Caleb J. Murphy

How To Steal Ideas From Other Songwriters

“Don’t steal.” That’s what your parents always said. Well, they’re wrong.

Here’s why: we’re all just recycling centers.

We take in stuff (music, books, movies, art, whatever), crush it up, and turn it into something of our own, adding our own spice.

After all, creating something is copying, transforming, and combining, says this guy. And someone really smart once said there’s “nothing new under the sun.”

So we might as well steal like artists on purpose.

Here are a few ways songwriters can steal (or “be inspired by”) other songwriters.

Take the first two notes from someone’s melody

Try this: take the first two notes from “Amazing Grace,” but instead of continuing with its melody, make up your own.

This can be a great launching pad for writing good melodies.

Obviously, don’t steal whole melodies — this method is meant to help spark melodic ideas in your recycling center brain.

Re-write someone else’s song

Go ahead and re-write a Bob Dylan song or a John Lennon song. Say what they’re saying but in your own words.

Make it personal. Make the verses specific to you, and the chorus more relateable to the listener.

Once you’re done “re-writing,” you’ll have written your own song.

Steal on accident

Let’s be honest, you’re going to steal from your idols and peers whether you realize it or not.

You are a recycling center. That’s what recycling centers do.

You will unknowingly write songs that sound similar to other people’s songs. You might accidentally write a song that already exists.

So go get stealing already!