[r-t] Similar compositions

Richard Johnston johnstonrh at amen.org.uk
Sat Jan 27 11:29:28 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".

If you wrote "Arr. XYZ of ABC", I would not be objecting.  But "from" 
makes it appear as if XYZ started by getting out ABC's composition 
and twiddled with it, suggesting a relatively easy process.  
Sometimes that is true, but in the case considered it isn't, and 
phrasing as "from" is, in my view, inappropriate, particularly as you 
rightly say later the point of a composition is good musical 
qualities in some sense not the mechanics.    In classical music the 
same themes or near variants are used again and again, sometimes with 
attribution, but usually not.

On your other further points, I agree that people can very easily 
recompose existing compositions, and in the past before easily 
accessed collections that would have been all too easy.  That it 
happened reflected either that the compositions were easy or obvious, 
or that they were particularly good.  In science it often happens 
that more than one person discovers something leading to similar 
issues over priority and often it is heolpful to acknowledge in some 
way that more than one person got there.

Richard Johnston

More information about the ringing-theory mailing list