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Frequently Asked Questions


1 Are all editions really free?

Yes. My own works are licensed under the Creative Commons license (see question 3 below). The works in this archive by other composers are all in the public domain and have been transcribed from now free editions (e.g. copies of the original 16th century partbooks).

This means you are free to copy these editions and use them for any kind of music making, be it a concert performance, a commercial recording or whatever.

2 Do I have to pay GEMA/PRS/ASCAP fees when performing your music?

No, my music may be performed free of charge. I am not a member of the GEMA or any other performance rights society. Consequently, neither the GEMA, nor the PRS, nor the ASCAP is authorized to charge performance fees for my music.

This does not mean that they won't try it. In that case, please point them to the Creative Commons license and explain to them that I cannot be a member of the GEMA because otherwise I could not use this license.

3 Can you explain in a few words what the "Creative Commons" license means?

The Creative Commons License was designed by law professor Lawrence Lessig to form a legal basis for a cultural heritage that cannot be controlled and locked away by "content providers".

Meanwhile it consists of a wide variety of licensing models, of which I only use two variants: the "attribution" and the "share-alike" license. Both licenses allow the free use of the music both for commercial and non commercial use, provided credit is given to the composer (that means the work may not be claimed to be of a different authorship).

The only difference between the two licenses applies to derived works (i.e. third party compositions or arrangements that build on my music). The Creative Commons Attribution license imposes no restrictions, while the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license requires that derived works be also licensed under the same license. If you are familiar with software licenses there is a simple analogy:

4 Why do even your editions of public domain early music contain a license notice?

Modern editions of public domain music are a grey area in copyright law. There are even some paragraphs in German copyright law that allow the reprivatization of public domain music under certain circumstances. Even when these circumstances might not hold, modern publishers typically stamp "all rights reserved" on their editions. This may be true or not, see Public Domain Sherpa for a decent introduction to the problem.

Therefore I add the "CC Attribution" licensing terms (see question 3 above) to my editions of public domain music, not to commit "copyfraud", but -on the contrary- to make plain that the editions indeed may be freely used, copied, and distributed.

5 Why do you share your music for free?

Almost all of my music is sacred music and I would consider it immoral to charge for its use. The usual utilitarian argument for charging the churches for using music is that otherwise nobody would have an interest in writing sacred music. It seems to me however that this contention would let Palestrina, Bach and Schütz spin in their graves.

I consider it a compliment when other musicians use and perform my music and would like to provide all necessary support. Morever, I consider the idea of the "Creative Commons License" a great vision: to create cultural works that are freely available for all.

6 How can I support your work?

First of all, if you find my music useful, please drop me a note. Optionally, you can also ask for a printed edition to help me financing this website. Or you could also ask me how to make a small donation, if you think that you should give something back for sparing GEMA fees and costs for the music.

7 What music typesetting software do you use?

Most is written with my own music typesetting programs flabc and abctab2ps, which is freely available under the GPL. More complicated scores requiring more than one part per staff are typeset with the commercial program Mup.

8 How can I listen to the audio samples?

The audio samples are in the OGG Vorbis file format. There are many media players available that support this format; a popular free player is the VLC media player, which is available for MacOS X, Windows and Linux. Other alternatives, like plugins for the Windows Media Player or Quicktime, are available from the Vorbis homepage. The web browser Firefox can play OGG Vorbis files since version 3.1 natively.

Remark: To have OGG files automatically played by Safari, you must force Quicktime to update its MIME settings, by first deactiviting and then activiting again the OGG format in the "Audio" section of "Quicktime Settings/Advanced/MIME Settings". This does not work on Mountain Lion, however; use Friefox or the VLC player on Mountain Lion and later.

9 Where can I find other sites with free sheet music?

Here is a list of other music archives with freely downloadable music. Please make sure to study the licensing terms of these sites, because not all music available therefrom might be freely usable for public performances.