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Binweasel

When does a remix stop being a remix?

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Something of a moral dilemma...

At what point, when working on a remix, does it stop being a remix and start being an original composition with, say, really familiar chords? I have two examples of this, and one example of another kind of cross-over point.

In the first two, the songs were basically just chords without any melodies (or very few) of their own. So I added melodies of my own, stirred things around as usual... but when it was all done, I felt like I had composed more of the piece than the original composer had. The song was more "mine" than theirs, in my mind.

http://www.mediafire.com/?hd33uvpvesos0ax - original: http://compo.thasauce.net/files/materials/PRC147_PRC147%20-%20Bowser%20Castle.mid

http://www.mediafire.com/?g5nf156cl79nmn1 - original: http://compo.thasauce.net/files/materials/PRC135_Bible%20Black%20-%20Main%20Theme.mid

The third example I feel even more strongly about. The original, as far as I can tell (not having a good ear for quiet harmonics) is only simple a melody and a bassline. I wrote chords for it, a guitar part, organ part, some kind of harmony melody, and so on. Then I submitted it! It was rejected. I was elated; it was not rejected for production reasons. So I think: Okay! I'll go back and try to work on it!

But in the process, I got a weird urge to try something. Instead of adding more of my own to it, I removed everything Star Fox—except some of the bass, which can't really be changed because of the chords, and the piano at the final bit does still reference the original melody...

http://www.mediafire.com/?3kqu4pokxbj13j8 - original:

And now I'm so in love with it (it'll sound better sung, promise), I don't want to do the Star Fox remix anymore. I want to produce it as my own song! Obviously I will still need to remove the Star Fox piano bit at the end... But apart from that... is it not my own? Without the original melody, and with the bass notes mangled... certainly I can claim to have composed it entirely myself?

Ah, but what about the other two, still using the chords from the original songs—I can't really change the chords or the melodies will sound off... but apart from them, and the obvious references to King Crimson's "Starless" in the second one, isn't everything in the songs mine?

So I'm wondering: Legally, would I be allowed to get away with this and put them on albums for profit (I'm working on a rock opera/musical), or would I have to erase the chords and start fresh with the melodies I have left over? Would I have to give credit, and thus face the embarrassment of using a hentai PC game song's chords? Pay royalties of some sort? I mean, if I'm going to get in trouble at all, I'd rather ditch the songs right now, while there's still time. But I'd rather not! I really love the parts I did write and I can't imagine them using different chords, and they fit the mood of the whole thing so well...

Anyway, I didn't want to just whine about my own thing. Anyone one else ever find themselves in a similar situation, then?

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My advice - make the song you want to make. Don't let the question of "is it a game remix?" bother you.

If you just want to know the answer to satisfy an intellectual curiosity though, different people have different views. Some people just want it to retain the general feel of a song. OCR has its own standard of 50% source - everyone knows about Larry's stopwatching. It's hard to say.

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Larry is a heartless dick when it comes to stopwatching. If its 1% under, then he's going to NO that sucker :P

I vote someone steals his stopwatch, then he won't be able to do it anymore then we can take over OCR and get killer studio chops

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Something of a moral dilemma...

At what point, when working on a remix, does it stop being a remix and start being an original composition with, say, really familiar chords? I have two examples of this, and one example of another kind of cross-over point.

Nearly every song in this world takes its chords from another song, intentionally or not. Even melodies are sometimes very similar. Historically, people have gotten in trouble when they borrow melodies, samples, or lyrics wholesale, not chords. I listened to the Star Fox one and it sounds different enough that I think you're in the clear.

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I'd argue that ALL music is derivative. You could probably get away with doing an incredibly similar "remix" and still have it become an original song in the mind of most listeners. Heck, most of the music here on OCR is only a game remix because we say it is!

Chord progressions, even melodies, can be super-close to something else; however, as long as you put your own spin on it, I'd wager you won't run into trouble.

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Rereading the OP...I misunderstood the root of the questioning it would appear (I answered from my cellphone so my focus wasn't at its best).

Palpable and Flexstyle probably offered the best responses to your question. I'm afraid I don't really have something substantial to answer your question.

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And now I'm so in love with it (it'll sound better sung, promise), I don't want to do the Star Fox remix anymore. I want to produce it as my own song! Obviously I will still need to remove the Star Fox piano bit at the end... But apart from that... is it not my own? Without the original melody, and with the bass notes mangled... certainly I can claim to have composed it entirely myself?

Composers used to do this sort of thing all the time. Look up virtually all of Bach's Chorals, for example, and you'll see that they are almost all based on an older work, of some sort (as in, one of the lines takes an older melody verbatim and adds his own stuff above and below it to make something new). I would still call that his piece, as well as yours your own.

Ah, but what about the other two, still using the chords from the original songs—I can't really change the chords or the melodies will sound off... but apart from them, and the obvious references to King Crimson's "Starless" in the second one, isn't everything in the songs mine?

If it's just harmonies, then no, there's nothing to worry about, at all. There are only so many combinations that work harmonically, so to say that any one song 'owns' that harmonic pattern would be downright silly.

Give this guy a listen and you'll see that people use some harmonic patterns

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So I'm wondering: Legally, would I be allowed to get away with this and put them on albums for profit (I'm working on a rock opera/musical), or would I have to erase the chords and start fresh with the melodies I have left over? Would I have to give credit, and thus face the embarrassment of using a hentai PC game song's chords? Pay royalties of some sort? I mean, if I'm going to get in trouble at all, I'd rather ditch the songs right now, while there's still time. But I'd rather not! I really love the parts I did write and I can't imagine them using different chords, and they fit the mood of the whole thing so well...

It would be asinine for anyone to sue you for using chords and harmonies that were similar/the exact same as another song. Do what you want with your stuff.

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Wahh. So sorry for not replying earlier. Really have no excuse (laziness and fear?)

Anyway, thanks, guys! This has been tearing me up for a while now, so your replies have soothed that dragon considerably. I maaay even start to put some of my songs in the workshop forums now I know I won't get laughed out for nicking a few things.

(Mr. Bleck, you are my hero, too. :D)

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Larry is a heartless dick when it comes to stopwatching. If its 1% under, then he's going to NO that sucker :P

I vote someone steals his stopwatch, then he won't be able to do it anymore then we can take over OCR and get killer studio chops

Not 1% under. .000000000000000000000000000001% under. :lol:

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Most of my "remixes" are practically original songs, they usually start out that way and then something in my brain says "hey, this source could fit in here!"

I don't see anything wrong with them pushing the line between remix and original. Make what you wanna make. Just don't get mad if you submit it to OCR and it gets rejected for not being enough source.

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