Sen. Josh Hawley’s phony interest in altering copyright to “punish” Disney

Senator Josh Hawley (R – Missouri) has introduced legislation he calls the “Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022”. I assume this is political showboating intended to impress his constituents that he is willing to “punish” Disney. It would “restore” copyright from the automatic 95 years it is now back to the original requirement to register for a 28 year protection with an option to renew for an additional 28, so perhaps a total of 56. This would apply to all new copyrights, not just Disney or large corporations.

First off, corporations don’t have separate copyright rules. The rules split into two categories: those for independent authors (original authorship) and those for employees (works-for-hire). The “work-for-hire” rules apply whether it’s a single employee of a sole proprietiership or a massive corporation.  

Then the bill attempts to make it retroactive, but only for corporations over a certain size (a Market Capitalization over $150 billion). How this would shake out in practice is a bit hazy of course. While Disney is a $203 billion company, it has outstanding debts of $105 billion, so a Net Worth of something like $97 billion. So would the “rules” even apply to Disney? Microsoft on the other hand is a $2 trillion company. The legislation says the retroactive portion applys to any company over $150 billion that “engages in substantial activites” which can be described as Arts, Entertainment or Recreation. So would Microsoft’s gaming division be substantial enough to make it subject to the retroactive portion of the bill? Who knows?

The real problem with the “Restoration” term is that it violates the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. This is an international agreement the US signed, along with 178 other countries, intended to “level” the playing field for the many different copyright laws throughout the world. It requires automatic copyright (no registration needed) and a minimum copyright duration of 50 years after the death of the author (not a term measured from the publication date), and that the signing countries recognize the copyrights of the other countries who signed. Countries are free to make their copyright protections last longer than the minimum, but the signing coutries are not required to enforce those copyrights past the Berne minimum.

Even ignoring the fact the proposed legislation violates our existing treaties and agreements, it seems pretty clear that having the US government “sieze” some of the property of every creator in the US is a poison pill intended to insure the legislation won’t pass. He can then blame everyone else for not doing what is “right”. 

But we know better.

The Story of Babar

I wanted to do a project for my grandchildren. After much thought, I decided performing Poulenc’s The Story of Babar would do nicely. I’d always admired Poulenc’s Babar music, and think it contains some of his best material. My only disappointment with Babar was that Poulenc used an abridged version of the story. I always wondered what other great music we missed out on because Poulenc didn’t do the whole thing.

Then I had a crazy thought. “I’m a composer. Why don’t I just fill in the bits Poulenc didn’t do? That will make the gift of the Babar story that much more personal and special !”

If I hadn’t been thinking about who is was for, I’d have thought about it too much and would never have had the courage to put my music side by side with Poulenc’s. Fortunately, I just naively pressed ahead and intimidation never set in.

I didn’t try to imitate Poulenc in any way. I just wrote as I naturally would. The result holds up just fine, I think. And Poulenc’s music and mine go together surprisingly well. (Considering how much I love his music, and what an influence he’s been, maybe not so surprising?)

The resulting music is about 50% Poulenc and 50% me. If you’re not already familiar with the Poulenc, and are curious who wrote what, here’s a breakdown showing the composer for each scene:

Poulenc
Babar is born                                  00:25
digging in the sand                            02:08
riding on his mother’s back                    02:47
Babar’s mother is shot                         03:50
Babar runs away                                04:10
Cording
the city and two gentlemen                     04:53
Poulenc
the Old Lady gives Babar her purse             06:18
riding the elevator                            08:00
the Floor Manager                              08:50
buying clothes                                 10:01
having a picture taken                         10:40
dining with the Old Lady                       12:02
going to sleep                                 12:46
Poulenc
exercise and bath                              13:35
riding in the car                              14:42
Cording
lessons                                        15:03
stories of life in the forest                  16:31
Poulenc
Babar remembers his mother                     17:22
buying Arthur and Celeste clothes              18:28
the pastry shop                                19:09
Arthur and Celeste’s mothers are worried       19:55
the old stork returns with news                20:27
mothers scold Arthur and Celeste               20:45
Cording
packing the trunk                              21:09
saying goodbye                                 21:54
Poulenc
leaving for the forest in the car              23:01
the Old Lady misses Babar                      23:39
the King of the elephants eats a bad mushroom  25:09
Cording
the three oldest elephants have a meeting      26:21
Babar arrives at the forest                    27:35
Cornelius speaks                               28:22
Poulenc

Babar accepted as King    30:05 birds invite animals to wedding    31:01 guests arrive    31:33 the marriage and coronation of Babar    32:24 dancing    33:50 after the party    34:33 Cording leaving in a balloon for the honeymoon   36:10 Poulenc the end    37:48

The bold items are my favorite Poulenc sections.

The entire story is about 38 minutes, so settle in before giving a listen.

Listen to: The Story of Babar..

Preludes and Serenades concert

So if you missed the CF2 Preludes and Serenades concert on Friday night, Oct. 1st, I’m terribly sorry! What a great program of piano music it was! I’m always proud to be associated with such fine composers, but never more so than after such a wonderful program! Orlando is so lucky to have these people locally!

Everything was great, but a particular shout-out to Erik Branch, Troy Gifford and Charlie Griffin! What fabulous works!

Dr. Rose Grace gave a slightly different interpretation of my Serenade than my own (which you can find posted here earlier). Honestly, I wish that happened more often. She even found a way to re-finger part of it to avoid crossing hands. It is such a luxury to hear one of my own piano works without having to perform it myself!

Big thank you to Dr. Grace and, as always, Benoit Glazer and Timucua! And congratulations to all the composers on the program!

 

Seven Wonders

So if you missed the 8th Annual CF2 Salon Concert on Aug 29th, no worries. Here’s a video of the premier of Seven Wonders, a set of songs about the 7 wonders of the ancient world, with text by Al Rocheleau. Bri Anna Davis is the mezzo-soprano and I’m at the piano. Special thanks to Al and Bri Anna! And, as always, thanks to Benoit Glazer for the recording!

Gigue

Here’s a recording of Gigue performed by the wonderful Fernwood String Quartet. After many delays due to Covid, the premier performance finally took place Jan 23rd, 2021 at the Dr Phillips Center (with proper precautions and social distancing of course). Big thank you to the members of Fernwood: Julia Gessinger – violin 1, Andreas Volmer – violin 2, Daniel Cortes – viola, and Hanrich Claassen – cello.

The epigraph to the work is a quote from the Irish poet William Allingham (1824 – 1889) – “She danced a jig, she sung a song that took my heart away.”

Listen to: Gigue.

Store almost ready

So I mentioned earlier that more changes were coming and now the biggest change is almost here!

I’ve added a store! Most of my music scores will be available here for purchase.

While the store isn’t ready to accept payments yet, it is built and the link can be found in the cording.org menu. So though it’s not quite usable, you can still see what it looks like etc.

I will announce here when it’s all functional. Stay tuned!

Serenade

During the covid lockdown one of my piano pieces, Serenade, was published in the Timucua Arts’ Piano Anthology. Benoit Glazer did some recordings of some of the pieces in July of 2020 to help promote the book. Originally, I thought I only had an audio recording of mine, but I recently realized that I had this video copy. So here it is. Special thanks to Benoit for recording and providing this.

New Website up and running

I’m happy to announce a number of changes and improvements here:
1. a completely redesigned, adaptive website that works well with desktops and mobile devices.
2. all server communications are now secure, encrypted, and confidential (https).
3. now running on a resilient, high performance, high availability, high speed, low latency server.
More changes are coming! Stay tuned!

Billy Collins songs

With the Covid-19 lockdown, I really miss audiences and the energy they provide! So I decided to post an old performance (Sept. 2014) from my archives that I haven’t posted before. It has that great quality of group shared experience, which is one of the wonderful things about going to concerts and movies don’t you think?
This recording is the first performance of my Billy Collins songs. Anytime art is converted from one medium to another some features of the original are lost. Some things are added by the new medium in compensation, but it’s the nature of the beast that those changes or additions are added by the artist doing the conversion or translation and are outside the original artist’s control. So to allow a derivative work the original artist has to be willing to let go of his creation and let it “have a life of its own”. Billy was very kind to give me permission to use these poems, despite his not being a big fan (to put it mildly) of his poetry being turned into song. Of course, I always try hard to stay true to the original spirit of the poetry and I’m proud of how these songs turned out. But see for yourself.
I can’t say enough nice things about the singer here: Suzanne Gifford. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but there were a lot of behind-the-scene challenges that she handled with charm and grace. It was a long program and we were near the end. The was no place to warm up so she just had to step up and do it. The songs themselves are not as easy as she makes it seem. And the last song was “hot-off-the-press”, completed maybe a day before, so there really wasn’t enough rehearsal time. Entirely my fault and lead to both of us making minor errors in the third song. Despite all that, she sang wonderfully as you will hear.


 

Charles Ives birthday

Today marks the 145th anniversary of Charlies Ives’ birth.
What a fascinating inner musical life he must have had as a maverick and a traditionalist smushed together! Not all of his music works for me. But when it does, it is riveting.
I remember the first time I heard his choral Psalm 24. Portions of it are filled with huge dissonant chords. When I closed my eyes, it stopped being singing. Instead, it was easy to imagine I was standing before a terrifying creature, a seraphim, reciting Psalm 24 in a deep otherworldly voice, filled with partials and overtones. Listen to the excerpt and see if you can hear it that way. Especially at the words “and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle.” Gives me goosebumps every time.

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