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Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You ‘coincidentally similar to another artist’s song’

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Ed Sheeran’s hit “Shape Of You” is “coincidentally similar” and has “distinctive differences” to a song by another artist he is accused of copying, a music expert in a copyright lawsuit has said.

American forensic musicologist Anthony Ricigliano concluded in a report that it was “objectively unlikely” that any similarity between the 2017 song and Sami Chokri’s song Oh Why “results from the copy”.

Mr. Sheeran denies that Shape Of You plays the 2015 song by Mr. Chokri, a grime artist who performs under the name Sami Switch.

Chokri and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue state that a central “Oh I” hook in Sheeran and his co-writers’ song is “strikingly similar” to an “Oh why” refrain in their own composition.

Sami Chokri (Yui Mok/PA)

Ricigliano gave evidence about his analysis of the two songs in an ongoing trial at London’s High Court on Wednesday.

Chokri and O’Donoghue’s attorneys argue that when the melodies of the two songs are transposed to the same key, “the progression of the notes is the same.”

They also state that the rhythm of the tracks’ melodies is “nearly identical”, their use of instrumentation “creates a strikingly similar sound and texture” and the vowel sounds in the sung melody “further enhance the similarity in tone”. musical sound and texture.

Ricigliano, who was instructed by lawyers for the Shape Of You co-writers but told the court he was “completely impartial”, said in a report that he considered the extent of the alleged similarities between the two songs to be “exaggerated”.

He wrote that “the overall design and musical development of the melodic, harmonic, and lyrical content in the relevant phrase in Shape of You are distinctly different from that used in Oh Why.”

Mr. Ricigliano added: “The similarities that do exist, when placed in context, are in my opinion unimportant in relation to the Oh Why copying allegation.

“They are common forms of expression, both in terms of usage by other writers and by Sheeran himself.

“Therefore, my opinion is that it is objectively unlikely that similarities will be produced from the copy.”

Ed Sheeran at the Rolls Building, High Court, central London

Ed Sheeran (Joshua Bratt/PA)

Sheeran has argued in his written evidence that the Oh I phrase from his song uses “a basic minor pentatonic pattern” that is “totally common”.

In his report, Mr. Ricigliano paraphrased a quote from composer Leonard Bernstein and wrote: “The pentatonic scale is mankind’s favorite scale and is so well known that examples of it can be found in every corner of the Earth.”

In court, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, representing Mr. Chokri and Mr. O’Donoghue, asked the expert: “You do not accept, Mr. Ricigliano, that despite all your research, you have not found any examples in any corner of the earth for the last 200 years. years that sound phonetically the same as the chorus of Oh Why and the subsequent chorus of Shape Of You”.

“That’s correct,” Ricigliano said.

“Don’t you find this extraordinary?” Sutcliffe asked, and the expert replied, “No.”

The lawyer described the two phrases of the song as appearing “months apart” and suggested that they sound “almost the same”.

“I wouldn’t agree with the characterization,” Ricigliano said, adding that the two are “coincidentally similar” and that there are “distinct differences.”

The expert said that from his analysis of Sheeran’s work there was “nothing he did that didn’t reflect what he had done before”, adding that his conclusion was that “this was written by him and his associates”. .

Composer John 'Johnny' McDaid outside the Rolls Building, High Court, central London

John McDaid (Yui Mok/PA)

Another music expert, Christian Siddell, who was instructed by Chokri and O’Donoghue’s lawyers, is due to testify Wednesday afternoon.

The three co-writers of Shape Of You, Mr. Sheeran, Snow Patrol’s John McDaid and producer Steven McCutcheon, launched legal proceedings in May 2018, asking the High Court to declare that they had not infringed Chokri’s copyright and O’Donoghue.

In July 2018, Mr. Chokri and Mr. O’Donoghue filed their own lawsuit for “copyright infringement, damages, and an account of profit in connection with the alleged infringement.”

The trial before Mr. Judge Zacaroli continues, and a sentence is expected at a later date.

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