Free Brass Band Music

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Cygnus, May 27, 2009.

  1. Cygnus

    Cygnus New Member

    Hi everyone, first post here!

    I was wondering if anyone had considered which pieces of brass band music are now out of copyright? Composers such as Holst and Percy Fletcher are certainly in the public domain, but surely there must be some brass band composers whose works are or soon will be in the public domain? William Rimmer (I think) is one that comes to mind.

    If that's the case, I thought it would be a good idea to set up something along the lines of the IMSLP music library. I don't personally have the time or resources at the moment to attempt a project like that alone, but if anyone is interested in taking it further I'd be keen to contribute.

    I know a resource like this would be a great help to a number of people, for example, bands who have missing parts for old (possibly out of print) pieces could replace them; new bands with limited funds would have the opportunity to expand their libraries legally and we may rediscover old classics that would otherwise have been lost.
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member


    :hi Interesting first post! I can see the logic, since Fletcher died in 1932 technically his works MAY have gone into the public domain at the end of 2002, (and Holst died in 1934) but I suspect that the publishers have extended the copyright in the most popular works to make sure that they retained the revenue from recent recordings.

    I think some of the "classic" works, like Labour and Love, or Rimmer's marches and test-pieces, were re-issued by R. Smith and Co in a new(ish) edition some years after their original publication, and the copyright therefore expires 70 years after those later publication dates. Could have imagined that, mind you....

    You might have more luck with minor works, like some of Holst's songs, which were not re-issued after the composer's death.
  3. Cygnus

    Cygnus New Member

    Hi Andy,

    As I understand it, as long as an original issue rather than a reissue of a public domain work was used, there would be no problem with making a copy available. If that wasn't the case, then a lot of music which has been reissued many times (eg Mozart) would not be available at all in the public domain.

    Thanks for your input!

  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member


    Not sure that's true in this case. It's certainly true for Mozart and Bach - the newer Barenreiter editions are copyright, whereas the 19th century Breitkopf & Hartel editions aren't - but that's because the intellectual effort being copyrighted in those cases is the editor's work rather than the composer's. With the R. Smith editions of Holst & Fletcher, to use the original examples, as far as I am aware it is still the actual composition which is in copyright, so you couldn't release a free PD version of A Moorside Suite simply by claiming it was the original edition, or made from the composer's autograph score.

    However my only qualification for pontificating on this is the couple of years I spent as an orchestral librarian and I don't have any proper qualifications in law or librarianship, so I might be talking cack. Again. ;)

    But I think I'd want to be sure before I got a litigious call from m'learned friends. :D
  5. alks

    alks Member

    Well if you look at here:

    And type in BRASS BAND in the search box you will get loads of free out of copyright brass band music.
    Just find the ones that have online copies and download the pdf. Easy.

    I recommend Duntroon by percy code. Its a good little march.

    Heres the link:

    If they have done it here then it is apprently perfectly legal. So really someone could put up a website full of out of copyright bras band music for us all to download.

  6. Cygnus

    Cygnus New Member

    Thanks for that link! I presume it is legal in the UK, although I'm sure someone else on here would know for certain. As I see it, the likes of Holst etc, even if they've been re-released recently, the original scores would not be copyrighted, since, I believe, the copyright on typographical arrangements lasts 25 years and on the work itself 70. Surely the copyright on the (original) work isn't extended by reissuing it, since otherwise that would imply that publishers could extend copyright on pieces in perpetuity?

    Is there anyone out there keen to get a library for public domain brass band music started? Obviously, we need access to scores and parts too, so I was thinking a wiki format where everyone can contribute would be best. I'm going to be finishing uni this summer, so I don't really have the resources available to get it started at the moment - can anyone step in and help?

  7. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Active Member

    This is not a 'definitive' answer, of course, but the brass band original of Holst's Moorside Suite came out of copyright 70 years after Holst died - ie Jan 1st 2005. The actual R Smith score had 25 years graphic copyright. So, as far as I can see, there is nothing to stop anyone doing a 'Dover' and issuing their own copies of the piece using the R Smith score.

    Whether it would be worth it, is another matter as most bands probably have this piece!

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