Excessive Royalties of ASCAP and BMI

When American composers want to ensure that they will always share in profit derived from their works, they most commonly turn to BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) or ASCAP (American Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers).  Unfortunately, if composers don’t register with one of these agencies, it can become difficult to enforce royalties with time-consuming and expensive lawsuits.  If composers do register, those who wish to perform works protected by BMI or ASCAP become the victims of pricing that is totally out of line.

In 2007, I gave a concert that included PDQ Bach as part of the program.  (For those who don’t know, P.D.Q. Bach is a contemporary composer who parodies classical music, writing music as if he were “the oddest of J.S. Bach’s twenty-odd children.”)  My program was 90 minutes in length.  The PDQ Bach was only about 12 minutes of that (a couple preludes/fugues from the Short-Tempered Clavier, and the Two-Part Contraption in C and Rondo Capriccioso for Charles III: “The Reign in Spain” from Notebook for Betty Sue Bach).  It was a very small venue, and Continue reading

Why Memorize Music? Respect, Communication, Enjoyment And Skill

The word appearance often carries a negative connotation in society. Disney movies and bedtime stories tell us most definitely not to be concerned about outward appearances when the quality of our character is all that matters. While this is sound advice for daily living, in my opinion it isn’t good advice for a performer in front of an audience. Appearance is a legitimate part of the performing experience, including the presence sheet music (or lack thereof). Audiences always have and always will be more impressed with a performer who conjures the performance from within rather than acting as a “channel” that merely connects the audience to a printed page. While the performer still technically acts as a channel no matter how the performance is carried out, the audience is made far less aware of this channeling when it is done from memory.

More importantly, perhaps the word appearance doesn’t say enough.  When you witness a Continue reading