Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The two ways of making music

In making music, you might say that there's a slider that you place yourself on, with the two extremes being (attempting) originality and full-blown rip-off. Personally, I get a better feeling when I try to craft a song myself rather than just taking a chord sequence from some other song, but I'm expecting that feeling to eventually fade and possibly be replaced by cynisism as I realise that almost all possible catchy chord progressions have already been used, re-used and recycled.

Of course, going into rip-off land is a bit dangerous, but chords and bass-lines seem to be safe areas.

But for the aspiring composer, it does present somewhat of a dilemma: try to do it from the ground up, or search out previously used catchy chord progressions and work with those? I think I would try to place myself somewhere in the middle, perhaps with some strays towards knowingly ripping something off if it's suitable. (But taking melodies is a no-no. That's lawsuit-land.)

I came across this neat video clip that tells of how a single 6-second drum sample from the 60's was re-used in, well, just about everything.

1 comment:

Jonas said...

Well, if you’re going to steal a chord progression I think the thing to do is to embellish it, tweak it, switch it around until it becomes yours. You can do tons of things to make it sound different; substitute chords, add fills, mess with tempo, switch the order of the chords, harmonize something, play chord inversions, add walking basslines, add grace notes etc etc. Who knows, maybe you’ll stumble on something completely new and abandon the original chord progression alltogether. See it as a key to open a door to something new.