Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 564, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Jason. And he writes:
Thank you for your email.
My dreams are to be truly expressive in whatever I play. I want to do my own arrangements and improvisations to pieces.
Important to me is to take songs which are outside of the Church or Classic repertoire.
With these songs I would create interesting organ pieces with real musical depth,
I’m talking about arranging music like Jimi Hendrix—Voodoo Child, David Bowie—life on Mars there are so many.
Sticking with more standard pieces then new stuff like Hans Zimmer—Interstellar pieces would be great. But above all the knowledge and ability to arrange and play modern pieces.
What is holding me back is my brain over complicating music theory.
V: Music theory is always a drag, right?
V: Can you create arrangements and improvisations without knowing music theory?
A: I don’t know, unless you are a genius, probably.
V: Yeah, you can do intuitive things without knowing what you are doing, but then you cannot explain to others.
A: That’s right. So I guess that knowing music theory is a crucial thing.
V: Mmm-hmm. Of course, if you always can explain what you’re doing, it’s not always that interesting, right?
V: It has to be some mystery.
A: I know, but I think in nowadays there are no problems in creating sort of transcriptions. Because basically what he is talking about, Jason, it’s basically transcription. And I think that many of music software nowadays can do that for him. Or at least help to do it.
V: Well, yes. For example, let’s take a song by David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix, right? Or Hans Zimmer. If he can get a hold of the score, like original score imitation, and then put it into Sibelius or Finale, any other software that does arrangements automatically, and with the press of a button he can specify how many voices does he want to have in each hand, how many stave mutations, if its suitable with pedals or without pedals, things like that, and he can specify the style, actually, and that would be produced automatically. I’m not sure if that’s the best result, but for starters it’s no-brainer.
A: And I’m not really sure that’s a legal thing, because all these authors that Jason mentions in his letter, I guess they are still alive, still living, and I don’t know what about copyrights, and do you have a right to do arrangements with their music.
V: Yeah. Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie, they are not with us anymore, but obviously copyright holds, uh…
A: Yes, because I think it was hold like seventy-five years after death.
V: In some countries seventy-five, in some fifty, after death.
A: But still, you know…
V: But of course copyrights can be renewed after that, so you have to be really careful. And license your arrangement. You can purchase licensing actually, and then do this legally.
V: Can you do this for your own enjoyment, if you don’t share the music anywhere, just for your private use, legally?
A: I think so.
V: Do you think so?
A: If it’s for yourself, yes.
V: I am not so sure. I’m not a copyright lawyer, so don’t site me on this. Better to consult copyright lawyer on this, even for private use, if you’re creating like a cover song as they call it, if you create your own arrangement of the original copyrighted popular music song. That’s really complicated and guarded very, very fiercely by copyright holders.
A: Yeah. And you know while talking about all this kind of music that Jason mentions, I’m not sure that organ is the best instrument for this music to be played on.
V: Yes, for us.
A: Some if it might work but some of it might just sound ridiculous.
V: You know this is our taste and people have other tastes, you know, and what works for us not necessarily works for Jason and vice-versa. People enjoy for, example, listening to Queen’s Rhapsody in Blue. Not in blue...
A: (Laughs). Bohemian Rhapsody.
V: (Laughs). Yes. Who created Rhapsody in Blue? Gershwin.
A: That’s right.
V: Yes. Bohemian Rhapsody on the organ. Some people enjoy that. That’s not what my taste prefers though, but I don’t judge other people, not at this point in my life at least. What about you, Ausra?
A: Me too!
V: Freedom of expression should be available to all on earth, whatever they want to do.
A: But let’s say that if Jason wants to do everything from the scratch by himself and he definitely needs to know music theory. There is no way to escape that.
V: Well, that’s a good point, yeah. Something to think about if you’re serious arrangement and improvising based on those arrangements, you have to know what you’re doing and music theory helps to see the ideas behind music that composer or songwriter, in this case, have put into the piece.
A: And you know, I guess because we are talking about popular music now, I think we have a little of their version of music theory too. So basically what applies to the common period may not be applied to the popular music.
V: That’s right.
A: So this is all another world.
V: Yeah. Yeah, you have to do many experiments and do trial and error before you find what works and what doesn’t. That’s the best teacher, I think.
V: Thank you guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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