Am I a grumpy old man???

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Anglo Music Press, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Dear Readers,

    What would you do in my position??

    A band recently asked me for some music, which I gave them free-of-charge. As they are using it in an entertainment contest, they felt they had to make some cuts for the sake of timing - which I understand, of course. They asked me if this was OK and I suggested the only way I would like it shortened would be to play just one of the movements, rather than chop it up too much.

    I had no response to this but have learned that they are to go ahead with the cuts, even claiming that they have my sanction to do so.:(

    Now, I realise that we composers NEED performances and I'm always grateful when a band chooses a piece of mine. But don't you think the composer's wishes deserve a little more respect??

    Following on from Bram Tovey's strict instructions not to use pedals in his Open test-piece, should we composers take our ball and go home?? Or should we accept it as inevitable that many (most?) bands think they are more important than the music. Aren't we putting the cart before the horse sometimes??
  2. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Yes...................................and No!
    If it was me I'd be furious that my wishes were ignored and I would blacklist that band. Never lend them or even SELL them anything again, ever!! However from the banding side, if we didn't like part of a piece or found it too difficult, we would have no hesitation in changing it. :)

    And having played a fair few of your test pieces over the years, there were definitely parts I would have left out, given the chance. Come to think of it there were parts I did leave out, and just hoped the Conductor didn't notice. ;)
  3. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Not grumpy, No.

    Tell them to pick a different piece of music if they're not happy with the piece. Cuts should only be made if the composer/arranger has put in optional cuts. Otherwise it will detract from the meaning of the music.

    Why select a piece of music if you want to miss bits out????
  4. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    No, I think I'm with you here. If the piece is too long but it is in movements, then they should just play a movement, rather than take the scissors to the piece. That destroys the form of the movement.

    Maybe you should write to the contest organisers and tell them that they do not have your support in this hatchet job? Although quite what they can do, I don't know.....
  5. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    I think if they had the sense to ask you, the least they could do is respect the answer you gave them, at the end of the day, that music is your creation, and obviously intended to be played in it's entirity.

    I think you have every right to be a bit miffed that they went ahead and did their own thing, especially seeing as they went to the lengths of seeking your opinion.
  6. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Reminds me of the smoker who asks if you mind their smoking, but when you reply that yes you do, they still smoke anyway!!! What was the point in asking in the first place if there were no intention of respecting the wishes of those you asked?

    Personally Philip - I think it's disgraceful that a band treats you and your wishes with such disrespect, especially as you kindly donated the music to them in the first place.

    So... no - in my opinion, you are most certainly not a grumpy old man!!!
  7. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    Wouldn't playing the piece in an unauthorised arrangement constitute a breach of copyright....... in which case it would be unlawful, and they could inform the police.....
  8. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Well they definatly need to show some respect don't they...
    You're definatly not a grumpy ol' man.

    It's tricky cos you don't want to know that, potentially, your music could very well get ruined because of a band chopping and cutting all over the place... yet, if they have said X Y Z and claiming you gave them permission to cut, then in a way, you can look forward to possibly the audjudicator saying "MD- too many cuts- you ruined a perfectly good piece of music here- choose one movement next time!"

    Then you can say I told you so... :)

    I hope that bands listen to people like you in future and don't take advantage; which is what has happened from the looks of it...
  9. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Well to be honest i am in two frames of mind as a player&listener :
    1;I dont like it when a piece is picked for entertainment contests asnd bits are cut out, you can easy carry on although your part is marked about the cut.
    1(b):If its just to miss out a repeat then i can understand that for time etc.

    Listener: If i go to a entertainment contset and a band starts cutting the piece to much then i get distratacted and if i was in the box mark them down for making to many cuts.
    If i go to a concert then that is really annoying when you have gone to listen to a concert and bits get cut out.

    By the way Phil :When are us 1st section bands going to get some more test pieces of yours to play at contests the Area Contest would be good for a change as you write TOPJOLLY MUSIC and exciting music as well.
    Only played London Overture so far, at Pontins a few years ago now 199?
    And it would be great for you to have a piece played at the British Open at least we would be in for a good piece to listen to with tunes and super sounds as well instead of some of the rubbish that as been played over the last few years i wont say which as the composers might night like it.:biggrin:
  10. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    To complete the story, they actually had the nerve to ask for my Sibelius files so they could recompose it for me :mad:

    While I'm a little miffed about all this, I think the bigger picture is:- is the band (or winning a contest) more important than the music? If they answer is 'yes', then we have got things the wrong way round, I feel.

    I'm very much involved in wind band festivals as an adjudicator and this would be OUT OF THE QUESTION in those circles. They tend to try to perform the music as well as possible - which strikes me as the thing to do. I'm naive like that!

    No wonder we are seeing dwindling audiences at contests!!!
  11. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    And what's wrong with being a grumpy old man???

    A band once bought a euphonium solo from me and decided it worked better on baritone, transposed up a third. But of course some bits wouldn't go up a third so had to go down a sixth and other parts were better cut out altogether...

    I just hope that the adjudicator is reading this thread!

  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I find it alarming that they have totally ignored your request! Did they outline what they were intending to do or was it just a simple decision to reject the idea?
  13. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Nothing, of course!
  14. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    They just told me they wanted to shorten it, if it was OK by me (or not, apparently) :confused:
  15. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I would get in touch and stop them from playing the work! It's like a sculptor or painter being told that a copy of their work is going to be cut up and re-assembled for public display! The new audience that might be aware of the original artist could be put off the rest of his/her works if that first impression is unsatisfactory.
  16. prince_turhan

    prince_turhan New Member

    I hope this doesn't hijack the thread, but I have to say Philip that your comment (see below) probably cuts to the heart of why brass bands are not so popular with the general public.

    " the band (or winning a contest) more important than the music? If they answer is 'yes', then we have got things the wrong way round, I feel."

    The brass band world seems to have a near blind addiction with competitions. Competitions are part of banding (and music) history and have their place in all areas of music, e.g. the Young Musician of the Year, the Leeds Piano competition etc and I certainly would not advocate their abolition. There are many benefits to be had – improved technique, new compositions etc … But I would argue that these are severely weighed down by the negative elements. Not only flawed adjudication criteria but the addiction to competing (and winning) itself which is so worrying. I know of bands that do the standard four or five contests a year and nothing much else bar the odd concert and a few carols at Christmas.

    In certain respects we get things absolutely right: the setting up of youth bands; the national youth brass bands; original and well crafted compositions; exciting arrangements; promoting and encouraging brass bands outside the UK; college/university courses for brass band musicians.

    We need to establish what is right and what is important, namely, the music and the audience.

    We have such talented and hardworking composers/arrangers at our disposal, not forgetting some wonderful music that’s already established in the repertoire, so the amount of good music is not a problem. What we need to stress to bands right across the spectrum of banding is the importance of concerts. In a concert the music is the most important factor, which must be presented well enough to engage and excite the audience and who will, hopefully, go home feeling very much the better for the experience. I had the pleasure of chatting to James Watson a few years back who realised the importance of concerts and in actively seeking a wider audience base. And what’s wrong with engaging ‘big names’ from the music or entertainment industries to fill the seats?

    Brass bands do have, in my opinion, a major image problem and we have to work hard to put it right. Old-fashioned ideals and conservatism coupled with apathetic (and pathetic!) organisations/associations/executives who do nothing better than squabble amongst themselves have, at the moment, a strangle hold on our future. Why not look to the classical music world or popular music culture and adapt their techniques in order to enhance our image and popularity. Brass bands have a proud history and a strong backbone that augurs well for its existence – but to exist is one thing, to live another.
  17. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I had considered this, of course, but short of jumping on stage at the contest, I don't see how I can do that!

    I've already asked them to chose something else, but they must really like it. :D Or bits of it anyway! :(

    Part of my reason for posting is the hope that they have some tMP members (who may quite possibly not be aware of the situation, if they are being told I have sanctioned the massacre!)

    They are being taken to the contest by a 'professional' conductor, who probably doesn't know any of this. Maybe I should appeal to his finer feelings. (No irony intended)
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I suppose out of courtesy you won't reveal the name of the piece (... even if this exposes the band indirectly) ??? :confused:
  19. Adrian Horn

    Adrian Horn Member

    An excellent post Prince_Turhan.

    Philip, you are certainly not a grumpy old man for wanting your music to be played correctly.

    As someone has already pointed out earlier in the thread, if the band in question do perform the piece with these unauthorised cuts in, then I would throw up a fuss and get them on copyright.

    If a band wants to play a piece, but can't play it or don't like sections of it, they should either practice harder (perhaps they need a better MD that understands the music better) or find a piece of music that they can handle.

    To cut sections out of a piece of music willy-nilly destroys the shape, form, musicality and artistry of the composition that you as the composer have spent many hours crafting into your musical vision. No-one has the right to alter that unless you specifically agree to each alteration.
  20. dickyg

    dickyg Member

    I am totally in agreement with everything said so far and am totally gobsmacked that any band could be so rude (saying that, I wonder how many of the band actually know that PS didn't give permission for the cuts!!) The desire to win this contest seems to cut across much common musical sense and basic good manners.

    I don't know what I would do Philip in your situation - name and shame maybe?

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