Ridiculous! Frivolous Lawsuit!

Joe Satriani probably jumped the shark long ago…but this lawsuit is crap.

I listened to the comparison, and he’s being silly.  That little melody is about the simplest, most obvious, most banal series you could think of, short of “three blind mice”.  Why?  Because it’s simple, easy, and obvious.  Someone should sue Joe Satriani for playing a scale and ripping off, dunno, the Temptations or something.  Or sue him for stealing Blue Cheer’s distortion.

Bottom line is that while those 3 notes may be the same, none of the follow-on melody is.  It’s a simple call-and-answer, and the call is something roughly analogous to a musical, “So…what’s up?”  And the answer is a musical, “Well, I went to the cleaners and picked up my jacket, but they couldn’t get the stains out…” vs “Well, I nearly crashed my car on the ice, but I pulled out of the spin in time…”

Joe’s claim is like someone claiming they patented the wheel.  Or that this other person plagiarized me because he used “the” in the exact same position on the page I used “the”.

Case Dismissed!



Filed under guitar, Music

4 responses to “Ridiculous! Frivolous Lawsuit!

  1. jack

    Talk to George Harrison about using three little notes.

    • chiefmuser

      I guess I’m not familiar with the reference. I’ll google it, but if he lost a lawsuit (or won one, either, I guess), then I would consider it a travesty.

      There are only 12 possible notes. Complexity arrives the more notes you string together, over what harmonic background, in what rhythm. But the possible choices are not truly infinite, and the person who brings the lawsuit was obviously inspired by somebody previously, as well. In music, nothing is truly original.

  2. Morgan

    I think the reference is for the comparison of “He’s So Fine” to Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” Harrison lost a pretty substantial lawsuit for plagiarism due to marked similarities between the two songs. But the similarities there were not limited to three notes as Jack sort of implied. The background harmonies, rhythyms and tempos were all essentially identical.

    On the other hand, that’s essentially true of “La Bamba” and “Shake It Up, Baby” as well. Maybe it’s a Beatles thing…

  3. jack

    Haha, well the Beatles did not write “Twist and Shout”–that was an Isley Brothers song that many, many people have covered. The Beatle version is just far, far and away the most famous version.


    This site gives a pretty good breakdown of all the weirdness that went on his this trial, but the crux of the case came down to this:

    “The Court noted that HSF incorporated two basic musical phrases, which were called “motif A” and
    “motif B”. Motif A consisted of four repetitions of the notes “G-E-D” or “sol-mi- re”; B was “G-A-C-A-C” or “sol-la-do-la-do”, and in the second use of motif B, a grace note was inserted after the second A, making the phrase “sol-la-do-la-re-do”. The experts for each party agreed that this was a highly unusual pattern.”

    The judge ultimately determined that the two songs were “virtually identical”, though stated he felt Harrison subconsciously ripped it off.

    So, yes, it was more than the three little notes, but I would contend that certainly the rhythms and tempos of the two songs are totally different. I guess I’d have to listen more closely for the harmonies used. The two songs just have such totally different feels to them, I still can’t believe George could lose. Though, I seem to remember a quote of his after the trial to the effect of: “I may have lost 2 million, but the song made 20, so…”

    I actually like both songs. It’ll be interesting to see how this coldplay thing works out.

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