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An exercise. I don't want to let go of standard diatonic harmony (even if this doesn't obey all the CPP rules). A classical-styled thing has to have harmonic clarity, limited chromatics.

So I ran this up. I'm honestly tired of more complex music and things like this seem so much easier to write. It went straight into the daw which I can set up to allow whole-project editing in a single editor panel.

The orchestration is less conventional but it can be balanced without cheating.

And...I'm not sure if it conforms to a classical minuet. It has its main chunk, a trio for 4 players, then the main chunk. Sounds bland to me. Is it the right format?

Point is - I'd truly appreciate if anyone knows if I've stolen the tune from somewhere. It wasn't my intention. Pieces like this are a bit of a muchness so - 'onnist, guv, I don't think I nicked it.

Thank you for any comment.

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I liked the raspberryphone at 0'41" and I think a string broke somewhere.

I think he nicked his Procession thing either from Michel Legrand or possibly Morricone's Metello score.

Aside: (Hope not the latter as it's a most beautiful title soundtrack.) 

I personally wouldn't DARE nick something like that.


Tillerich said:


Schnittke may have nicked this from somewhere else.

Dane, do you have links to the places you think he might have nicked from? I'm very curious, since it sounds to me like the whole work is based on B-A-C-H and I'm not sure he would have had to nick anything. So many pieces have elements that sound like other works, yet it's doubtful there was any nicking going on.

There's a phrase in my Fugal Variations (in Episode 5) that I could swear I've heard before. I doubt I nicked it, even unconsciously, since I was very carefully working with the ideas I'd already established and was just trying to hit the right mood for that point in what to me is a kind of fading "afterglow" from the big climax. I thought it might be from a Shostakovich quartet and re-listened to all of the movements I thought it might be from, but nada.

Working in conventional idioms, I think it's inevitable that at some point we'll accidentally hit on something that's ALMOST what somebody else wrote a hundred years ago, or two. Even something we've never heard before, until someone points it out.

Unless it's used in exactly the same way, maybe it's best not to worry about it...

Very nice Dane and certainly different from some of your other works which I think is a good thing. If nothing else the contrast  between traditional pieces and your contemporary works enhances the dramatic aspects of the latter.

I'm certainly no expert on classical music at all but this seems to generally follow the basic minuet form in a classical style with some adventurousness mainly with the orchestration as you say. This makes the piece interesting and satisfying but it's also a bit confusing which I like and will nick from you thank you.

The theme is familiar but that just means it's a good theme!

Hi, Ingo,

Yes, like I said it was more of an exercise, keeping in touch with traditional harmonies....and a breather from another piece I'm working on which became too intense.

Thank you for listening and your comments. Pleasing that you noticed the unorthodox orchestration, substituting a bass clarinet for the bassoon for example. You know, that goes back to early days and the first "adult education institute' orchestra I joined (trying to play horn in those days). As usual it had about 5 clarinets and flutes, no oboes, no bassoon but a bass clarinettist substituted for the bassoon. I remember it made some part of a classical piece sound like a rearrangement by Webern! I never forgot it. 

Alas, though, all is not well so no nicking...............!

Liz, hi,

Unfortunately, it came to light. Well, I didn't 100% plagiarise it but the opening chunk (I don't know what the bit surrounding a classical minuet trio is called!) is remarkably close to something already composed. Enough that I have to consign it to "exercises only". I'm too ashamed to tell you what and who but it's a light-music composer (like me!!) but I can't think where on earth I heard it. It can only be some obscure time on the radio. Light music hasn't been fashionable for some years so either back in my extreme youth or one of those "through the night" programmes.

I was entertaining a college music tutor who went through a few possibilities before hitting on it.

All I can tell you is that it took me longer to compose two bars of my latest thingie than putting the minuet into the daw.

So, my apologies to all, really. Like I say it isn't anywhere near a copy but the opening bars are enough....


Yikes! Well, like I said, Dane, maybe you DIDN'T hear it, but accidentally recomposed it. When dealing with traditional music in a traditional form like a minuet, there is a finite number of possible combinations and it's inevitable that eventually you'll hit on something very similar to what someone else composed, even something you've never actually heard before.

But now I'm even more curious about whether that phrase from my own piece is actually too close to something from somewhere... if anyone is game, I'll point it out by timestamp and bar numbers.

I agree with Liz that there are a finite number of combinations when using traditional tonality. We're all using chord tones and step wise motion with 1/4 notes and 1/8 notes, so duplication has to happen.  There are websites dedicated to listing all of the numerous cases of pop stars getting sued by unknown songwriters. And there certainly are cases of blatant theft but 'accidental plagiarism' is definitely a thing. And it's easily remedied, so most cases settle out of court. The cases that end up in court are when the accused copiers are certain that they couldn't possible have heard some unknown composer's work and have the will and the means to fight the accusation.

I say compose what you want to compose and if the issue comes up you change the title, " . . . based on a theme of   . . . "; or " Homage a  . . . . " 

I'm sorry, I have to call BS on the "tonality == finite possibilities" claim.  The exact same argument can be applied to atonal music, or music of any kind, really, that can be represented as a sequence of notes. In atonal music you just have 12 notes to choose from instead of 7 (give or take) per octave, it's still a finite number of choices. Maybe slightly larger, but nonetheless finite.

Or to be more precise, there's a countable number of possibilities. There's an important difference here, because strictly speaking, the number of possibilities of tonal music is not finite. Proof: at every time step (beat, or arbitrary subdivision thereof, it doesn't really matter), you have C number of choices as to what the next note will be (you can include rests if you like, it makes no difference). Suppose you write a piece of N notes. The number of possibilities is therefore not greater than C^N. However, there is no limit on N (you can write operas lasting hours in length, for example, and there's nothing in theory that stops you from writing pieces that last days, weeks, years, or even decades, if you have the patience and energy to do it). So there is no upper bound to C^N, i.e., the number of possibilties is infinite.

And notice carefully that the above argument does not depend on the value of C. It can be 7 or so, for tonal music, or 12 for atonal music, the exact same argument holds.  The number of possibilities is countable, because you can count the number of notes and the number of choices, but strictly speaking not finite. (There exist uncountable infinite things, but that's not pertinent here and I don't want to bore everybody with irrelevant mathematical ramblings. :-P)

The only real difference here is that with traditional tonal music, the value of C is smaller (7 or so, instead of 12), and perhaps there's a higher tendency for people to gravitate towards certain choices (e.g., chord tones rather than in-between pitches) -- it makes the effective value of C somewhat smaller, but it doesn't change the fact that at every step there's a finite number of choices, which is exactly the same situation as in atonal music / non-traditional music / what-have-you.  Only, because the effective value of C is smaller, there's a higher chance of two composers coming up with the same sequence of notes independently.

That's the real crux of the issue: a higher probability of two arbitrarily-chosen sequences to coincide. Not finite vs. infinite.  The exact same thing could also happen in atonal works -- only, the chances of coincidence are lower because the value of C is higher.  That's the only material difference; in every other respect there is no difference between the two!

OK, I'll shut up now. ;-)

And if you'll excuse me for an addendum: the number of possibilities even in tonal music is huge. Even if you restrict yourself to 7 notes of the C major scale, the number of possibilities grow very fast as the number of notes increase: if you write a piece in C major with 10 notes, say, that's one out of 7^10 = 282475249 possibilities. I.e., there's 282 million possible pieces in C major with 10 notes.  Most pieces are a lot longer than merely 10 notes; maybe 100 or so notes might be more likely for a short/moderate length piece? That's 7^100 possibilities, and just in case it hasn't hit home yet, that number is 3234476509624757991344647769100216810857203198904625400933895331391691459636928060001, which is a ridiculously huge number. There's plenty of room here for unique pieces! (And just for a sense of scale: the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be around 10^82 or so, which is two digits smaller than 7^100 (i.e., 100 times smaller!). That's how big of a space of possibilities we're talking about here!!!)

And we haven't even accounted for differences in rhythm yet. Or polyphony.  Or pieces of more significant length (100 notes is really very short, in the grand scheme of things!) Or, y'know, pieces that aren't just limited to the 7 notes of C major. :-)

So, I absolutely do not agree that writing tonally somehow "limits" you in any meaningful way. There is a huge amount of space even in this supposedly "restricted" realm of tonal music, for lots of innovations.

I'm not going to enter this mathematical discussion except to say that many of the possible combinations wouldn't be usable in classical forms such as dances which move forward on the basis of a harmonic rhythm so the choice at various points are limited. 

It doesn't even matter. What's been said about accidental plagiarism has been shown possible.

Thank you all for the comments, encouragement and discussion. It's always appreciated. 

Cheers for now,


Just to clarify: I didn't say that tonality = finite number of possible combinations. I was talking about a simple, traditional, formulaic form like a minuet, and really only thinking of the first few bars. Sure, if you allow for UNmusical combinations, then even then the number of possibilities becomes astronomically large. But the number of possible combinations that people find appealing (and in keeping with the style usually associated with the form) is surely not so large that the same musical idea isn't often independently thought up by more than one person.

Anyway that's all that I was saying, and I, too, don't have the time to get into a more abstract and mathematical discussion where we try to estimate the total number of possibilities in a tonal composition! I'm a physicist and I love back of the envelope calculations, but without more constraints I don't think that's even a well-formulated problem.

Alright, alright, you got me. I apologize for the knee-jerk reaction and the needless mathematical diversion.

(Though, come to think of it, it would be fun to estimate just how large the space of possibilties are for some given constraints, say a tonal piece in minuet form of some given structure. Maybe in a separate discussion? If people are interested. Maybe I'm just crazy. :-P)


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