Your Commission, Should You Choose to Request It

An experiment:

I would like to write more music, particularly choral music. I would prefer to do this on commission, for a whole bunch of reasons. But my music is not well-known, and so I don’t attract attention from people who have serious money to pay for commissions, on the whole. So far, every note I have ever written has been for free.

What if the money for commissions isn’t quite so serious?

For £30, I will set up to 50 words of English for SATB, with or without a simple organ or piano accompaniment. I’m willing to do more complex compositions, or simpler ones, or other languages, but please do contact me about it — Latin is easy, Russian much harder! You can see (and in some cases hear) examples of my other compositions by using the look what I made category on this blog. That isn’t a full list (I’m working on it; processing works that pre-date this blog is another thing that is easily pushed aside!), but it’s something.

Your chosen text must be in the public domain, or you must have permission from the appropriate sources for me to set it. The copyright of the finished work will remain with me but I will release it under a CC BY-SA license, meaning that others can use it freely in derivative works, even for commercial purposes, as long as they acknowledge my work and share it similarly. So if you commission a choral work from me, you won’t just be contributing to my livelihood, you’ll be contributing to a body of publicly available art.

Any takers?

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On acknowledgement

On Thursday I got an e-mail from someone. He was writing to tell me he’d found my piece Crux Fidelis on the Choral Public Domain Library a few months ago, and had used it in the liturgy for Good Friday at the church where he’s organist. It went well and they intend to use it again next year.

It felt really wonderful to be thanked, and even just to know that my music is being used. I know others have used that piece this year, but they’re all friends or acquaintances. Of course I’m glad they like it and use it, but in my head it feels like strangers liking my music enough to use it is another level. One of the difficulties of putting my work online is that I never really know whether it is getting used. Oh, SoundCloud has some stats for listens and downloads, but once a track has been downloaded I have no idea how often it’s played. CPDL doesn’t seem to offer any stats, but even if they did, there’s a long way between downloading a piece of music and having a choir sing it!

If there were such a thing, I’d be tempted to use a Creative Commons license where people can do what they like with my music as long as they tell me, somehow. As things currently stand I’m reliant on etiquette.

Perhaps, though, it’s just as well that such a license doesn’t exist. Having to let the creator know what’s happening might be enough to put people off using the work, after all, and if it comes to a choice between the music being heard and my hearing about it, I think I’d choose the former.