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?

Music After Life: Guiding Lights


One side of the survivability equation is the caution-to-the-wind embrace of a personal vision, fearless of the consequences, no matter how impractical. The other side thinks outside of the individual and looks at the times.

When Do I Get to Stop Exposing Myself?

Photo of pages of theatrical script.

Some companies advertise the pieces we write for free as new commissions. I vote for an immediate end to this practice. By all means, call it a world premiere by the Next Important Composer of Our Time. Phrase it however you need to make it sound sexy and get butts in seats, but it is not a commission. It is unpaid labor from which others stand to gain.

Music After Life: Twists of Fate

"Morton Feldman 1976" by Rob Bogaerts Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl.

The reputations of certain composers seem to be actually growing with time, even though conventional wisdom earlier on would have predicted just the opposite. They present one possible answer to the question of how music becomes “survivable.”

Mister, Make Me a…Song?

Photo of a songwriter's workspace. A digital keyboard synthesizer on a tripod positioned by a window perpendicular to a desk; on the desk is a notebook, laptop, headphones, and glass of water.

Songs written for the stage are no longer the currency of mainstream musical engagement, yet “song” has become the default term for just about any piece of music under the sun. Is the word still meaningful to creators of new musical theater?

Music After Life: Posthumous Lessons

Xenakis, Shapey, Kramer and Rochberg

By now it’s more than a decade since Jonathan Kramer, George Rochberg, Ralph Shapey, and Iannis Xenakis have passed, so there is some time to assess where their art stands in their wake, even though it’s still very early in the eternity game.

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