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Copyright issues

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Often a complex and mind-boggling arena, I've had to learn the hard way how this works in relation to composing and arranging music. It has to be said that it's fairly obvious that the person or company who 'owns' a piece of music - for whatever reason - has to be the person or company that gives permission for it to be used in any other format than its original, and this is certainly true of arrangements of existing music. I know that there are thousands of illegal copies of music out there, and I also know that it is very difficult to police.

That aside, it has come to my attention that there are people out there who think it is quite in order to build up complete libraries of music by illegally copying and then scanning music onto computers to pass on to others in PDF fornat, presumably with the permission of whoever obtained the original printed copy of that music (or second/third/fourth generation 'illegal' copy I suppose). They are the only winners in this situation: the composer or copyright owner gets nothing, and neither do the publishers of the printed works.

As a composer and arranger relatively new to the intricacies of copyright law, I was amazed to find that illegal copies of my own works published or unpublished frequently turn up in many unexpected places. Some of these pieces were only printed and taken to a single band to see if the piece actually worked, and are as such without copyright permission. I have to say I'm not sure what my position in court would be with that. I certainly have not given my permission for the work to be copied and then passed on.

The bottom line is this. Why should composers, arrangers and publishers be the ones who lose out because of the deep seated desire of others to get printed music for free? Why is it that people who try and make a living out of music in its many forms are frequently expected to do so for free? I just don't get it. No one expects plumbers, electricians, bankers, bakers, mechanics, nurses, policemen, soldiers and so on to do their jobs for free, so why musicians? The net result of this illegal activity will be that there won't be any new music for you - not legally in any case - and you'll all be moaning about playing the same old stuff, and people like me will stop writing any new music.

So, if you know someone who's doing this - tell them. If you or your band have any of my music that you have obtained illegally - look out. That also goes for bands who have properly obtained my music but are happy to allow it to be illegally copied and given to other bands. As you can probably tell, I'm very unhappy about this and I will take it further. I am currently considering making a formal complaint to the Council of West of England Brass Band Associations and other band associations on the subject. I'm now on a mission.

Think of it this way: everytime you illegally copy a piece of my music, you're 'stealing' about £50 from me. Everytime you give a score and set of parts to someone else you're 'stealing' about £50 from me. It soon adds up, and publishers take a very dim view of it. So do I.

So, if you want new printed music - buy it.

Check your libraries and your consciences.

You have been warned.


New publications

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Great news! Musikverlag Frank (Mf Publications in Switzerland) are going to be publishing 'Excalibur', the new version of 'The St Michael Ley Line', 'Phaeton Fantasy' and 'Heroes of the Sky'.

Watch this space - I'll let you know when they are available.



St Michael Ley Line

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Ley_LineAs it's ten years since my composition 'The Ley Line of St Michael' won the 60th Anniversary composing competition held by the South West Brass Band Association, I thought it would be a good time to revisit it. I've reworked the whole thing from beginning to end, have added some detail, changed harmonies, made melodies more robust, and have made the harmonic rhythm more 'square' - if you see what I mean. I have completely revised the ending, which is now a splendid romp with a much more challenging style.

I hope you like it!



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I have completely reworked 'Avalon Rhapsody' from beginning to end, and the result is a much more cohesive, playable work featuring some broadly written solo cornet solos. I've also renamed it 'Excalibur'. I have taken out more than I've put in, and the resulting work will be much more accessible to lower section bands.

Have a try - it'll make a great 'Own Choice' 2nd / 3rd Section test piece.



Tiverton Town Band - Musical Director

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I've been keeping this a closely guarded secret for some time, but now I can make a formal announcement. I've been appointed as Musical Director of  Tiverton Town Band as of  Monday 9th November 2015 - following their very respectable 3rd place in the 4th Section of the SWBBA Championships in Torquay last weekend.

I'm really excited about this as those of you who know me will understand. I've been 'without a band' for several years as a conductor and am delighted that this opportunity has arisen, and I fully intend to give it 150%. I'm looking forward to the Regional Contest in Torquay next March, where I'll be taking the band through their paces with the  work 'The Journal of Phileas Fogg' by one of my musical heroes - Peter Graham.

Update: Sadly Tiverton Town Band were placed a disappointing 18th on the day - arguably not a fair result - but the band have taken it well and are raring to go for the future.

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