Tag Archives: copyright

The Problem with Music

Two years ago I threw some money at an idea. The idea was big: raise $11,000 to hire an orchestra to record some music. The music was in the public domain — Mozart, Beethoven, etc. — but recordings of it were not. So, if you were able to read the public domain sheet music and produce the sounds from instruments with your own hands then you were free to hear the public domain music. If you weren’t, well, you weren’t able to hear those sounds unencumbered by copyright. You couldn’t use those sounds for your art, your life, or your business without the possibility of legal action being taken against you.

The Relationship

If you’ve read this blog in the past you’re aware of my thoughts on copyright and how those thoughts emerged from my use of GNU/Linux and other free–as in freedom–software. You see, there’s this thing called DRM that makes it hard for people to do things with their files (like listen to a song on another player, or read an e-book on another device). These things should be easy, it is the 21st century after all. But it isn’t.

The Author’s Guild has fought to prevent e-readers from digitally speaking aloud the text (for blind readers) in the name of copyright, claiming that the out-loud reading is a derivative work. DRM has a hand in all of this.

The 21st century has yet to live up to its promise (and its reality) in part due to copyright laws. The idea that there was a way to support the public domain, spread art, and inspire the public was too good to pass up. I donated what little I had and waited.

Giving the Public Domain to the Public

It turns out others, at least 1200+, supported this idea too. It obliterated its $11,000 funding goal and raised nearly $70,000. Now, two years later, that music has finally been released.

I’ve never looked forward to hearing music so much in my life. Cheers to the composers! Cheers to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra! Cheers to Musopen! And cheers to you! Do whatever you want with it because, well, you can. (And that obligates you a little bit, doesn’t it?)

The Music

Beethoven – Coriolan Overture
Beethoven – Egmont Overture Op. 84
Beethoven – Symphony No 3 Eroica
Borodin – In The Steppes Of Central Asia
Brahms – Symphony No 1 in C Major
Brahms – Symphony No 2 in D major
Brahms – Symphony No 3
Brahms – Symphony No 4 in E minor
Brahms – Tragic Overture
Bach – Goldberg Variations
Grieg – Peer Gynt
Mendelssohn – Hebrides
Mendelssohn – Italian Symphony
Mendelssohn – Scottish Symphony
Mozart – Magic Flute Overture
Mozart – Marriage Of Figaro
Mozart – Symphony No 40 in G Minor
Rimsky Korsakov – Russian Overture
Schubert – The Piano Sonatas
Smetana – Vltava
Tchaikovsky – Symphony Pathetique

String Quartets:
Beethoven String Quartet in B flat Major Op 18
Borodin String Quartet No 1
Borodin String Quartet No 2
Dvorak – American in F major
Dvorak Quartet in F Major Op 51
Haydn Quartet in D Major Op.64
Mendelssohn Quartet in F Minor Op 80
Mozart Quartet D Minor K421
Mozart Quartet in C Major K 465
Suk – Meditation

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The Origin of Play

I’m currently working on a 10-minute play. I’ve been inspired by directing a short(ish) play for RROAPS, starting to sharply focus on my dissertation (involving playwriting process), and also reading Perfect 10: Writing and Producing the 10-Minute Play by Gary Garrison (who was the excellent respondent for RROAPS a few years ago).

They play itself is also inspired by author Joseph Roach’s research in The Player’s Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting (Theater: Theory/Text/Performance) that I’ve been gladly reading as part of one of my doctoral courses in theatre history. It traces the history of scientific knowledge’s effect on acting style through the ages and carefully dissects the language of the past to ensure we understand it within its historical context rather than from our own (often mistaken) contemporary meanings.

Yet another inspiration has been the recent visit of this year’s RROAPS respondent, Gordon Pengilly, who I’m also reading at the moment (Metastasis and Other Plays: Seeing in the Dark Drumheller or Dangerous Times). Mr. Pengilly’s comments about the individual shows as well as the entire evening were not only insightful but concise, educated, and honest… a combination of qualities we don’t always experience. Thanks to Mr. Pengilly for visiting.

A part of the reason for my reflection at this moment is the completion of the first draft of this new script late last night. Re-reading the script this morning truly helped me identify grammatical problems (as well as some smaller structural difficulties) but I’m quite excited about the script even in its current form. While not always possible, I am keenly aware of the major influences for both the germinal idea of the script itself as well as the catalyst for the inspiration to begin writing. I was actually planning on saving the writing of the script until my five-week-writing-sprint this summer (more on that later) but I found I could not contain the story any longer. The references above are largely responsible for my inability to wait.

Recently I’ve been researching copyright (somewhat an outgrowth of my FLOSS hobby) and I’ve started to wonder about the current state of copyright law, particularly in the United States. My hobby led me to the wonderful film Sita Sings the Blues by filmmaker Nina Paley. This, in turn, led me to the Question Copyright website and eventually to their “Minute Meme” project. I leave you, today, with the second “Minute Meme” entitled “All Creative Work is Derivative.” I strongly encourage you to visit their site and watch the video. It poses an interesting question about (and also a brief history of) the role of art in society and how that art progresses over time. These questions are nothing short of revolutionary for creative artists as we try to make our way through the trenches of the current copyright entanglement for content creators as we also celebrate the protections (though few) copyright law has provided artists. The question for me is simple: do I start using a Creative Commons license for my own work? I’m heavily leaning towards employing a license that respects other artists’ and creators’ rights while simultaneously acknowledging the existence of the internet. Creative work is exploding on the internet. Rather than trying to eliminate, box in, and/or legally threaten the individuals who put time into creating derivative works I want to support and celebrate those initiatives.