How do you know, for certain, that your song/melody is original?

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RockerRocker Frets: 4332
And not copied, even unknowingly, from a song you may have heard on the radio.  

I came up with/wrote a simple waltz.  Nothing too fancy or difficult to play but before I name it and claim it as my own, I would like to know that my tune is not a mix of two bits of tunes that are out there.  Thanks.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 6665
    You can know for certain that it is not original, because you have adhered to codified rules and practices in the creation of your work.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 4332
    Cirrus said:
    You can know for certain that it is not original, because you have adhered to codified rules and practices in the creation of your work.
    Thanks for your reply but I have no idea what you mean.  I compiled the tune over a period of several months, mainly by trying to extend what sounded like a workable start.  At this stage I have two separate pieces that fit together and seem to work.  But as I said in the OP, I would like to know if it is original or a knockoff before I give it a name.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • sweavesweave Frets: 21
    Difficult to be 100% certain as very possible to hear and recycle music, esp melodies, without it being a conscious, deliberate act when writing. Best to play it to well-listened friends and ask them if it sounds familiar to them.
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 2293
    I don't think that you can know for certain.  If you haven't knowingly copied it then claim it as your own and put it out there.  99.9% chance that it will just dissappear into the mire of unsigned music occupying space on SoundCloud, YouTube, BandLab etc and no one will give a monkeys.  If it does by some remote chance become a global hit and it wasn't yours, or even if it was, somebody will lawyer-up and try to claim it from you.  That's when you get yourself a better lawyer (because you are more successful) and beat them off.

    That's why we have lawyers and why the world is a better place for it (or so my lawyer friends tell me).
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 6665
    Rocker said:
    Cirrus said:
    You can know for certain that it is not original, because you have adhered to codified rules and practices in the creation of your work.
    Thanks for your reply but I have no idea what you mean.  I compiled the tune over a period of several months, mainly by trying to extend what sounded like a workable start.  At this stage I have two separate pieces that fit together and seem to work.  But as I said in the OP, I would like to know if it is original or a knockoff before I give it a name.
    What I mean is that if we're talking about a simple waltz, then significant parts of the musical structure aren't going to be original, because a waltz is a fairly well defined rhythm. Further, there are existing rules and melodic conventions within the genre that you'll have been internalising your whole life and it's impossible to believe that these won't have informed your choices while working on your composition.

    On top of that, there's no one point where your song would accidentally become non-original; it's a subjective spectrum from "exactly like" to "nothing like" any existing piece of music you might want to compare it to.

    I'm a songwriter, I've wondered about this stuff myself. The truth is, you can't be certain you haven't accidentally written a copy of a song you've never heard before, or heard once in 1973 in a restaurant and totally forgot about after. There's no database that can listen to your song and return similar results, unless it's so exactly the same as an existing track that the waveform matches.

    But it doesn't matter. If you wrote it and it reflects how you wish to express yourself in a piece of music, and you didn't intentionally copy an existing work, that's what matters. Does it feel original to you, and true to you?
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  • You're probably fine. No-one has written a waltz in 75 years anyway, so copyright doesn't apply.

    Bye!

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  • PhilW1PhilW1 Frets: 722
    Become famous, sell millions of copies and then wait for someone to claim to have written it first and want half your money.
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  • merlinmerlin Frets: 4234
    Have you seen "Yesterday"?  ;)
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 12706
    I was watching some of the Rick Beato videos and why so many modern pop songs sound like old pop songs. First, that they are simply conscious or subconscious versions of things they have previously heard. The only song I ever wrote that I got a band to play was a Neil Young song with different words and I relied on the band members not knowing enough Neil Young to recognise it. Second, that pop songs often use similar chord progressions and when writing melodies over chord progressions we tend to use the same intervals - root, third, fifth, maybe a dominant seventh or octave. So, anyone working within these parameters is always going to come up with songs that are similar to or evocative of existing songs. 

    As to whether what you have written is original the answer is either likely to come to you in a dream or if you have other people listen to it and they identify who it is. But assuming you have used a relatively common chord progression and haven't written something avant garde then it is likely to be at least quite similar to something out there.               
    I’ll handle this Violet, you take your three hour break. 
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  • GrangousierGrangousier Frets: 1479
    Have you tried Shazam-ing it, if you're worried?
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 7635
    It’s not called “Imogen” is it?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wIixmqPWNCA
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 2388
    poopot said:
    It’s not called “Imogen” is it?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wIixmqPWNCA
    Sounds better without the bossanova. 
    "A city star won’t shine too far"


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  • vizviz Frets: 8303
    Cirrus said:
    You can know for certain that it is not original, because you have adhered to codified rules and practices in the creation of your work.

    And because there’s that computer programmer who made a program to play every possible tune (like a few billion tunes or something) a few years ago. 
    Anything that isn’t pentatonic is pretentious wank -  LastMantra
    more on the strength of my ability to own a PA than to play a guitar” - ICBM
    Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. Better to sound like an individual than a clone” - Merlin
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 21354
    Have you tried Shazam-ing it, if you're worried?
    Wouldn't work with something like this. It relies on specific recordings.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 7077
    Do you mean Waltz as something you wrote in 3/4 time ?   cos that's what springs to mind to me and there's no copyright on a time signature 

    Even when songwriters don't intentionally steal they do borrow and that's fine. There's only 12 notes and there's only a few diatonic chord sequences that are instantly pleasing so things do get repeated. If you started playing as many songs as you could think of with a 1 - 5 - m6 - 4 progression you would be there for quite some time, likewise the old 1.4 and 5 rock N roll stuff. 

    So don't worry, keep writing and enjoying it


    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 2293
    edited June 24
  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 3750
    I used to regularly walk in to rehearsals with my new song and the guys in the band would say, "That's The Beatles", or "That's Soundgarden", a bit of borrowing didn't do Oasis any harm!
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 26529
    I stick to F, G, Am in 4/4 time.

    That removes any chance of ambiguity.

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 6665
    I'm beginning to suspect that the answers in this thread aren't doing the trick for @Rocker and to be fair, he wanted a clear and unambiguous answer.

    Rocker, go to www.ComparetheWaltz.co.uk, or perhaps the more classically based www.WaltzCompare.co.uk 
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 4332
    Thanks for all the replies guys.  The tune is not likely to make any money but I will play it to a few trusted friends to gauge quality of the piece.  @Danny1969 it is in 3/4 time and is for old time waltzes in pubs and the like.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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