It can sometimes be very difficult to determine whether a certain piece of music is actively ripping off another arrangement or if they just sound very similar. This is often especially true when someone is listening to music in similar genres. For example, many pop or rock songs sound very similar.
This often leads to confusion, both for artists and for their fans. Those who do not write songs may wonder why things end up seeming similar or why artists can’t be more creative. But it may be that the artist in question has absolutely no intention of sounding like anyone else. It’s just that the process of writing songs often produces similar results. There have even been cases where people have been accused of copying songs that they have never heard before.
Musicians only have so many options
Music theory dictates that certain notes and chords have to be put together in specific ways. You can’t just play any chord that you want and make a song that people will want to listen to. As some music experts point out, “there are only seven notes in each key.” As long as your song is appropriately staying within a single key, you just don’t have that many notes to choose from.
The same thing can happen with chord progressions. These progressions often work in the same way in that the different chords relate to each other, even if they are moved to different points on the scale. For example, many rock and pop songs use a chord progression of C, G, A, F. But when this progression is being played on a guitar, it could also be moved up the neck until it is at the position to be played D, A, B, G. These are different chords, as the second version would be played a step higher than the first. But the progression itself is exactly the same. The chords being used are the same distance apart. This helps to dictate what key the song is in, giving musicians the seven notes discussed above.
A complicated process
Because of the way that music theory works, accusations that songs are too similar are common. Those involved in alleged copyright infringements need to make sure they know about their legal options, especially because arguing either side of this kind of case can be challenging and complicated. Seeking legal guidance proactively can be helpful.