Come to think of it, Petty is more like a musical Mark Rothko, in that he usually paints with only a few big splotches of solid color. Just because he’s famous for doing it, does that really mean nobody else is allowed to?
The discussion is the plagiarism suit Petty has brought forth about a song.
So really, all we’re talking about is the motive itself, and that’s just “Mi Sol La Sol Mi,” for you solfège singers out there. A lot more songwriters are going to owe points to Tom Petty if he in fact “owns” that simple figure, much less the idea of transposing it around in sequence.
Yes, I’ve seen the incriminating mash-up that digitally alters the tempo and key of the two songs to make them match and then layers them on top of each other. But man, I could find you a lot of songs that would be similarly simpatico with a few tweaks.
This is rock ‘n’ roll we’re talking about. It’s not that there’s only one way to rock, as Sammy Hagar once asserted—but the ways are finite.
After a few centuries of restricting ourselves to twelve chromatic tones there were only so many variations that would be possible. If Tom Petty's the Mark Rothko of rock and pop then it would be interesting to find out who rock's Frank Stella is. Or Mondrian.
Wenatchee The Hatchet has read a few folks here and there who propose that there's a problem with intellectual property that stifles creativity. That's probably not really the biggest problem in the long run. All artistic activity is ultimately the result of leisure and if people can't afford the leisure to develop artistic pursuits then the crisis is not necessarily "just" about intellectual property and its application but about patronage. No arts have thrived for long without some robust form of patronage. As the Joker put it in The Dark Knight, when you're good at something, never do it for free but perhaps that's just the movies. Perhaps in real life you'll actually spend money working in the arts buying musical gear or paintbrushes and making stuff and doing the arts at a financial and temporal loss for years.
When music is a commodity first and a service second then, yeah, maybe being willing to fight about how the commodity is understood or deployed makes some sense.
If anything we live in an era in which it has become so much easier to see how many of the boundaries between this and that style of music is formal or conceptual in the beholder rather than the creator ... we may just be better situated to observe what was written in Ecclesiastes, there's nothing new under the sun. Does this thing appear to be new? It was from days long ago.