Norah Jones vs. Schroeder?

Mark Ebner at Hollywood Interrupted asks, "Was a Norah Jones hit ripped from Charlie Brown theme music? You decide… This video file offers a side-by-side comparison of Don't Know Why and Christmas Time is Here."


Reader comment: mnb says,

The comparison is absurd. They're both slow jazzy lounge tunes, but other than that, there's little similarity at all. The key element that drives the Norah Jones tune is a descending line (with suspension, a classic trick used well in this) that doesn't exist at all in the other tune.

Ray Parker Jr. won the suit that Huey Lewis and the News filed against him for the Ghostbusters tune. It was proposed that it sounded too much like I Want A New Drug. If you listen to the key rhythm part in the Ghostbusters tune and then listen to the guitar line in I Want A New Drug, you can quickly see a rather strong similarity. There is no such similarity between the Norah Jones song and the other one.

I'm not a professor of music or a professional critic, but I did take
2 years of Music Theory in college and have been a casual musician for 30 years. It doesn't take schooling to determine this, though, just a good ear.

The website says that when the songs are layered over each other simultaneously they should cancel each other out. They obviously have no clue what they're talking about. The only case where this would occur is if an identical sound track was phase reversed and played with the in phase version simultaneously. What would result then would be total silence. But they state that since it DOESN'T cancel out it's a copy. They might want to pick up a book on rudimentary physics of sound. Their position is so utterly preposterous it could be construed as libel.

Dan Ray says,

The fact is that the first four notes of the main melodic phrase of each song is identical, though, granted, in different keys. The first time I heard "Don't Know Why", I heard strong echoes of the classic Vince Guaraldi tune. In fact, my wife had to slug me to keep me from singing "Christmas time is here" over Norah's vocals on every verse. Is it a deliberate rip-off? I doubt it. Though it is a fairly unique melodic construction, they go in quite opposite directions after those first four notes. You can't copyright four notes of a melody. And Vince was a cool enough guy, I'm sure his estate will lay off the lawyers.

Christopher Null says,

Ray Parker Jr. did not "beat" Huey Lewis re: the Ghostbusters theme. It was settled out of court — and since Lewis was suing Parker, that almost certainly means Parker paid him off. In other words, he pretty much lost.

Lance McCord says:

That's not quite right. People settle suits that they might win if it looks like a good deal, considering the likely cost of litigation (which ain't cheap), the cost of settlement, the chance of winning, and other considerations (like reputation, ego, whatnot). The "pretty much" is carrying a lot of weight in Null's third sentence.