glass notes
Philip Glass Rip-Off digest No.3,456

The latest occasion where a composer appropriated the "PG Sound" is in the new film Burn After Reading.  I also stumbled upon this band, Aurevoir Simone, who apparently enjoyed the music to the Truman Show…and this band Muse (oh the irony) who seems to harbor secret fantasies of jamming with the PGE. 
If only Philip Glass had a nickel for every time someone ripped him off. I'm looking at you S.O.P #1

9 thoughts on “Philip Glass Rip-Off digest No.3,456”

  1. You mentioned that song by Muse sound PGish, well, check out this one and tell me what you think:
    What is up with Burn After Reading?? I couldnt follow that link. I saw the movie and didnt hear any PG ripoffs.
    The composer is Carter Burwell, who is an amazing film composer (check out Fargo and Miller’s Crossing)

  2. Ummm, folks, before I begin let me say that I love PG’s music and have more of his music than any other single composer or group. That said, this idea that anyone who uses repetitive structural elements in their music is “ripping off” PG is simply fatuous. Focus on the samplers in the world who really do rip off other folk’s music.
    Besides, there is no PG copyright on minimalism or repetitive motifs. Steve Reich, Terry Riley and John Adams all might have something to say on the subject.
    Personally I’m excited to hear the influence of PG in other’s music. Here’s an example from Moby:
    I hear echoes of PG in film scores and in other musician’ music. They do not replace PG nor does the inspiration he clearly provided constitute a rip off. Art builds on art. Prior works are the foundation for future creativity. I am personally grateful that this style of music has spread and become part of the cultural getstalt.

  3. Stuart, I agree with you in a way. But when something is more than just an homage or an allusion, but passes into affecting someone’s style as their own, or worse, as an effect, then I believe it becomes something worthy of pejorative commentary. An example, I saw Adams’ Doctor Atomic last week. He is a good composer and the music is great. But there were two instances where he turned on the modulating arpeggios. He knows what he was doing. It was a choice. And at that particular moment, it seemed to me to be “ok, dramatic turning point, I’m going to turn on the PG.”
    My only commentary on this is, if it’s part of your compositional vocabulary, so be it. But there is a distinction between borrowing another’s style and genuinely not having one yourself. PG cannot compose any other way. When you hear him try to write other types of music is sounds like Philip Glass music. In other words, you don’t hear Glass doing Adams, or Elfman, or Riley, or Reich. You don’t hear Reich doing Adams. And on and on. I guess I do draw the line at artists with a compositional gestalt that is a slave to their own language, not an organism which can freely borrow from others. A voice is a voice. Others are borrowers or pretenders.

  4. Harsh, Richard, that’s pretty harsh.
    But since you did bring up Elman’s own score for SOP, than I have to wonder that since Elfman did the score for Morris, whose all previous movies for over a decade have been scored by Glass, is it really sound suprising that Elfman went with an approach that recalls Glass’ sound? Maybe Morris himself wanted something like that?
    Besides, I think you should give Elfman a break since it’s his first time scoring a documentary. I agree with Stewart that one of the signs of an influentual composer is when others start not just invoking a few chords but rather use a similar musical approach.
    Not a huge expert on Addams but he too had pieces that contained arpeggio-like bits. Shaker loops, perhaps? At least before he became a post-minimalist (pfff!).
    And while I completely understand your points, I still have to admit that I don’t have a big problem with composers “branching out”. Even if they want to quote, than so be it, for all great classical composers have been doing this for centuries. As long as it doesn’t become blatant like in some earlier instances you pointed out, I really don’t have much of an issue with it.
    Otherwise, I think people need to be called on it. That’s a problem I have with someone like Yoko Kanno – fantastic music but nearly all of it isn’t hers (and people are remaining too silent on this issue)!
    P.S. I bet Glass often tried to sound like other people – and he just can’t help but sounding like his own great self ;).

  5. Hi everyone. I am a huge-huge fan of Philip Glass’ music and work but I was stunned to read some of these comments. What is so wrong in having anyone reproducing anyone else’s compositional techniques? I mean… Does Schoenberg ever complained of Webern and Berg and so many more emules taking his compositional language as theirs? Do Radiohead members ever complained about the thousands and thousands of new bands that tried/still try to sound just like them? Do you sincerly believe that Mr. Glass should be angry? Disturbed? I don’t think so.
    And, sincerly, how should he? He uses scales. And arpeggios! How common is it! This should be thought as a aesthetic statement that finally got understood and reproduced with respect and honor. I’m pretty sure that Mr. Glass is more enthusiast about this issue than angry, as you wish he is.
    Gongrats on your passion and your website though!

  6. Just querying if anyone has any information when the Scott Hicks ‘Glass – A Portrait of Philip in 12 Parts’ is likely to be available on DVD.

  7. if i paint a square white i might be ripping off a great piece of art, and if i paint just half white of half black i might be doing the same, my whole career i have been using Philip’s music as my main inspiration not only myself many many others has been doing the same, nowadays even if the music industry does not accept it he is the greatest american musician alive and one of the most important in the world, more many individuals will keep having him as a reference in their production but he needs to be recognized for it. even if he does not care.

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