Monday, September 12, 2011

Not You Again

Contrafact. There's a word I'd never heard before. It means a musical composition that uses the metric and harmonic structure of an earlier piece. Like, every 12-bar blues is a contrafact, or how you can play the Flintstones theme over the top of "I've Got Rhythm." Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" is a new melody for "How High the Moon." Weirdly, "The Horst Wessel Song" is a contrafact of "How Great Thou Art." It's not plagiarism; a copyright protects melody, not chord structure. It's like life- you can't fundamentally alter its shape, but you can play whatever you want over the changes.

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