I was patting myself on the back for the nifty little melody I penned last night. Sitting around after dinner with some friends this evening, the melody was running through my mind. Suddenly it struck me. The lyrics to the tune rushed back into my memory. My clever little melody differs by only by one repetition of one single note from the melody of a Sunday school hymn I learned as a very young child and haven't heard for literally 55 years. Except that where I have written two 1/8 note A's, the original has one 1/4 note A, my "new" melody is not even remotely new.
Given the uncounted number of melodies that have been written down, and all those that were never written down, or written down and subsequently lost, how can we ever know that something we've "created" is actually new? Was our clever "new" melody first sung by a 14th century balladeer, or tucked away on page 972 of some voluminous 18th century hymnal?
Somebody needs to compile a catalog of every melody known to exist so we can check our newly crafted ones against the historical records. Any volunteers?