step away from the hymn tune

Micheal Moore (not the movie maker, but the Customer Care Permissions Adminstrator at Augsburg Fortress) just emailed me and pointed out that I was distributing an organ piece based on a hymn tune for which they own the copyright. He politely asked if I had permission or  if I wanted to obtain permission to use it.

He said it was okay if I wrote a piece and even performed it assuming I was doing it not-for-profit. I wonder, is it not for profit if I perform it at the church where I get paid to play? Anyway, fuck the duck. I just removed it. It wasn’t that good a piece. Nor is that great a tune. Whippy skippy. I can make another piece if I need one. One not based on a hymn tune that someone “owns.”

It’s ironic that this tunes begins exactly like (it probably was a compositional reference) the first five notes of  the German chorale “Aus Tiefer Not” scattered throughout this entry.  I wonder if good old Marty Luther sold his birthright, I mean copyright to some publisher as well.

I find the whole for-profit copyright thing pretty depressing.

I spent the morning arranging Hymn 314 “Humbly I adore thee” for SAB choir.

I’m probably in violation of copyright on the translation on that. In fact, as I understand it, I figure copyright laws are so strict it’s pretty impossible not to violate them sometime. It was never my intention to “steal” anything but apparently that’s how it seems to the people who “own” this series of notes called a hymn tune. As I understand it, photocopying music for page turns is also against the law.  God help me on that one.

The whole thing makes me realize that I’m just living in a different world from so many people.  For me, music is something you do, not something you own. And if you want to sell something, the last thing in the world you should do is shut down people publicizing and using your stuff.  But of course there’s always the possibility they will make 50 P from your product and not report it to you. I’ll probably think twice before I even use this hymn legally in worship again. Also, you can bet your bippy I’ll won’t be buying music or recommending music from Augsburg Fortress real soon.

There’s so much wonderful music out there. And what’s missing can easily be composed.  At least that how it seems to me.  Admittedly I seem to be in a different universe. The one where beauty’s not for sale but for listening, looking, reading, thinking, loving and making.

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