Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by SuperMosh, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. SuperMosh

    SuperMosh New Member

    I am toying with the idea of arranging some brass music and whilst I appreciate it is OK to drive home to do so after drinking 5 pints of lager, not wearing my seatbelt and at a steady 31mph all the way, I know I can't take a piece of music and start arranging it until I have the relevant permissions.

    Lots of people on here seem authoritative on the subject so over to you. How do I (or anyone else for that matter?) get the right permissions? How does anyone get it published? How do you know what music will work for brass band?

    It's a genuine set of a questions - tMP has a lot of people saying 'you can't do this before you do that' and telling us that copyright is important (I agree by the way) but little in the way of telling us 'how to go about it'.

  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    This last one is pure guesswork. Often it depends as much on your band as anything else - nobody would have convinced me that Birdland could conceivably be arranged for brass band until I heard Faireys play it. Even then I've heard other bands give mince performances of it. Often it's not really a question of whether it will work in its original state, but whether your input as an arranger can make it work, and make it worthwhile. There's also the Amarillo Conundrum; just because you can arrange something for brass band doesn't always mean you should.

    Regarding copyright - half the art is finding out who owns the copyright in the first place, and how to contact them. This is one of the advantages of using a publisher - they will generally have contacts in the publishing trade that will allow them to track down copyright holders more easily. That said, if you're prepared to do the legwork yourself it's quite possible to track them down, contact them and get permission without going through a publisher. Copyright holders are sometimes happier to be approached by a known publisher rather than any old Joe Soap, but if you provide them with a sample of 20 bars or so to prove that you're not going to inflict blood-spattered musical butchery on their intellectual property they may be more inclined to take you seriously. Some of the bigger firms have licencing departments whose job this sort of stuff is, and may even have a form you can fill in. Some will ask for a fee just for permission to do the arrangement, others will ask for fees only if it's performed or recorded.

    Can I suggest that you would be better with something in the public domain to start off with? Then once you've done a couple and your confidence/ability starts to pick up, you can start wrestling the big hairy copyright bear.

    Public Domain works are generally (but not always) by composers who died over 70 years ago - although if the publication was posthumous the work stays in copyright for 70 years from the date of first publication.
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