As a composer, I am quite skeptical about plagiarism controversies.
I hold a negative view not only towards composers but also towards both listeners and composers.
Which composer in the world would secretly copy someone else’s work and release it to the world?
I believe no composer would want to publish a piece that might be similar to someone else’s work.
However, some composers inadvertently use familiar melodies as if they were their own creations, and listeners end up branding these composers as malicious frauds.
Humans are creatures of forgetfulness and shared emotions.
Composers may unknowingly use or transform a tune they once heard in their own compositions.
Indeed, a person who has never heard music cannot compose. Only after listening to and studying thousands, if not millions, of songs, does one realize ’this is what music is’ and starts composing by reorganizing the melodies they have heard.
People enjoying a culture, whether they are composers or listeners, inevitably share similar emotions and write songs in similar genres. Therefore, composers should experience various cultures and study music of different genres.
Both Roy Kim’s “Bom Bom Bom” and Acoustic Rain’s “Love is Canon” borrow melodies from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”.
“Love is Canon” hints at Pachelbel’s Canon in its title, but what about “Bom Bom Bom”?
“Bom Bom Bom” is merely similar to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, which is no longer under copyright, so there is no issue.
What people perceive as ‘plagiarism’ depends not only on harmony and melody but also significantly on rhythm and instrumentation.
Simply using the same country-style guitar rhythm doesn’t make “Bom Bom Bom” a plagiarism.
In fact, only the canon melody and guitar rhythm in the verse were problematic; the rest of the song is entirely different.
“Bom Bom Bom” could only have been created because of Pachelbel’s Canon Variations, and turning the Canon into such a beautiful vocal piece is indeed praiseworthy.
For composers, the constant worry about plagiarism is a major concern and a barrier to free creation.
However, if a composer’s melody is overly familiar and common, it’s something to think about.
Is this truly the unique music I strive for? Am I the only one who can compose such a piece?