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Topic: Where have I heard that before?

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  1. #1

    Where have I heard that before?

    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?

    --gary shannon
    http://www.soundclick.com/garyshannon

  2. #2
    Senior Member Leaf's Avatar
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    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    Oh well! I posted something once in the listeniing room and asked if it sounded to anyone like something that had already been done. Since then i have seen several others posting similarly a fear that what they have created was really something remembered, it must be common to worry about that. The response to these posts i remember the most was something to the effect of "don't worry, just make your music, probably not already done but if it turns out it has, then oh well!"

    I bet a computer could do this checking easily if it had a datbase of all the works, maybe someone is already at work cataloging them.

  3. #3

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    I have done this too! But it was a very well known song! I feel very silly for it but it was almost identical to . . Stairway to Heaven. . I didn't even realize it until I played it to my brother, and he pointed it out to me.
    Im always very careful now and play all my music to my family asking them if it sounds like anything they know!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Where have I heard that before?

    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?
    Gee Wally, I don't think the Beaver has the time even in a life time for one person to accomplish if even if one could theoretically compile all the melodies written or. What do you think June? Well ah, why Ward ... aren't you being a little to hard on the Beaver? Why no dear. What ever makes you think that?
    Really Gary, I'll get my monks on it right away.
    Styxx

  5. #5

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    Somebody needs to compile a catalog of every melody known to exist so we can check our newly crafted ones against the historical records.
    Easy! If we simply allow the RIAA to have immediate copyright over every melody written, their lawyers would phone within the hour of any "duplicates" being written.
    If pro is the opposite of con lets look beyond this....the opposite of congress must be progress...

  6. #6

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    I can recommend a couple of books that help a little - so long as you are happy to check your tune against many great works from before about 1945!

    Check out the Dictionary of Musical Themes (over 10,000) compiled by Harold Barlow and Sam Morgenstern, first published by Faber and Faber in 1948. There is a companion volume called the Dictionary of Opera and Song Themes, containing about 8,000.

    What you do is transpose your tune into C major or C minor, then look up the note letter sequence in an index. If we take an example already in Cm, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony would appear in the index as GGG Eflat FF. Alongside is a code, B948. Look that code up in the dictionary and you see the opening bars of the main theme set out on the page. The books are arranged alphabetically by composer.

    They are wonderful achievements - I only wish someone would update them to the 1990s, and so include some of my favourite composers, such as George Lloyd.

    Rob Elliott

  7. #7

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Elliott
    I can recommend a couple of books that help a little - so long as you are happy to check your tune against many great works from before about 1945!

    Check out the Dictionary of Musical Themes (over 10,000) compiled by Harold Barlow and Sam Morgenstern, first published by Faber and Faber in 1948.
    Cool. I went over to Amazon and bought a copy. (The last cheap used copy! The copies that are left are really expensive.)

    --gary shannon
    http://www.soundclick.com/garyshannon

  8. #8

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Elliott
    Check out the Dictionary of Musical Themes (over 10,000) compiled by Harold Barlow and Sam Morgenstern, first published by Faber and Faber in 1948.
    I found an online version based on Barlow & Morgenstern's catalog:

    http://www.multimedialibrary.com/barlow/index.asp

    -- Ken

  9. #9

    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    The simpler the theme, the more likely it was done before.

    I know the feeling and I hate it If I come up with a really catchy melody, I get sceptical at once .. like, "it sounds so good, somebody MUST've done it before already!"

    I try to stop worrying and instead trying a different instrumental approach to the melody. I believe we should try to be as original as possible but there's just no guarantees. Pop producers don't care, why should we

  10. #10
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Where have I heard that before?

    My problem is a bit different. I'll hear something in my head and believe it to be utterly fantastic, beautiful, never heard of before and I'm right until I go to the listening page of this forum and hear what everyone else has written. How to I compete with such enormous gifted talent? So, I resolve myself to listen and enjoy. Maybe some day it will click. Maybe it will not. But, at least I am satisfied with what I hear.
    Ah, sorry ...
    Styxx

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