Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

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Zandit75
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Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Zandit75 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:01 pm

I'm looking to transpose a song so I can play the melody on trombone using the standard scoring of the piano as accompaniment.
Transposing it note for note from Gmaj Treble clef to Gmaj Bass Clef is going fine, but playing through some of what I have already transposed sounds similar to the sung melody, but there are a lot of missing notes from the written music, and since I'm very familiar with the actual song, and how it sung, it's annoying the hell out of me.
Are there any legalities, rules or regulations against me adding these inflections, and added notes to bring it more in line with how it is sung on the released CD?
For anyone interested in looking further into the actual song, it is Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry"
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
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BGuttman
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:40 am

There is a time-honored tradition of embellishing melodies with extra notes (called ornaments). If you think something is missing, by all means add it. Use your musical taste to figure out exactly what you want to add. You can even add figures from the accompaniment if it suits you. Remember, it's mostly for you.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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Matt K
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Matt K » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:11 am

Zandit75 wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:01 pm
I'm looking to transpose a song so I can play the melody on trombone using the standard scoring of the piano as accompaniment.
Transposing it note for note from Gmaj Treble clef to Gmaj Bass Clef is going fine, but playing through some of what I have already transposed sounds similar to the sung melody, but there are a lot of missing notes from the written music, and since I'm very familiar with the actual song, and how it sung, it's annoying the hell out of me.
Are there any legalities, rules or regulations against me adding these inflections, and added notes to bring it more in line with how it is sung on the released CD?
For anyone interested in looking further into the actual song, it is Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry"
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Disclaimer: IANAL. That said, you'd want to check with whomever you purchased your music from. You probably don't have permission to copy it (even in the same key but down an octave), let alone make a derivative work from it. That doesn't stop people from doing it most of the time, but if legality is your concern, you'd best check with the publisher.

As Bruce mentioned, a lot of times you'll get a very, very simplified melody and the performer will embellish since there's little point in writing out the exact inflections if it only serves to make it more difficult to read and the performer may do something slightly different anyway. Most of the Fake/Real books are like this as well. A lot of times ad-lib big band solos are as well. I didn't realize that the first time I played 'Almost Like Being in Love'. Played the squarest solo I've ever done in my life. Director pointed out I could change the rhythm. Worked much better after that :wink:
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Zandit75
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Zandit75 » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:59 pm

Thank you both, I was thinking it would be a split thought. I was hoping to perhaps use this one day in either a recital or even slow melody competition at some point but it's slow going at the moment. I haven't practiced theory since college and I haven't put pencil to manuscript paper in so long its not funny!
I guess I was wondering if it is like doing a cover song. People change up famous songs all the time changing up tempos, style, genres etc but some people say you need permission from the writer while others have said they've just done it regardless of any rules or legalities.
Tricky subject I guess.

Btw Matt K, I'm assuming IANAL means I am not a lawyer??!!
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BGuttman
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:05 pm

Even worse, neither of us are Australian. :tongue:

People often modify songs that are under copyright. It gets messy when you try to profit from the alteration. I doubt anybody is going to gig you for using a song for Slow Melody competition and adding a phrase or two. On the other hand, if you then try to publish it or sell it for profit, then you can really get into trouble.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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Zandit75
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Zandit75 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:09 am

Oh, Yeah completely understand that!! Definitely not looking for that kind of challenge! I'll keep plugging away at it, and see how it comes out.
Thanks again!
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Matt K
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Matt K » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:52 am

Zandit75 wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:59 pm
Thank you both, I was thinking it would be a split thought. I was hoping to perhaps use this one day in either a recital or even slow melody competition at some point but it's slow going at the moment. I haven't practiced theory since college and I haven't put pencil to manuscript paper in so long its not funny!
I guess I was wondering if it is like doing a cover song. People change up famous songs all the time changing up tempos, style, genres etc but some people say you need permission from the writer while others have said they've just done it regardless of any rules or legalities.
Tricky subject I guess.

Btw Matt K, I'm assuming IANAL means I am not a lawyer??!!
Yeah sorry I browse some forums where that's a more well known acronym. My bad :shuffle:

Kentlaw links to a paper written by Katharine Wardein that summarizes quite well., or at least American law, as they relate to "cover" bands:
Katharine Wardein wrote:Based on the opinions obtained by the bands talked to for this paper, a band may infringe every time it plays a song protected by a valid copyright. The bands talked to for this paper all said copyright infringement was not a concern of theirs and no musician or band obtained permission from the copyright owner or paid any fee to a performing rights organization in order to play a copyrighted song. A band performing a copyrighted song may thus be liable for infringement based on its public performance. If a song performed by a band in a public place is
protected by a valid copyright, the first three elements of infringement based on a public performance are satisfied by proof of the copyright. Element four,
which requires the defendant perform in public for a profit, is satisfied because the band is playing at a public venue. The profit made by the band must be used for private financial gain, however, and not educational, religious, or charitable purposes. As we have learned, the bands or musicians covering protected songs do not obtain permission from the copyright owner or the owner of the exclusive right to perform the work publicly. Thus, element five requiring the plaintiff show the defendant failed to obtain permission to perform the song is satisfied. Accordingly, when a plaintiff in a cause of action for infringement can show the band played a protected song for private financial gain, cover bands or musicians covering copyright songs directly infringe on copyright owners’ rights when they play in public.

If a band is infringing on a copyright, it is possible the band’s performance can be deemed fair use, although unlikely. The cover band’s purpose of the use is almost always for profit. Even if the band is not paid directly to perform at a venue, the band may be playing to advertise its musical talent in the hopes this leads to monetary value. Second, the nature of the protected work performed by the cover band is creative, and thus the margin for fair use is inherently smaller. Typically, the band plays its version substantially similar to the original work. The band may sound a little different or alter some parts of the work, but for the most part the original and the version performed by the band are the same. The only factor that may weigh in favor of the band for fair use is the effect of the copy on the potential market of the original. It does not seem likely the version performed by the band will have an adverse effect on the potential market for the original. Copies of original works have a greater risk of creating an adverse effect on the market of the original where the purpose of the copy is commercial in nature.When a cover is a complete duplication of the original, it may supersede the original and become a market replacement. If the copy does become a market replacement and is used for commercial gain, harm may result to the market of the original. ... Where the use of the copyrighted material is noncommercial, the likelihood the harm to original must be demonstrated. If a cover band does not produce a recording of its performance of the original and place it on the market, there is nothing for listeners to purchase. If fans of the song want to listen to the song, they would have to purchase the original. Ultimately, a finding of fair use takes each factor into consideration. Even if a band may win on the adverse effect factor, it is still unlikely given the other factors the band’s performance will be fair use.

Not only can cover bands be liable for copyright infringement, but the venues at which the bands play may also be liable. Arguably, the venues can be both contributorily and vicariously liable. Where the venue knows the band has not obtained permission to play a copyrighted song and either induces or contributes to the infringement, the venue is contributorily liable. The venue can materially contribute to the infringing conduct of the band by providing the place to play, or any equipment the band may need. Additionally, the venue may be vicariously liable where the band plays a copyrighted song or a series of copyrighted songs, even if the venue has no knowledge of the infringing conduct, and the venue has a direct financial interest. A plaintiff need not prove the venue knew whether the band obtained a license to cover copyrighted material or not to impose liability. Live entertainment, such as bands or cover bands, can attract business to a venue, or people may stay at the venue longer and spend more money on drinks or food to listen to the band. Thus, the venue directly profits and has a
financial interest in the infringing conduct of the band.
So, at least in the US, unless you're falling under a fairly narrow set of constraints or are obtaining permission from the copyright holder, cover bands are likely to be infringing.

Another consideration is that if you hope to compete with your arrangement, it's very possible that the judges will request that you provide them proof that you have permission to perform the piece. I was actually recently talking to a band director about a competition he did a custom arrangement for, but did not seek permission from the copyright holder. They let the kids perform but refused to judge the performance and gave the director a slap on the wrist since he didn't know otherwise. Will that be the case with your arrangement? Really ahrd to say, especially with you being in a different country. But it's something that I'd investigate either way so that you aren't unwittingly breaking any laws.
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Zandit75
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Re: Arranging a song to suit Trombone with changes

Post by Zandit75 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:27 pm

Thanks for that Matt, most appreciated.
Certainly is a trip down the rabbit hole!
I have a couple of friends in the industry that I'll ask some questions of. Hopefully they can provide some additional insight.
If I learn anything, I'll add it here for future reference.
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