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Orchestra To Turn Copyright-Free Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music 327

Posted by timothy
from the going-the-extra-stanza dept.
destinyland writes "An online music site has raised over $13,000 to hire a full orchestra to record royalty-free classical music. ('"Although the actual symphonies are long out of copyright, there is separate protection for every individual performance by an orchestra," notes one technology site.') MusOpen has reached their fundraising goal for both the orchestra and a recording facility, and will now record the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky. And because their fundraising deadline doesn't end until Tuesday, they've promised to add additional recordings for every additional $1,000 raised."
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Orchestra To Turn Copyright-Free Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @10:56AM (#33552664)

    Here me out on this again, okay I know it sounds gross.. but hear me out 15 btw.

    so my teacher let me sit at her desk cause she's cool like that and i raised my hand first. im on my period (sry TMI i know) and i have a heavy flow. i could feel the blood coming out and i didnt get a chance to change my tampon that day. so i pretended to drop my pencil and i went under the desk and i slipped on a tampon from my purse. i believe in female rights and i support breast feeding in public, etc.. so i dont see a problem with this, as long as no one else sees anything. but as i was taking out the used tampon the guy that i kinda like (who im also friends with) came over to get a sheet of looseleaf and he saw everything. i mean i shaved and everything but he saw blood running down my leg and it smelled fishy. and he told EVERYONE and he wont talk to me and people are saying that im grimy, a whore, unclassy, white trash, etc. and i dont know what to do, advice?

  • Re:Broadway? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:06AM (#33552716) Homepage

    > Why aren't they doing what broadway did? They can replace the musicians with synthesizers and record MORE music to protect copyrights. ...clearly not someone that listens to or appreciates classical music.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:06AM (#33552718)
    On the planet, there certainly is. In the United States, probably not.
  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FritzTheCat1030 (758024) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:06AM (#33552720)
    This is great news, but that's 26 complete symphonies, probably something along the lines of 17 hours of music (at an average of 40 minutes each...that's probably a little low actually). Add in rehearsal times and I have serious doubts about the feasibility of doing this for $13,000. I wish them luck, but I'd rather have less music at a higher quality than more with an amateur-level ensemble.
  • Re:Broadway? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mitchells00 (1181549) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:08AM (#33552732)
    Synthesizers are never as good as the real thing, they don't have the ability to add certain qualities to the music like emotion. Any true musician would understand the passion that flows through their instrument as they play; very much like having sex. Yes the synths can sound very convincing, but they're just not the same thing. They don't have the level of human error and randomness built in.
  • by pronobozo (794672) <pronobozo.pronobozo@com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:15AM (#33552768) Homepage
    This is along my train of thought. I think people should stop complaining about copyright and start taking action and put their own works under creative commons. It's a free world, if someone wants to restrict their work, they should have the right. If you don't like their system, start creating things and put it under some type of free license. We can live in a world where both systems exists and guess what, it already does! If enough people support it, it'll drown out your hated restricted content. Heck, all my work is under a reasonable CC license and it has only ever benefited me. I've had more than 500,000 free downloads, and amazingly, it hasn't made my life worse or destroyed the planet :-)
  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#33552876) Homepage Journal
    Did you ever think that maybe the people involved are highly skilled professionals who are doing this for their love of the music and all time and resources are being volunteered? If that's the case, $13,000 can go a long way. To just assume that the people are cheap amateurs is ridiculously short-sighted.
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:37AM (#33552916)

    Most symphony orchestras get taxpayer support. When they record, it's often subsidised by the federal government, or state and local ones. In many cases, the people who manage and broker deals for these orchestras artificially split the funding, so that all the necessary preliminaries to album sales are supposedly based on private investment/contributions. They treat it like all the practice sessions for a live performance are taxpayer subsidised, but the practice sessions for the album are paid for by private sources, so that the law is technically being observed. It's part of that whole "socialise the costs and privatise the profits" school of economics. It makes no sense as a matter of fact instead of law - does anyone really want to claim that they practiced the same piece for live performance and recording, but only put the part of that practice that was funded by one method or the other into their performances. "Yeah, I deliberately held back on that Oboe cadenza, so it didn't sound like all the practice I had contributed to my leet symphonizing skillz!".
              What the federal government funds is normally held in the public trust, not subject to copyright. I know several symphony soloists and conductors who are generally uncomfortable with this legal ruse, and have heard accounts of many more. Most orchestras don't have the stature to sell a lot of recordings, and taxpayer funding generally takes any profit from CD sales into account, so it seldom benefits the performers much, if at all. It's more likely they see the same overall pay, with a shift in just when they get each check because some of it is coming as royalties after sales figures are processed. It makes bookkeeping for symphonies much more complex, and some managing directors see it as a big gamble, where they might get lucky and see really impressive sales, but doing classical music at the major orchestra level isn't gambling to most people, it's a steady job with a safe floor for income. Just like some people in rock/pop/rap/whatever become studio musicians because they want a steady paycheck instead of a high risk venture, people who shoot for a job in the second row violins for the New York Philharmonic want a reliable career instead of a 1 in 10,000 chance of a mansion with leopard skin covered volleyball courts.

  • Re:Great! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:43AM (#33552988)

    Gotta feeling there's a musician's union or two that may say otherwise.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:57AM (#33553096)

    How in blazes does a *retroactive* copyright extension encourage the creation of the work? Has everybody in power forgotten the whole frapping point of copyright??

  • Re:First (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:05PM (#33553152)

    How in blazes does a *retroactive* copyright extension encourage the creation of the work? Has everybody in power forgotten the whole frapping point of copyright??

    To appease your donors and get re-elected? Nope. They still remember.

  • OK, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:09PM (#33553170)
    There's more to a performance of an orchestral work than the employment of "a renowned orchestra". What conductor will they use? Nowadays, most of the major orchestras choose their conductors (as opposed to the opposite-way-around practice of yesteryear), but I wonder if their employment contracts will allow the conductors to do this sort of "pro-bono" work.

    I'm not saying this couldn't or shouldn't happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if this issue that will comes up.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:20PM (#33553274)

    I play around with sampled music all the time because it is a lot of fun, and I CAN'T afford to hire out an orchestra just to goof around. If you want to check it out go to, they are the samples I like. Very realistic. You can do some amazingly realistic performances with them too... But it is a real pain. To do so you have to spend a lot of time programming (MIDI programming, not computer programming). It requires a lot of adjusting what sample is used, the various data (modulation, expression, etc) sent to the sampler and so on. So you probably can make something that sounds convincingly real, if you spend a lot of time.

    However with a musician, you just tell them what you want and they give it to you. You can say "Make it sadder," or "I need this part to be light, this part to be heavy." You can be vague and use emotional terms, and they can handle that and give you what you want.

    So unless you are really skilled with your sequencer and have tons of time on your hands, you aren't going to get a highly realistic sound. I sure can't. I can get it pretty realistic, which is all I want for fooling around, but I could have something sound much better and much more like I want just by giving it to an orchestra along with some instructions. As it stands I can spend an hour choosing string samples and mixing them to try and get the sound I want, where a real strings section would take 5 minutes and get it right on.

  • Re:First (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:26PM (#33553314) Homepage Journal

    I'd say it's pretty straightforward. If I know I stand a good chance of receiving the benefits of a retroactive copyright extension, I'll then be more likely to create and publish a work, because I'll have reason to believe my income from doing so will be greater.

  • Re:First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unequivocal (155957) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:29PM (#33553330)

    Mod parent funny people

  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:21PM (#33553588) Homepage Journal
    And yet more assumptions are being made. If thees people are actual professionals, they don't need a lot of time rehearsing as they probably have already played these symphonies many times over. You're also making an assumption that this is going to be a 9-to-5 job, when it might actually be an evening/weekend recording session. The musicians involved might be unemployed or they might housewives/househusbands while the other member of the family brings in the money thus allowing these people to volunteer to do this. There are many people of college age who are ridiculously talented and might be able to give their time during a semester break. These are just some examples.

    So, once again unless you actually know these people and can ask every one of them about their financial situation as well as get the specifics of these recording sessions, you're making wild assumptions that could very well have no basis in fact whatsoever.
  • by XorNand (517466) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:24PM (#33553610)

    I'm sure there's more to the story than that. Did the musician assign the copyright of his songs to a recording company? If so, then I'm sure he was monetarily compensated for doing so when he signed that agreement and understood that they were no longer "his" songs. And did the ASCAP have some sort of agreement with the bar that the owners were to ensure that no unauthorized performances were conducted?

    I'm not saying that these terms weren't laughably restrictive and counter to free culture. But the situation likely boils down a contract dispute--one that was entered into freely by all parties involved. If that's the case, there's enough blame to be spread around for agreeing to such terms. The ASCAP would not have had standing to sue if some random songwriter was performing in some random bar.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:04PM (#33553820)

    I can well believe it. Search around small business forums, you'll find dozens of examples worldwide of small businesses being hassled by ASCAP or their local equivalent.

    IANAL, so I'm not going to go into the legal rights or wrongs, but AFAICT the general form is that if the business owner says that they don't need to pay eg. because their music is all composed and performed by the live singer who comes in every Tuesday, they get shown a piece of legislation that suggests otherwise and given an ultimatum - pay up, stop the music or we'll see you in court for so many hundreds of thousands of ${CURRENCY} you'll have no choice but to declare yourself bankrupt.

    Most small business owners are more interested in running their business than fighting a lengthy court battle - if you're in court for a day that's a day when you're not actually working on the thing that's supposed to provide your living - and so fold.

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:38PM (#33554046) Journal

    I agree the life+forever extensions are too much, but most people want to leave something for their heirs and whether that's cash or stocks or property or royalties it's still money.

    So why can't they leave cash or stocks or property which they earned from their job writing/composing/performing etc. just like everyone else? I don't see the families of teachers, policemen or nurses etc. continuing to get income for their family after they die because of their job (excluding retirement or life insurance which authors/composers etc could also purchase). You could argue that a work takes X years to make the money which would support a fixed term copyright of X years but dependence on the life of the creator is not justifiable.

  • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:21PM (#33554370)

    so, the residents have 2 choices
    1)Pay a piracy tax and dont pirate--then whats the point of the tax
    2)Pay a piracy tax and pirate-- risk going bankrupt

    wonder how such rules can exist

  • Re:Next time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:51PM (#33555222)

    You can't put going to a concert, classical or modern in a CD! The music might be there, but this is only a small part of it.

    The audience participates, the sights, the vibrations. All of the things making it worth going. Performers so dead they are like playing a CD are no performers at all.

  • by drdrgivemethenews (1525877) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:10PM (#33556902)
    And to assume that even a collection of highly skilled professionals will somehow instantly become a wonderful orchestra is equally arrogant. It takes time, much rehearsal, a great conductor and great section coaches to produce an ensemble capable of truly brilliant music.

    Shop around. There are tons of CDs out of performances at the level we're likely to get here, usually for a couple bucks each. I applaud the effort, but let's be realistic about our expectations.
  • by adunn (1899332) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:38PM (#33557086)
    Yes but Im not asking you to compare champagnes, I'm asking to produce something we can all drink for free :)
  • by kocsonya (141716) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:24PM (#33557362)

    "the motive to hurt the RIAA trumps the motive to simply enrich the culture"

    Hurting the RIAA, MPAA et al *does* enrich the culture.

  • Oh, please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by professorguy (1108737) on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:56PM (#33564996)

    They will imbue their performance with some level of emotion. Computers can't do that.

    Not true. If there is some characteristic of the music that you can hear, then it is a modification of the pressure wave that reaches your ear. If it's a matter of changing the waveform, then computers absolutely CAN do it.

    I admit that it would take a lot of research to discover what we perceive as "emotion" in the music, but if it's there then it can be emulated. However, let's admit right out of the gate that if you played Piece A to an audiophile and told him it was humans, then Piece A again and told him it was machines, guess which one he'll hear the "emotion" in!

You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough. -- Joseph E. Levine