Hi students! My name is Chandra Meibalane, and I am a 2007 graduate of Harrison High School. In 2012, I graduated from Butler University with a degree in Violin Performance and Chemistry. Recently, I moved to Las Vegas to pursue a professional career in music.
Here in Las Vegas, I am a freelance violinist and a middle school orchestra teacher. Freelance means I work for myself, and get hired by different companies. I have performed with artists such as Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Santana, and Andrea Bocelli. I perform most often with a girl string group called Bella Electric Strings. We are a group of classically trained musicians who perform rock music like Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Beatles hits. Bella also performs Top 40 songs that you guys might know, such as “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.
In order to perform music that has already been written and performed by an artist, we have to first secure permission from the copyright owner to use the music. Next we transcribe the music. Transcribe means you listen to the music and write down musically what you hear in the vocal line. After transcribing the melody, we write harmony parts to accompany the melody. Most of the time for Bella, there are four written parts. Two different parts are written for two violins, one part is written for a viola, and one is written for cello. Once each part is written, a track must be recorded, so the musicians have something to play to. A track is the background music you hear that an artist sings or plays along to. Recording our own track is very important because we cannot simply use the track from the original song. That would be an example of violating a copyright law.
After the parts are written and the tracks are recorded, each musician records their own part with the track. After each part is recorded, we can finally perform the piece. These steps go into every piece we play, since most of the songs we play are songs that have already been written for an artist. Following these steps are important in order to create an arrangement that respects the work previously done by others.
Another example of respecting the work of others is when I play for gigs outside of Bella. For example, if I am asked at a gig to perform “Happy,” I cannot perform the same arrangement as the one I play in Bella. I could, however, ask for permission prior to the gig to use Bella’s arrangement. Examples like these are instances I never would have thought of in high school let alone a couple of years ago. It is important, just like when you are writing a paper, to always give the author, or in my case the composer, credit. When you’re performing a piece, ask yourself, “Does the audience have a program which states the piece and composer I am playing?” “If I’m arranging a piece, do I have the original composer written down?” “If I want to perform a piece written by another musical group, do I have their permission?”
Explain why respecting the artistic work of others is important. How do you respect the artistic work of others? What kinds of artistic works does copyright apply to? Did you realize that respecting the artistic work of another artist can be shown by the attention to detail you put into your own arrangements or remixes? And finally, do you need to secure copyright permission to make a remix of a copyrighted work? What do you think?
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View the following video:
Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.
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