Songwriting: On Copying

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

"All that you've loved is all you own..."—Tom Waits, Take It With Me

Some of the members have shown a little bit of self-consciousness around posting work that might resemble some popular song.


This is a delicate topic so I want to be careful about what I say here. There are two directions we can go:

  1. Lawsuits and copyright

  2. Process and creativity

I don't want to get into the law side of it. I am not an attorney so please seek one out if you have legitimate concerns here.

100 Days of Songwriting is one giant creative participatory group process. That is the frame I want to put around this.

One of my first memories as an 8 year old was learning a right hand melody from a step 1-2-3 book on a tiny 24 key Yamaha battery powered keyboard.

I learned the melody. I made a mistake. Without hesitation I thought, "ooh, that sounds kinda cool!" I played the melody with the mistake over and over again. I showed it to my parents. "Look at this cool song I wrote!!"

I fell in love with that little melody. It became mine.

When did we lose the innocent joy of co-creating?

Copying is the natural process of learning and growing. We humans mimic what we like. We mimic each other's words and mannerisms and accents.

You may get in trouble with the law if you start making millions from something that you "co-created" with a famous song, but inside the private membership we encourage innocent experimentation.

WARNING: If you think this is an invitation to copy people in the group without their permission. It is not. The spirit of this group invites people to share unfinished work—a vulnerable act. If another member critiques, makes suggestions, or adds their own idea into the mix without getting permission this can derail the creative process and make it feel like someone just did a coup d'etat on their idea. Do not do that.

Happy writing!

–Rigel Windsong Little Deer Thurston
Songwriter - Community Builder