[Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

Julia Proleiko jproleiko at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 18 13:35:11 PST 2009

Roger Waters avenged himself in composer fashion.


Please excuse the source--this is what Wikipedia has on it, plus other examples that might show useful for further research:


Accusations of Plagiarism

Andrew Lloyd Webber has been accused of plagiarism in his works. His biographer, John Snelson, has acknowledged the strong similarity between the opening melody of the slow movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and the Jesus Christ Superstar song "I Don't Know How to Love Him", but claims that Lloyd Webber:

"...brings a new dramatic tension to Mendelssohn's original melody through the confused emotions of Mary Magdalene. The opening theme may be Mendelssohn, but the rhythmic and harmonic treatment along with new lines of highly effective melodic development are Lloyd Webber's. The song works in its own right as its many performers and audiences can witness."[27]

In interviews promoting Amused to Death, Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, asserted that Andrew Lloyd Webber had plagiarized short chromatic riffs from the 1971 song "Echoes" for sections of the musical The Phantom of the Opera, released in 1986; nevertheless, he decided not to file a lawsuit regarding the matter.[28] Curiously, the songwriter Ray Repp made a similar claim about the same song, but insisted that Lloyd Webber stole the idea from him. Unlike Roger Waters, Ray Repp did decide to file a lawsuit, but the court eventually cleared Lloyd Webber of plagiarism.[29] The riffs in question are also strikingly similar to the bass line in "I Mean It", a song recorded in 1980 by the American punk band Romeo Void.

Nevertheless, Waters attacked Lloyd Webber in the song It's a Miracle on the Amused to Death album:

"Lloyd Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years / An earthquake hits the theatre but the operetta lingers / Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers / It's a Miracle"

Lloyd Webber has also been accused of cribbing off Puccini, most notably in Requiem[30] and The Phantom of the Opera. A claim regarding Phantom by the Puccini estate was settled out of court.[31]

The opening theme of Memory from Cats resembles the opening theme in the flute solo of California Dreaming by The Mamas & The Papas. It has also been compared to Ravel's Bolero.

A British satire segment called Honest Obituaries performed a side-by-side critique of many of the accusations in question, playing first the original piece along with the sheet music then showing and playing the Lloyd Webber piece in question.

> Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 12:22:17 +0000
> From: richardlewis at fastmail.co.uk
> To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> Subject: [Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases
> Dear SMT,
> This question may be better directed at law scholars, but a colleague
> is interested in finding cases of music plagiarism which have been
> heard in court (in any country, but English or German proceedings will
> be easiest to read). Anyone know of any?
> Best,
> Richard
> -- 
> -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
> Richard Lewis
> ISMS, Computing
> Goldsmiths, University of London
> Tel: +44 (0)20 7078 5134
> Skype: richardjlewis
> JID: ironchicken at jabber.earth.li
> http://www.richard-lewis.me.uk/
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