded an episode of Music Business Radio that talks about this. http://blog.musicbusinessradio.com/2010/06/in-the-studio-michael-harrington.html has more info.

RunkRock

You are right on with your comments about artists who resist defining themselves by relating their output to the sound of others. I resisted this for a while, but a friend insisted that I come up with the a sentence or two that might help someone decide if he/she might be intrigued by my music. So I now have an amalgam of quotes relative to my debut album, GOOD COMPANY:

SONGS YOU WON'T FORGET. CLASSIC ROCK WITH A CONTEMPORARY TWIST: JIMMY BUFFET MEETS RANDY NEWMAN IN A REGGAE BAR WITH BEATLES-LOVING TRACY CHAPMAN FANS, ONE OF WHOM IS DATING AN EAGLES GROUPIE WHO LOVES BOOGIEROCK, CHOPIN, AND BILLY JOEL: "ALL I WANT IS SOME GOOD COMPANY!" I LOVE THIS STUFF, BOB. THE MUSIC MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.


and it works! I get lot more responses and inquires using this in my marketing materials.

tammy

Hey David, i was just thinking about this as a new turn in my own song writing.
i've started to sample in some echoes of old songs (a lyric, melody line, etc) that i hear in my own music. it gives the audience a reference point and gives me an opportunity to acknowledge some great song writers whilst potentially putting myself in their league (here's hoping!)....will try it out tonight live in berlin.
thanks for voicing my yet unformed embryo into a thought out idea. makes life a little easier.
i still owe you a cd i know....postage is expensive from europe....
:)
tammy

Lou Lombardi

David,
As I read this I was "amening" you the whole time. These are things that I have thought myself for years. Remember a little band called Van Halen? They had "covers" on every album until 1984. The Rolling Stones were a cover band. They were sort of "pushed" into writing. There are also examples of covers that were bigger hits than the original... Remember Garth Brooks' cover of Billy Joel's "Shameless"? If a "cover" gets you in the door with fans, then good for you! You have a much greater chance of someone at least hearing your own songs.

The same goes for your influences. The format of my band is very much like Gov't Mule...we have our distinctions (more funk influence, more Led Zeppelin influence etc...) but I definitely drop Gov’t Mule name to people who want to know what we do. Often people want to hear more music like the music that their favorite bands play. If you sound like someone, you fill that need. What a great way to leverage you music.

Lou

redd

I really believe that embracing inspiration and the interconnections between sounds and styles is good for music - great post! There is an amazing music video history on http://www.Frequency.com for those seeking diverse inspiration (and speaking of sampling!;):

http://www.frequency.com/topic/music-videos/2293

elcantwell3@netscape.net

I once (a long time ago kids) attended a lecture series on creative thought. Salvidore Dali said (and demonstrated) that all creativity was the result of imperfect imitation. Someone tried to do this, failed, and created something new and different. The memorable quote was, "he who imitates nothing creates nothing". It was a major event for me.

Psyaviah

Hey,

We understand this philosophy. Begin influenced is always the case. There's just so much around that inspired you, mostly on subconscious level..

Grtzz
Yves
Psy'Aviah

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