January 31, 2012

Grey makes Tunes For Everyone available free for all

Call it Grey marketing. Michael Grey, one of the piping world’s most prolific composers, has made his 68-page fifth collection, Music for Everyone, available to all for free on the Internet. The 2006 collection is now accessible via the open publication service, Issu.

The free release of the book comes at a time when music publishing and copyright control is facing great change in the piping community, which has traditionally struggled to gain fair royalties for original music, let alone any kind of profit.

“My stuff is all over the net; you can legitimately buy and download it anywhere,” Grey said when asked why he chose to make the collection free. “But it’s also been heavily pirated, and because of that people can find it and get hold of it free. I gave up a long time ago trying to get my material pulled down from rogue music exchange sites.”

Music For Everyone contains several of Grey’s better-known compositions, including “Coppermill,” “The Eastern Townships,” “Fleshmarket Close” and “Sergeant Malkie Bow’s Consternation,”  as well as tunes by other well known composers, such as Allan MacDonald, Gavin Stoddart and Kyle Warren.

“Managing your copyright could be a fairly busy job and one with potentially shaky returns,” Grey added.  “In giving it away I’m maybe throwing in the towel on making money from my music and hope that in doing this I might see some return because of my music.  It’s a bit of an experiment.”

Grey said that he did not know whether future collections will be offered for free or not, or whether he will make other previous books similarly available.

“We’ll see. I did buy a lottery ticket today so there’s a chance,” he said.

The move by Grey follows other announcements of pipe music on the net being made free to all, including Ceol Sean offering a catalogue of more than 7,000 historical manuscripts and posting a repository of some 1,700 audio compositions.


  1. I never quite know what to think of this whole business. Somebody somewhere’s going to say ‘you’re not being fair to composers of pipe music who need to sell their stuff as part of earning their living’. On the opposite end some say ‘what the heck just get it out there, somebody somewhere might like it and play it so good luck to them’. I guess if you write music you want it to be played. Many play their own music themselves. Bands seem to tend to play music composed by members of the bands (and sometimes whether or not the compositions really stand up as compositions). A kind of ‘who you know’, not ‘what you know’. Egos probably figure a fair bit. If music’s available for free, why would anyone buy it? Maybe to support composers, or encourage them, or do the decent thing morally? Can’t decide what I think about the whole issue. I haven’t looked inside Michael’s book pictured here, but my guide would be if the 3/4s and 9/8s are barred correctly, I’d pay up to £30 for it, but if they’re not, I wouldn’t pick it up for free. In this case I guess the former will be true but I have no idea as I haven’t looked in it. Music– is it a God-given kind of thing that we should all spread our love through and share willy-nilly around the world? Or should we be more territorial and say this is MINE and if you want it you’ll have to pay me for it. Again, I don’t know- I have mixed feelings about it which I’m happy to share for free..Would be interested in others’ thoughts.

  2. good to see some people finally accepting the new word order, it might not be for the best, but its where we are at today. As the t-shirt reads, legal downloading is killing piracy. I mean lets face it, what pipe tune composer writes with the idea that s/he will make a living out of it? Pipe tune composers should be embracing the internet and youtube for giving them a vehicle to get their music heard and if lucky enough, eventually to hear it played by others. If you are writing music for pipes for the money, you just have to ask all the living composers just how well they are doing out of book sales to see that there ain’t no money in it. I do be so saddened to see unknown composers at band and solo contests trying to sell their books for even small prices. You need to get your tunes all over the net, cast the net if you like, and see just who will bite. if you want to make money, you better start writing pop songs. In this one scale world of ours you should just be grateful that others think your tunes musical enough to be played at all.

  3. Regarding copyright’s, unless you have the funds to go to court to protect your copyright (on whatever it might be, music, inventions, intellectual property, etc.) you don’t really have an opportunity to defend your copyright material should it have been obtained or copied without your knowledge or positions.

    Years ago, I used to listen to the old vinyl LP’s of various Pipe Bands. Often there would be tunes you liked but could not obtain a copy of the music. I would transcribe the music by listening to the tune, playing it on the practice chanter and putting pen or pencil (is the best) to paper and writing it out. Most often, I would get it very close to the score being played. However, I was using mostly for the band to play and I would arrange it to fit the level of players in the band. So was I steeling someone’s music which may have had a copyright? Maybe, but I did put work into it in order to create a manuscript copy of the particular tune.

    When you arrange a tune composed by someone else you should, and I always do this, indicate the original composer of the tune (if known) followed by arranged by (arr. By with your name). That is the basic point that I feel I would like to make and feel that the original composer of a tune should at all times be acknowledge even on arrangements of their music.

    I published a book of my musical compositions a couple of years ago in hard copy and gave a number of copies to various pipers that I know in the Ontario, Canada area. When I decided to publish my second book, I decided to publish it on the internet on my own web site. I also included adaptations of some songs or tunes not originally written for the great highland bagpipe. I will be including when time permits some of my arrangements of other composers tunes as well.

    My web site does contain MP3 clips to listen to the music. Copies of the Sheet Music as well as the electronic source used to create the sheet music both in .pdf file format. The music source was generated using Bagpipe Music Writer Gold. Also, you can view find in another section titled Music Notes information about how the tune got its title, an MP3clip to listen to the tune and photos related to the tune title. To access the Sheet Music or electronic source code used to create the sheet music, the visitor to the site needs to become a “FREE” MEMBER. This allows me to know who has had access to the Sheet Music or electronic source code. The information provide when becoming a member will not be published or provided to anyone and is solely for my own purpose to possibly contact members about changes, updates or new tunes, etc. added to the site from time to time.

    I have read the other comments and while I agree with them, some people do make a living as composers and arrangers, but not in the Bagpiping World. That is one reason why I don’t charge for tunes that I compose, adapt or arrange. I have even seen people on Facebook for example looking for some tune on the bagpipes (often a song not originally composed for the bagpipes) and I will adapt the tune and send them a copy. I have also been commissioned to compose tunes and do not charge for that, but often those who commissioned the tune might send me a thank you with a gift card or something to show their appreciation, which is rather nice to receive from time to time but I don’t expect it, as simply thank you suffices. I do however understand some composers and arrangers do charge for their music or require royalties.

    Michael Grey’s decision to publish this new book in this manner is certainly a good step. Michael and I used to play together in the same band in the 1970’s and we have been friends for a long time. I do admire his abilities as a player, composer, arranger, etc. I say WELL DONE, Michael.



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