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Music Open Source

Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks a Libre Recording of a Newly-Completed Bach Work (kickstarter.com) 87

Slashdot reader DevNull127 writes: Robert Douglass's Kickstarter campaigns have resulted in free fan-funded open source recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations and the 48 pieces in his Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. "Even Richard Stallman found these recordings, and he promptly wrote an email encouraging us to drop the word 'Open' in favor of 'Free' or 'Libre'," Douglas tells BoingBoing (adding "when RMS writes you telling you to change the name of your music project, you change the name of your music project.")

Now Douglass is crowdfunding a libre recording of Bach's last masterpiece, 20 fugues developed from a single theme called "the Art of the Fugue". "He wanted to culminate in a final fugue that literally spells his name, B-A-C-H, in musical notation," remembers Douglass, but "unfortunately, Bach died before completing that work, and it has remained a musical mystery (and tragedy) for hundreds of years." Fortunately Kimiko Ishizaka completed the work in 2016, "based on the music that Bach left us... This new composition will also be released under a Creative Commons license as part of the new OpenScore.cc project... Kimiko is eminently grateful to her fans and supporters of free culture for allowing her to focus all of her energies on growing the public domain and bringing the music of J.S. Bach to a far broader audience than ever imagined."

They're also rewarding supporters with tickets to two live performances -- one at Carnegie Hall in New York City and one in Hamburg's new Elbphilharmonie.

Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks a Libre Recording of a Newly-Completed Bach Work

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  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @04:16AM (#55001959)

    Douglas tells BoingBoing (adding "when RMS writes you telling you to change the name of your music project, you change the name of your music project.")

    Really? I think quite a lot of musicians would tell him RMS to take a hike.

    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      I'm only an amateur musician, and I'd tell Richard to take a hike, too.

      -jcr

    • Case in point -- when RMS told Linus to change the name of his O/S to GNU/Linux, Torvalds immediately complied.
  • by sittingnut ( 88521 ) <sittingnut&gmail,com> on Sunday August 13, 2017 @04:30AM (#55001985) Homepage

    as copyright periods run out, in next few decades, recordings of music from earlier part of 20th century (and increasingly great quality) will flood the audience.
    even more than new libre recordings, i think there should be a project to catalog and publish such music to public.

    • by RDW ( 41497 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @06:32AM (#55002211)

      as copyright periods run out, in next few decades, recordings of music from earlier part of 20th century (and increasingly great quality) will flood the audience.
      even more than new libre recordings, i think there should be a project to catalog and publish such music to public.

      Quite a few bargain-price European labels are doing a good job of releasing out-of copyright historical recordings. Here in the UK, we were up to 1963 before copyright was extended from 50 years to 70, but not retroactively, so the 1947-63 period is still public domain. This covers most of the classic mono era and takes us intro the period when stereo was becoming mainstream. Glenn Gould's excellent (mono) Goldberg Variations from 1955, and probably his incomplete Art of Fugue on the organ recorded in 1962, should be out of copyright. It would be nice to see a central resource for making these recordings freely available, though there's apparently some legal ambiguity about whether you can re-distribute somebody else's digital re-master or have to rip from a contemporary disc (which is a challenging task from crackly 78s, where overenthusiastic noise reduction can kill the atmosphere). On the other hand, modern artists who want to make a living releasing Free recordings should be supported and encouraged.

      • If this were to be the case, why aren't people making tons of money by putting this en masse on the web like "Project Gutenberg" except this time with lots of ad-revenue and paid subscriptions? I would! Except there's always some bloke who claims his granddad played the trumpet on that recording and wasn't paid for hire, did his "own interpretation/ad-lib", and hasn't died within the last 70 years, so please line up at the cash register.
      • I can't stand Glenn Gould's recordings because of his irritating humming in the background. Angela Hewitt's or Murray Perahia's recordings are much better, and 2CD sets of same can be had for the price of a few cups of coffee, so why would anyone want to slum it with old mono recordings (unless you're one of those strange Glenn Gould worshippers)?

    • This is EXACTLY what the Copyright Industry is trying to prevent. They do not want large amounts of formerly-copyrighted recordings to hit the Internet, searchable, streamable, people making remixes, etc.

      The Libary of Congress offers a National Jukebox, featuring recordings taken from early shellac disks. For instance the St. Louis Rag [loc.gov] recorded 1906-10-05, i.e. more than 110 (one hundred and ten) years ago. And what does the US government tell their citizens?

      Rights & Access
      This recording is protected by state copyright laws in the United States. The Library of Congress has obtained a license from rights holders to offer it as streamed audio only. Downloading is not permitted. The authorization of rights holders of the recording is required in order to obtain a copy of the recording. Contact jukebox@loc.gov for more information.

      Compare to:

      U.S. Constitution, Article I Section 8 Clause 8:
      The Congress shall have power (...) To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

    • It's incredibly optimistic to think copyrights will ever run out. Do you think Disney will allow people to make new Mickey Mouse stories? Excuses will be made, and the law will be changed again. For Disney.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    He wants to spell his name in musical notation?

    Since when is there an "H" is musical notation?

    • by myid ( 3783581 )

      He wants to spell his name in musical notation?

      Since when is there an "H" is musical notation?

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      In music, the BACH motif is the motif, a succession of notes important or characteristic to a piece, B flat, A, C, B natural. In German musical nomenclature, in which the note B natural is written as H and the B flat as B, it forms Johann Sebastian Bach's family name.

      That's what the article says, but I don't understand it. The only hand-written music on that Wikipedia web page shows B A C H written as four notes on a treble clef staff, not written as four letters. (This is on the right edge of the web page, half-way down.) So I don't know what they mean by saying that B natural is written as H, and B flat is written as B.

      • Re:H? (Score:5, Informative)

        by the_other_chewey ( 1119125 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @08:01AM (#55002409)

        In music, the BACH motif is the motif, a succession of notes important or characteristic to a piece, B flat, A, C, B natural. In German musical nomenclature, in which the note B natural is written as H and the B flat as B, it forms Johann Sebastian Bach's family name.

        That's what the article says, but I don't understand it. The only hand-written music on that Wikipedia web page shows B A C H written as four notes on a treble clef staff, not written as four letters. (This is on the right edge of the web page, half-way down.) So I don't know what they mean by saying that B natural is written as H, and B flat is written as B.

        The explanation above is correct, but very unclearly worded.

        In German nomenclature, the notes of the c major scale are read as:
        C-D-E-F-G-A-H(-C)
        There is a note called "B": The one a half tone under H.

        So this [wikimedia.org] is indeed read "B-A-C-H" in German
        (where it would of course also be considered to be written as such...).

        • Yeah, it threw me when I went to join the local Musikverein. I thought they were messing with me.
        • by myid ( 3783581 )

          So if a German person looks at a B flat on a staff, and if they wrote or spoke the name of the note, would they write or say, "That note is a B"?

          And if they looked at a B natural on a staff, and if they wrote or spoke the name of the note, would they write or say, "That note is an H"?

          That's interesting. I found a good chart here [wikipedia.org].

  • The /. title calls it a "Newly-Completed Bach Work." Just to be clear, the final fugue from "Art of Fugue" has been "completed" many times over the past two centuries. Musicians as eminent as Riemann, Busoni, and Tovey have proposed completions that have been published, performed, and recorded. Wikipedia has a good article.

    I haven't heard Ishizaka's version, but no matter how fine it may be it cannot be what Bach would have composed had he finished the final fugue. At one time the Bach scholar Christoph

    • Would love to hear Bach-esque completions of works such as the apparently unfinished 1st movement of the Pastorale (BWV 590). I have one in my head that I've never managed to write down, but it is really just regurgitated elements from the piece itself. I know Bach idioms well, having listened multiple times through his completed works (and dozens to hundreds through the organ and keyboard works since I'm an amateur organist). But part of his genius is that he rarely does the formulaic thing one might ex
  • Should be "When Richard Stallman tells you to do something: You install vim."

  • Did Bach die before completing his self-referential piece, or did it kill him? Was he drawn into it? Is he still in there? A far better fate than a misplaced accidental, being run over by a Ricecar, impaled by a contrapuntal counterpoint or a baroquen heart. When great composers decompose to compositions of rich melodious compost, the wit oft exceeds the whiff.

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