Thursday, December 18, 2008

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current Coldplay/Joe Satriani Poll... Thank You

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; ABC/CRAIG SJODIN

As many of you may know, the platinum-selling band Coldplay (fronted by Chris Martin, above left) were sued by guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. In the lawsuit, Satriani (above right) claims the band's song Viva La Vida "copied and incorporated substantial original portions" of his 2004 guitar instrumental If I Could Fly. So that you can compare the songs before voting in the poll, the You Tube player below contains both songs.

If you would like to read more details on the story, click here.


Mama Pajama said...

I was all over this yesterday. I listened to one youtube clip where they put the songs together, and they really sounded the same. Of course, I'm a big Coldplay fan, so I don't want to think it was anything intentional.

pjazzypar said...

Snap! Sounds like a case of the Beach Boys stealing from Chuck Berry! When will they learn that they can't change the words and sing over the same music? Oh yeah Malcolm, when Chuck threatened to sue the Beach Boys gave him most of the royalties from "Surfin USA", which of course is "Sweet Little Sixteen".

mister anchovy said...

Back before there were multi-national record companies, we allowed melodies to be adapted all over the place and called it folk music. Songs belonged to all of us and people used them and changed them around all the time and they became something else and that was that. Grand Coulee Dam is not Wabash Cannonball, even if they share a melody. If Mr. Guthrie hadn't appropriated the melody for his own purposes, we wouldn't have this: In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and windward spray, men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave - she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream, of the day the Coulee Dam crossed that wild and wasted stream. Move forward in time, and you have The Beach Boys using Chuck Berry's melody, and creating Surfin USA. No doubt the melody is the same, but by the same token, Chuck Berry didn't make surf music, any more than The Chiffons could ever have imagined up My Sweet Lord. Interestingly enough, the Beach Boys also had a hit appropriating a tune which I one might legitimately call a folk song, Sloop John B.

All that said, I don't think I'd recognize either a Coldplay tune or a Joe Satriani tune if I tripped over one.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Hmmm. I like the point Mr. Anchovy was making....There's some sort of fine line. Last year Bruce was accused of using somebody elses riff for the beginning of Radio he needs to steal ideas. Ha.

I am not sure what I think on this one so I won't vote.

Leon Basin said...

Coldplay all the way.

Candy Minx said...

I like Coldplay...but they are Radiohead lite...and I adore Radiohead.

Coldplay is okay...I listen to so much music that is made out of other music...samples, folk balllads.

Stories are made up out of other stories and so are songs.

Yes...I can definately hear the riff and rolling sound that Satriani feels is his, but it probably not stolen by has such a personal feel to them...even if the key tonality is similar.

I suppose a legal situation might not be so generous and award some royalties to his riff though...

fun topic Malcolm!

clnmike said...

Sound like some good old fashion thievery to me.

clnmike said...

That reminds me I need to put that song on my player.

X. Dell said...

The difficulty in trying to prove plagiarism is basically twofold in music. First of all, it's if the person accused of copying had access or awareness of the previous music, and secondly if they are content-wise similar enough to be confused with each other.

In this case, the second question is rather easy to answer. First of all, not only are the chordal movements and melody similar enough to be identifical, but the voice leading for both are the same. Secondly, musicians traditionally go by a eight-bar rule. In other words, quotes of up to eight counts of a short-term recurrence are generally deemed quoting within fair usage, and not actionable, generally. Of course, part of the problem is who decides how long a bar is. But I think most musicians would say that this is at least a fifteen count of direct quotage. In other words the tunes are similar enough to be actioable.

Since Striani published this song first, then it's clear that Coldplay would have had access to it.

It's probably a case of unconscious plagiarism. In music, it's rather easy to do because there are only finite sets of chord changes, and only a limited amount of melodic material that will sound good in conjunct with them. So it's quite possible (ineveitable, actually) that twopeople can come up with the same musical idea at the same time. But I don't think that's the case here.

Most likely, attorneys will settle for some money and publishing credit.

Malcolm said...

Mama PJ: Although I am not a big Coldplay fan, I'm leaning toward unintentional. Having said that, I do like "Viva La Vida" and "Clocks".

Pjazzy: I don't know if The Beach Boys thought they could get away with it because Chuck was in jail at the time... out of sight, not able to sue... I don't know. I am glad that he did get rightfully paid though.

Mister Anchovy: I have no problem with artists copying, borrowing, etc. from other artists. However, because it is a business, they should be prepared to pay the songwriter(s). As you said, Chuck Berry didn't create surf music. However, I think the Beach Boys sound circa 1961-1964 would have been a lot different had it not been for Berry's influence. One could also argue that George Harrison may not have been able to imagine "My Sweet Lord" without the help of the Ronnie Mack composition "He's So Fine".

By the way, be careful. You could break something tripping over a Coldplay or Satriani tune.

Barbara: I remember the first time I heard "Radio Nowhere", I recognized the intro as being very similar to "867-5309 (Jenny)" by Tommy Tutone. I know Bruce is your boy and all, but the songwriters of "867-5309 (Jenny)" would have a solid case if they took legal action.

Leon: Is that a not guilty verdict?

Candy: Radiohead lite... I like that. Satriani will probably wind up getting something out of this... we will see.

Clnmike: lol. I would love to have been the proverbial fly-on-the-wall when "Viva La Vida" was composed just to see if the copying of Satriani was intentional.

X. Dell: Strong points as usual. Some Coldplay fans may scoff by saying "who the hell is Joe Satriani?!". To that I would say, although Joe's not a household name, he's well known within the music industry. I agree that the plagiarism is likely unintentional. Coldplay would have to be pretty stupid and arrogant to consciously rip off Satriani and think they could get away with it.

Alice Audrey said...

There's certainly some influence going on here.

Carol said...

Hmmm...Dunno. Tough call on that one. My daughter's band covers that Coldplay song. And Joe's just...Wow! Well, he's Joe!

I hear the similarities. Seems like there's some limit how many bars of a melody can be the same without it being plagiarism. Like 8 bars or something?

I guess they'll have to figure it out in court.

Starrlight said...

I'd say they sound alike. Intentional or not. Of course I can't stand Coldplay. I actually like some of their songs but Chris Martin is a douche :P

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