music for a film

Everything related to researching, scoring and performing music with silent film.
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music for a film

Unread post by goalieboy82 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:35 pm

if i would to make a film, would classical music be under public domain. i might be making a film about my hockey team and would like to use public domain music so i can show it on a locat public access station.

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Jack Theakston
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Re: music for a film

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:42 pm

The music itself, if it were published before 1923, would be public domain in the U.S. However, RECORDINGS of these works can be copyrighted.

So, for example, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a composition is public domain, but a recording of it by the Boston Symphony Orchestra would be copyright, if the recorded was copyrighted (and renewed if necessary).
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

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Re: music for a film

Unread post by Rodney » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:37 am

Yes, the legal way to put music to a film of any kind is to get permission from the artists who recorded it, or hire your own musicians to do a score (which can sometimes be cheaper -- my ensemble was once hired to record a one-minute classical selection for a 1960s independent sound film being released on DVD, because the symphony that had played a short piece that was heard on a radio in the background of the film wanted much more for it than it took for us to record it over). Tell the musicians to play and record public domain music, and since they're doing it for hire, you say in the contract that you're paying for the right to sync it to your film, and you're covered. You could talk to your local community orchestras, though whether they have the rights to allow people to use already-recorded concert music will depend a lot on their situation and even who they rented the scores from.

And also remember that "classical music" wasn't a dead form by 1923, and many classical pieces written after that date are NOT public domain, so you would need to deal with the copyright holders, which is a nightmare I doubt you want to enter into. So don't get your hopes set on Peter and the Wolf, Fanfare for the Common Man, Philip Glass's Glassworks, or Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

If you sit through the credits of a modern movie, you'll see a long list of copyrights for all of the pieces and songs at the end, even classical music, with the specific performers credited for their work. TV stations and movie studios prefer to pay the artists than to risk trouble over copyright infringement, so you'll probably be asked to sign something that says you've cleared all music and media copyrights before they'll show your program.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

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