Satriani / Coldplay

Joe Satriani says Coldplay stole his stuff.

Rock guitarist Joe Satriani has sued British band Coldplay, accusing the Grammy-nominated stars of plagiarizing one of his songs.

Satriani's copyright infringement suit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" incorporates "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly."

This is a mashup of the two songs:

Viva la Vida is clearly a ripoff of If I Could Fly. Too bad, I like the song.

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The Best Mashup

At first didn't see the similarity

The only similarity I hear is in the counterpoint. At first I was listening to the melody and didn't get the similarity.

I don't know what's easier or harder to believe here:

1) Coldplay stole the counterpoint, altered it a little, then wrote a matching melody (notoriously difficult) and then finally wrote cool lyrics to match the melody (masterful but not impossible).

2) Coldplay wrote some lyrics, came up with a melody, wrote the counterpoint, and that counterpoint sounded similar to the counterpoint on another song, out of the tens of thousands of songs out there.

Why are you guys linking words to their definitions?

Mashup and counterpoint need Wikipedia links? Sure, some people may not know, but usually people who do not know a word know enough to look it up in a reference. Keep in mind the annoyance factor to the rest of the readers, who follow the link expecting something specific to the comment you're writing and then find just a wikipedia explanation of the word. For example, if a visitor sees a link based off the word "article", generally he's going to expect a link to the specific article that the blog entry is talking about, not a link to an encyclopedia entry that explains what an article is.

Anyway, I think I can surely do that too. But now watch this, I'm not linking to the definition for "homonym".

If a word is really highly obscure, then maybe. Even then, it may be best to resist the urge, because of what it suggests about how you view your audience. And finally, if you really want to give a helping hand to the readers because you think they may not know what counterpoint (say) is, then linking them to a honking big article in Wikipedia is not all that much help in the first place. Maybe a one-sentence explanation of counterpoint right in your comment might give them more help. Sure, the more sophisticated readers will wade through it, but is that so much worse than clicking the link, finding yourself at the Wikipedia page, rolling your eyes, and hitting the back button?

And yes, I probably haven't always followed my own advice. It's not always that easy to see what's so funny about something when you're the one doing it. And yes, I realize it's a bit silly to write a longish comment on such a minor point. Frankly my comment started out as a one-liner making fun of you guys, but then I felt guilty and added an explanation.

Linking Definitions

I think you misunderestimate how stupid the rest of us are.

Actually, I didn't look up the definition to mashup because I was too lazy. I didn't know what it meant, and I'm still pretty unclear on exactly what counts as a mashup. I didn't notice the link he provided on the word "mashup" and didn't follow it. I played the three recordings but not knowing the definition of mashup hadn't listened to the mashup he provided for sufficiently long for the vocals to come in.

We often invent a close fit to the definitions of words without having realized what the word actually. I thought a mashup was merely chopping two pieces of music and combining them however one pleased. I didn't realize the vocals (main melody) was suppose to be played against the counterpoint from the other song.

Only now after your post I realized that I probably should have looked up the exact meaning that other people were using instead of the one I invented from my context.

Everyone does this and I'll give you another example. I was talking to my boss once as a teenager and had never heard the definition of "rubbernecking" by had heard the term used. He had at first started talking about how similar traffic flow was to liquids. I knew a lot about liquids and disagreed. So I wanted to point out differences. I mentioned rubbernecking as a feature of traffic that was not liquid like. He agreed that I was right.

Then he said, "... but what if we got rid of rubbernecking. Then it would be like a liquid." To which I disagreed and further claimed that it was an inherent property of having traffic, and people with cars with breaks and accelerators. To this he said "But what if we put up barriers so people could not look at accidents?" To which I replied, "Rubbernecking happens without accidents." Him: "What you mean guys looking at girls?". Me: "What the heck are you talking about, rubbernecking has nothing to do with "looking" it has to do with peoples reaction times and the need for more spacing between cars at higher speeds. Liquids don't act like that. For example when the light changes and it takes a while for all the cars to move because people aren't comfortable all accelerating at once because of the need for more space at higher speeds."


ME: "I thought that was the term used for those seemingly unexepected slowdowns in heavy traffic when a bunch of cars break ahead of you for seemingly no reason and then it propagates backwards through the traffic stream. I thought it a discriptive term for thinking of the traffic flow like the neck of a rubber chicken. With traffic alernately stretching out and compressing."

Him: "No it means when people show an obsessive need to observe an accident, and twist their necks to do so."

Me: "Oh, I just assumed because someone in a car I was in used the term when we were in the other kind of situation. I guess they assumed there was an accident ahead but there didn't turn out to be one. I guess it was beyond their comprehension that traffic could just bunch up over someone applying their brakes normally in dense traffic".

In any case I convinced him that liquids in pipes behave nothing like traffic. For instance, the venturi effect doesn't work with traffic.

So I provide links in some cases out of the desire to provide the defintion that I mean in case a) Someone assumes they know and don't and b) That there might be a defintion I'm not aware of that someone else might assume I was using incorrectly. However I also do it to be nice. To save the other person having to look it up.

In this case I thought counterpoint was a term that would not be something people would automatically know the correct definiton to. Why? Because I thought I knew. I thought it was merely some sort of accompanying music, the background music, the instrumental, whatever. I didn't however fully comprehend what it was until about two years ago. Part of that comprehension is understanding aspects that are pointed out in that article I linked to.

I could have said "instrumental" instead of counterpoint and it wouldn't have gotten my point across. I also thought that some people would not comprehend the difference. Thus the link.

You dont know what your

You dont know what your talking about. Stole the counterpoint? Better check what these big boy words mean my friend. The melody is the same its only the first chord of the 4 chord progression that is different but does not alter the feel due to Harmonic displacement principles. Counterpoint...pfffft.really

Individual works

This shows the two works separate and combined.

Can't rip off two unrelated songs at the same time

Well, in theory you can rip off different parts from different songs, but that doesn't seem to describe the similarities here. That Youtube page I linked to has the accompanying comment from the submitter:

Coldplay have recently been accused of copying 'Songs I Didnt write' by Creaky Boards on their new single Viva La Vida. The song is also similar, if not more so to Joe Satriani's song 'If I Could Fly'.

This is getting ridiculous. Either Creaky Boards ripped off Satriani,
Satriani ripped off Creaky Boards, or it's a coincidence. And if that's a coincidence, then the same could very well apply to the song Viva la Vida.

Here's the creakyboards evidence.

Coldplay copied Alizee

Forget all that! Coldplay copied Alizee.

No no no wait wait wait. Coldlplay and Satriani copied Alizee.

We need a new law that

We need a new law that declares the hotter person the winner in any copyright dispute.

Hear hear (here here)

Very good point. I agree.

Turns out they ALL ripped

Turns out they ALL ripped off Cat Stevens (starting around 3:17).

Or, you know, musicians will always borrow tunes that they've heard, consciously or subconsciously, and Satriani's being a bit of a whiner.

I've changed my mind

Well that was a more convincing comparison. I'm not a musician or an musical genius, and that allowed me to hear something I didn't notice before.

There is melody and counterpoint in the instrumentals. In both cases that melody and counterpoint is identical. That is without the vocals. That is an astounding coincidence. Not only does Cold Play use the same melody in the instrumentals but the same counterpoint. That's no coincidence. The odds are much much lower of that happening.

This isn't like "Row, row, row your boat" being good counterpoint to "Mary had a little lamb" by accident. If you have sufficiently many songs then by accident you may find some that match in this way.

Here we have a double match.

Coldplay is unoriginal

This is the second time they have been accused of stealing, as I learned reading here: []
Plus, they robbed Krafwerk. Well, I mean they had permission for that, but still.

Same song

If the other accusation were for a different song it would have strengthened the case for unoriginality. It's for the same song, which weakens the case for unoriginality.

Not if it's a mashup

Not if the coldplay song, Viva La Vida, is a mashup of the instrumentals from "If I Could Fly" with the vocals from this other guys song. Which seems quite plausible.

But this is where things get fuzzy. If I take two things that go good together and make a new thing then isn't that origination?

Like merging the horse buggy with the internal combustion engine.

Perhaps all three groups should get a cut of the profits on Viva La Vida. I think the lions share should go to Coldplay however.


I already addressed the mashup objection:

Well, in theory you can rip off different parts from different songs, but that doesn't seem to describe the similarities here.

Specifically, Coldplay is, among other things, being accused of ripping off the same melody from two different songs.

You mention instrumental versus vocal. What I remember was a close match between Satriani's guitar melody and Coldplay's vocal melody, and a close match between Coldplay's vocal melody and Creaky boards' vocal melody - all three songs with a similar melody. I'm not in a position right now to double-check.

BTW the unity of the Youtube mashups prove little, since there are a lot of songs that mashup well with each other - that's the whole point of mashups. A side-by-side comparison is really the only way to do the comparison.

Proof that Coldplay is innocent

Nobody listens to Joe Satriani

Pretty much agree

"Specifically, Coldplay is, among other things, being accused of ripping off the same melody from two different songs."

I think the lawsuit is only over the "riff". If I'm properly identifying the "riff" then I agree it's pretty much identical. Also the cord progressions sound identical to me but may be shifted on the scale.

... and remember I really don't know what the hell I'm talking about on this subject. I'm not sure why I even commented. Just bored I guess. It's like talking the weather.

Plus sometimes when you make smalltalk someone who really knows something will chime in, and I'm interested enough to learn something, although not competent enough to tell if I was being mislead were someone to claim expertise.

For example I walk away from the comments on this article perplexed.

"A side-by-side comparison is really the only way to do the comparison."

Agreed. I don't remember which two but there really are a couple of those old children's songs that can be mashed-up and no one thinks they are copies of each other.


Despite the fun I could have with "mash-up", I'll just add we shouldn't care about JS, because he shaved his head and wore stupid sunglasses.

Joe won't win his lawsuit.

Joe won't win his lawsuit. But Coldplay can kiss the Grammies goodbye.

The computer I'm on doesn't

The computer I'm on doesn't have a soundcard installed.
But I'm still 100% certain Coldplay did that siht intentionally.
[Who names their daughter 'Apple']

So Alizee had the rhythm

So Alizee had the rhythm before Satriani can claim it. - - - - - - and Los Enanitos Verdes had the guitar verse before Satriani can claim it. - - - - - -Satriani, you're a great guy and musician, but it's best to let this one slide. You'll already see record sales increases from people googling your name because of the 'drama'.

TO: all u guys sayin that this tune has been out before satriani

Things seem BAAAD for coldplay......blockquote>

this tune has been out before satriani, but they are not NEARLY similar enough for plagiarism in fact apart from 5-10 secs nothing ese is same. Ppl who post things like this REALLY need to learn some theory before..., but coldplay clearly STOLE satriani's song. As analysis shows (satriani would KNOW this as a guitarist) that by diatonic chord substitution, viva la vida is 84% simiar to satriani's tune(and that is SHOCKINGLY similar) while the so called "original tunes" are not even 30% similar. Check out the following vids for a detailed analysis:-

And judging from this the title should have been
Things seem REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY BAAAD for coldplay.....(lol)