I'm feeling like I'm not fully understand what degree of musical creativity is considered to be creating original content or inspiration.

When a musical idea "jumps in my head" it sometimes remind me some other song I heard before. For example today I had a 8-bit music idea, I've even played with it in my head, trited to form it but it kept constantly remind me to some 8-bit tracks I've heard before, I think they were from Mega Man. There were parts I wasn't even sure not just a "well remixed" part from one of the songs or a deformed part of an existing melody. And there was a melody part which was very similar to an existing one.

Last time I wrote a song in MuseScore I was trying to get a good sounding melody and when I got one I liked I was like "this melody is familiar..." but I can't even name a song where I could heard it. I still don't know if it's my idea, or it's very familiar because once I heard a melody and it inspired me or just "got lost" in my passive memory.

  • 1
    I see, you are looking at the distinction between inspiration and being completely unoriginal, which is plagiarism. Bach learned music by secretly copying his brother’s Vivaldi scores. He was inspired to the point of outright just copying out what Vivaldi wrote. It’s in Bach’s hand but no one calls it Bach’s music. It’s originality is Vivaldi. But the stylistic mark Vivaldi left on Bach was permanent. So in that sense Bach was inspired by Vivaldi. Bach also successfully used many unoriginal ideas in new ways, such as new harmonizations of common hymn melodies. Dec 6, 2018 at 9:35
  • @RichardBarber I see... So if a few of my music has melody similar to other pieces of music it can be because I listened to those tracks so many times that I don't even noticed they left a mark on me?
    – atanii
    Dec 6, 2018 at 9:56
  • I'm not a Bach historian, but @RichardBarber's account of the Vivaldi concertos seems wildly inaccurate. Those works were commissioned court music... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_concerto_transcriptions_(Bach) Dec 6, 2018 at 14:33
  • This would have been when he was 9 or 10 when he went to live with his brother, years before he would be appointed. Dec 6, 2018 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


Sometimes when we write, if we follow our ear purely, it will lead us in patterns that are familiar to us. If you find that your ear is constantly doing this, I’d recommend listening to unfamiliar types of music. Doing so will disrupt your ear patterns and give you new ideas.

Concerning your particular melody. Ask yourself: What makes this familiar? What exact musical elements make this familiar? Is that something you want? A composer should be able to control all aspects of the music, including whether or not it sounds familiar. Once you’ve analyzed your melody, you can use your knowledge and tools to change it as you see fit.

Don’t be so paranoid. Creativity and expression blossom with doing something new with established materials. What matters most is that you are scratching that creative itch.

  • Well...recently I've listened to Schönberg and Webern. I think we can call that "unfamiliar type" because of the strange - but I think quite good - sensation of atonal music. I'll see if that's help. Analyzing my own melody sounds an interesting idea.
    – atanii
    Dec 6, 2018 at 12:29

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