Music Libraries

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by DocFox, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    I am a part-time arranger. I am by no means a composer - as I cannot come up with an original melody. I have written what I believe is a very good arrangement for brass band. More on that possibly in a few weeks.

    I normally make all my arrangements free. Then a composer friend of mine warned me that music students will often look for free arrangements, download them, and turn them in as assignments. Ugh, what do you learn by doing that? But I know a lot of students cut corners and put high grades above actual learning.

    So I started to look at the prices some other amateur composers were charging. $30 for the score and $2 for each part for a total of about $50 to $60. What? When did they become a name like Philip Sparke or Paul Lovatt-Cooper? I thought some of these arrangements were fair to poor.

    Then I priced some newer pieces such as Dundonnell and it was about £160! Other pieces ranged from £60 to £120. I had to admit I was flabbergasted! Then I priced a Besson Compensating 4 valve baritone. $8000! Bands buy instruments, especially if they have junior bands. They have to buy music and insurance and have travel money and the list goes on. It would seem to be no small feat to keep a brass band at any level moving forward.

    Yes I know, I am long-winded. Did you miss me?

    For two years I was the Associate Director of an area orchestra. I rehearsed the group and directed several concerts. Music for orchestras is even more expensive. Orchestras will rent music or borrow music from another orchestra rather than spend thousands buying a piece. Large orchestras like the London Symphony will buy pieces and build an orchestra's library.

    Do brass bands do some of that? Do they borrow pieces or lend pieces to other bands? I know of one band that will go unnamed that steals all their music. They take music out on trial or borrow a piece and copy it for their library. They think nothing of it. I made such a fuss I am no longer welcome.

    There are a few good arrangers who do fine work for very little money. For example, I publish my pieces on I do charge for one piece I think is quite good, but the rest are free. It was like when I was teaching Statistics at Azusa Pacific University. I wrote my own statistics book, photocopied it and sold it to the students for $20 when the average statistics book was selling for $150. My book is still being photocopied as an "underground" study aid.

    I would love to hear any insights.
  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Brief (?) answer based on my own experience:

    1) Brass Bands in the U.K. buy their sheet music and store it in a library (filing cabinet). The library may well have several hundred complete sets of music in it, some bought new, some inherited from defunct bands and some acquired second hand over the years - in my limited experience a numbering system going beyond 1000 isn't unusual. Some of the stuff may be many decades old, music bought by past members who are now long gone from the band and maybe this earth too.

    2) It's normally not legal but bands do photocopy music in their library for their own use, saves on wear and tear on the original copies. A topic of much contention.

    3) Some bands do copy complete sets of music from other bands, unless it is out of copyright that's illegal and IMHO unfair to the copyright holder. Whilst it's not always the case in practice the copyright holder probably suffers no appreciable loss: the piece isn't in vogue, isn't used much by the band and it wouldn't be heard at all if the band had had to buy the sheet music. The practice isn't legal, I don't condone it but make your own decisions.

    4) Some bands copy lost parts from another band, again it can be illegal but it's a pragmatic solution. There have been some quite heated threads on that activity.

    5) I've never heard of a band hiring music, but that's not to say it doesn't happen.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
    Slider1 likes this.
  3. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Quick (slightly off topic) point of order.....
    I take your general point, but need to point out that Dundonnell does NOT cost around £160.00. Would be great to check your facts!
    Firstly, the piece is not available as a separate title, but is part of Suite from Hymn of the Highlands. This has three movements and costs £109.00.
    The basis of your question still stands, but better without the tabloid journalism!!
    MoominDave and Slider1 like this.
  4. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Thank you Mr. Sparke. I looked up several prices both in the UK and US. Like any soul, I am prone to mistakes. I love the full Suite and it plays very well on the radio station.

    But I must admit I am a little miffed by the "tabloid journalism" comment. I try to base my questions using facts (although this time I made a mistake) and relevant analogies or true stories to show my point. I feel I was trying quite hard to not be "tabloid" like.

    Philip, I think this question would resonate with you. I entered University wanting to be the next John Williams (I am old). I soon found out that even though I was the best euphonium player in a 5 state area contest, that to compose it really helps (is necessary) to have keyboard skills. My family was too poor to have a piano. I was fortunate to have a fantastic school band program. (I ended up with a low brass performance degree rather than a composition degree).

    Therefore, when people copy music out-of-hand it bothers me. In the US (I do not know the UK laws) if you buy an original you can make copies for your own band. I do not know if you can copy music from another band to fill a hole. I do not think that is legal since you can buy individual parts. There was a court case pending some 10+ years ago, but I failed to hear the outcome.

    Thanks for the note Mr. Sparke. I have admired your work for a long time and considered you someone to look up to. Chatting with you, for me, was an honor.
  5. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    A band I had links to had a library numbering over 5,000, AFTER it had been pruned and quadruplicate copies had been ditched
  6. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Were the copies illegal? (I am sorry Euphman2, by links, do you mean brass band music is on the web to be downloaded, probably illegally?) This is the point I am trying to get at. With respect to Philip Sparke who makes a living by selling written music, music is quite expensive. Do most bands strive to be legal? Or, like a lot of wind bands I have known, skirt the law and copy music and not pay for it -- which possibly drives up the price.

    The radio station, for example, to be legal, must pay sound royalties. Any band, say, Black Dyke, can file with ASCAP and get some money (not much) from my station. The US laws figure that radio stations also advertise the CDs and the written music. I read that many online stations, an estimated 90%+, are operating illegally. Sound royalties are the most expensive part of the station. If I grow much larger, my royalties will double!

    Do bands try to have libraries that are legal? Is lending done?
  7. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    Sorry, ignoring you now. To use Orwell, you are now an "unperson" to me
  8. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Not quite sure what the spat is about this time!
    Doc fox, I think most Brass Bands buy their music legitimately in the UK. We do lend out music sometimes and also borrow parts if some have gone astray out of the original pack as does happen.
    It is often noticed that the price of a piece selected for the Area contest tends to jump up in price shortly before all need to purchase it. Supply and demand and all that.
    Don't grovel quite so much to Mr Sparke. It's not the British way of things. You're much better to pretend indifference to the point of rudeness. He's probably gone into shock and needed a strong sugary tea at the Uriah Heepness of your post.
  9. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Well, you don't like me and never will. So no skin off my nose. Orwell was not a philosopher. He was mostly a man of fiction. "Unperson," "non-person" and other such words leave someone wondering what I am? A synonym to such a word could be "sub-human." That was used a lot in the 40's in Berlin. If you do not like someone, they are non-persons. Slaves were considered non-humans as were the Native Americans.

    I am a Christian. That will make some people unhappy. Christ said, "All those ... will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Everyone is important. Children, people who do not believe. I know some Christians can misguidedly spew hate. But all are loved. Certainly a stronger source than Orwell.

    Mesmerist -- I didn't want a spat. I was polite (until I was called a name). Euphman2 has never said anything nice to me or about me that I can recall. Before all these things blow up again, what I need are friends that will step in instead of having me defending myself against unwarranted attacks.

    As for Mr. Sparke. Well, I do have a deep admiration for his work. I tolerate many things British, Austrailian, Canadian and European. But being American and expressing myself in what I believe is an appropriate way somehow means I have to change. If I overdid it, it was out of respect. Polite Americans show respect to talented people. I would be glad to send Mr. Sparke some sugar for his tea.

    When I was a university professor a long time ago, students called me Dr. Fox or Professor Fox out of respect for the fact I went through the incredibly difficult process of earning a doctorate and being appointed to be a professor. IMO, Philip Sparke has done something similar and deserves the respect that comes to a person with such accomplishments.

    You said that most bands have a legal library. That is good news to hear IMO. I am also glad to hear some lending goes on.

    And I suppose it is hard to argue with supply and demand. Someone who publishes a test piece knowing a certain section must buy it follows such rules. It is frustrating, but free enterprise allows it. I suppose the controlling body could say they will select a test piece as long as the price does not go over a certain price. But we do not live in that kind of a world.

    But I can see where music can be a large expense, especially to contesting bands as they move along.

    Thanks Mesmerist for the information.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  10. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    Many bands I have been involved in scan their music to PDF-files (music they have purchased legitmately). They do it in order to have a complete set, in case any parts go missing, which they often do. It also makes it possible to email a substitute player the parts, so they can see the music in advance of a gig. I am pretty sure that practise is not within the limits of the Fair Use rules of the copyright law, but I feel the law needs updating.
    I think that a law that is seen to be fair by the bands is more likely to be followed by them.

    Another thing I can't understand is why so many music publishers have remained in the 20th century, when it comes to the distribution of music. We have often had the problem of ordering music for a concert where the music arrives a month or more after we have placed the order (I know that we could prepare our season better, and order the music earlier). In that case we either have to change the concert program or borrow the music from other bands. A few suppliers have made it possible to download the piece as PDF, and have us print the music ourselves, which in this day and age is no longer a problem. It also solves the problems of worrying about parts gone missing. Some of these PDF-files have a watermark inserted with the bands name to prevent copying the music for use in other bands (of cource it doesn't prevent it, but it makes the illegality of it very clear)
    I am pretty sure that a possibility to aquire music in PDF-format would diminish the illegal copying of music, thus benefiting both bands, publishers and composers. Even more so if the price of the PDF-version reflects the lower cost to the publisher of distributing this way.
  11. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    I personally think this is an outstanding point. I suppose publishers do not want their music in digital format making it easy to copy and distribute (illegally). I have seen several orchestras and one brass band on YouTube use and digital music folder or iPads to keep all their current music. They turn the music by touching the screen. If a band wants to copy music, nothing will stop them. does sell a bit of its music as a digital download. Music on is all digital. The problem there is about 1 out of 15 or so melodies are worth downloading. With test pieces being announced and then the band has to order the piece -- waiting is a big disadvantage.

    I would hope publishers would start distributing written music in digital format (PDF files would be good). The idea of an electronic music folder is great but expensive. But soon, technology will overtake the baroque method of printing music and move into the digital age. A band's librarian could add and remove parts to an electronic folder. Musicians would then be able to take their electronic folder home to practice from completely updated.

    Here is a photo of an iPad setup:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  12. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    The tablet idea has been kicking around banders for at least 20 years, and its a good one in theory....... but quite apart from the cost, I write far too much on my parts to ever do away with good old fashioned paper and pencil!
    Mesmerist likes this.
  13. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    Short memory Doc. I recall arguing with you against Mr Roberts until you had a go at me for no good reason.
  14. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Does everyone have to fall out over trifles on here, these days?

    Doc clearly misread what Euphman2 wrote ("A band I had links to" clearly isn't talking about hyperlinks - it's talking about personal ties to the band or to people within it) and I can see how where he took that could cause offence, but it's easy enough to point it out (and if pointed out ought to be apologised for - but you kinda have to point it out first)... it should hardly be a surprise when there are minor disconnects between american english and real english (sorry Doc, can't be helped).

    (If there's previous I'm missing somewhere, I'm obviously not taking it into account...)
  15. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    On topic...

    I think it's fair to say that most bands are fair about buying new music - I've known some borrow a piece from another band in order to decide whether to buy it or not, and I've known some order a piece and send it immediately back (uncopied) upon playing it.

    At the same time, I would predict that 99% of bands do not have a 100% legal library... if nothing else, most bands have "that" arrangement of Aranjuez in the library, I would think most have the odd photocopied part to complete a set here and there, too.
  16. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    I think most of us have played "that arrangement of Aranjuez" although I did have one re-arranged to be exactly like the film version. Would you remind me please why it was illegal? Was it the family who decided to stop it?
  17. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    Thank you. My comment was in all innocence but the Doc took offence. I have defended him in the past but he appears to have forgotten that. I will not reply to Doc again as he seems to delight in taking umbrage at random.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  18. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Kinda goes both ways - everyone makes mistakes, his misrepresentation of what you said could be an innocent mistake if he simply read it wrong.
    To me, your response to him was OTT (atleast point out the mistake first!) and his response to you was even more OTT.

    From my perspective, this looks like a huge toys-out-of-pram moment from both sides over what looks like a simple failure of reading comprehension...
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I thought I knew the basic story of this, but checking back to what people have put online in the past about it has just made me more and more confused.

    - Nobody seems to dispute that Kevin Bolton's arrangement was made without requesting the needed permission from Joaquin Rodrigo (who lived until 1999, well after the arrangement was first made c.1980).
    - The story of the music has been stated to have a bearing on the sentiment of the composer and his wife Victoria (a concert pianist who died in 1997) - the concerto was written after their honeymoon, with the second movement in memoriam to their first child, who was stillborn. The couple kept quiet about this private dedication for many years, only revealing it in Victoria's 1992 autobiography. In such circumstances, it seems only natural to treat the music with a great deal of respect more than is usually afforded. We can see how an unauthorised arrangement might seem in poor taste, with the making of it a legal and personal liberty.

    But then the confusion starts...
    - There's a legal version for brass band by Darrol Barry (made I'm not sure when). Evidently the objection wasn't to the idea of a brass band arrangement existing, but specifically to the Bolton arrangement - whether it was the fact that it had spread widely illegally or whether there was a musical judgement as part of the objection - perhaps to the tchk-tchk-tchk-tchk cymbal beat, which always makes me cringe a little when it starts...
    - If it isn't legal, how does the film continue to be distributed? And how do stage productions continue to run of it? Presumably there's an exception, and presumably this cost somebody a lot of money.
    - There are a gazillion recorded versions of it out there for various combos that seem to mess with the sentiment of the piece more than the Bolton arrangement (see the list on the Wikipedia article on the piece for starters...), though I'm not sure how many of those were ever distributed as sheet music, or even written down.
    - There's another illegal version for brass band, by Alan Fernie, made I presume in good faith with full compliance, but later withdrawn at the request of the copyright holders. I've no idea why.

    If you ever find the definitive answer, let us know!

    Further reading for those who are bored:
    We talked about this in 2003
    Also in 2008
    Wiki page on the piece
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  20. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    I do not have a pram
    2nd tenor and Tom-King like this.

Share This Page