Musical Calculus

I’d like to use today’s entry to pose a question inspired by Mark’s comment on my last post.

“The “derivative is bad” argument is silly. Pretty much everything in art, music, science, social/political thought, etc has prior art “influences” and thus can be seen as derivative or reactionary.”

Yes Mark, that is a fair comment – and one well backed up by the Ecclesiastes passage you referred us to. Nothing is new under the sun. However, that does not give musicians open slather to run around stealing other people’s style. Intellectual property laws ensure that you can’t get away with simply stealing another person’s idea, and doing so in the realms of art, music, science and social thought is generally frowned upon. It’s called plagiarism. You don’t see wannabe painters out there recreating the Mona Lisa. If music is art then some originality is required. When seven bands release seven songs with the same chord progression and the all wear the same clothes, and claim the same influences – bands 2 through to 7 of that group are redundancies – unless 2 is a tribute band with a clever pun as a name.

There’s an old song lyric – and you can google it if you like – that says “if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other,” which is pretty much the point of the “derivative is bad argument” – if all music sounded the same we would get tired of listening to it. Therefore derivative music is bad.

I would also make a distinction between “derived” and “influenced” – derived work is something that could only be reached by copying something – there is no art to that. So that step in Mark’s syllogism is a non sequitur.

In the words of someone who played an important role in the artistic movement – or in the words of some sort of manifesto – Vive Le Difference…

And now… on the subject of the French and Revolutions – check out the newest, most coolest thing on the internet – askaninja – actually it’s not new, only recently discovered…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56vcMhVv_WM]