New Music News Wire

AFM Issues Notice on Non-Union Recording in Seattle


American Federation of Musicians President Thomas Lee

Due to mounting concern over non-union recording work occurring in Seattle, specifically in the area of film scoring, the American Federation of Musicians President Thomas Lee has issued an advisory to put members “on notice that the Federation will no longer tolerate the disloyalty to our craft and to our members that this conduct demonstrates….No union relishes the prospect of disciplining its members, but no union can allow its members to erode the hard-fought benefits that union membership provides.” Of special concern to the AFM is the suspected participation of AFM composers, orchestrators, arrangers, and copyists in these non-union sessions. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $50,000 and/or expulsion from the AFM.

Film Music Magazine, a trade publication for the industry, quotes Film Music Network founder Mark Northam specifically on how this move may impact the professional lives of composers. “The vast majority of our 1,500 Film Music Network members are working composers,” Northam tells FMM, “and many of them have no choice but to record out of town or not be hired for projects. While many of them try and ‘rescue’ jobs and keep the work in town, that’s becoming increasingly difficult as European orchestras become much more proficient at film score recording. But here’s the issue: contracts are now being given to composers by the studios that specify ‘No AFM recording.’ It’s a non-negotiable point. The composers didn’t create these rules, the studios and production companies did. It’s time the AFM starts going after the real culprit here, and it’s not the composers who go to Seattle or Europe when they’re given no other legal choice by the studios and production companies.”

Meanwhile, Across the Pond

Composers frustrated by the lack of available orchestras willing to try out their ideas may soon be turning to the virtual equivalent of their musical colleagues. Several Hollywood films, including the 2003 gothic action flick Underworld, have already used the software to craft portions of their soundtracks.

David Smith, a technology correspondent for the UK’s Observer, wrote last Sunday:

A program developed in Vienna mimics human musicians in the performance of greats such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart so convincingly that a casual listener to Classic FM would be unable to tell the difference. Perhaps more importantly, it allows notes—1.5 million different sounds, to be precise—to be combined in new ways, so that composers can make new music on their laptop without needing to hire an orchestra.

The software from the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) has now been bought by around 10,000 people around the world including students, musicians seeking their big break and composers for television and film, where the money-saving potential is huge.

Take the software for an audio test drive yourself here.

Coleman Joins New England Conservatory Faculty


Anthony Coleman
Photo by Sara Valenzuela

Composer and keyboardist Anthony Coleman will join the contemporary improvisation and jazz studies faculty at the New England Conservatory beginning in September, NEC announced. The appointment is something of a homecoming, Coleman having earned his bachelor’s degree in music composition at NEC in 1977. He went on from there to pursue graduate work at the Yale School of Music and attended Mauricio Kagel’s seminar at Centre Acanthes in Aix-en-Provence. Coleman’s music, noted for its integration of Jewish, Latin, and Western classical idioms, is performed and recorded by his own groups (Sephardic Tinge piano trio, Selfhaters Orchestra) as well as by ensembles such as the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Aspen Woodwind Quintet. As a soloist, Coleman’s most recent release is Shmutsige Magnaten: Coleman Plays Gebirtig (Tzadik), a solo piano interpretation of the music of Polish-Jewish composer Mordechai Gebirtig.

Keeping Clear Channel at Bay

In response to concerns over decreased diversity in radio ownership, the Calvert Foundation, Public Radio Capital, and the Ford Foundation have launched an investment fund drive to create and support noncommercial radio. The “Public Radio Fund” will allow individuals and institutions to invest in supporting and expanding public radio in communities across the United States. The fund’s target for the next year is $15 million, starting with $4.5 million in loaned funds already committed from the Calvert and Ford Foundations. The three organizations held a press conference on August 9 outlining their proposed initiative in more detail: you can listen in here.