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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000040.txt from 1998/04

From: Roger Garrett <>
Subj: Re: Arranging copyright works [was Re: Two copying questions]
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 18:37:00 -0500

On Wed, 1 Apr 1998, Mitch Bassman wrote:
> A couple of years ago, (in my role as the musical director of a choir) I
> took a (legally purchased) piano-vocal arrangement of a current song (not
> in the public domain) and made my own arrangement (in the same key but with
> different voicing) for SATB singers, flute, guitar, and bass. We performed
> it (not for any fee). Several people remarked how wonderful the arrangement
> was and that I ought to publish it. I declined, believing fully that I had
> violated the copyright by not having asked the composer and copyright owner
> in advance for permission to make the arrangement. Years later there is
> still no published arrangement of that song for SATB, and we really wanted
> to perform that song to honor a special person whose favorite it was.

Don't feel too badly Mitch, I did the same thing by accident with a work
for Clarinet Choir that I arranged from an orchestra work called St.
Paul's Suite by Gustav Holst. I contacted the publisher (Boosey & Hawkes
I think) and asked if they had an interest in publishing it. They told me
I had broken copyright, but they granted permission for one more
performance with the idea that I was to ask permission each time. If I
had asked permission to arrange to begin with, they probably would have
granted it with stipulations as to number of performances and a statement
on the program regarding the agreement.

> So, I now ask the copyright mavens, how bad was I? If the copyright owner
> finds out, will he or she come to my house and break all of my clarinet
> reeds? If I did want to publish the arrangement (believing that a market
> exists for it), should I have contacted the authorities in advance? What
> now? Dare we sing this song ever again?

No......but don't tell them you arranged it. Simply aske the publisher
for permission to arrange with a general description of what you have in
mind. Once you have secured written permission (can take 6 months to a
year), you are set. And...find out when copyright is up.....or better,
ask after the fact if they would like to publish it or give permission to
have it published (for a fee) with another publishing house.

Good luck!

Roger Garrett
the other lone arranger

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