To Write, Or Not To Write Original Songs

I’ve had the same thought, and the same discussions with my friends about the mathematical probabilities regarding the Western musical scales. I think the real answer to this problem lies in the future invention of musical instruments that do things and produce sounds and even scales (still within the human auditory range) that are currently unavailable to present instrumental capabilities.

I have even experimented myself with building such instruments.

Nevertheless I do write original song lyrics and when I have the time I write original musical compositions (scores). Yet I also think that one of the real problems facing the musical industry today is that so many “artists” (and they are not artists, but musicians) want t0o sound just like each other, and therefore they go out of their way to mimic each other, rather than experimenting with new ideas.

When an entire industry sets out to mimic each other, and in a very narrow range of expression at that, is it any wonder they often “accidentally copy each other.”

No, they are actually already in that psychological mindframe.

The mindframe of base mimicry.

In the 1960s and the 1970s (my favorite era of American musical creativity and production) you had a vast array of musical genres and types and musicians (not “artists” – but people who actually wanted to be musicians and understand music, not just a narrow range of sounds) and they were of the mindframe, the musical worldview if you will – that they would each be individual and unique.

And it showed in their music.

Fish & Bicycles

scaleI came across an article at Wired.com today that touches on something I’ve thought about a LOT!

Since I am a musician and play in a Rock&Roll band, since I play a guitar specifically, THE iconic instrument of Rock&Roll, the instrument most commonly used to write Rock&Roll songs, I am often asked whether or not I write original songs.

And, for years, I’ve had a pat answer that includes these points:

  • No, I do not write original songs.
  • Yes, I’ve tried, but the world is better off without the songs I’ve written.
  • There are only so many notes and combinations of notes, only so many chords and combinations of chords, only so many words and combinations of words, it’s all been done.

Back to that Wired.com article, the author starts off referencing a couple of recent high-profile cases, and one legendary case, of alleged songwriting plagiarism, and he posits…

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