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

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 hessian (467078) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:30AM (#33552856) Homepage Journal

    MusOpen has a great idea and I am glad to see them pursuing it. Since I've started buying classical music, I've found I'm getting more enjoyment per work than I ever did with popular music.

    Before MusOpen, there was the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's giveaway of 10 symphonies:

    http://kco.radio4.nl/index.php?lang=en [radio4.nl]

    http://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/page.ocl?pageid=109&lang=en [concertgebouworkest.nl]

    My favorites are the Schubert, Saint-Saens, Bruckner and Beethoven.

  • Re:Great! (Score:3, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:37AM (#33552926) Homepage

    If you read the project description, you'll see that they are in fact hiring an orchestra to do this. Nothing wrong with that IMO.

    If anyone is unhappy with the quality of the performers they hire.... recruit your own. That's what the public domain is all about.

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

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:38AM (#33552940) Journal

    Very few orchestras make money from recordings, and even fewer make them from recordings of public domain music. The definitive recording of Beethoven's symphonies, for example, is usually regarded as being Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, recorded in 1968 and 1972. Compare the sales of this to any other recording of Beethoven's symphonies, and you'll see a massive difference.

    Orchestras make money in two ways: concerts, and commissioned recordings (like the ones in TFA). For example, last night I went to the Prom in the Park, where the BBC National Orchestra of Wales were performing. If you read Slashdot, you've probably heard them before - they recorded the them tune to Doctor Who (which they played last night just after the Stravinsky). They also played a Karl Jenkins piece, which is still very much in copyright (it's only a few years old).

    It's not like people will stop writing music and they'll still want orchestras to record it. It's not like live performances will be completely replaced by recordings, either. The Prom in the Park was broadcast on the radio (and streamed online), and our contingency plan in case of rain was to listen to it in my house and have the picnic indoors. The weather was nice though, so we decided to pay the entrance fee and go and listen to it in person.

  • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella (173770) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#33552956) Homepage

    That's what I was thinking too, in the comments it was asked but the answers are fuzzy:

    1. What orchestra(s) are you planning on using
    2. Who is conducting?
    3. Who is mixing the recording?

    1. orchestra depends on total raised. I'm hoping for a mixture of conservatories + professional orchestra to lower cost and increase total music, but it depends on what we can negotiate and the total raised. Some orchestras we are considering include London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic and several others that regularly record movie soundtracks.
    2. I have several contacts who would conduct for free, I'd also like to try contacting some well known conductors to see if they would be interested. My backup would be a for hire's conductor that orchestras use to record with
    3. Several orchestras we've spoken to include those kinds of services as they regularly record for movie soundtracks

    I read that as "might possibly be considering it for one of them if we exceed our budget, I doubt you'll get the London Symphony to record it for $500/symphony...

  • Re:First (Score:5, Informative)

    by RDW (41497) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:52AM (#33553044)

    Great effort in a noble cause. However, they note in the original article that:

    'Right now, if you were to buy a CD of Beethoven's 9th symphony, you would not be legally allowed to do anything but listen to it. You wouldn't be able to share it, upload it, or use it as a soundtrack to your indie film- yet Beethoven has been dead for 183 years and his music is no longer copyrighted. There is a lifetime of music out there, legally in the public domain, but it has yet to be recorded and released to the public.'

    Here in the UK, the copyright term on recorded music is currently only 50 years. This means that most of the core classical repertoire is already available in this form, often as very high quality recordings (they knew what they were doing by the 50s!) of great performances. Now that the cash cows of the 60s are about to fall into the public domain, the record industry has lobbied for an extension, and draft EU legislation aims to push back the term to 70 years:

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/innovation/music-copyright-divisive-despite-meps-backing/article-181703 [euractiv.com]

    There are still some great performances of that Beethoven symphony from the 1930s, of course, but the 60s recordings in near-modern sound will be off limits for another couple of decades.

  • Re:Yawn . . . (Score:5, Informative)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:07PM (#33553162)

    For everyone here, content is supposed to be free for the taking, yet no one wants to pay for the "creating" of it. Interesting.

    Actually, 363 people want to pay for creating it. At least when I checked... More now I am sure.

  • Re:Open your wallets (Score:5, Informative)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:12PM (#33553202)

    If you're for releasing to the public domain then why do you care if the RIAA survives? Think about it.

    I can not find the link, but a bar was fined almost out of business for allowing a musician to play his own music (written by him) without paying a performance royalty to ASCAP. So that is why I want them gone. I actually would not mind paying for music, as long as none of the money goes to those marauding bastards.

  • Re:First (Score:5, Informative)

    by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:23PM (#33553600) Homepage Journal

    As for the "point" of copyright, it is to give authors a temporary monopoly as incentive to create art that will eventually fall into the possession of all the People & enrich everybody.

    It seems some in the US Congress and EU Parliament have forgotten that.

    I'm not sure that's true outside of the US. Here that is the purpose ("to promote the progress of science and the useful arts"), but I think originally [wikipedia.org] it was supposed to help by replacing previous stronger but more ad-hoc monopoly rights.

    That page also has an interesting (anonymous) quote from when the first copyrights started to expire in 1735: "I see no reason for granting a further term now, which will not hold as well for granting it again and again, as often as the old ones expire... it will in effect be establishing a perpetual monopoly, a thing deservedly odious in the eye of the law; it will be a great cramp to trade, a discouragement to learning, no benefit to authors, but a general tax on the public; and all this only to increase the private gain of booksellers.".

  • Re:Open your wallets (Score:5, Informative)

    by gizmonic (302697) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @01:38PM (#33553700) Homepage

    I had never actually heard of this before, but man, what complete bullshit. And a single google search provides tons of examples, if not that specific case:

    http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2010/06/09/pay_to_play/ [boston.com]
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100518/2341299481.shtml [techdirt.com]
    http://www.woodpecker.com/writing/essays/phillips.html [woodpecker.com]

    At least Bruce seems to have some common sense (make sure you read the update):

    http://gothamist.com/2010/02/04/the_boss_sues_midtown_pub.php [gothamist.com]

    That pretty much represents the final straw on the camel's back for me. From this point forward, I will only ever pay for independent music. If your band is a member of any of those organizations, I will be performing civil disobedience against unwarranted extortion, and just pirate your shit if I want to have it. If you don't like it, leave those groups, and I'll buy it. And for the record, this is coming from someone who legally owns nearly 1000 CDs, and a good couple thousand iTunes songs (where the 99 cents was worth more than buying a full cd for one or two songs). But fuck it. I went to a lot of trouble (and expense, over the years) to do what I thought was the right thing. Apparently, I was wrong, since I was merely funding the absurdities of this kind of bullshit. My apologies to everyone else for helping promote this situation with my purchases. It won't happen again.

  • Re:Great! (Score:4, Informative)

    by fizzup (788545) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:06PM (#33553846)

    At 7:00 this morning, they were at $13K. Now, it's 11:00 and they are nearly at $23K, velocity is over $2,000 per hour right now, and there are over 50 hours remaining. Now that this is on slashdot, it's only a matter of time before it gets on digg, reddit, and becomes a twitternado.

    If they raise $100K, that's starting to get into the range of reasonable contracts to have great orchestras record 26 symphonies with named-above-the-orchestra conductors. Even if Naxos has a kitten over this and starts to strong-arm, $100K will turn some heads.

    Should you choose to part with three CDs worth of your hard earned money - $50 - that will get you a dvd of everything musopen [musopen.com] has ever recorded in this way. Lossless. And if you have some doubts about the quality of their recordings, download a few before you give money. It's public domain, yeah?

  • Re:Open your wallets (Score:2, Informative)

    by regularstranger (1074000) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:19PM (#33553934)
    Haha... you've never dealt with ASCAP. If you have a television in your bar, they send people out, and you get a notice in the mail that because the TV has the potential to play protected music, then you are in violation and must provide royalties. They threaten to take you to court. Few people will call their bluff, and if they do, that doesn't mean that that ASCAP goes away, or that it is actually a bluff. The musician in a bar thing is not surprising at all. I understand that in most cases when you hear a story like this that there must be something more to it, but when ASCAP is involved, it really is that bad. Think about it... pretty much every restaurant/store you visit is paying these fees, even if they don't play music over their speakers. If they aren't, they have been harassed by ASCAP, and ASCAP has money for lots of lawyers.
  • by jensend (71114) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:23PM (#33554396)
    The donations are now nearly up to $25000- that could be doubled if people vote for Musopen [refresheverything.com] in Pepsi's "Refresh Project."
  • by fbjon (692006) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:04PM (#33554822) Homepage Journal
    "We are not there yet" when it comes to AI as well.

    The difficulty is in producing the algorithm, not in its possible existence. In fact, the best algorithm we know of is a distributed system with a complex neural network in each node that can asynchronously produce a part of the sound, but keeps timing right using a simple message passing protocol.

    Not to be too sarcastic, but it's called 'hiring an orchestra'. At the moment that gives you the most bang for the buck, and I don't expect the situation to progress any more quickly than AI or general purpose robots. That's not to say such progress wouldn't be exiting to this geek's mind, but I don't quite see the point of explicitly doing things the hard way when there's a ton of highly skilled musicians out there.

    Anyway, the words "no matter how" are clearly too strong, but I'd say you can tack on "for the foreseeable future" at the end.

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

    by fbjon (692006) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:14PM (#33554906) Homepage Journal
    I use those and like them, but you're missing a crucial point: those sound best when the music is produced for them specifically, within their limitations. Try something a little more 'out there', and you'll have a hard time coaxing the virtual synths to cope.
  • by Mike610544 (578872) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:19PM (#33556068)

    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.

    It's not just the time/effort. The members of a good orchestra have devoted their lives to mastering their instruments. They know the context of the piece being played. They will imbue their performance with some level of emotion. Computers can't do that.

    MIDI orchestrations can be made to sound incredibly realistic. Some of the LA Scoring Strings [audiobro.com] demos are amazing, but it's an incredibly realistic simulation of soulless robots playing stringed instruments.

  • Re:Great! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @12:41AM (#33596504)

    I am a professional symphony violist.

    To hire a professional orchestra would be almost impossible because we are a bunch of union-ized zealots that don't do anything, especially recording, without being compensated at union rates. At least in the U.S. You could never raise enough money to record more than a few movements.

    (Maybe if you went to Eastern Europe you could find some starving orchestra that would play for peanuts and sound acceptable)

    Secondly, you would never have near the same quality that has already been recorded dozens of times by the world's greatest orchestra: Berlin, New York, Cleveland, Boston, etc.

    The recordings are out there - just google around a little bit. Check out Groove Shark. You'll have no problem finding great recordings of great orchestras playing the standard orchestral literature.

The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of space and time. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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