Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Dear visitors...

For now in this blog I've already submitted most of the points that I wanted to share. For a while I'm not going to publish more articles and analyses. But I'm ready to offer my contribution as consultant expert for those who are interested and contact me.


Hereby I submit a compilation of proposed points that in my opinion should be used to obtain more reasonable verdicts in plagiarism cases in the future. I'm not expected to submit any motions with points like these and get them any of them accepted. But I hope some day other experts will also realize the importance of these points.

The proposals:

1a) Do not allow to prepare comparative sheets for convincing jurors where the timing is not synhronized between the compared melodies. 
Explanation: It creates false impression of rhythmic similarity. See also Accidental Similarity.
Importance : High

1b) Not to accept mere pitch sequences or up-hold-down sequences without identic or close rhythmical placement appearing in the compared songs as evidence. Can also be handled by point 3.
Explanation: Accidental similarity.
Importance: Medium

2 About allowing recorded versions of the song to be played for jurors:
Once they allow it, they should also allow for the defendant party to play counter examples for the jurors with allegedly similar prior songs.
Importance: High

3) As a part of the jury instructions the jurors should be taught briefly and OBJECTIVELY about what is ususal and unusual level of melodic similarity. Visual charts are proposed to use. The content of these charts and related datas have to be checked and accepted by both of the oppopsite parties as a being correct and representative for pop music generally. My tests are covering only three randomly chosen songs, and further not randomly used ones (songs of cases). These tests should be extended and validate by respected experts as well. My blog articles are still lacking the necessary level of respect for getting referred.
Explanation: Accidental similarity.
Importance: High

4a) Not to allow mash-up mixes to be played for jurors.
4b) If they still allow it, they also should allow defendant party to play examples of non-similar songs mashed up. But we can save this latter step with point 4a.
Explanation: Mash-Up mixes
Importance: High

5) Using the similarity index calculation proposed on this page.
It may sound like self-advertising, but this algorithm is considering many relevant factors with reasonable weighting. It can objectively substitute many lengthy biased arguments pro and contra. Reasonable considerations of "constellations" is built in this algorithm. Respectable validation of this algorithm is needed.
Explanation: Similarity test algorithm
Importance: Medium/low

6) Not to accept constellation type arguments as evidences, unless the constelling factors don't occure simultaionously or subsequently.
Explanation: constelling points of similarities can be compiled for any randomly chosen two songs. A trained expert is able to creat such a list not to be occuring (all points) in any other two songs.
Song level: see the Dancer vs. Blurred Lines example in Blurred Lines analysis (appendix).
Similarly for melodies: see the Beethoven's Fifth vs. Got To Give It Up example.
Importance: High

7) Not to judge sound-alike arrangement as infringement. The core of infringements should be the melodies (~idea) instead of overall sound (~expression).
Explanation: just read the related dissent of Judge Jackqueline H. Nguyen.
Importance: High


I propose disabling mash-up mixes in music plagiarism cases.

For now in music plagiarism trials it's a usual and accepted way of proving substantial similarity that the complaining party prepares mash-up recordings. In these mash-ups they combine the backing track and the lead vocals of the compared songs in various ways. If the mash-up "works" it certainly influences jurors to vote for the existence of substantial similarity.

The main point of this article that mash-ups should be disabled to use in courtrooms. Reason: it is able to mislead jurors by creating a false impression of similarity. The mash-up trick also works for songs that are VERY different both melody-wise and harmony-wise, for certain extent. The mash-up mixes often apply an adjustment of pitch and tempo in a smooth way. The difference of key and exact tempo (+/-30%) is not problem for mash-up producers.
For now there exists huge amount of mash-up mixes supporting this point. Just type "mashup" into YT search and check the results! There are some shocking examples for example Smells Like Teen Spirit - Final Countdown. Here we have to add that the mashup would not work with the chords of Teen Spirit combined with the melody of Countdown.

Pretty Woman - Sweet Child Of Mine:
Roy Orbison junior in 2018 shared his opinion that the intro guitar hook of Sweet Child Of Mine can be mashed up with Pretty Woman (written by his father). He added that he does not think it's a case of plagiarism together with other songs that too are allegedly similar to Pretty Woman: Day Tripper, Staisfaction, etc...

Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up:
It is another example for two different songs with different chord progression and modal pitches (b3rd degree vs 3rd degree) and it still can be mashed up for certain degree. Not perfectly since some clashing notes creat painful dissonances at more points.

When do mashups work? It's easier to determinine when it does not work.
A given chord works with a melodic subphrase when the "anchoring" note(s) of this subphrase is present in the chord (there are counter examples). Mash-up mix does not work good, if an anchoring note (usually one note per subphrase, sometimes more) in Song A doesn't fit with the corresponding chord in Song B. A seventh or major seventh dissonance is still creates an "enjoyable" dissonance, but a 2nd melodic degree of an anchoring note in Song A would be clashing with the tonic chord of Song B, since that chord contains 1st and 3rd degrees neighbouring the 2nd degree. This same note (2nd degree) would not clash with either ii, iii(7) or the V chord (the latter is called "dominant" chord) in Song B. Roughly a half of the basic chords don't clash with a given scale degree (1st to 7th). 
Phrase lengths also count, but these have usually "binaric" length: 4, 8, 16 or 32 bars.

Another typical clashing is caused by modal differences. For example a modal (including minor mode) flat-3rd degree of Song-A is clashing with the natural 3rd degree built in the actual chord of Song-B. This type of clashing occures in the Blurred Lines - Got To Give It Up mashup.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Accidental similarity

This is one of the most important articles in this blog...

A recurring situation in the music plagiarism cases that lay people jury members have to decide whether or not two melodic samples are substantially similar. Their inputs are the testimonies, the comparative sheets, sometimes also audio samples (original or prepared, mash-up). The jurors are instructed how to consider these inputs, but they lack the necessary reference to judge what is usual/unusual level of melodic similarity. The plaintiff party experts tend to magnify the point of similarities while the opposite party are trying to diminish them. The comparative sheets prepared by the complaining party experts are marking the allegedly similar points. It is tipically full of arrows, circles or red colored notes influencing the jurors more effectively than a verbal counter arguments by the defending party. An example: the plaintiff may find a sequence of five consecutive pitches in both songs. An effective testimony backed up with visual elements may make jurors think it's something extraordinary. The defendant will say it's a commonplace detail. The judgement of the jurors will depend much on how effectively the opposite arguments influence jurors. 

In order to obtain a more reasonable judgement jurors could be briefly taught what extent of similarity is usual and what not. The jurors' sense of similarity could be properly "adjusted" this way. Note: this is not a step that necessarily supports the defendant party. It may easily show that the similarity is extraordinary (or substantial) indeed. The result of the test is visual and easy to interpret for lay people as well. 

Investigating the usual level of similarity we can follow (at least) two approaches: 
Type A) 
Comparing the melodic material of two randomly chosen songs. Possible more songs to obtain a representative base. If the similarity of the compared songs returns a set of coincidences that is qualitatively and quantitatively in the range of what is usual for type-A results, then the melodic similarity is usual. This does not mean the non existence of any type of similarity, because an expert will be able to find points of similarity between very different melodic samples as well.

Type B)
Comparing a randomly chosen song and find the possibly closest melodic sample from another (prior) song. Considering recent pop hits and the similarity test introduced on this blog, most of pop songs can be found a song with a similar melody resulting around 6.0 on my proposed similarity test. Test is "positive", if we find a third party song (preferably prior to both complaining and defendant song) with a melodic sample that is more similar (higher P-index) than the songs of the case. If the third party song example is prior to only the defendant song, then it may indicate that the motif is moved meanwhile (since the release of the complaining song) to the public domain. If we can find a third party song with a melodic pattern that is more similar to either the complaining or the defendant song, than it again shows that the two songs are not substantially similar or this similarity is not protectible. If the found pattern is prior to 1) the defendants song 2) or the complaining song as well.

Type A tests.
 Hereby I present a series of comparative tests on randomly chosen songs taking the first three US No1 songs in 2018. The test was investigating how long melodic sequences appear simultainously in two randomly chosen songs. These three songs were Havana, Perfect and God's Plan, three rather different songs. Havana is in minor mode, while both Perfect and God's Plan are in major. A major and a minor melody can be compared two ways. First way is to use the dergrees of the homekeys. Second is the enharmonic view: minor key degrees can be transposed to the enharmonic (relative) major key. This is similar to solmization view, where the 1st degree of the minor mode is "la" that is equivalent to the 6th degree in a major key.
 In the tests we will omit sequences that are shorter than three notes. For the rhythmically also matching finding I used a limit of minimal two notes. For this test the music was transcribed to numerical degrees. Most of the transcriptions don't cover the entire song, only the key lead melodies. Errors in the transcriptions may occure, but these are not expected to impact the final conclusions. In the charts I may have not found all the identic sequences. The sequences with differently repeated pitches are marked with dashed line. The rhythmically also identic fragments are marked with colored numbers.

Havana vs. Perfect - homekey degrees 
Havana vs. Perfect - solmization degrees 
Havana vs God's Plan - homekey degrees 
Havana vs God's Plan - solmization degrees 
Perfect vs God's Plan 

Tests related to recent cases 

Stairway To Heaven vs Taurus 
Taurus vs Havana 
Blurred Lines vs Got To Give It Up 
Got To Give It Up vs God's Plan 
Let's Get It On vs Thinking Out Loud Thinking Out Lod vs God's Plan

Test results:
Havana vs. Perfect - homekey degrees 
- three notes long sequences: 5 
- four notes long sequences: 1 
- five notes long sequences: 2
- six notes long sequences: 1
- length of sequence with the same rhythmic placement: 4 in different meter tough. 

Havana vs. Perfect - solmization degrees 
- three notes long sequences: 3 
- four notes long sequences: 2 
- five notes long sequences: 2
- six notes long sequence: 1 
- length of sequence with the same rhythmic placement: 2 

Havana vs God's Plan - homekey degrees 
- three notes long sequences: 5 
- four notes long sequences: 5 
- five notes long sequences: 0 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 2, 2 and 2. 

Havana vs God's Plan - solmization degrees 
- three notes long sequences: 2
- four notes long sequences: 3 
- five notes long sequences: 1 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 4 and 3 

A similar melodic motif: 
 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 : beats 
 66 63 3 4 3 2 3   : Havana 
 6 6 5 5 4 3 2 3 3 : God's Plan

 The melodic part of the similarity test for these samples is 4,8 that occured accidentally. 

Perfect vs God's Plan - three notes long sequences: 5 
- four notes long sequences: 2 
- five notes long sequences: 1 
- length of sequence with the same rhythmic placement: 2 

Stairway To Heaven vs Taurus (instrumental/harpischord parts) The complaint argues that there exist melodic similarities between the harpischord parts in Taurus and vocal melodies of Stairway thus the transcription is fragmentary. 
- three notes long sequences: 3 - four notes long sequences: 0 
- five notes long sequences: 1 
- length of sequence with the same rhythmic placement: 3 This 3-2-1 motif is also occuring in Havana (both view), Perfect (dozens of times) and in God's Plan. 

Taurus vs Havana 
- three notes long sequences: 5 
- four notes long sequences: 2 
- five notes long sequences: 0 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 2 and 2 

Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up (deposited melodies) 
- three notes long sequences: 6 
- four notes long sequences: 3 
- five notes long sequences: 0 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 2 and 3. Interestingly this latter one (a 2-2-2 sequence) accidentally occures in God's Plan as well with the same rhythmic placements. Note that the these findings were not (found?) pointed out by the complaining party. Most reports (including mine) were pointing out the lack of even two consecutively matching notes. As you see it's not quite correct. For the comparison I just considered only the first page of the three pages of the original deposite sheet plus two of the hook motifs. Transcribing all three pages (including the non-repetitive melodies in Got To Give It Up) would result more findings for both Blurred Lines and God's Plan (see below). 

Got To Give It Up vs God's Plan 
- three notes long sequences: 6 
- four notes long sequences: 1 
- five notes long sequences: 1 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 3, 3 and 2

Let's Get It On vs Thinking Out Loud 
- three notes long sequences: 2 
- four notes long sequences: 0 
- five notes long sequences: 2 
- length of sequence with the same rhythmic placement: 

Thinking Out Loud vs God's Plan 
- three notes long sequences: 3 
- four notes long sequences: 3 
- eight (!) notes long sequences: 1 
- length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 3, 3, 2 and 2 

Average results: 
- three notes long sequences: 5,1 
- four notes long sequences: 2,3 
- five or more notes long sequences: 1,1 
- max length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 2,9 

Maximal results:
- three notes long sequences: 6
- four notes long sequences: 4
- five or more notes long sequences: 2
- max length of identic sequences of degrees: 8
- max length of sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 4
- max number of different sequences with the same rhythmic placement: 4

In more recent cases the plaintiff experts pointed out as evidences identic pitch sequences in different rhythmic placements, or melodic fragments of notes where the rhythmic placements are also identic. The defendant experts were claiming these were just commonplaces. The jurors were helpless to decide who is right unless the plaintiff expert is not forced to agree with the defending expert. Charts like this are badly needed for jurors to get a reference to obtain a more reasonable judgement. This result makes one conclude that a sequence of pitches without rhythmical similarity worths almost nothing. Wide leaps between the pitches may have certain evidental weight, but scalar sequences (around five notes) without rhythmical similarity are weightless. Up-hold-down similarities mean an even lower bar with even less proving strength. Out of nine comparisons we had an accidental matching of four consecutively identic notes (both pitch and placement), and a sequence of eight degrees without (strong) rhythmical similarity. These were not occuring in any complaint. If we would do the same test series for hundred songs we would find higher results. I skip estimating these this time.

Another point is the way how the mutually appering pitch sequences cover the big part of the other track. It looks very clear on the charts and surely could mislead lay people. It makes no sense to interpret this as a high ratio of one song copying the other song. Similarly as it makes no sense to consider the high ratio of weakly similar motifs covering the defendant song, and concluding that the complaining song is copyed for the same high ratio.
Note, that the amount of melodic content of the compared song affects the amount of melodic matchings found.

Type B test results.
Note that it usually a question of time to find a high-scoring songs, preferably a prior art one. It also depends on the skill of the experts. Below findings are mine except Runaway. This test remains an important point of argument for defendant parties.

Blurred Lines - You Can Leave Your Hat On : six consecutive melodic degrees with an octave shift in the middle that is a difference.
Got To Give It Up - Runaway: six consecutive notes found.
Thinking Out Loud - Forget You: 4-7 consecutive notes.
Let's get It On - the four note signature title phrase is a common fanfare motif.
Let's Get It On - It's Not Unusual: six note sequence (that's a lower bar).

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Similarity test algorithm

A plagiarism checker algorithm has been developed to calculate an index that is proportional with the melodic similarity between samples. It considers melody, rhythm, harmony and some other factors as well. Some of these factors are calculated in a sophisticated way to result a more reasonable value.

Melodyc factor is considering same pitch, different pitch (decreasing effect), closely timed notes, intervals, repetitions, ...
Rhythm factor is considering note locations and for some extent rests as well.
Harmony factor is considering chord changes weighing by how usual/unusual they are.
The "others" factor is considering tempo, location (section, phrase, bar), similarity of instrumentation. More details only for those who interested.

The test is still under fine tuning.
Preliminary test results below, so the results may change a bit up or down. Keep in mind the proposed limit is around 8.0, that has to be handled carefully. Between 7.0 and 9.0 there is a "gray" range, but out of this the case is more or less black or white. 

1) Stay With Me vs. I Won't Back Down
Similarity index: 11,96

Melody: 9,23
Rhythm: 1,14
Harmony: 1,02
Others: 1,11

Clear case.

2) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up

2a) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - "signature phrase"
Similarity index: 2,83

Melody: 2,8
Rhythm: 1,02
Harmony: 0,92
Others: 1,08

This result is maximized by triming off the non-matching notes. Without the trimming the entire phrase would result a negative value due to the too many different notes.

2b) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - "hook"
Similarity index: 3,91
Melody: 3,45
Rhythm: 1,09
Harmony: 1,06
Others: 0,98

By far the highest result in the case. Only one perfect match, plus three close ones.

2c) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - bass
Similarity index: 1,48

Melody: 1,23
Rhythm: 1,01
Harmony: 0,95
Others: 1,25

This result too is maximized by triming off the non-matching notes. Without the trimming the entire phrase would result a negative value due to the too many different notes.

2d) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - 5 to 1 bass motif
Similarity index: 1,30

Melody: 1,72
Rhythm: 0,80
Harmony: 0,79
Others: 1,19

2e) Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - hey-hey-hey
Similarity index: 0,45

Melody: 0,70
Rhythm: 0,80
Harmony: 0,79
Others: 1,02

The lowest index the trimming couldnot save it either. It was also pointed out as a similar motif by musicologists and later testified as being substantially similar (with all other points).

Blurred Lines vs. Got To Give It Up - "keep on dancin"
Similarity index: 0,93

Melody: 1,10
Rhythm: 1,00
Harmony: 0,91
Others: 0,93

Summary of the six Blurred Lines vs Got To Give It Up samples:

c to f are ranging from 0,55 to 1,43. We could just say "no comment", but it cries out
for a comment. These are ridicoulusly low values to label as substantially similar
or even just similar. Gayes-party expert in her testimony claimed each
of these being substantially similar - in the musicologic meaning of the word.

Also note that none of these patterns occure simultainously or subsequently.
Now think it over what percentage of randomly chosen (pop) songs contain
an at least 4,17 and a 2,76 strong melodic coincidence. See the blog article Accidental similarity.

3) Blurred Lines vs Another One Bites The Dust
Similarity index: 3,46
It's just a melismatic motif with nine (!) consecutive matching notes, that are following a commonplace pattern. The algorhythm effectively compensates the repeated commonplace motifs.

Melody: 4,6
Rhythm: 1,11
Harmony: 0,8
Others: 0,9

4) Sweet Child Of Mine vs. Unpublished Critics
Similarity index: 5,72

Melody: 4,1
Rhythm: 1,03
Harmony: 1,1
Others: 1,28

This refers only to the verse melodies. Similarly to 2a) the result would be much lower (a negative value) if the comparation would consider the entire phrase. For getting a higher result the non-matching motes were trimmed down from the melodic comparison. In this case there were other similar details as well.

5) Creep vs. Air That I Breathe
Similarity index: 9,14

Melody: 7,01
Rhythm: 1,13
Harmony: 1,15
Others: 1,00

The compared pattern in Creep is the falsetto sung melody after the "solo".

6) Get Free vs. Creep
Similarity index: 9,64 (depends on!)

Note that in this case the complaining melodies in Creep are different from those that are similar with the Air That I Breathe. The two cases are melody-wise independent from eachother.
The melodies in this case are just partly similar. Some phrases are rather different. The rough placement of the phrases is similar in both songs: starting 2-3 beats before the downbeat of the actual harmonic phrase (where the chords change).
We have two different verses in both songs. Slightly different in Get Free more
different in Creep (phrases 3 and 4). To maximize the matching notes I hade to take the closer variant of the verses which is the first verse in Creep.
The highest result was given by considering phrase 3-4 of verses through phrases 1-2 of chorus. This is a "cheat" in favour of Creep since these phrases are not subsequent with the chorus phrases. Without this cheat the index would not reach the proposed limit at 8.0!

Melody: 8,5
Rhythm: 0,87
Harmony: 1,18
Others: 1,10

7) Photograph vs. Amazing
Highest score is resulted by the first ABB sequence of phrases that shows a similarity index of: 10,90 according to the algorithm. The non-repeated phrases would result a lower value.

Melody: 9.03
Rhythm: 1.06
Harmony: 1.09
Others: 1.04

8) Come As You Are vs. Eighties
Similarity index: 12,64

Melody: 9,13
Rhythm: 1,03
Harmony: 1,08
Others: 1,24

13,81 considering the repetitions.

Clear case? Not quite! Just to mess things up:

Eighties (1985) vs. Life Goes On (1982)
Similarity index: 12,06 or 16,88 considering the repetitions.

Come As You Are vs. Life Goes On
Similarity index: 10,52
11,19 considering the repetitions.

Love Is A Wonderful Thing (Isley Brothers) vs. Da Doo Ron Ron
Similarity index: 7,40
Under the limit.

Melody: 6,62
Rhythm: 1,06 The shuffle beat difference is considered in the "others" factor: 0,9.
Harmony: 1,02
Others: 1,04

Love Is A Wonderful Thing (Michael Bolton)
Love Is A Wonderful Thing (IsleyBrothers)
Similarity index: 6,78

Melody: 3,90
Rhythm: 1,14
Harmony: 0,98
Others: 1,56 The four identic words alone contribute with a 1,2 gain.

This best result was by choosing the once-occuring title phrase variant in Bolton's song, next to the sax solo. The most frequently occuring Bolton variants resulted in an 3,82 index.

Thinking Out Loud vs. Let's Get It On

The bass base loop.
Similarity index: 7,37

This a surprisingly high index for a four note melody. It is considering the looping with a 1,4 "gain". Since it is a commonplace motif even in prior art, it does not matter much.

Melody: 6,30
Rhythm: 1,10 (if the3+5 pattern would not be commonplace this factor would be higher)
Harmony: 1,04
Others: 1,80

TOL verse 1st phrase vs. LGIO chorus 3rd phrase
The opening notes, the title phrase in LGIO is a traditional fanfare motif. The compared fragment is a melismatic motif in LGIO: 3-4 notes only, since the rest is rather different.
Similarity index: 3,46

Melody: 3,85
Rhythm: 0,87
Harmony: 1,07
Others: 0,97

TOL verse 2st phrase vs. LGIO chorus 4rd phrase 
(the 3 5 6 5 3 motif)
Similarity index: 2,81

Melody: 2,9
Rhythm: 1,13
Harmony: 0,93
Others: 0,92

TOL verse with LGIO verse
Very different melodies. There is a two note fragment that is "similar".
Similarity index: 1,52

Melody: 1,49
Rhythm: 0,9
Harmony: 1,06
Others: 1,08

Walk vs. Nem Vagyok Tökéletes
Similarity index: 9,25

Melody: 8,36
Rhythm: 1,03
Harmony: 1,10
Others: 0,98

The "complaining" song is from aHungarian band. This one is an unprobable case of access, so it must be accidental in spite of the index being over the gray range. The calculation considers the repetition. Homekey is the same and the chords as well.

Shape Of You vs. No Scrubs
Similarity index: 5,14

Melody: 5,33
Rhythm: 1,10
Harmony: 0,85
Others: 1,03

There is a similar passage indeed, but the strength of the similarity does not close even the "gray" range. It's above the "usual" level of Marvin Gaye cases tough...
See the Accidental similarity for an example of a melodic factor of 4,8 occuring accidently between two of the three songs chosen randomly.

Thinking Out Loud vs. Forget You
Similarity index:7,11

Rhythm: 1,01
Harmony: 0,96
Others: 0,99

Close one on the low end of the "gray" range. Stronger similarity than that of Shape vs. Scrubs...

Ice Ice Baby vs. Under Pressure
Similarity index: 12,20

Melody: 9,21
Rhythm: 1,15
Harmony: 1,06
Others: 1,08

This one was a case of sampling. The similarity works as if it would be a simple "rip-off".

Firework vs. Always
Similarity index: 7,14

Melody: 7,9
Rhythm: 1,02
Harmony: 1,04
Others: 1,04

Some different notes are saving Fireworks.

Stairway To Heaven vs. Taurus
Similarity index: 4,70

Melody: 3,50
Rhythm: 1,02
Harmony: 1,02
Others: 1,30

It's was a special test as some beats were playing two notes simultainously. Even without the consideration of commonplace motifs the melodic similarity is still under the "limit".
There are certainly many identic and close notes, but the different notes (for example the open B string notes of Taurus and the top notes of Stairway) are holding back the result.
Taurus has a "twin" song called Summer Rain that was recorded roughly in the same months. These two songs share 11 consequtive notes.

Starboy vs. Yooho
Similarity index: 9,39

Melody: 6,3
Rhythm: 1,08
Harmony: 1,05
Others: 1,30

The melodyc similarity itself is not strong enough, but many other factors are amplifying it: BPM, chords, key, instrumentation, location,...
The best result is obtained by comparing the first phrases only.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Photograph - Amazing

Ed Sheeran’s hit single Photograph was claimed to be infringing the Amazing by Matt Cardle.
The original complaint document are available here.
The news reported about "verbatim, note-for-note copying".

There were at least two independent musicologists both of whom argued that this case is obviously an infringement.
Opinion 1
Opinion 2
Opinion 3
These opinions mention the 39 coinciding notes out of 64 total notes - taken from the original complaint. This ratio was a key point for both of the independent experts judging this case to be an infringement indeed.

My remark on this:
The two independent musicologists did not point out that the compared 16 bars consist of 8 phrases, most of which are close variants. These variants have two major types A and B. The sequence of these variants: ABBB ABBB.

Now let's think of this:
There are huge amount of songs with the same progression of four chords repeated long and where these chord are based on the same simple bassline of four looped notes. If we compare only these bass notes, then we can obtain another 16 bar or even much longer sections where  (most of) the notes coincide. We know that this is a cheat and will not convince us about song level substantial similarity. Those four bass notes can be considered as one cycle, then consider the repetitions for a certain extent (weight).

Considering the repetition the case still shows a strong similarity. See results in the "similarity test algoritm".

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Similar songs

Since the infamous Blurred Lines case songwriters should be more aware of avoiding plagiarism. Still you can find that a big percentage of songs that are melodically resembling to other prior song. The sound-alike copying is widely and willfully used in the lower leagues of the pop-business, but also in the top songs.

Back then the Blurred Lines verdict (and recently Let's Get It On too) was supported by a couple of quotes by pop musicians or others feeling similarity between two songs. 

I'm having similar experiences all the time, quite a few. Probably more than others. Hereby I list 25 recent plus some older songs that show melodic (or sound) similarity with an other prior song. A part of these are commonly known, a big part of them are my own findings. 
Once someone points out the similarity, lay people are expected to recognise it too and say "wow, indeed!". Even small similarities or 4-5 coinciding notes are sufficient to creat an impression of similarity, even for first listen. Remember Stairway?
In plagiarism trials lay people jurors may also vote for "yes, these are similar indeed" unless they are not properly instructed. The majority of the findings in the list below are not close enough to take too seriously.

Clean Bandit: Symphony
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines

Not a close one at all, but compared to the "substantial similarity" that was shown in the Blurred Lines vs Got To Give It Up trial, it is definitely in a higher class. The function of these passages also coincide.

1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3
1 2 3 5 3 5 6 1 2   2 1   :  Symphony
  3 3 2 3 5 6 1 1   1     : Blurred Lines
    *   * * * *           : matching notes
  5 5 5 5 6 1 2     1 5 6 : GTGIU

see also Sweet Lullaby

Meghan Trainor: All About That Bass
Pharell Williams, Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines

A double arch motif. Many matching notes, but it was not instant finding. 

Enrique Iglesias: Duele El Corazon
A. L. Webber: Then We Are Decided

1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4
            1111 31         432 1 4 4
            111 3 1         433 2 3

Avicii: I'm Addicted To You
Beatles: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Melody plus the combination of chord and descending inner line. Harmony vocals are also reminiscent of other Beatles song. Instantly recognised.

David Guetta ft. Zara Larsson: This One's For You
Queen:Who Wants To Live Forever
This is a case of parallelling melodies with almost identical special rhythm. It was another instant finding.

. 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 .  
 11      12      223             33      34#     445
 11      15      556             11      17      771'

Katy Perry: Fireworks
Erasure: Always
Regarding the length and speciality (rhythm and wide melodic leaps) this one is a relatively clear case of plagiarism.

. 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 .
5,1             5,2           1 2 3     1     6,

Sam Smith: Stay With Me
Tom Petty: It Won't Back Down
A well known, heavily discussed case.
The long melody and the very special rhythm makes it an easy to judge case.

Katy Perry: Chained To The Rhythm
Beatles: All You Need Is Love
The outro vocal of CTTR resonates with that of the AYNIL intro hook. Very far from plagiarism, but easy to recognise.

Pharell Williams, Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
Double Trouble ft Rebel MC - Just Keep Rockin'
sound alike

"copyed elements": 
backbeat chords on "Rhodes", 
"Hoo" vocals, 
vocal percussion rhythm in JKR = cowbell rhythm in BL.
Plus: three gents (performers) and a biking lady on the video :).

Adele: Rolling In The Deep (opening melody)
Metallica: Orion (guitar solo fragment)
Five notes only.

Portugal.The Man: Feel It Still
Marvellets: Please Mr Postman
Obvious case. Even the Wikipedia article mentions this.

Major Lazer/Justin Bieber/MO: Cold Water
Eric Clapton: I Shot The Sheriff
The hooks are very close. Instantly found.

Justin Bieber: Love Yourself
Bee Gees: How Deep Is Your Love
That was another instant finding, but not plagiarism.

Jason Derulo: Swalla
Art Company: Susanna (I'm Crazy Loving You)
Mainly the rhythm phrasing (first two phrases). This was an instant finding too.

Willy William: Ego
Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for two violins in A minor.
Just a short motif that is repeated:
1 2 3 4 1 : beats
3 3 3 212 :

Selena Gomez, Marshmellow: Wolves 
Police: Every Breath You Take
The hooks are similar and sound-alike. Instant finding.

Pink: U + Ur Hand
Marvin Gaye: Got To Give It Up
Fragmentary bass and cowbell.
The hook is much more reminscent of Papa Was A Rolling Stone (The Temptations).

  1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 
#71         33 7  1 : PWARS
 11         33 7 11 : UUR

The chorus also resebles to It's My Life (Bon Jovi)

Lady Gaga - Born This Way
Madonna: Express Yourself
Well discussed case.

Burak Yeter: Tuesday
Jean Michel Jarre: Equinoxe
The intros sound similar.


Jonas Blue (Tracy Chapman) - Fast CarBeatles: Cry Baby Cry
Just a special syncopated rhythm.

Fifth Harmony, Kid Ink: Worth It
Jason Derulo: Talk Dirty
A well known, instantly recogniseable case.

Mike Posner: Cooler Than Me
Katy Perry: I Kissed The Girl
Sound alike.

OneRepublic: Counting Stars
Bloodhound Gang: The Bad Touch
Sound alike.

Ed Sheran: Perfect
Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
Far from plagiarism, still the verses are reminiscent.

Ed Sheran: Thinking Out Loud
Cee Lo Green: Forget You
Opening melodies. This one was not an instant finding at all, no wonder no one else (?) noticed it yet. But many notes coincidence.

26) Kwabs: Walk
Zanzibar: Nem Vagyok Tökéletes
The "complaining" work is a Hungarian song from 2001.
The choruses are very similar: eight notes per phrase.
There are three similar consecutive phrases.
On the other hand: these phrases are repeated (with minor changes).
Above points also coincide with the Photograph-Amazing case.
The shape of the melody (3-2-1-7-1) is very common. The access is unprobable.

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1
    333 2 1 1 71  : NVT 
    333 211 17711 : Walk (with slided notes)
    333 2 1 1 7 1 : Walk (without slided notes)

Robin Schulz: Unforgettable
Justin Bieber: Sorry


Older findings by me:

Tom Jones: Sexbomb
Merle Travis: 16 tons.
Third phrase of the chorus

Tom Jones: Delilah 
Consuelo Velazquez: Besame Mucho
Only the third phrases.

Beatles: Things We Said Today
Roy Orbison: Working For A Man
Sound alike.

Mamas And Papas: Dream A Little Dream Of Me
Beatles: Blackbird
Intro pick-up, 9 notes. Difference: shuffle beat / even beat.

Justine Timberlake: Can't Stop The Feeling
Spice Girls: Say youll be there
The bridges are reminiscent.

Whitney Houston: One Moment In Time
Freddie Mercury: There Must Be More To Life Than This

Third phrase of the chorus (Verse in TMBMTL) and chords.
1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 1 . 2 . 3 . 4
  6 66 7     765    32 1     : TMB
6     787     5 5     321    : OMIT
4       5       1       6    : chords

Jason Crest: Waterloo Road
Queen: Killer Queen

 3     2     1     7     6  
.1 .2 .3 .4 .1 .2 .3 .4 .1 .2 .3 .4
.353  3232  2131  1727  56 12 13 : WR
 3 3  1212  71 1  1727  7666     : KQ
 * *   * *   * *  ****   *  
Except the fourth block only the descending notes are matching

Queen: We Will Rock You
Lee Dorsey: Working In A Coal Mine
The shape of the opening notes are close.

Build Me Up Buttercup
Abba: Waterloo
Paralelling melodies plus the piano motif.

Extreme: Midnight Express
Mike Oldfield: Taurus 3 (esp. "Good Morning Britain" performance)

Steam: Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye
Hans Zimmer: He Is A Pirat

Pirat is in 3/4, NaNa is in 4/4 meter:

4 1 2 3 4 1 2
561 1   123 3 

3 1 2 3 1 2
561 1 123 3

Beatles: Hey Jude
Jean Michel Jarre: Magnetic Fields part 5

parallelling melodies
4 1 2 3 4 1 
5 3    3562 : HJ
8 5    6783 : MF