If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it?

Posted by: Mark Hayes

If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/17/21 11:16 AM

I'm working on a project that began as a Logic rendering of a Beatles MIDI downloaded from the Internet sometime in the 90s.

At some point, I took all the parts and inverted them, melodically, using Logic's MIDI transform function. To my surprise, the result was surprisingly musical, and required only a little adjustment to sound like a decent pop song. Now, every ascending passage descends and vice versa, and a bouncy major key has become a fairly grim minor.

I like it. But who wrote it?

I can't say I did, for obvious reasons.

But the result is a distinctly different piece of music from the original, and, really, not one to be reasonably (or fairly) credited to Lennon and McCartney.

I wonder about the general ethics / esthetics involved here, given that it's theoretically possible to produce a steady stream of "original" compositions this way.
Posted by: sslechta

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/17/21 11:29 AM

There's a lot of similar videos on YouTube about "inverting" songs so-to-speak. I don't see a problem with this but I'm sure someone out there would take issue.... they always do. smile
Posted by: MusicStudent

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/17/21 12:29 PM

What! You have an original song written by the Beatles which was never published? grin

Or...

Steve Jobs was quoted saying... "good artists borrow and great artists steal." However, he probably stole that quote from Picasso… who probably took it from Stravinsky. crazy We stand on the shoulders of giants as we move forward in life.
Posted by: Notes Norton

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 07:17 AM

I don't know. If you want advice, contact a lawyer versed in copyright law.

I do know that in classical music, inversion of a theme is a legit method of developing the song.

Notes
Posted by: Guitarhacker

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 07:51 AM

So.... essentially, if you hadn't said a word about it, no one would have ever guessed where you got the inspiration from..... is that correct?

If it's not an obvious rip-off.... I don't think it's considered stealing. I see it as processing something through the filter of your brain both conscious and subconscious, and getting a unique outcome. But again.... I'm not a lawyer versed in copyright law. If no one recognizes it as having other origins.... it's obviously an original. That's how I look at it.


The secret is to take what you hear from others and make it your own in such a way that the one who inspired the idea doesn't recognize it as something they did in one form or another. We all do this constantly.

Chord progressions, as everyone knows, are not copyrightable. And if you reversed it, and have a different melody, which would obviously be the case, I think you're in the clear. You're under no obligation to even mention it or give credit to the "other" song or writer unless you simply want to let folks like in this forum know how it was achieved. I don't think I would have even done that. Just a simple..... here's a new song. Done


Edit: the only way I could see trouble brewing in a legal sense is if you sampled the original, reversed it and used it. That is a copyright violation. But.... if you don't do that, there's nothing to worry about.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 10:39 AM

Guitarhacker: "So.... essentially, if you hadn't said a word about it, no one would have ever guessed where you got the inspiration from..... is that correct?"

I guess that would depend on the listener; some people can hear things like that! But essentially, yeah. I'm not thinking of anything you could call an "interpretation" of the original, as a normal listener would hear it. A normal listener can recognize a theme in a different key, or a different mode, but not inverted.

But regardless of normal listeners and recognizeability, it's a trivial matter to reverse-engineer a reversed piece back into the original. And I don't know how such things actually play out in courts, but I can imagine a lawyer playing a contested song on a laptop and showing how you just do "select all" then take a certain menu option and suddenly you're listening to "Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head" – and the jury going, whoa, it's the same song.

I suppose what you do to finesse the legal situation is take your inversion of "Raindrops" and call it something like "Neutrons Keep Shooting From the Ground" where the listener will get the winky-winky meaning.

In terms of "obligations", I would just feel dishonest if I presented such as I've described as completely original material. Plus it would be too easy to get caught, once any suspicions were raised!
Posted by: Rustyspoon#

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:05 AM

ecilA morf dnalrednoW thgim wonk eht rewsna.
Posted by: MusicStudent

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Rustyspoon#
ecilA morf dnalrednoW thgim wonk eht rewsna.


Good idea Misha. Mark, can you upload the song in question for a brief period, to this very select audience, to allow us to see if we recognize it from the Beatles catalog?
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:31 AM

Originally Posted By: MusicStudent
Originally Posted By: Rustyspoon#
ecilA morf dnalrednoW thgim wonk eht rewsna.


Good idea Misha. Mark, can you upload the song in question for a brief period, to this very select audience, to allow us to see if we recognize it from the Beatles catalog?


Sure! I was of course thinking of doing that, but didn't want to if the discussion never took off.

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/inversion

To complicate things even further, the MIDI that I started out with says it is "(C)1996 by Eiko & Nobuo Takenaka". Not sure how that works, considering that these are note-for-note transcriptions of the original Beatles performances, but I certainly owe those folks a lot of credit here.
Posted by: MarioD

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:41 AM

Inverting a Beatles' song has already been done. It played "Paul is dead"!
Posted by: Matt Finley

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:44 AM

The rhythm of the resulting song melody would be identical to the original, correct? You’re doing a vertical mirror image, not a horizontal one?
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Matt Finley
The rhythm of the resulting song melody would be identical to the original, correct? You’re doing a vertical mirror image, not a horizontal one?


Correct, I didn't mess with that at all.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:55 AM

Originally Posted By: MarioD
Inverting a Beatles' song has already been done. It played "Paul is dead"!


Mister Ed the Talking Horse got in trouble when his TV show theme was exposed as containing backwards Satanic messages. Here's the song reversed, if you try hard, you really can hear "someone sung this song for Satan" and "the source is the devil".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHbHpz3KwnM

Posted by: Guitarhacker

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 11:56 AM

I don't recognize it. I might have figured out that it was reversed, or maybe not. There's only a few places that sound like they are reverse audio.

I was going to capture it but couldn't figure out how.... so I can't reverse it to unlock the magic .... oh well.

It's actually pretty cool sounding. The only thing is that the melody line.... that flute sounding thing..... if it's the original melody to the song, if reversed would give it away.... then your simple solution is to delete that midi track and create your own. It becomes totally unidentifiable at that point I would assume.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 12:02 PM

Guitarhacker, thanks for the listen! To be clear, the lines are inverted, not reversed.
Posted by: MusicStudent

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 12:31 PM

I got nothing! I would have to analyze the notes very carefully to ID the origin and I'm likely not one who could do it. Thanks for sharing. grin
Posted by: rharv

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 02:43 PM

OK, I'll say it, if anyone bothered to look you'd get caught.
ie, if I wrote a song and you inverted it, it would catch my attention enough to notice (IF I heard it).

Not many Beatles left to worry about these days, and I doubt they are on your Soundcloud channel <grin>

Simply knowing it was a Beatles song tipped me off enough to know it was familiar, let alone if it was a song I wrote.

I'd still have to re-engineer it back to prove anything, but that would be the easy part if I had the same tools.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 04:44 PM

This be the song it came from... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsjTO0yZQjk
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/18/21 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark Hayes
This be the song it came from... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsjTO0yZQjk


PS – Another "conceptual" thing I considered was taking the original recording, isolating the vocal and fixing one long and horribly flat note of Paul's that's been bothering me for 50 years now. But then a voice from deep within my soul said: NO, DO NOT GO THERE, and I didn't even let myself try it for chuckles and yucks – I didn't want that corrected version in my head!
Posted by: dcuny

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 12:59 AM

Gerry Beckley took the song "Till The Sun Comes Up Again", ran it backwards and came up with "Now Sue".



Of course, since he wrote "Till The Sun Comes Up Again", he avoids issues of authorship.

As you said, you can't really say that you wrote it.

Although the Beatles didn't write the melody, it would reasonably and fairly be credited to Lennon and McCartney.

From a legal perspective, it's "derivative work" - deriving new content from existing material.

I can't take credit for this statement - someone on this Reddit thread wrote it, making my own comment here a derivative work. wink

There in fact was a case where someone sued a songwriter for using the reverse version of his melody.

That case didn't succeed. But a case against your version of this song undoubtably would.

Quote:
To establish copyright infringement, you must establish that you own a valid copyright in the work and that:

  • The work has been copied; and
  • The copy is “substantially similar” to the protectable elements of the original work.

There's no doubt that the work has been copied. It's rhythmically identical to the original melody, with the intervals exactly inverted.

So it's a copy that's substantially similar.

While The Beatles didn't compose the work, the derivative relies entirely on their creative work - none of it could exist without the source material, and the resulting material lacks anything that creatively transforms it.

It's a bit like taking a photograph of the Mona Lisa, and claiming the negative of the painting is your own creative work.

Sure, it was "transformed" - but every element of that transformed painting came from the painter, even if it's an inversion of some of those creative choices.

Since the derivative work is 100% built on a melody by Lennon and McCartney, not crediting them for the result would simply be wrong, as you'd be passing off someone else's work as your own.
Posted by: eddie1261

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 06:36 AM

Now here's the real experiment. Use the same process and REVERT it back. See what all the digital manipulation may have done to it.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 07:13 AM

Hi, David. I essentially agree with your position (though I give myself and the Mona Lisa photographer a little more credit.)

For purposes of this discussion, I look at the issue as a kind of puzzle (as opposed to an actual legal or ethical dilemma.) The "solution" being: you get to publish a new piece and take author credit. How would you do that, here, what else would you need to change?

Right now, the derivation is too direct. A plaintiff's lawyer would create charts showing the vertical mirroring and show them to the jury. So, you need to change things around, either creatively or algorithmically.

Encrypt the original piece, so to speak, where the cyphermusic is itself rendered as music.

Thinking about so-called "designer drugs", it's a similar puzzle: What do you need to do to this illegal molecule to be able to sell it in gas stations? Which of course has on its flip side the "law and order" puzzle: How do you define what you're banning in such a way as to cover all these tricky molecular variations without also banning sugar?

That legal challenge is the challenge of defining what philosophy calls "essence": that which cannot be changed about a thing without it ceasing to exist as that thing.

So, what is the "essence" of "You Won't See Me"?

I think it ultimately has less to do with musical structure than it does with natural causation, but I should stop.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 07:31 AM

Originally Posted By: eddie1261
Now here's the real experiment. Use the same process and REVERT it back. See what all the digital manipulation may have done to it.


Ha, I'd been thinking of doing that! So this is my final MIDI arrangement, inverted a second time (Logic calls this function "reverse pitch".) Decrypted, as it were. The song is loudly and clearly the song that it is.

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/uwontcme-inv2x
Posted by: Guitarhacker

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 10:03 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark Hayes
Originally Posted By: eddie1261
Now here's the real experiment. Use the same process and REVERT it back. See what all the digital manipulation may have done to it.


Ha, I'd been thinking of doing that! So this is my final MIDI arrangement, inverted a second time (Logic calls this function "reverse pitch".) Decrypted, as it were. The song is loudly and clearly the song that it is.

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/uwontcme-inv2x


Yeah that's recognizeable
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 02:38 PM

This post announces an original thing I did using the Logic "transform" function mentioned above:

https://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=669137#Post669137

Invert + Reverse got me 4 for the price of one!

Mark
Posted by: Noel96

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/19/21 03:55 PM

Hi Mark,

This is a technique that's been used for creating music for centuries. The most famous creation I know is Rachmaninoff's 18th variation on a theme by Paganinni.



The theory behind how this was created using negative melody is below.



While Paganinni inspired Rachmaninoff's creation, he didn't write it. The melody and harmony are quite different.
Posted by: Tangmo

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/20/21 08:15 AM

If you want legal advice, seek out a lawyer...but remember there are always two sides to be argued in court. Since neither David nor I are lawyers, I'll pretend to take the defense in your aintevernevergonnahappen lawsuit.

Definition of melody

1 : a sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds.
2 : a rhythmic succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole a hummable melody


If you did not write the melody for your piece, then who did?

Is your melody substantially similar to the melody recognized from the Lennon-McCartney song? I'd argue strongly that not only is it not substantially similar to that melody, it is by design as substantially UNsimilar as was possible with the method by which it was derived.

Is it copied? Again, such elements that may be similar to the Lennon-McCartney song are not by definition melody at all.

Does the prosecution wish to claim that the lengths of melodic notes were created by his clients who now owns them for life plus 70 years? Henceforth is nobody allowed to use the same sequence of note durations as he/they did?

Since the Mssrs Lennon and/or McCartney did not and cannot claim to have written the melody, any portion of the melody, or any "melodious" (by definition) aspect of your piece, the arguments of the Plaintiff are unsupported and unsupportable. Ipso facto, corpus delecti.


Side note to the defendant. This is a technical, not a legal or moral or philosophical question. How were the chords derived by your software, if indeed they were? Negative harmony? Harmonization of the new melody? Something else?

Now...philosophically, you face the same sort of conundrum I face when people ask me if I wrote the music for a BIAB-based piece. My answers, in ascending level of detail required to get the deer-in-the-headlights look or a faux-understanding nod are:

1. I programmed the music.
2. I made up the chord arrangement.
3. I made up the chord arrangement and a few other things and used software to create the various parts.
4. I made up the chord arrangement and a few other things and used a program call Band in a box and a DAW to create (most) of what you hear.
5. Come over and I'll show you how I do it. But, remember, I'm married.

I don't tell anybody I "wrote" the music, though I do take credit for the end results. Since neither publishing nor intellectual property "laws" have kept pace, I fill in the forms as required. Without explanation.

As your fake attorney, I'm fine with any explanation you give. As Noel so well pointed out, you used a software short-cut to eliminate the relative drudgery of a time-honored and noble pursuit of melody. There's no shame in it. Most people still think "we" are scratching down notes on staff paper. Let them be as ignorant as they choose to be. Just don't mislead them should they ask.








Posted by: eddie1261

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/20/21 09:50 AM

Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/20/21 10:52 AM

Tango, good stuff, thanks for sharing.

In Logic, at least, the inverse harmonies result from flipping all notes of all parts around a specified pitch. If you set C3 as the axis pitch, every note below C3 moves to the corresponding point above it, and vice versa. It would be interesting to learn more about what happens to keys and chord progressions when you flip them around different notes; I'm sure Learned Men have had this all figured out for centuries.

I have similar philosophical issues as those you mention, when describing the pieces I come up with using BIAB. What words to use, how to credit who for what. The software tech is too confusing; I just say what it does and ask people to think of me as the conductor of a band of very talented musicians who have the skill and artistry to turn my general directions into actual performances.

Another area in which I wonder who is writing my stuff, sort of the opposite of turning the Beatles upside-down:

There's this musicoid material I make using pitch recognition on natural sounds and rendering the results with virtual instruments. Take a canary and turn him into a soprano recorder, take a bunch of chickens and turn them into a guitar, take Ted Cruz and a debate questioner and turn them into a saxophone being asked questions by a piano. Start with MIDI material like this and see what happens. But in the end, what am I holding? Is this really a collaboration between me and a canary, as I have said? If I "songified" the pitch track of Ted Cruz's answer on waterboarding, does that make Ted the author of the resulting melody?
Posted by: rharv

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/20/21 04:27 PM

"If I "songified" the pitch track of Ted Cruz's answer on waterboarding, does that make Ted the author of the resulting melody?"


FWIW I have paid (licensed) JFK speeches for just this reason; his pitch and cadence fit the song, same with Nixon (though for more comical use on the same song).
This was 20+ yrs ago, hope I don't have to find the licensing now frown

http://masteringmatters.com/stuff/sweetness_glimpse.mp3

Point is, I get it; hearing a rhythm/cadence in life is fun.
A couple of weeks ago I carried my golf clubs across the parking lot and I heard the rhythm of the clubs clinking in 7/4 .. my first thought was 'I wish I could record that'!

Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/20/21 05:59 PM

Originally Posted By: rharv
FWIW I have paid (licensed) JFK speeches for just this reason; his pitch and cadence fit the song, same with Nixon (though for more comical use on the same song). This was 20+ yrs ago, hope I don't have to find the licensing now frown

http://masteringmatters.com/stuff/sweetness_glimpse.mp3

Point is, I get it; hearing a rhythm/cadence in life is fun.

A couple of weeks ago I carried my golf clubs across the parking lot and I heard the rhythm of the clubs clinking in 7/4 .. my first thought was 'I wish I could record that'!


Cool stuff, thanks!

My own thing is less original and much less pleasant. Featuring Senator Cruz in 2016.

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/enhanced-interrogation
Posted by: dcuny

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 01:18 AM

Originally Posted By: Tangmo
1 : a sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds.
2 : a rhythmic succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole a hummable melody

Legally, there is no necessity that a melody be "sweet" or "agreeable", nor must it be "hummable".

And the second definition defines a melody as being a... "melody", which isn't much of a definition.

If you're arguing that a melody "infringes":
Originally Posted By: Buzzfeed
Copyright infringement is what's called a "strict liability tort," which means the defendant doesn't have to have intended to infringe to be found guilty. To prove guilt, the plaintiff must only demonstrate that the defendant had access to the allegedly infringed song, and that the two songs in question have substantial similarity.

Demonstrating "access" is simple.

As to "substantial similarity":
Originally Posted By: Buzzfeed
Substantial similarity is a question of whether or not the average listener can tell that one song has been copied from the other. This is the "ordinary observer test," what Fakler calls "the hallmark of copyright infringement." The more elements two works have in common, the more likely they are to be ruled substantially similar. Proving substantial similarity in music cases is complicated by the fact that all songs carry two kinds of copyright, for composition and sound recording, that have to be evaluated independently.

The standard isn't that the songs "sound similar", but that "the average listener can tell that one song has been copied from the other."

Once an "average listener" is shown what elements to look for, they would be able to tell that one was "copied from the other". As an inexact copy, it would be considered a derived work:
Originally Posted By: Wikipedia
In copyright law, a derivative work is an expressive creation that includes major copyrightable elements of an original, previously created first work (the underlying work). The derivative work becomes a second, separate work independent in form from the first. The transformation, modification or adaptation of the work must be substantial and bear its author's personality sufficiently to be original and thus protected by copyright. Translations, cinematic adaptations and musical arrangements are common types of derivative works.


Originally Posted By: Tangmo
If you did not write the melody for your piece, then who did?

From a legal perspective, the question is whether the ownership of the derivative work remains with the author the work was derived from.

And the law says: yes, it does.

Originally Posted By: Tangmo
Is your melody substantially similar to the melody recognized from the Lennon-McCartney song?

Is it recognizable as having been copied from the Lennon-McCartney song?

I'd bet a jury would say yes.

Originally Posted By: Tangmo
Is it copied? Again, such elements that may be similar to the Lennon-McCartney song are not by definition melody at all.

Actually, they are "by definition" melody.

There is a legal loophole here, though. The "fair use doctrine" allows the use of copyrighted material if the resulting work is "transformative":

Originally Posted By: Wikipedia
For copyright protection to attach to a later, allegedly derivative work, it must display some originality of its own. It cannot be a rote, uncreative variation on the earlier, underlying work. The latter work must contain sufficient new expression, over and above that embodied in the earlier work for the latter work to satisfy copyright law's requirement of originality.


So it is actually transformative, or is it just a "rote process?"

By definition, exact melodic inversion is a "rote, uncreative variation" (to borrow the term), as anyone performing exact melodic inversion correctly will arrive at the same result.

Originally Posted By: Tangmo
Does the prosecution wish to claim that the lengths of melodic notes were created by his clients who now owns them for life plus 70 years? Henceforth is nobody allowed to use the same sequence of note durations as he/they did?


I'll let someone better versed in law answer that.

Per Music as a Matter of Law:

Originally Posted By: Music as a Matter of Law
Recent (and significantly less scrutinized) district court decisions have held that copyright protection could extend to a piece's rhythm, percussion, or instrumental riffs. The Sixth Circuit has upheld an infringement verdict based on copying vocal refrains of a particular rhythm and timbre. Dicta from the Ninth Circuit likewise suggest that one could infringe a musical work by copying some permutation of "chord progression, key, tempo, rhythm, and genre."


Originally Posted By: Tangmo
Since the Mssrs Lennon and/or McCartney did not and cannot claim to have written the melody, any portion of the melody, or any "melodious" (by definition) aspect of your piece, the arguments of the Plaintiff are unsupported and unsupportable. Ipso facto, corpus delecti.

McCartney and Lennon do claim to have written the melody from which the inverted melody is derived via a "rote, uncreative variation", which makes it derivative of their copyright work, and therefore, under their copyright.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 09:59 AM

It's all about the natural causal chain.

Suppose I define a "creation algorithm" where you take a piece and subject it to a battery of complex transformations that themselves transform over time. It really would be a kind of musical encryption, and it would be very easy to make sure no human could discern the source material just by listening.

Now, if a piece is composed in the normal fashion, but some wit decides to make a name for himself by devising some such algorithm by which the newly written piece could be derived from an old one, there would still be no question of it being derivative, even though the means of derivation is presented. It wouldn't sound anything like the old piece, and we're assuming it appeared in the musical mind of its putative composer in a "mentally creative" way. The mere existence of a mathematical derivation process is not relevant. There is no natural causal connection between the first piece and the second piece.

However, if you can view the logs from the application that ran the creation algorithm, where each step and element of the transformation is executed, you will quickly come to: yes, THIS piece was hereby turned into THIS piece in a "computationally uncreative" way. The natural causal connections are there to be seen in the program execution. Presumably that's the kind of "yes" that awards full royalties.

This is related to but not exactly the same as the concept of "access". It's access in action.

Say Jack writes a song, puts it in a safe, and gives Jill the key. Then Jill publishes a song that's note-for-note identical to Jack's. She certainly had access, but if a microscopic examination of the lock shows it has never been opened, that basis for an infringement claim is moot. She may have had access, but she did use that access in a way that allowed the information inside the safe to flow outside.
Posted by: MusicStudent

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 10:45 AM

When I was able and willing to follow this discussion I found it interesting. I did find the musical material to be unique and novel and therefore I did not consider this an infringement on that which may have been considered its origins. Inspiration can come from anywhere! The path that one takes to make music is far less important than the final music which is made.

However, based on the examples provided, I concluded that this pathway did not result in music which were likeable. But please have at it, don't let me be the final word. grin
Posted by: eddie1261

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 12:43 PM

Originally Posted By: dcuny
Is it recognizable as having been copied from the Lennon-McCartney song?


Small sample size here, but how many of us recognized the song until he said what it was? I did not.
Posted by: rharv

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 01:19 PM

I couldn't have named it off the top of my head, but I did somehow recognize it, probably rhythm of the melody.
I could hum the original, but not name it, that may be a better way of saying it.

/Like I said previously; if it was a song I had written, then yeah, I could have named it. Therein lies the catch.
Posted by: Sundance

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 03:53 PM

At this point in time if you just reverse a melody and want to know who wrote it,
I'd have to say you and the at least 100,000 other people who did the same thing.
So I'd guess the one who reversed first could technically sue the other 99,999+ of you.
Ralph Murphy used to talk about this as one of his "tips" all the time.
Posted by: Tangmo

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 10:39 PM

David, you may actually have the stronger argument. That doesn't keep me from stomping my feet and representing the defense.

The use of "melody" in that second definition is not part of the definition. It's an example of the word in usage. Minor point, but noted. There are surely better definitions than those, but those suffice for the average listener.

A jury, or a judge, who either are or can, from life experience represent the "average listener" has only one sense as a LISTENER. While he/she may be able to be educated as to how this melody was arrived at, the average LISTENER only has their sense of hearing to go by.

There are apparently people who can smell music, but they are hardly AVERAGE. There are more who have a very highly developed sense of relative or absolute pitch who can mentally work out this series of inverted intervals. But with that degree of natural or developed "listening", they are very likely to notice innumerable examples between various songs. There are, after all, only 11 notes (or is it tones?) in "standard" western European music and 12TET. Regardless, they are hardly AVERAGE.

The question ultimately hangs on whether the work was copied. In an arrangement, sticking with music, enough of the characteristics of the primary work remain to make the arrangement a derivative work. It would hardly be a good arrangement (or really strong jazz) if these elements were not copied.

I don't know what the law says about ownership and royalties pursuant--except that the arranger does not now own the primary, and the primary holder does not now own the arrangement.

In the videos Noel posted. In Rachmaninoff's 18th variation on a theme by Paganinni, the composer used only a few notes--a motif?--and substantially changed many elements--most notably tempo. He also clearly stated in the title that this was a "variation on a theme"--one of twenty-four, I think. (Worth noting though that Paganinni's piece was not laid out like a modern pop song form with repeating verses and choruses).

His was not a copy and not an arrangement. His was an original work begun with a rote process.

Had this Beatle's inversion not had so many elements in common with the original, there'd be no case at all. There may be enough elements actually copied in the Beatle's inversion to convince a jury that infringement took place. I just don't think that "melody" is one of them. How can something that does not resemble another thing be said to be a copy of it? Added to the pile? Perhaps, in establishing intent. But alone? I don't think so, and neither would an average listener.

I'd argue that inverting a melody is not copying. It's a method of arriving at a completely (or at least hugely variant) new melody. The "new" no longer resembles the old in most (if not all) ways that matter to the average listener. And if said average listener is the arbiter of copyright infringement, I wouldn't want to argue for the plaintiff, in the interest of music as an art.



Posted by: Tangmo

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/21/21 11:25 PM

Originally Posted By: eddie1261
Originally Posted By: dcuny
Is it recognizable as having been copied from the Lennon-McCartney song?


Small sample size here, but how many of us recognized the song until he said what it was? I did not.


No, it was not recognizable...not even after I knew what the song was.

At first I thought it might be "We Can Work it Out", just from a few intervals that kinda sorta reminded me. But then I read the comments about the rhythm and I didn't hear the change to 3/4.

I've heard more "Beatle-esque" songs in the showcase here. And there are name-brand recording and performing acts that have that "in the style of" down. The inversion did not sound like ANY Beatle's song, much less any particular one to me.
Posted by: dcuny

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/22/21 12:34 AM

I'm only addressing this from a legal standpoint.

In a court of law, jurors are not allowed to do their own investigations. They are expected to rely entirely on expert witnesses for any sort of expertise.

The standard doesn't say they would have to be able to tell it was a copy without someone pointing the elements were copied.

Sherlock Holmes declared his method "Elementary", and it was, no matter how obscure the clues - once you know what to look for. wink

I believe a competent "musical expert" could convince a jury that they could tell that a piece of music was copied from a song... mostly because it actually was copied, so the elements are there to be found.

Would an average listener come to that conclusion on their own? I seriously doubt it.

And I'm certainly not arguing that any of this is beneficial to the making of music. It seems to me that many of the recent rulings are likely to have a chilling effect on music making.

I'm just suggesting that the "legal perspective" can be much different than what we might consider a more "common sense" approach would look like.
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/28/21 08:31 PM

OK, now I'm looking into using UserTracks to automate this process, at least for chord progressions:

1) BIAB: Export UserTrack template yadayadayada.sgu to MIDI
2) Logic: Import MIDI, invert, render to audio
3) BIAB: Use inverted audio file for UserTrack audio file yadayadayada.wav

========

TEST RESULTS SO FAR:

Tracky McTrackface, a UserTrack template played with a cheesy MIDI style

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/trackymctrackface

Tracky McTrackface transformed, using inversion UserTrack

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/trackymctrackface-inverted
Posted by: rharv

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/29/21 09:00 AM

Quote:
2) Logic: Import MIDI, invert, render to audio

Does Logic have a better synth to use for the render to audio portion?
Do you have hardware synths available?
The Invert part could be fun, but the generated sounds could be better IMHO
Once you import MIDI and Invert it, can you save it off to use in another program as a basic MIDI file (.mid)?
Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 08/29/21 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: rharv

Does Logic have a better synth to use for the render to audio portion?
Do you have hardware synths available?
The Invert part could be fun, but the generated sounds could be better IMHO
Once you import MIDI and Invert it, can you save it off to use in another program as a basic MIDI file (.mid)?


Oh, God, I certainly hope I could make something sound better than this! Sorry, I should have been more explicit that I wasn't going for musical goodness yet, this grunge is barely tolerable for human consumption. I have heard this inversion thing work with the right material, but this is clearly not that.

Here, I was mainly concerned with getting every note on every track within the playable range of some instrument, since the inversion process swings notes around. I just wanted to be able to hear if I was doing what I'm trying to do, in terms of how UserTracks work.

Sorry the sample was so long. =8^)

Posted by: Mark Hayes

Re: If I turn somebody else's song upside down, who wrote it? - 09/06/21 03:25 PM

If anyone's still here, this is the result of inverting "You Won't See Me" then feeding it into BIAB for chordal analysis and jazzification:

https://soundcloud.com/mark_hayes/uwontcme-biab

Just a BIAB fingerpicked guitar with EastWest voices.

(RealTrack: ~522:Guitar, Acoustic, Fingerpicking Ev 120)