Musical Stealing

Does subconscious musical stealing still count as stealing? Or is it just chance?

Everyone who knows me knows I like David Bowie. Love, adore or respect aren’t the right words… maybe ‘hear’ is the right word. I hear David Bowie. Word.

The surprising thing is that I don’t actually know many of his albums. My dad once bought me Hunky Dory which I had along side the two best of CDs, in 2003 I got Reality and that’s about it. So today you are THE JUDGE, and I have a case to put before you after you consider the following evidence…

did I
a) consciously steal Bowie
b) subconsciously steal Bowie
c) it’s just a coincidence or
d) it doesn’t matter.

Here is the evidence, your honour….

When I was 14-17 years old I pretty much only spent my time shooting things, kicking people in (Playstation) or making up things (Pianoforte). That was about it. I spent a long time at the piano because I only ever had extreme crushes on girls at that age. Basically two of them – the first was of course “the one” and then the next one who turned up three years later was “the [other] one”. Stubborn but withdrawn, I would never tell them, but also never let go of the fact that she [they] was [were] the one[s]. It just so happens in one of my many angsty rambles through the infinite landscape of the piano and my imagination I stumbled upon a selection of notes which a mere 10 years later would form the theme of my first proper album. Listen to the first 6 seconds of this to hear it. 

And now, a good 2 years after starting to write this album, I’ve been getting into David Bowie with all this hoo-hah with his new album and all. I listened to a Bowie documentary where the track Lady Stardust was played and I did an Oliver Hardy-style double take (except with my ears, rather than my eyes)… listen to the first 5 seconds of this… 

Pretty similar, eh? Now Bowie only made one song out of it, I made a whole album, but here’s the thing – I’ve never heard this song before… except… there is a possibility that my dad played it to me when I was very young. If this particular A major with flattened 5th chord struck a… chord… with me, might it have lodged into my subconscious until I was older and spent many hours sitting at the keys, and my subconscious mind guided my fingers into the relevant position? Or is it probability? Only 12 notes in a scale after all, and I pretty much stuck to fairly regular chords (assuming A major b5 is regular), so surely sooner or later I would come across it and think “ooo”.

But here’s exhibit B, your worship. When I recently saw the album cover to the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust I felt a very very vague pang of nostalgia… Very vague, and I certainly don’t remember any other bits of the album that aren’t on the best of….

So, your honour, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?


Author: Phil

Film composer, concert composer, sound designer, choral composer, arranger, song writer, musician.

One thought on “Musical Stealing”

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