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legality question

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by tbassist4, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. Well, i've been attempting to learn Bottesini's Elegia in D, but I've run into a problem. I have no solo strings, and probably cannot afford them. I would tune my orchestral strings up a tone, but i've heard that its bad for the strings, and they will become too stretched out, therefore becomming very loose and unplayable. I'd assume that the increased tension isn't good for the bridge either. Is it illegal to take that sheet music, enter it into Finale and put it into the correct key for orchestral tuning? I own two copies of the song. I was just wondering if anyone knew off the top of their head. Thanks in advance.
  2. The music is public domain. You can do whatever you like with it. You can even sell it, if you want to.
  3. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Why would you need to re-notate the bass part? Wouldn't it be written in C and sound in D? I could understand if you wanted to write the piano part down a whole step....
  4. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    Its kind of like playing the vanhal in C. you can do it, it just doesn't compare to how it sounds in D.
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I think the only differences will be 1) it will SOUND a step lower and its' frequencies and 2) you ONLY have to copy the Piano part down a whole step from D to C as the Bass with solo Strings still plays in C but sounds in D when tuned up a whole step.

    My Dragonetti is in G but the Piano part is in A. If I were to perform it with solo strings in A (which I don't feel qualified to do in any key..lol) I would still be reading and "thinking" in G.
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    first, who publishes this piece? whoever it is owns the copyright so it is not in the public domain. having said that i do not think that for educational purposes putting it into Finale would be a problem.

    Maybe Sam will chime in on this being he is a JD.
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    thanks Sam... Are you billing Paul for all the free legal advice ?
  8. The definition of "public domain" on an international legal level, as I understand it, requires that the composer of the piece has been dead for at least 75 years. Bottesini died in 1889.

    What the copyright notice refers to for most classical sheet music is the specific edition. That means you can enter all of the notes on the page into a notation program, such as Finale, edit it for clarity, and it will no longer be subject to the copyright on a public domain work. What you can't do is photocopy the music for sales purposes. In fact, I don't think you can ever photocopy it at all, but that's not a particularly enforceable law.

    The fact is, most people would rather spend the $20 for professionally edited sheet music than to edit it themselves. Because the Bottesini Elegy is public domain, any edition of your own that you personally edited can legally be sold for profit.
  9. Sorry, I forgot to specify that I was trying to define what makes a composer's music public domain, not the term "public domain."

    I'm not a legal expert, as some of you may or may not be. All I know is what I've learned from working with the music-scores.com website, which allows users to download free sheet music of "public domain" music. At the simplest level, for them to not be sued, the composer who wrote the piece they want to make available has to have been dead at least 75 years.
  10. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    He isn't going to sell it anyway... does any of this matter?

    One concern, if you enter the Elegy into Finale and transpose up a whole step.... The piece was written by a bassist, for bass. The guy knew what he was doing and probably made sure there were no ridiculous fingerings in it. When you play the piece in a different key, all of that will change.
  11. It's a hypothetical, but it's still worth discussing. I, for one, would like to know if I'm wrong.

    The fingerings should be the same. The notes are all in the same place on the bass. The only note changes happen on the piano.
  12. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    His original post suggests that he may want to transpose the bass part. It seems as though he wants it to sound in D, even with orchestral strings. Of course that's just my interpretation.
  13. rachelcalin


    Sep 13, 2005
    New York
    legal issues aside, you can buy most of the bottesini in orchestra tuning from yorke edition. saves you the time of punching the entire piano part into finale. also, i wouldnt suggest changing the key of your bass part. learn the bass part in the original key & this way you wont have to re-learn if/when you do get those solo tuning strings.
  14. It's a bit vague, isn't it? I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he wanted to transpose the piano part. I don't think there would be a way to play the Elegy in D in orchestral tuning without drastically changing how the piece sounded.
  15. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    As far as I know, none of the lawyers around here are copyright specialists. I'm not. Nevertheless, all of us got into and out of law school, past the bar exam and into a legal career while you were studying penmanship and playing kick-ball at recess. You might assume that we've applied our limited knowledge of copyright law to our own musical situations, too.

    But based on the fact that you seem eager to argue the law with a lawyer, I conclude that you are someone who likes to win arguments. Fine. You win this one. I have deleted all my posts (which contain what I believed, at the time, to be accurate if abbreviated descriptions of applicable law). Your own legal advice, dearly bought at backyard weenie roasts and online chat rooms, remains.

    Please feel free to favor us with your medical views, investment recommendations and race-track tips as well. All the best of luck to you.
  16. I didn't realize this was a contest, or even an argument. I said I don't know the law, but I'm offering what I understand it to be. If you know what it is, then I want to be informed. There's no need to be a jerk about it, and it was really unnecessary for you to delete your posts.
  17. no no no you have me wrong as far as key goes, im not trying to transpose the key. The piano score is in D major, but the bass score is in C because of the solo tuning. The bass part is in C to compensate for the step up of the solo tuning, the strings go up a step, the key goes down a step, you're still in D major although the key says C. So basically, when tuned to solo tuning, with the changed key, you are playing the same notes as if it were in Dmajor. That being said i cant afford solo strings, and its not good to tune mine up. So what i wanted to do was change the solo key to the original key so it fit my orchestral tuning, which is one step down from solo tuning. I'm esentially not changing any notes, just tuning and key.
  18. The *music* is surely public domain, but the *edition* you get it from is almost as surely copyrighted by the publisher. If you can find urtext or a part that states it is in the public domain you are OK legally. I believe however fair use allows you to do what you need to do to make the edition usable. What I don't have is an answer to whether typing it into finale and then transposing is covered under "fair use". The restrictions usually prohibit putting the sheet music into any electronic storage of any kind. Nevertheless, if you don't sell it or give it away, I don't think you could get into trouble unless someone had it in for you.
    That said, I give you my disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Besides, I need a bass part for Bottesini's Elegy written out in D major too.
  19. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Here is the copyright info given by IMSLP.

    IMSLP:Copyright Made Simple - IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music

    In the USA, if the music was originally published before 1923, it's in the public domain. As DavidBassPlayer said, the particular edition, something later than 1923 (see the link) may be under copyright and you can't legally copy it, but you can make your own edition in Finale, publish it and sell dozens of copies, getting fabulously wealthy. There are new editions of Bottesini from a few sources, such as Recital Music, so there's an example.
  20. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA