Brass Band arranging

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by teletext45, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. teletext45

    teletext45 New Member

    Hey all, I've been telling myself I need that I need to start learning to arrange and was recently offered the opportunity to arrange some music for the brass band my dad plays for. The request was anything 'pop or rock' so I took it upon myself to arrange 'Livin on a Prayer'

    Here's the sound cloud midi representation. The sound isn't great but you get the idea. I'd appreaciate some feed back, and if anyone would like a copy (when it's finished) please let me know.

  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Hi Andy,

    I really do not want to urinate on your parade, as it were, but you should make sure you have written copyright permission to arrange this song before you put it out there. Copyright is a very thorny issue, but the law is very clear. If you arrange a piece of music that is less than 70 years old (more in some cases) you are committing an offense unless you have the prior permission of the copyright owner. That might be the original composer or, more likely, his publisher.

    If you have not done so already, you might consider taking the soundcloud version down before someone from the publisher notices. They do snoop to catch the unwary.

    As to the arrangement itself, you show some promise. As a general guide, the most important part in a song is the tune and this should be clearly audible at all times. There are balance issues in your recording so that the tune is sometimes completely swamped. The second most important part is the bass line and then the percussion. Neither of these should ever drown the tune, though. In this kind of music, the percussion/rhythm parts are fairly boring, so it's important to give them some interest by changing the dynamics. (For example)

    One other point is that an arrangement is not just a transcription. As an arranger, you should put something of your own ideas about the music into the mix. (Simple things, write your own fills, change the voicings, introduce a new idea - whatever.)

    Good luck with your arranging. See if you can write your own stuff as well. Don't be afraid of writing NEW music for band. We need new composers.
  3. teletext45

    teletext45 New Member

    Cheers mike, that didn't even occur to me!

    I've taken steps to gain permission so will repost it if/when I get permission.

    cheers andy
  4. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Someone call the rozzers !!
  5. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    But what would they do? Surely they can only contact a person and tell them to take it down, or whatever.

    I appreciate the laws here and understand them. But, for example, how many photocopies are in bandrooms? How many arrangements of copyrighted songs are knocked up on Sibelius or whatever and played at concerts and passed around other bands.

    Has anyone here had experience of that 'knock on the door' from the copyright police. I don't mean to decry the laws here, just wondered how enforceable or otherwise they actually are.

    (or perhaps I should just delete this post and let sleeping dogs lie)
  6. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    I think people need to be a little more wary of the copyright issues here than some of the posters on this thread. Although I understand the sentiment of "what can they do other than tell you to take it down" it is possible for a copyright owner to claim compensation and (being cynical for a moment), lawyers will always be looking for something supply a steady stream of work when the personal injury and PPI claims industry slows down or dries up. Bands with libraries full of photocopied music and "sibelius knock offs" might find themselves in a sticky situation. I hope I'm over cynical but we do seem to be getting more litigious.
  7. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I really dislike this attitude that it's OK to steal from composers. While the profits from a single copy might not be very much, and while composers might be getting ripped off by their publishers it is truly offensive to have your right to your own intellectual property denigrated in this way. There are very few composers who can make a living from their music and one of the reasons is the fact that people think it is OK to photocopy/Sibelius/Finale without either permission or paying. It's a wonder anybody bothers to write new stuff - and indeed good, NEW music is very scarce partly because the returns are so poor. You wouldn't do it to an author or a painter (though I believe photographers get ripped off this way just as much!)

    There have been cases where copyright infringers have been caught and pursued through the courts. I know Disney are very keen to pursue offenders. It's not really worth it.
  8. teletext45

    teletext45 New Member

    Totally get this, which is why I've submitted an application for permission. I'd hope it would get granted but I'm not hopeful !
  9. It was crucial to say that, Beesa.

    Surely, that’s not a question that should arise at band level. What needs to be considered is whether to make a copy is right in principle.

    I can’t say that I know the law on the subject well enough to make that claim reservedly. However, I have made copies of or written out material where it appears to me, and the band, that it is reasonable to do so. The following are some of the circumstances:

    1. Where there is a page-turn but no break in my drumkit part, and both arms are in use, I eliminate the page–turn by copying the part onto single-sided paper and sticking it all together to produce one large sheet. There is currently quite a lot of material that is published like that – mostly by one particular arranger.

    2. Drumkit parts are frequently poorly written, or even deliberately written in outline-form only. Therefore, I will sometimes write out a suitable part, manually or with computer software, and keep it for use in my band.

    3. Where a drum part is well-written, but playing it would involve more than one player, I will write out a part that is playable on drumkit. This is common with old material written for old-style “Town Bands”. It also occurs in some newer material, where the author has in mind a percussion section rather than a sole drumkit player.

    4. I will also sometimes cut and paste glockenspiel, timpani or other parts into the drumkit part so that, where possible, I can get over to the other instruments and back again.

    I haven’t, “had the knock” but I play with someone who has. S/he is the MD of another band, whose programme appeared on the internet in advance of quite a high-profile event. The agent of a rock group that owned the material contacted the MD and demanded a substantial fee. The MD appealed to the owner for leniency, on the basis that the band existed in order to support charitable causes. However, as I understand it, that would not have been a valid excuse had the claim been pressed. Of course, whether the amount demanded would have been upheld in court is not known. What seems certain, though, is that the band in question would have had difficulty paying the legal costs if it came to court.
  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I have no evidence of this (for obvious reasons), however I'm led to believe that there have also been cases where copyright infringers have been caught and have settled out of court in order to avoid adverse publicity. In some ways I find this easy to believe, because at the end of the day the publishers aren't interested in naming and shaming; they just want what's owed to them, and avoiding the hassle and expense of a court case is probably in everyone's interest. At the same time, I can't help wondering whether a few big name, high profile convictions might not serve as a better deterrent ...
  11. I expect that the view and action that publishers take will vary significantly. Is it likely that a brass band arranger, with a mortgage to pay, and for whom legal costs might be frightening, and whose due in might be £30 or £50, will see things, or act, the same as a major film corporation?

    It’s an interesting subject, and one I know insufficient about. Is there still a modern-day equivalent of The Performing Rights Society (if I have the name correct)? As I understand it, that organisation ran on subscriptions from smaller music writers and publishers used to look after their interests on a pooled-resources basis.
  12. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

  13. Oh dear. My last post is full of typos! I'll try again, with additions in bold.

    I meant:

  14. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    If you think it worth publishing, you could do much worse than go through an established small publisher like Pennine. This company, in particular, will often seek copyright permission for you. Their contracts are pretty standard, but Gavin Somerset is easy to talk to and very helpful with such matters.
  15. Definitely agree with that Mike. Gavin is very approachable.
  16. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    First post back after a few years inactivity... (gulp).

    Before getting on-topic, I'd highly recommend anyone take a look at MuseScore before paying for sibelius/finale, you get the vast majority of the features but in an opensource package (so it won't cost you anything to install or to use and you're free to share your scores and the ability to edit them with pretty much anyone, as anyone can get the sofware).

    There seem to be two main points here:
    First - Copyright infringement is (clearly) a legal matter, which can get you into trouble.
    Second - Think of the composer/arranger and publisher.

    The first is cut and dried, if you get caught you'll be in trouble and the risk probably isn't worth it.

    The second... honestly, I think is more about the publishers than the composers/arrangers (but still important).
    Even if the publishers didn't exist, we'd still have people wanting to write new music and to arrange music that they want to play for bands (and we'd still want to commision people to write things for us, too) - and in the modern day, we'd have no problem printing it, copying it, distributing it (email for others to print, for example)... but we need the publishers, as much as anything else, to be sure (and able to prove) that the arrangements we're playing aren't in violation of copyright law. So clearly we have to support them by buying our copies from them to keep them going.
    On a personal level, I see no problem with bands using copies of pieces to try something out (for example) before buying, it's no different really from borrowing a set from another band (and some publishers lend sets to bands to try out), but if it's music you want it should to be paid for (out-of-print stuff presents an issue there), especially if you're going to perform it.

    The morals/ethics of copyright could get messy (skipping) as is it's origin and early history (which is totally different from what it now represents).
  17. I agree, but with reservations. It produces very nice, professional-looking manuscripts. However, so many work-arounds are necessary to overcome the aspects that don't work well that I have often had to give up resort to pencil and paper rather than slog it out with Musescore. Perhaps I haven't used it enough as yet to develop sufficient speed.
  18. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Indeed, not perfect but very useful - it's limitations are usually things worth living with against the sky-high costs of Sibelius/Finale.

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