On the topic of sheet music

Honestly, does he write this stuff or just slam his keyboard?

Did you know that ideas cannot be copyrighted? Copyrights only apply to the physical manifestation of an idea. In terms of musical recordings, the creator of a given recording (the person or company who paid for the master recording to be produced) automatically owns and has rights to how the master is used. However, the composer maintains original rights to his or her composition for 50 years after the date of death (for Canadians). This means that direct benefactors, like family members, will continue to receive payments for other peoples' commercial use of your material even after you are gone.

Another way to "record" your music is by notating into sheet music. This was the first way to pass music through generations in a fixed state. In fact, some of the major record companies began as publishing houses and print shops. 

Many people search for sheet music online. In fact, more than 11,000,000 people searched for the term "sheet music" on Google last month.

There are a lot of great resources for quality sheet music online--free and not. For piano, try You have to wait 60 seconds to be able to download the file, but it works. If you're looking to pay for the most reliable transcriptions, some major sources are Music Notes, Sheet Music Plus and 8Notes.

For less meticulous written versions, something called tablatures or tabs exist. Tons of tabs sites are kicking around, but you could start here for your emergency tab requirements.

You can also look up individual composers for a more highly specialized search. An example of such composers is the great, late Astor Piazzolla. The man has so many fans that his sheet music can be found at several internet locations in his honour.

If you are looking for classical music, then you are in luck! Music by composers who have been dead for more than 70 years (ie. all Baroque and Classical-era composers), is no longer copyrighted. But this doesn't mean you can go around photocopying and selling pirated books of classical music. The reason is that the specific versions transcribed and released by printing by companies are copyrighted. A reborn physical manifestation.

However, it does mean you can challenge yourself with some Chopin at no cost.

You can also transcribe your own sheet music. This could take some time, but is kind of a fun project: Listen to your favourite song and write the guitar or piano notation using a software notation program such as Finale or a free program such as Musette.

Keep listening, writing and playing.


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IndieVanYour Vancouver Live Music Blog

John Tanner

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