Glass Ghost, Burning Castle

Flashback to December 17 2008, when KUR received the following email:

I’m recording a new project soon and I wrote NEW music for The Black Page. If I sent you guys a copy of the album and you like it would you mind saying so on killuglyradio? (It is going to be a digital release via my own site so I don’t stuck w/a shitty bitrate.)

Whereupon I responded:

New music for The Black Page? Sounds exciting! I’d love to hear this so by all means, do send us a copy if you want. I’ll be sure to give it a listen and give it a mention at KUR. Do you have a site where I can download the track(s)?

Cue tumbleweeds.

Fast Forward to the present:

As you can tell by the date stamp on the email, it took me a lot longer to get this project done than I thought. New music for the Black Page is here:

Glass Ghost, Burning Castle. Check it out.

21 Responses to “Glass Ghost, Burning Castle”

  1. Thinman says:

    Is that allowed? Without giving Frank composer credit? I would be careful.

    Th.

  2. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    No idea about the licensing and credits, but I do love the music!

  3. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    Is that allowed? Without giving Frank composer credit? I would be careful.

    Th.

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    No idea about the licensing and credits, but I do love the music!

    I love it! Particularly that they released this in the face of the ZFT and their horde of lawyers which have mostly threatened and bullied fans, websites, venues, and musicians whose only crime is the combined adoration of maestro and his music. Is the ZFT going to attempt to squash their site and project, too, because they didn’t get their “cut”? It’s obvious who the composer is. By trademarking every possible variation, all the ZFT has succeeded in doing is forcing people to avoid mentioning them whatsoever. Personally, I wouldn’t deal with the ZFT if you paid me. They’ve got cooties…

  4. Dark Clothes says:

    What do you mean cooties? You talking ’bout that little hedgehog pyramid with the genghis inside?

  5. Jeroen says:

    Wowie zowie. The last track is seriously great music.
    The Black Page doesn’t add much in my opinion, but the that March is some great modern, heavy music.

    Very cool.

  6. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    What do you mean cooties?

    I’m speaking of the very same cooties that Warner Brothers, Sony, and Virgin have: greed. The notion that music is a racket which can be ceaselessly mined for endless source of cash. The ZFT is absolutely no better, and their fate is infinitely link to the others.

  7. Burning Castle says:

    I didn’t realize that the Zappa estate was so litigious about the music. Having a background in the music business, both professionally and educationally I can see both sides of the argument.
    I doubt I would have to worry that much since drum parts, like chord progressions and song TITLES can not be copyrighted. I wrote entirely new music for a drum solo; I’m in the clear.
    I think the dialogue on copyright law, especially right now is VERY interesting. Several studies have been released that make the argument for lowering the copyright protection far from what it is now (70 years AFTER the death of the author). I read a study a few years ago that came out of Cambridge that suggested optimal protection period is only 14 years. In this day and age where media is getting digested quicker and quicker I see the argument. 14 years is a little short though.
    Yep, there is a lot going on these days!
    Thanks for listening to the music everyone, it is good to find people who appreciate the more off-the-map approach to music.

  8. urbangraffito says:

    Of course, I can see all sides of the argument, too, when it comes to copyright. Still, some (if not all) of these record labels have a history of using their money and lawyers to bully musicians, fans, websites, and venues. I’m not speaking of people usurping their copyright, Burning Castle, I’m speaking of these labels overstepping their legal rights, and using money and the courts to do so.

    The paradigm they base their businesses upon is quickly coming to an end. The paradigm in which we go directly to the artist for music has arrived. Mark my words, within less than 20 years those labels will be a distant memory. People will not lease music as they do software. Never.

    That said, fantastic album. Kudos.

  9. Thinman says:

    A quote from Burning Castle:

    I didn’t realize that the Zappa estate was so litigious about the music. Having a background in the music business, both professionally and educationally I can see both sides of the argument.
    I doubt I would have to worry that much since drum parts, like chord progressions and song TITLES can not be copyrighted. I wrote entirely new music for a drum solo; I’m in the clear. …

    You know that The Black Page is a written drum solo, don’t you? I have a copy of Frank’s original hand-written drumchart for this piece, btw.

    You played that piece on drums, added your own music on top, named it The Black Page without giving proper credit. Trouble ahead if you ask me.

    Th.

  10. Robert says:

    A quote from Burning Castle:

    I doubt I would have to worry that much since drum parts, like chord progressions and song TITLES can not be copyrighted.

    You are calling “The Black Page” a “drum part”? Take that back! ;-)

    I’m actually trying to make a point here: I would not be surprised if the ZFT and their horde of lawyers think that a piece like TBP is more than a mere drum part (and, to be hones, i’d agree).

    All copyright law discussions aside: You, sir, delivered an excellent piece of work. Kudos! (I may actually decide to purchase a download later…)

    Oh, and btw, just in case i fucked up that quoting feature *again*, my quote above was meant to cite “Burning Castle”…

  11. boring Bob says:

    A quote from Robert:

    Oh, and btw, just in case i fucked up that quoting feature *again*, my quote above was meant to cite “Burning Castle”…

    Wanna buy an avatar?

  12. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    No idea about the licensing and credits, but I do love the music!

    A playful homage to those jazz fusion giants of the early to mid 1970s – Zappa, McLaughlin, Cobham, Duke, Return To Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra, Funkadelic, Traffic – ‘Glass Ghost’ by Burning Castle combines complex elements without ever losing it’s freshness or it’s originality. A spectacular feat, particularly in this era of chronic music sampling. Kudos all around, and bravo.

  13. urbangraffito says:

    Robert, just you wait and watch. Since FZ’s passing, I’ve watched as the ZFT has attempted to overstep their copyright by trademarking the name ‘Frank’, the imperial mustache, etc. This has nothing to do with music – it has everything to do with creating a Brand. It seems to me that trademarking the titles of Zappa’s songs is the next logical step in their greedy little enterprise.

  14. exile says:

    “I doubt I would have to worry that much since drum parts, like chord progressions and song TITLES can not be copyrighted. I wrote entirely new music for a drum solo; I’m in the clear.”

    Where do you get your information?
    Out of interest… which bit of a composition do you think is copyrightable?

    Music, composed music that is composed by a composer, is copyrighted to that composer from the moment it is written. That includes unique chord progressions, and particularly in this case, drum parts.

    You are aware that TBP was composed originally as a drum solo? It is not a mere, vague chart for a drummer to follow – it is a musical composition. And the extent to which you have utilised it to create your piece (of the same name) would be easily be described as “a derivative work including elements of the original music”.

    You might want to consider getting ZFT’s permission to sell this work, and pay them proportional royalties… before they send the lawyers.

    IMHO

  15. urbangraffito says:

    The idea that one need seek out the ZFT’s permission to cover a Zappa composition is absurd. There are already pre-existing mechanisms that ensure that all parties are equally compensated, and still allow for new artists to sample and create works which are derivative of other works. The ZFT’s draconian interpretation of copyright not only stifles creativity, it casts a pale shadow on the entire Zappa legacy.

  16. exile says:

    “The idea that one need seek out the ZFT’s permission to cover a Zappa composition is absurd.”

    Yes it is!
    What I said was “permission to sell”.

    Anyway, if paying royalties negates the need to apply for permission all the better.

  17. Burning Castle says:

    Exile and Robert:
    Thanks for keeping the dialogue going.
    To be technical, I don’t have Terry Bozzio’s drum setup, therefore I can not 100% accurately reproduce the original drum solo. I am playing groupings of notes that I decided to place on certain drums. I recorded the work on a 5 piece drum set. I did not include additional percussion.
    As for my sources of information, there is plenty at the USPTO and legal aspects of the music industry was my area of study during College.
    It is widely known that song TITLES can not be copyrighted. The songs themselves (lyrics and melody) can be. For that matter, album titles can not be copyrighted either. Chord progressions, even if in the same key, can not be copyrighted. When the legal spats over copyrighted songs erupt between artists, it is always over melody and lyrics.
    The part of the original Black Page that should be protected is the part of the piece with melody and several instruments playing together. That is what gives the piece the identity, not the title. How many people do you know named Dave? The answer is probably several, but it is the personality and many other factors that allow you to distinguish between them. Because I know about Terry’s percussively melodic approach to music now, let’s take the stance and say that his drums were a melody. I would revert to my point I chose to play the piece on different drums than he did, and therefore it is a different melody. This would mean it is a new piece.

    UrbanGraffito:
    Thanks a lot for speaking quite highly of the music! You want to be a publicist? You are right about the absurd nature of having to request permission to perform a song. I think covering songs live is typically okay because you don’t have to pay mechanical licenses (you do on albums). Again it all comes down to money.

    Thanks for the replies everyone, I love discussing ALL aspects of music.

  18. Thinman says:

    @ Burning Castle: Honestly, I find your approach in dealing with the original composition, giving credit and the copyright issue at least questionable.

    If I were the composer or copyright holder of the original Black Page, I would certainly sue you.

    Th.

  19. Thinman says:

    And again: the drum solo is the core of the compostion. Don’t confuse this with the short improvised intro that can be heard on Zappa In New York.
    I provided KUG with Frank’s original handwritten chart. Perhaps this can be posted here.

    Th.

  20. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Thinman: posted your file here.

  21. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Burning Castle:

    UrbanGraffito:
    Thanks a lot for speaking quite highly of the music! You want to be a publicist? You are right about the absurd nature of having to request permission to perform a song. I think covering songs live is typically okay because you don’t have to pay mechanical licenses (you do on albums). Again it all comes down to money.

    It is certainly one of the many hats [publicist] I have worn over the years as a writer, editor, and publisher, Burning Castle, so I don’t mind offering up the occasion positive blurb when I come across music I really, really enjoy. I think if everyone were forced to seek permission to cover works, or create works derivative of other works, we’d all be living in a virtual creative wasteland. I mean, even Zappa’s early works were derivative of the works of Stravinsky, Varèse, and Webern.

    That said, even a derivative cover is still a cover of the original, and I would suspect that appropriate acknowledgment would be given to the original composer – which, of course, you give [The Black Page by Frank Zappa] in the italics describing the essential nature of your album.

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