A lot of chatter out there recently about Led Zeppelin being sued for stealing the intro to Stairway to heaven from a 1960s band called Spirit. Lots of “experts” weighing in on just how stolen the piece may or may not have been, delving into the nitty gritty of note by note comparison of the melody, chord progressions, minor this and minor that and so on. With a somewhat consensus that it is certainly similar, who knows what the legal system will do with it. Only Jimmy Page knows what was going through his mind when he wrote it.
What we do know is that art is always re-inventing itself. We stand on the shoulders of giants. That’s how we see father than before. Sometimes we stand on things that are not really that tall. It’s the same thing. Just that no one really notices me standing on a sheet of paper when someone else is standing on a house. We are all standing on something.
We are all influenced consciously or subconsciously by the environment and stimuli we expose ourselves to. Our minds eat up the input it and process it and are changed because of it. I suppose that’s why some say that creativity comes from without, it’s the remaking of the all our ingested stimuli.
So creativity just happens then? Well, I suppose at a basic level this process is always occurring. Though I suspect we think of it as creativity when we intentionally ingest new stimuli to see what our mind will do with it and then try to capture that in an outward expression in some way. Sounds rather counter-intuitive that creativity in the end is very intentional. Sounds so romantic when you put that way. Well, don’t let that deter you. Go forth and create.
Now blatantly stealing is something totally different. Don’t go there.
I have both albums by Spirit and Led Zeppelin, and I’m quite musical, having played the violin and piano, as well as singing, and I’m just not seeing in the sheet music or hearing anything that would lead me to believe that Jimmy Page stole from Randy California.