Good artists copy, great artists borrow

Good artists copy, great artists borrow
19th December 2019 Dave Rose

As music producers our work is influenced by everything we’ve ever heard, the DNA we’re made up of and pretty much our entire experience of the world.


When we say the music we create is ‘our own’, this can mean many different things to different people. Chances are that we have collaborated with other people in an indirect way, like the people who made the software we use or the people that built the piano we play. We’ve also been influenced by the music we listen to and our own music reflects this in some way.


Intentionally copying other artists and other styles is a great way to practice, much like learning an instrument. But when it comes to producing our own music, we need a different approach…and that is to borrow.


We learn by copying what others do or by emulating something we hear, then we make it our own by expressing something new. We pass other peoples ideas through different filters, shape them with different inputs and synthesise them with other ideas to form something original yet somehow connected to what it used to be.


When we’ve fully understood other peoples ideas and stored a copy deep within our memory, we can give back the original ideas as we now have our own interpretations. A bit like Chinese Whispers, ideas get passed around, re-interpreted and morphed into something that takes on entirely different meaning…in a good way!


Be intentional about whether you are copying or borrowing. Copy to practice and learn, borrow (and then give back) to create.


Disclaimer: you might have noticed that the title of this post has been ‘borrowed’ from Picasso, who once said ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ Well, we stole this, adapted it then gave it back. Cheers Picasso, your bottle of Absynth is in the post!”