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Inspired … Copied … Same difference?!

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Growing up on a staple diet of Hindi films and their music, I’ve often seen/ heard people go ‘WTF? (…) song is so shamelessly copied from (…) by (…) group‘, or ‘How morally deprived the music composers must be, to go and lift a song note-to-note, word-to-word.’ We then go on to sigh nostalgically, ‘Rock in the 70s and 80s was truly special. Rock today is just plain stone.‘ Why point fingers at other people?- I have done that most of the times, cribbing about the lack of ingenuity/ originality/ shame in today’s generation. I guess people enjoy pointing out imitations because it boosts the ego tremendously (‘Ha! My knowledge base is huge. You can’t dupe me, nasty composer‘) or because they feel angry and hurt on getting duped (it’s a bit of egg-on-your-face if you actually end up liking the rip-off).

Take this song I am currently listening too – ‘Iris’ by ‘Goo Goo Dolls’. It’s heavily inspired by the song ‘Pianoman’ by’Stevie Wonder’ (if you don’t believe me, youtube the two songs successively). Ideally, I should revolt against this scandalous behaviour by the doll people and register my objection by not listening to the song at all. But strangely, I don’t do that. My anger has surprisingly been replaced by acceptance and even a hint of appreciation- so what if it is a copy? The result is not that bad, innit? Just to emphasize – I probably wouldn’t listen to Mr. Wonder over and over again, but I just listened to the Googoos thrice in a row.

I sense an insight here – maybe, perhaps maybe it is ok to make concessions once in a while; maybe we should get off our high horses and accept that copying/ getting inspired is not as bad a thing as it is painted to be. Maybe it’s better to recycle old, good stuff than have crappy stuff thrown at you under the label of ‘originality’. (I know this smacks of resignation and an unwillingness to protest – so be it).

Of course, it would be wonderful if the ‘copier’ acknowledges the source or the ‘copiee’. (unintentional connection: copiee … love storeee!) 😛


Written by sujaybedekar

January 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Music

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