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Origins: How derivative is too derivative?

Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 04:19 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Oct 06 - 05:09 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 06:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Oct 06 - 06:38 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Scoville 07 Oct 06 - 07:13 PM
Little Hawk 07 Oct 06 - 07:15 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 07:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Oct 06 - 07:56 PM
Peace 07 Oct 06 - 08:03 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 08:04 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 08:08 PM
Little Hawk 07 Oct 06 - 08:11 PM
Peace 07 Oct 06 - 08:18 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 08:27 PM
Peace 07 Oct 06 - 08:29 PM
Genie 07 Oct 06 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,Richie 07 Oct 06 - 11:41 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Oct 06 - 11:44 PM
M.Ted 08 Oct 06 - 12:53 AM
dick greenhaus 08 Oct 06 - 01:51 AM
Genie 08 Oct 06 - 07:14 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Oct 06 - 08:20 PM
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Subject: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 04:19 PM

Some say we live in a world where everything's been done. Some say it's almost always been that way, but trying to wrap your head around that one will mess up your frontal lobe. But when does say, an homage become pointless copy-catting?

I ask because recently a song kinda fell outa me, and I'm trying to decide if I have the audacity, the gall to play it in front of people.... I played it one night to a small crowd.... They laughed in all the right places, and applauded when it was finished. As the applause died down, a fellow quite harmlessly exclaimed, "Wow! That coulda been a John Prine song." And I've been thinking a little on that as the days have passed.

Now sure.... There are a LOT of folks who've written a lot of music that sound like they could be John Prine songs... Some folks are probably doing it right now as I type this.... I even thought the same thing as I was writing this song down, "Man, this scans kinda like a John Prine/Todd Snider/Fred J. Eaglesmith kinda joint."

But I guess my question is, when does "a lot like" become "Too much like"?

Is it even possible to tell when you're crossing that line? Is that line up to each and every person to decide for themselves?

Maybe I just need to have another beer, get the hell over it and sing the stupid song.....


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 05:09 PM

Whatever works.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 06:30 PM

Really?

I suspect there's more to it than that Dick....

Isn't there?


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 06:38 PM

If it's a good song it's a good song. That's all that matters.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 06:55 PM

Huh... That's a surprising answer....


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: GUEST,Scoville
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 07:13 PM

Not quite sure what you're asking, but I always get irritated when people get to the point of trying to recreate exactly even the lead-in chatter, whoops, etc. (common in old-time music) that appeared on the "original" recording from which they learned a song. I mean, learning somebody's good version of a song is one thing, but if I want to hear how the Skillet Lickers did it, I'll go listen to the Skillet Lickers, not so-and-so's cloned recording.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 07:15 PM

I agree with McGrath. Besides, if it sounds a lot like a John Prine song, that can hardly be bad.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 07:35 PM

"I always get irritated when people get to the point of trying to recreate exactly"

That's part of it... When I do a 'cover' I NEVER try to sound JUST LIKE whoever it is I'm covering.... I mean really, what's the point of that? There's already one Bob Dylan... why oh why try to sound like him? (Or anyone else for that matter)

But this is more about creating something new, but in the style of someone else.... When does it stop being "in the style of", and just become a "warmed over copy"?

"if it sounds a lot like a John Prine song, that can hardly be bad"
I guess what I'm asking is, can it ever sound TOO MUCH like, say, a John Prine song???


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 07:56 PM

If someone who hadn't hear John Prine but had heard Clinton were to say "That song this John Prine is singing sounds a lot like Clinton Hammond", would that be a problem for John Prine?

Or what if someone who was really into John Prine were to listen to Clinton's song and say "that doesn't really sound like a John Prine song?

Originality is what sneaks up on people when they are doing something the best way they can, very likely when they are trying to do it the way someone they admires does it. Setting out to be original for the sake of being original is handing the reins over to the person you're trying not to sound like.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Peace
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:03 PM

Clinton,

Often people hear something that they like and by way of saying how much they like it they compare it to the works of other people. IMO, there's nowt wrong with having something you wrote recognized as having the same quality as something Prine wrote--unless you don't care for Prine.

Songwriters tend to pick up influences from other songwriters. That's the way it works. Personally, I wouldn't fret about it. Go sing your song and let people enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:04 PM

Heh... I think I grok what yer getting at there McG....

However I didn't MEAN for it to sound like John Prine/Todd Snider/Fred J.... It just sorta came out that way

LOL

"someone who hadn't hear John Prine"
Are there such people??? Wow... that's too bad!


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:08 PM

Oops.. cross post....

"unless you don't care for Prine"
Perish the notion! I've been listening to JP my whole life!!!

:-)

"Personally, I wouldn't fret about it."
You know... puns give you cancer....   LOL


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:11 PM

No point getting strung out over it either...


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Peace
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:18 PM

Man, I missed that one.


Hey, Clinton, when you get the copyright done, please post the lyrics. Sounds like you have a winner on yer hands.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:27 PM

c--- c----coop-- eeeeee right?

Lemme make sure I'm finished the song.... and that I have the audacity to inflict it on others first....


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Peace
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:29 PM

OK, buddy. But I'm marking this thread so's I don't forget.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Genie
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 10:16 PM

IMO, who cares if your song sounds like the style of someone else, unless you've unwittingly copied their whole tune or some big chunks of lyrics. Songwriters don't have a copyright on their style. And even if your tune or lyrics are very "derivative," heck half the blues songs I've ever heard seem to have exactly the same tune and I could say similar things about bluegrass, honky-tonk country, etc.   And lyrics seem to travel from song to song very easily within the "folk music" genre.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 11:41 PM

Hi,

Sounds like you're worried about copying someone. Best not to worry about other people's opinions. Someone else might not think it sounds like John Prine.

If you like the song, sing it.

Glad you got a good response. Keep it up.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 11:44 PM

" If you like the song, sing it."

Gah! I can't take THAT pressure!! Damn.... I'm way to close to it to be able to tell if I LIKE it or not....   

Maybe I'll just stick to covers....

Genie... good points... I'll bear them in mind


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Oct 06 - 12:53 AM

I vote with Genie on this. The only time you should worry that it's too much like anybody is if you inadvertently re-created a specific melody, and filled it out with similar lyrics--and, folk music being what it is, melody alone isn't enough--

There is an old writer's adage worth remembering--something to the effect that it's ok to copy anyone else, but you're in trouble when you try to copy yourself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Oct 06 - 01:51 AM

What I said.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: Genie
Date: 08 Oct 06 - 07:14 PM

M Ted., If there's ever been a songwriter who 'plagiarized himself', it's John Prine! Listen to his early songs and you'll find several that have almost identical melodies. (I've done this too, but nobody's ever heard of me so who cares?)
As I understand it, JP got an unexpected nightly two-week gig early on and didn't have enough material, so he had to rattle of a bunch of "new" songs almost overnight.   Not too surprising some of the new songs "sounded a lot like a John Prine song!" LOL

-----------
Quote: ClintonHammond - PM
" If you like the song, sing it."

Gah! I can't take THAT pressure!! Damn.... I'm way to close to it to be able to tell if I LIKE it or not....   

Maybe I'll just stick to covers....
---------
LOL, Clinton.   I hate that particular kind of pressure too!

And if/when I've introduced a few of my own songs and been underwhelmed by the responses I got to them, I like to present (author unmentioned) a "cover" of another person's mostly-unknown song just to see if I'm met with an equally moderate response.
(Often that's exactly what happens, and it does help me keep things in perspective.)

Funny thing is, it often seems like the "new" songs that get the biggest response at song circles are the ones that sound the MOST "derivative" of well-known songs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How derivative is too derivative?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Oct 06 - 08:20 PM

Nothing wrong with re-using stuff from your own songs. So long as you don't sing them next to each other by accident.


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