Tuesday in Santa Fe

02010-08-10 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Adam Solomon on August 5th, 2010 at 18:02
I have a program for Mac called Transcribe which lets you slow down music without changing pitch – I used it for those POP transcriptions, and will continue to do so once I’ve left Flamencoland here and can start thinking about other music again :) From what I can tell, this app goes one step beyond, in figuring out for you what note something is instead of you having to figure it out yourself, but once it’s sufficiently slowed down that doesn’t strike me as a very big step.

So where’s the moral bright line here, when does a piece of transcribing software become a Bad Thing? Is it when the computer figures the notes out for you? Is it when you use a program to slow down a song to aid transcription? Is it when you make your own transcription to begin with? (Rhetorical question, that last one.)

And let’s face it, how many artists who aren’t theater songwriters sell their own transcriptions? You don’t (or at least haven’t for most of your albums). The flamencos almost never do. Rock artists generally don’t. When the transcriptions aren’t available from the artist, what harm could a program like this possibly do?

I can think of one: that it makes figuring out a song too easy, that there’s a benefit to doing the transcription yourself, at least figuring out the notes yourself. But that doesn’t seem to be what you’re getting at…

Adam, it baffles me that you can’t seem to get a grip on this. You finished Yale and are obviously a bright young man, so I have to conclude that college simply does not teach anything regarding copyright and internet ethics. My feeling is that the teachers have no interest in the subject, because they don’t create music and because they are probably getting a kick out of seeing artists (((who brag about their freedom and who do not have a professor’s tenure))) taken down a few notches.

Yes, it is a big step, do be able to figure out the pitch – even though it is much easier once the music is slowed down. As I have mentioned ad nauseam it is not about a kid transcribing music for him/herself, the problem begins with that kid making his/her transcription subsequently available to all via the internet. It doesn’t matter whether for profit or not, although it acerbates the problem when the kid starts making money from the musician’s labor.

What harm can it possibly do? Well, when a person forgets a phone in a bar in San Jose, you are not supposed to take it home and sell it to the highest bidder. You hand it to the manager or the bar keeper. When you find a wallet in the school’s library, you bring it to the administrator’s office. My compositions belong to me. When you sell them, or give them away you steal from me. It absolutely makes no difference, whether I have published the music otherwise or not. It’s mine. And it truly is mine to NOT publish. You read Fountainhead, I believe, so why can’t you see that this is actually quite similar?

You see, when musicians are ill, or old, there are only two ways they can earn a living: from the sale of sheet music or the sale of recorded music. They can also derive income from radio play, but only if they are the composer – the USA is one of just a handful of coutries (((like Iran and China))) where radio only pays the composer, not the performer. That means if a European radio station plays my version of “Samba Pa Ti”, both Santana (composer) and I (performer) will receive a few pennies. When a radio station in the US of A plays the same recording, only Carlos receives some money. Of course there is also a chance one can license a song to a movie soundtrack or an ad campaign. So, what happens when sick or fragil and old musicians are deprived of all income besides performance? Less than one percent of all musicians can make a living from their work. And what part of that one percent actually makes enough money to save up something for old age?

To sum this up: a person may make a transcription of a piece of music for his/her own use. Obviously, figuring out a song is good ear training, but slowing down music and then figuring it out is also a great lesson. Publishing the music notation in any form, e.g. in a forum on the internet, is a no-no. The rights to the notation belong to the author and it doesn’t matter whether the sheet music has been published or not.

By the way, I have made quite a u-turn on this subject. For a while I thought that Creative Commons licensing was actually a good idea, but no longer. The new album cover shows no CC reference and all such references have been removed from the website, e.g. the LL.

Gerry on August 7th, 2010 at 12:00
Ottmar – I bought 3 of your tab books a few years back – I sure hope you made some money out of those sales. I feel so sorry for todays struggling musicians, people think that they can just help themselves to everything.
On the subject of ‘capo’ – this is a lazy option. Whatever happened to ‘ear training’ – much more rewarding. I think tab is a great help to beginners but one should try to move away from it as one developes. Trust your ears and listen closely. I think back to the late 80s – guys learning Steve Vai solos from tab before they could play a major scale.

Haven’t made much money with it, but the sale helped pay back the advance I received from Sony Publishing in 1992 – which in turn financed my studio.

PS: why do you think there are currently so many opportunities to study Flamenco in Spain? Well, it’s for the same reason that there are so many photo workshops everywhere. What do you think the Flamencos, or the photographers, prefer, selling their albums and performing, selling photobooks and doing photoshoots – or teaching? They are teaching because they must, which is also why they are selling guitars.

1 Comment

  1. Gerry

    ‘For a while I thought that Creative Commons licensing was actually a good idea, but no longer.’
    Could you explain a little more? Do you have any advice for musicians/ songwriters about protecting their work? I’ve been thinking about using an indepenent agent such as ‘protect my work’ who charge an annual fee around $50 but don’t know if it’s money well spent.


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