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Did Coldplay copy Joe Satriani's Song, "If I Could Fly,"
when they released Viva La Vida? Let's Do the Music Theory.

coldplay satrianiThere is incredible controversy surrounding the lawsuit Joe Satriani filed against the band Coldplay on Thursday Dec. 04, 2008. The buzz in the music entertainment world is simply overwhelming.

If you haven't heard... virtuosso guitarist, "Joe Satriani," is suing the band Coldplay for copying, "substantial original portions," of his his song, "If I Could Fly," off his 2004 album - Is There Love in Space.

Satriani is seeking considerable damages in his Lawsuit... "any and all profits." The Coldplay song, "Viva La Vida," is credited to the band's four members - singer: Chris Martin, bass player: Guy Berryman, guitarist: Johnny Buckland and drummer: Will Champion. View the complete case profile at Justia.com


- Let's Do the Music Theory -

Important Note:

I have transposed the songs and overlapped them. The resulting keys given both in the videos and on this page are a result of the overlap.

The Coldplay Verse & Chorus are actually in "Ab Major Key Signature" and the Satriani song shifts keys throughout (the part in question for the lawsuit is
in the key of B Minor).

Satriani's Chorus chord progression is:

|| EMi7  /   /   /   | A  /   /   /  | A/D  /   /   /   | Bmi(add4)   /   /   /    ||


The shared resemblance of the melodies occours between the Verse
of the Coldplay song and the Chorus
of the Joe Satriani song.

The melodies of the two songs are similar in that - when transposed - they each begin and end on the same notes and they both share near identical rhythmic phrases.

Since the Satriani song is in a different key signature, (2 sharps), for our analysis the song has been transposed to match the key of the Coldplay piece, (4 flats).

An eight bar transcription of both pieces has been provided for you to look over in detail.



The harmonies of the two songs are very similar in that they each share the near to exact same chord changes when transposed to the same key. The chord changes are given in a simple triad (3-note) notation. In an attempt to make the analysis as simple as possible extended chord types used in either recording have been omitted.

If I Could Fly: Transposed to the same key of the Coldplay song.

|| Bbmi / / / | Eb / / / | Ab / / / | Fmi / / / ||

The Chord Tones of each chord:
Bbmi = Bb, Db, F
Eb = Eb, G, Bb
Ab = Ab, C, Eb
Fmi = F, Ab, C

Viva la Vida: In the same key as the original recording.

|| Db / / / | Eb / / / | Ab / / / | Fmi / / / ||

The Chord Tones of each chord:
Db = Db, F, Ab
Eb = Eb, G, Bb
Ab = Ab, C, Eb
Fmi = F, Ab, C

The two songs share the same chord tones aside from the interchanged notes of; "Ab," and "Bb," on the "Db Major," and "Bb Minor," chords respectively.


The Coldplay song shares two *rhythmic elements to the Joe Satriani song:

1). a very similar rhythmic pulse, (meter).
2). the same tempo, (136-138 b.p.m.).

The most important aspect of the shared meter is the matched push on the "and" of the fourth beat of the 1st and 3rd measures. Take note of the position of the, "Eb," & "Fmi," chord locations in each piece. They are exactly the same.

Example #1). The Rhythm from: "If I Could Fly"


Example #2). The Rhythm from: "Viva la Vida"


*The primary "Rhythmic Elements" in music are: METER, BEAT, TEMPO.


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