[r-t] Similar compositions

Mark Davies mark at snowtiger.net
Sat Jan 27 09:31:29 UTC 2018

Richard Johnston writes,

> If it truly was an independent discovery, then calling it "Arr. Ben 
> Constant from Keith Scudamore" is clearly unhistorical, as it does 
> not describe what was done.

I don't think it matters whether a discovery was independent or not. I 
have seen people re-compose Ivin's 5088 Bristol without realising what 
they've done: but the attribution is still "Comp. Ivin". Similarly if a 
variation is created, it makes no difference whether the producer of it 
knew of the previous composition or not: it is still "Arr. XYZ from ABC".

Obviously it would make things easier for modern composers if they knew 
a bit more about the extant body of work, and could thus find new 
variations more easily, and avoid re-inventing the wheel. Nevertheless 
when you see an attribution "Arr." you shouldn't assume the arranger 
knew of the original work they have mimicked.

This isn't to make value judgements - in Ben's case, he probably didn't 
know of Scudamore's original, but that doesn't take anything away from 
the quality and usefulness of what he's produced. It may only be a 
rotation of one course, but it's clearly an arrangement much more to 
modern tastes than the original, and deservedly popular. It's not 
exactly a complicated composition, so the skill of the composer here is 
in the selection of the arrangement, the identification of something 
musical that ringers will enjoy, not in the mechanical threading 
together of the courses.


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