I was about to work on this morning’s post, but I thought I should probably check email first. In the process, I noticed that a particular online vendor had Bärenreiter Urtexts on sale.
That should have been my first clue that my life is a little different these days. The fact that I had received such an email at all. Not to mention that I knew that an Urtext is a publication of the original score of a work as written by the composer, and that Bärenreiter is a major publisher of that type of score.
“Hey, what’s the big hurry?”
“Haven’t you heard?! They’re having a sale on Urtexts at …”
Said no one ever.
So, I send my first improbable email of the morning, the one where I ask my choir director which vocal score we’re going to use for the spring performance.
Which vocal score.
When I started with the choir, I had never seen a vocal score before, and had to figure out which staff I was supposed to follow. Now I’m asking which published version I need.
So I send that off, and am about to get back to this morning’s post when a new email comes in. I am asked whether we have an audio snippet by Artist of a public domain work that we can use for publicity for Artist’s upcoming themed concert. Because everyone gets emails like that, right?
So I see if we have anything that might be appropriate. Well, maybe. I look up what the copyright law is for my particular country. Published before 1923 is probably ok. Copyright is complicated. But hey, presto, there’s something that might work. Let me check the date on that composition. Because everyone does that, right?
Well, it turns out there are two differing editions of the work. The first one is in the public domain, but the second edition, which is a) more commonly performed, and b) published much later, is not.
So I find myself on the verge of sending the following email to Artist:
“Could you tell me whether you used the first or second edition when you recorded Composition by Composer?”
Wrote no one ever.
As an alternative, I suppose I could have tried to find the two scores, or at least the public domain one, and listened to the recording, following the score…
Finding myself at risk of impersonating a musicologist (and what is the penalty for that crime?), I instead reply to the requester.
“Maybe. How badly do you need it?”
Guess I’ll save my original post for another day. I gotta go do a price check on Urtexts.