Friday, June 22, 2012

The number of musical notes in the world

So much is made of the the magical value of music, the value of the musicians who create it, and why it should be a locked down property forever.  I believe I made at least a reasonable argument in my very first post for this generally being nonsense.  You may disagree and that's fine, but I'd like to offer some additional reasoning beyond "most music sucks".

I was wondering how many melodies are even possible.   Google brought me to this interesting page, which makes the reasonable argument that there are close to an infinite number of musical melodies possible.  Mind you, that includes the melody of smashing your arm across a piano's keys.

A much more entertaining and useful way of looking at it is this hysterical rant about Pachelbel, or this even better demonstration that the same four chords make up the bulk of all popular music.  Not to demean musicians, but there is literally nothing that has not been done before--you're always sampling something.  I'm reminded of the suit against George Harrison claiming that his "My Sweet Lord" plagiarized "He's So Fine".

Good the interests of saying something useful I went and re-listened to the Chiffon's "He's So Fine" and "My Sweet Lord" again.  What can I say?  These are different songs with similar motifs here and there, but in any reasonable pop music sense they are clearly very different songs.  Hell, I've personally noticed similarities between many pop songs that never made it into a law suit, such as Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and Queen's "We Will Rock You".  Nobody called that out and everybody lived.

I'm personally of the view that art is something that is discovered, rather than created.  That is, it is perfectly true that a million monkeys, given enough time and typewriters, will stamp out Hamlet by pure random chance.  We don't create art any more than we created ourselves or the universe we live in.

Musicians and other artists need to stop acting like such asses.  It does not behoove them.

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