Close Listening: Music and Us

headphones and the sea

Is the idea that musicians should be allowed to participate fully in our country’s economy unrealistic? A meditation on reversing the devastating effects that the digital age has wrought.

Indeterminacy 2.0: Under the Hood


This week, I want to talk about some of the actual work I’ve done with indeterminate digital music, with a focus on both the technologies involved and the compositional methods that have proven useful to me in approaching this sort of work.

Are Transformative Fair Use Principles Foul to Musicians?

A Madame Talbot poster illustrating the three witches in Macbeth mixing a potion in a cauldron.

Music seems to have more restrictive standards for fair use than other creative arts because there’s a well-established market for licensing arrangements, reprints, synchs, and samples, all of which are treated as derivative works. And courts are very reluctant to disrupt the marketplace—even one as dysfunctional as music licensing.

Copyright Conundrums for Collaborators

Illustrated cartoon of the "Jack and Jill" nursery rhyme including the text: "Jack and Jill went up the hilll / to fetch a pail of water. / Jack fell down and broke his crown / And Jill fell tumbling after."

Here’s a situation that’s commonly misunderstood among creative collaborators: Jack and Jill agree to write a song together. They call it “Tumblin’ Down the Hill.” Jack writes the music and Jill writes the lyrics. Who owns what?

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