Copyright Kills New Music!
A short essay of Mehmet Okonsar about the
implications of (C) in new music creation.
- J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue (BWV1080),
performed on organ and harpsichord
- J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Klavier,
(BWV846-893) complete 3 CD set, performed on piano
- J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations (BWV988) ,
performed on piano
- J.S. Bach: The Musical Offering (BWV1079),
performed on electronic keyboards
- "Live at Salt Lake City", recital featuring
works by Liszt, Faure, Rameau, Scriabin and Mozart
- "Shadowy Arcade", free style, solo piano
- "Liszt-Modern", selections of most "modern"
pieces by Franz Liszt
- R. Schumann, Fantasy in C op.17 and Etudes
Year:3 Issue: 4 (October 2012)
Copyright Kills New Music!
Mehmet Okonsar, a Belgian pianist, composer, conductor and musicologist
was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He studied piano, composition and
orchestration at the Brussels Royal Conservatory and musicology at the
Istanbul Technical University. His primary teachers were J. Cl. Vanden
Eynden and Alexis Weissenberg for the piano and Madame Jacqueline
Fontyn for composition. He is laureate of numerous international piano
competitions including the Gina Bachauer. Besides his international
concertist career he is also prolific writer. Okonsar is an independent
artist, he runs his own management bureau, his CD label: LMO-Records
and his publishing house: "Inventor-Musicae". Actively involved in the
World Wide Web, Mehmet Okonsar is the founder of the classical music
and musicology dedicated blog-site:"inventor-musicae.com" as well as
the first classical-music video portal: "classicalvideos.net".
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Copyright Kills New Music By
Diabelli Variations op.120 Would Have Been Illegal In If Composed In
ideas are more suitable in the field of art music and probably less to
the point for "commercial music".
According to the music publishing
copyright rules, derivative works are not permitted. That means
composing variations, a very common practice all through the music
history, is not allowed now.
Just imagine the scenario around 1820's,
the time the greatest variations set, opus 120 by Beethoven, has been
composed based on another (famous) composer's (Anton Diabelli) theme...
Anton (or Antonio) Diabelli was born in 1781 and has been an Austrian
music publisher, editor and composer of Italian descent. He was best
known in his time as a publisher, he is known today as the composer of
a waltz on which Beethoven wrote his set of thirty-three Diabelli
Diabelli moved to Vienna in 1803 and began teaching piano and guitar.
He learned music publishing business starting as a proofreader for a
publisher while continuing to compose.
The firm, Cappi and Diabelli became popular by arranging pieces so they
could be played by amateurs. A master of promotion, Diabelli selected
widely-accessible music such as famous opera tune arrangements, dance
music, or hundreds of the latest popular comic theater songs
The firm soon established a reputation in more serious music circles by
championing the works of Franz Schubert. It was Diabelli who first
recognized the composer's potential, become the very first to publish
Schubert's work with "Der Erlkonig" in 1821.
Diabelli's firm continued to publish Schubert's work until 1823 when an
argument between Cappi and Schubert terminated their business.
Following Schubert's early death in 1828, Diabelli purchased a large
portion of the composer's massive musical estate from Schubert's
brother Ferdinand. As Schubert's total compositions number nearly one
thousand, Diabelli's firm was able to publish "new" Schubert works for
more than 30 years after the composer's death.
He died in Vienna at the age of 76.
[end Wikipedia part]
Now figure out one highly successful
composer and businessman Anton Diabelli composing something of a "hit"
and a relatively obscure Beethoven composing one of his greatest piano
works based i.e. "derivative" on that.
Now imagine today: can anyone compose, perform and publish a set of
variations on a song by Gershwin or a Tango by Piazzolla. I mean
without having to pay a small fortune to the copyright holders or
infringing the law.
We all were told the fabulation of Copyright protecting the
artist-creator. Is that true? Or is this a way to release our rights to
someone else or some company, who will "take care" of our intellectual
property. Sure, if we do so we will be able to get few pennies each
time our music is performed. But what it costs really to the composer,
to the society and to the world of Culture in general and broad sense
The music we have composed and "given" to others to
"protect it" is then removed from the free-circulation, it can not
serve as one inspiring source to other composers, it will most probably
refrain presenters to program it in concerts and festivals, as everyone
knows, those presenters have a very hard time getting things into
budget and therefore, the risk of presenting a more or less unknown
composer gets near suicide when they will also have to pay
non-negligible money for it.
People can not share it, you are not allowed to give a copy of it to a
friend, you can not play it on your broadcast station, you can not
reference it in your own work, you can not compose "on" it. With many
other restrictions that seems to me a very high price to pay for
getting a few pennies when and if the piece is performed somewhere.
Moreover, the idea of paying the composer when the piece is performed
is a non-sense too. Do you pay the electrician who have fixed your
installation once, each time you switch on the current?
Then how the composers will make a living, one may ask. No composer
(composing something else then purely commercial music) can live with
royalties. So he/she has to find a way to make a living and that is not
the point here. By thinking about ones own pocket money for one more
moment, instead of the elevated social concerns stated above, one may
also realize that allowing a wide and broad diffusion of one's own work
will bring more jobs, commissioned compositions to its creator.
Therefore it is far more profitable for the artist.
Artists should also know that there is
plenty of licenses which can protect their works and allow people to
share it as well. Copyleft and its various flavors, the GNU licenses,
the various kinds of Creative Commons licenses are all professionally
and expertly written and waiting for you to use them for your own work.
Adopting one of these for your work will not
only profit to the society and cultural life of it but also to you as
an artist. You will be able to reach people as you'd never thought
possible, you will be better known in the field and you work will get
to as many people as possible and isn't this the point in creating a
work of art?
|"The music is the same. The notes are only
guidelines. People who play the notes are not musicians." "Tzvi!" he
announced, "I've figured out why Jews are the best musicians."