To borrow or not to borrow...

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  • @rkeeling75 Jan 31

    A culture question from a newbie.

    I have this idea banging around the back of my head about doing a lyrical mash-up with some older poetry and some modern song lyrics (just another form of poetry). While I understand that you can do anything you like, my question as a new person is, how would this be looked at within the community. Is the expectation that every part of the song be original? In my example, the music would be mine, the singing (may whatever you hold sacred have mercy on you should you choose to listen) would be mine, the words .... would be ... uhm... for one song .... uhm.... borrowed from some of my favorite poets. In this case using the two works interwoven to tell a story.

  • @pearlmanhattan  Jan 31

    We all borrow, sometimes unknowingly... from many and any sources. Avoid outright plagiarism, but beyond that, do what you will. There has been a challenge in the past to take public domain works and set them to music. Have a happy FAWM.

  • @zxcvbnm  Jan 31

    It is your FAWM, not a contest, no FAWM police, so you make your own rules really. Some people enter four lines of lyrics with no music, others go the whole hog, lyrics, music, entire studio type production.

    I think that is one of the attractions FAWM is SOOO diverse.

    Good Luck

  • @paulhenry  Jan 31

    Here's a quote I keep on my phone and look at from time to time. This is Jim Jarmusch, the filmmaker, so he's referring to film, but you know. Universal:

    “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

    - Jim Jarmusch [MovieMaker Magazine #53 - Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”

  • @cynthiawolff  Jan 31

    I think it feels good to finish things...however

    part of the fun is writing and recording something brand new in one day or in some cases (skirmishes) one hour!!

    when I see that someone posts a bunch of songs right out the gate, I feel like they may be “cheating” and they lose credibility in my eyes

  • @hornesgiftshop  Jan 31

    I did a rewrite of a Trad/Arr song last time. Adapted Fairport Convention for the lyrics and blatantly stole Ralph Stanley's tune. I credited it as Trad/Arr me. Why not? (NB for USA readers, trad/arr = P.D.)

  • @ben Jan 31

    I think two things would be helpful. First would be to at least hint at attributions in the comments, something like "some lines were borrowed from various poems" so that anyone who recognizes the previous works knows that you "borrowed" intentionally.

    The other thing is with more recent works (within the last 80 to 90 years or so), there's copyright to worry about. The most you might get away with quoting is maybe two or three words - the more you do, the more recognizable it becomes, and the more it's clear that you "borrowed" from a copyrighted work, something you can't do without permission (and getting permission is generally a big PITA). You can quote titles all day long, but something from the body of the work is different.

    All the usual disclaimers apply: IANAL, don't quote me as an authority, if it's that important to you hire a knowledgeable IP attorney, etc.

  • @rkeeling75 Jan 31

    Thank you all for your thoughts.

    My intent would be to credit the source of the poems. I had not thought of using the lyrics of a modern tune as something to worry about in a derivative work (it isn't a cover, and those words would only make up a small portion of the overall work) but in the last hour I have been researching song copyright laws and all I can say is... what a mess! If it were a cover, it would be so much easier. But since it would be a new, derivative work it seems there are many more legal hoops to jump through.

    So in the end, it doesn't really matter ( 😀 ). I don't think this is a valid source of inspiration (merging old and new poetry together) without a team of lawyers andor paying amazing licensing fees.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 31

    I started a challenge thread to do just this but being sure to use works that are now in the public domain. I plan to do at least one "collaboration" with Robert Frost!

    https://fawm.org/forums/topic/8609/

  • @brownium  Jan 31

    "Good artists copy; great artists steal"
    ©2019 Stephen G Brown

  • @rkeeling75 Feb 1

    Update: There is a way to get around the using modern lyric legal problem... Ask the artist. After this conversation I send an email to said artist and I just got a reply; they said yes! Oh what a wonderful age we live in where our heroes are just few clicks away.

    For the record, Frank Turner rocks! (I would have said that with or without his permission)

    So, yes I did seek permission for an idea I haven't formedfleshed out (that's for the coming month) but does prep work count against the spirit of the challenge? lol

  • @rkeeling75 Feb 1

    @johnstaples That was one of the public domain authors I was thinking about 'collaborating' with.

  • @mdavisto  Feb 1

    @paulhenry That is one of my favourite quotes about creativity; thank you for reminding me of it.

  • @andygetch  Feb 1

    when I borrow heavily, and even when obscured beyond recognition, I credit the source in the song liner notes.

  • @defaultdave  Feb 5

    Steal is, take no prisoners, stop when the cease and desist order comes in...

  • @nateger  Feb 6

    Artistic thievery is the sincerest form of flattery! And try as you might to make a carbon copy, whatever you make will always be injected with that special something that is YOU.

  • @tosm Feb 6

    "All art is theft" Pablo Picasso. No Schubert, Mozart, J.S.Bach, no Kraftwerk. No Kraftwerk, No Africa Baambata. And no Beethoven #5, no most rock music. Stravinsky probably deserves a credit too...

  • @corinnelucy  Feb 6

    I wrote a song one year using as many little quotes from Joni Mitchell songs as I possibly could. My friend @woolford, last year, wrote a song quoting music from as many of the songwriters who'd died in 2016-17 as possible. I have friends who've taken poetry that's old enough to have passed out of copyright and set that to music. And other friends who've taken melodies from classical music and added lyrics. I think it's intertextuality, not stealing... and it's all FAIR GAME. 😁

  • @frenchcricket  Feb 6

    I borrowed from Ovid in one of mine which is several thousand years out of copyright. Lots of material to pilfer!

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Feb 6

    @paulhenry Oh man!! That is a great quote! I love that.
    Also St. Bono of U2:

    "Every artist is a cannibal/every poet is a thief/all kill for inspiration/and then sing about the grief."

  • @karenbarr  Feb 6

    Writing music for an already written poem is not an unheard of practice. Peter paul and mary took the Wedding Song straight out of the Bible! Surely safer if it’s public domain. You’re idea is a very creative take on it and I’d be interested to hear it!

  • @frenchcricket  Feb 6

    It's not even a new practice. In The Bleak Midwinter and Jerusalem are both poems put to music

  • @rainchaser  Feb 6

    Paul McCartney stole from Thomas Dekker, John Lennon stole from a circus poster, and from a skiffle band. George Harrison stole from a Chinese reading. The greats steal all the time!

  • @tcelliott  Feb 6

    We've had challenges to take old poems and set them to music before. @johnstaples has a great song (his first this fawm) that combines two Robert Frost poems as a lyric. I see no problem with appropriating. I tend to avoid taking things not in the public domain simply because I don't wanna be sued.

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