How to do a cover version of a known song

As part of my learning journey, how to make music, I listen to my favorite songs, and try to acoustically “reverse engineer” the melody and chord progressions, bass lines.

I was wondering if anybody else does that. And how do you go about it?

Currently I am working on Jarre’s “Souvenir de Chine” piece, which is mainly chord driven and easy to follow. I was watching this guy’s hands on the keyboard to get a little guidance on where the notes sit.

I realize that there are many things happening at once, the bassline, the underlying chord progressions (which I learned from Scaler), and then some implied melody, aligned with chord progressions.

Currently, it’s easiest for me to play two notes simultaneously, one from the bassline, and the respective top note of the melody, to get some sense of resemblence to the original (in draft mode)

I tried to re-made what seemed to me a simple blues, but I found that is extremely hard doing it identical

Then I reasoned about making a cover instead, but I realized I prefer listen, in case of original tunes Otherwise, I prefer jamming freely

My 2 cents of nothing

Would I be banned from the board and reviled by al the creatives here if I were to suggest going to and downloading it from an obvious JMJ fanatics site ?

I do like ‘re-mixing’ my favourite tunes of yesteryear which had audible lyrics and a proper melody (there is a statement from an old f*rt if ever there was one) , and I normally start from a midi file on the net. They generally (always) require a lot editing, but my interest is re-voicing them with modern synth sounds.

PS: I am current working this process on two of Davide’s pieces, so if I did upload them. (unlikely) nobody would dare say “That’s a crap tune …” :grinning:
souvenirofchina.mid (17.7 KB)

Thanks for sharing. I am more into the journey than the destination. I learn best with the tedious way. If my goal was just the end result, using the MIDI would be the way to go. I’ve done that with my reorchestrated Albeniz piece here.


I should have guessed that, as you have articulated this previously.

I like the piece; I find it hard to get panned delay with slowish release patches right, but the left channel delay of the lead theme is very good.

My intuition, and vague memory, has me thinking that “Souvenir de Chine” and “Chi Mai” from Morricone should mix well (once key adjusted). They sound complementary to me.

Chi Mai (From “Le Professional") - YouTube

Also in that vein, the ending music from the original 1960 “The Time Machine” movie. Couldn’t find a clip, but from memory that also fit the above mood. That scene when he left to go back to 802701, and Filby and Ms Watchett look at the book shelf, wondering which 3 books he might have taken into the future with him.

Good artists steal, great artists innovate. Or the first law of creativity is theft.

Also, from my observations, JMJ has been pretty flexible with people covering his tunes.

Speaking of which, here’s a quick & dirty attempt at “interpreting” the .mid file @yorkeman dug up for me. Wonderful opportunity for me to learn the chords and progressions to make something more unique of my own, some day :slight_smile:

Here’s another JMJ favorite of mine, performed entirely on Scaler…
The Emigrant + Scaler by Aleamanic (